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Recommend on! (eGPU, docking station, etc)

FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARDalong with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
edited August 20 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm changing my home office setup to allow my partner to work from home and to better fit my lifestyle. I'm looking at the cost differences between Dell docking stations vs third-party eGPUs (eg, Razer Core, Sonnet Breakaway, etc) and trying to figure out if there's any reason I shouldn't buy an eGPU.

My laptop is a Dell Latitude with Thunderbolt 3 and eGPU support. My partner's work laptop is also a Dell Latitude with Thunderbolt 3 and eGPU support (though, because it is a work laptop, she only has limited access and installing new applications or drivers has to be approved by her work).

Current configuration: Older desktop gaming PC, self-built, with a GeForce 960. Gathering dust. Two 1080p monitors on articulating monitor arms each with various inputs (DVI, HDMI, etc.)

The goal: remove the desktop gaming PC. Replace it with either an eGPU or a docking station that would allow me and my partner to plug in our laptops (at different times, of course) to get full benefit of both monitors (and mouse and keyboard).

Option 1: Dell Thunderbolt Dock. These range from $200 (for the Dell TB16) to a little over $300 (for the Dell TB18).

Option 2: Third-party eGPU such as a Razer Core or Sonnet Breakaway. Cannibalize the old GeForce 960 from the desktop computer. This would also allow me to do some light gaming. (I already do some light gaming on my laptop. It's one of those odd Latitude models with an internal Geforce 930MX.) Cost is $200-400 depending on specs. Sometime in the future, upgrade the graphics card.

With option 2, I'm hoping that my partner's laptop can just use the native Windows drivers. That way we don't need to bother her work's IT department. She doesn't need graphics performance, she's just doing MS Office. It just needs to work.

I'm leaning strongly towards the eGPU, but I've never actually touched an eGPU enclosure before, so I don't know if there are any pitfalls.

One feature that I absolutely positively 100% need on the eGPU are USB ports - at least two of them, for mouse and keyboard. I've noticed that only some eGPUs have them.

So my questions to the Internet hive mind are:

A) Is there any reason why I should go with a Dell Thunderbolt Dock instead of plunge into the eGPU world?
B) Does anybody have any interesting experiences regarding eGPUs to share, either positive or negative?

every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
Feral on

Posts

  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    Anecdotal, but I'm very leery of eGPUs and Thunderbolt in general right now.

    My work laptop is a Dell with the TB18, and while it works now it was a pain in the ass to setup. I had several issues with audio/ethernet/USB that weren't fixed until I updated the dock firmware, the laptop BIOS, uninstalled the existing TB drivers, and then installed updated drivers. It wasn't the end of the world but it was definitely a hassle.

    My friend, on the other hand, bought a Caldigit TS3+ to pair an eGPU with his XPS 13, and it's been nonstop problems. First it stopped working with the laptop at all; laptop was shipped back to Dell and had the motherboard replaced. Now it works on one TB port, but fails if he tries to use it as both an eGPU and a charger.

    On the other hand, I have an older Dell/Targus USB3 dock at home that's been bulletproof. I don't get any graphics acceleration out of the monitors, but everything has been working flawlessly. Of your two options, I would lean with the official Dell dock just because mine at least works, even if it took some tinkering to set up. eGPUs seem very finicky/science-projecty to me right now.

    Feral
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    mRahmani, thank you, that's exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for. You don't always get that sort of candid experience from reviews.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    I don't mind doing that kind of hackery on my personal machine

    But it's kind of a no-go for a work laptop where I'm not the admin

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • baudattitudebaudattitude Registered User regular
    For what it's worth, I have a Razer Core X with an RX 590 in it daisy-chained off of a CalDigit TS3+ and it has "just worked" since the moment I plugged it in. I have heard some horror stories about the Razer box that tries to include USB3 ports and an Ethernet jack, so I avoided that in favor of the just-an-eGPU option.

    Caveat; this is on macOS and eGPU/driver support is baked into the OS at a pretty low level.

    Feral
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    zepherin wrote: »

    @zepherin

    Do you have any noticeable performance problems or bottlenecks with DP-over-USB-C?

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    zepherin wrote: »

    Do you have any noticeable performance problems or bottlenecks with DP-over-USB-C?
    Not that I can tell, autocad is a bit sluggish, but it may just be the videocard, because it always seams to load slow.

  • Inquisitor77Inquisitor77 2 x Penny Arcade Fight Club Champion A fixed point in space and timeRegistered User regular
    edited August 25
    I've had nothing but good experiences with j5create products (https://en.j5create.com/), but I'm only familiar with their Wormhole UBS cables (which allow you to control one computer using another computer's peripherals, as well as transfer files back-and-forth). One time I had an issue with the latest Windows update breaking the cable and they pumped out a firmware update a couple of hours after I reported it.

    Inquisitor77 on
    Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
    Feral
  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    I can't seem to find it, but I remeber there being a list of which Dell TB3-enabled laptops actually supported an eGPU; because not all of them did.

    I've got an eSonnet and it works alright, Dell even bundles them with new laptops now.

    Feral
  • djmitchelladjmitchella Registered User regular
    Another anecdotal data point: I currently have a Dell laptop at work hooked up to a Dell usb-c/displaylink dock, and the thing bluescreens every second day, and that's _without_ eGPU in the mix. (Precision 7530 laptop / D6000 dock).

    (this is the second one of these laptops; the first one got to a point where it would just freeze up multiple times a day -- all the screens were still alive, but it was frozen, the only thing that responded was the power button. This one had been fairly stable for a couple of months, but in the last few weeks, some driver/windows update has made it bad again. Also, this is the third dock; they tried giving me a different, larger, dock but that one made things bluescreen as soon as it got to Windows login. Oh, and also, one time in 10 the USB keyboard I have connected isn't recognised until I disconnect it and reconnect it, too. And sometimes it won't power up if it's docked, I have to disconnect the dock to get it even to wake up at all).

  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    Another anecdotal data point: I currently have a Dell laptop at work hooked up to a Dell usb-c/displaylink dock, and the thing bluescreens every second day, and that's _without_ eGPU in the mix. (Precision 7530 laptop / D6000 dock).

    (this is the second one of these laptops; the first one got to a point where it would just freeze up multiple times a day -- all the screens were still alive, but it was frozen, the only thing that responded was the power button. This one had been fairly stable for a couple of months, but in the last few weeks, some driver/windows update has made it bad again. Also, this is the third dock; they tried giving me a different, larger, dock but that one made things bluescreen as soon as it got to Windows login. Oh, and also, one time in 10 the USB keyboard I have connected isn't recognised until I disconnect it and reconnect it, too. And sometimes it won't power up if it's docked, I have to disconnect the dock to get it even to wake up at all).

    That's interesting, my problems weren't as severe but it was the same laptop (Precision 7530)

  • ArbitraryDescriptorArbitraryDescriptor Registered User regular
    edited August 26
    mRahmani wrote: »
    Another anecdotal data point: I currently have a Dell laptop at work hooked up to a Dell usb-c/displaylink dock, and the thing bluescreens every second day, and that's _without_ eGPU in the mix. (Precision 7530 laptop / D6000 dock).

    (this is the second one of these laptops; the first one got to a point where it would just freeze up multiple times a day -- all the screens were still alive, but it was frozen, the only thing that responded was the power button. This one had been fairly stable for a couple of months, but in the last few weeks, some driver/windows update has made it bad again. Also, this is the third dock; they tried giving me a different, larger, dock but that one made things bluescreen as soon as it got to Windows login. Oh, and also, one time in 10 the USB keyboard I have connected isn't recognised until I disconnect it and reconnect it, too. And sometimes it won't power up if it's docked, I have to disconnect the dock to get it even to wake up at all).

    That's interesting, my problems weren't as severe but it was the same laptop (Precision 7530)

    I have similar issues with HP ZBooks with a TB dock, but the issue is the shitty TB port on the laptop, not the dock. Any event that caused the cable to wiggle* in the port might blue screen (rare) or disconnect it (common); sometimes self-correcting (most common), sometimes requiring it be re-plugged. Those systems had the same problem with the eGPU (hence my determination that it was the port not the peripherals).

    *And by wiggle, I mean almost imperceptibly; like brushing against the cable.

    ArbitraryDescriptor on
    mRahmani
  • mRahmanimRahmani DetroitRegistered User regular
    mRahmani wrote: »
    Another anecdotal data point: I currently have a Dell laptop at work hooked up to a Dell usb-c/displaylink dock, and the thing bluescreens every second day, and that's _without_ eGPU in the mix. (Precision 7530 laptop / D6000 dock).

    (this is the second one of these laptops; the first one got to a point where it would just freeze up multiple times a day -- all the screens were still alive, but it was frozen, the only thing that responded was the power button. This one had been fairly stable for a couple of months, but in the last few weeks, some driver/windows update has made it bad again. Also, this is the third dock; they tried giving me a different, larger, dock but that one made things bluescreen as soon as it got to Windows login. Oh, and also, one time in 10 the USB keyboard I have connected isn't recognised until I disconnect it and reconnect it, too. And sometimes it won't power up if it's docked, I have to disconnect the dock to get it even to wake up at all).

    That's interesting, my problems weren't as severe but it was the same laptop (Precision 7530)

    I have similar issues with HP ZBooks with a TB dock, but the issue is the shitty TB port on the laptop, not the dock. Any event that caused the cable to wiggle* in the port might blue screen (rare) or disconnect it (common); sometimes self-correcting (most common), sometimes requiring it be re-plugged. Those systems had the same problem with the eGPU (hence my determination that it was the port not the peripherals).

    *And by wiggle, I mean almost imperceptibly; like brushing against the cable.

    Oh good, I thought it was just me. I swear the dock loses connection if you so much as breathe on it.

    ArbitraryDescriptor
  • templewulftemplewulf The Team Chump USARegistered User regular
    @Feral Let me know if you figure anything out. I'm having my own eGPU problems in this thread.

    Twitch.tv/FiercePunchStudios | PSN | Steam | Discord | SFV CFN: templewulf
    Feral
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    Where I eventually landed after a lot of research was a USB3 dock, specifically the Dell WB19.

    Apparently this model resolves a lot of the issues of prior Dell docks.

    I haven't tested it with dual monitors yet but it works like a champ with one.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    templewulfArbitraryDescriptor
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