My new Lenovo X220 laptop should be arriving soon. While it has a nice i7 CPU, it only has only has an integrated Intel HD 3000 for the video card 🙁 This severely limits 3D performance, therefore I will be adding something known as a DIY eGPU -or- DIY ViDock.
This is a simple little project that is similar to the commercial “ViDock” product but at a lower cost and potentially with more capabilities. Basically it is connecting a desktop video card to your laptop for use in gaming and other similar intense 3D tasks…
PS The X220 is ideally suited for this task but there are lots of other notebook options out there too.
If you are interested in a fun project like this for your X220, here are some links that I hope will help!
#1 Best post for X220 owners, shows details and gives specific info on the X220 and a diy ViDock:
NOTE: I believe the only X220 BIOS version that works (so far) with eGPUs is: version 1.11 See more info here: X220 with External GPU fails to display POST with … – Lenovo Communityhttp://forums.lenovo.com/t5/X-Series-ThinkPad-Laptops/X220-with-External-GPU-fails-to-display-POST-with-BIOS-gt-1-11/td-p/486267X220, i7, 8GB RAM, 90W non-slim PSU. Attempting to use an MSI GeForce GTX 560 Ti (1GB graphics card) in a Villagetronic ViDock 4 Plus (ExpressCard to PCIe breakout… When using X220 BIOS 1.15, 1.16, or 1.17, the laptop will not display the POST. Using BIOS 1.11 the laptop boots normally and the ViDock works as expected.
GOOD NEWS: The latest X220 BIOS version 1.24 (and I will be checking 1.25) is confirmed to work with 4GB/8GB etc. installs, hurrah Lenovo for listening to your users and fixing the problem!!!
Good post with info for other systems too:
Suitable laptops comparison:
Which notebook for eGPU? Lenovo X220, T420, or Toshiba r840?http://forum.notebookreview.com/what-notebook-should-i-buy/589790-notebook-egpu.htmlI’ve been deciding between the Lenovo X220, T420, Toshiba r840 to use with an eGPU, but can’t decide which is best… I’ll be typically using my notebook for university, some…
The intro thread for DIY eGPUs… you’ll definitely want to read this!
This is a great place to start on this project… lots of howto and good info 🙂
DIY eGPU experiences – INTRODUCTION (start here)http://forum.notebookreview.com/gaming-software-graphics-cards/418851-diy-egpu-experiences.htmlThe Let’s figure out how to make a ViDock thread has produced a PE4L and a x2/x4-link capable PE4H product, either of which can host a PCIe RAID, soundcard or a desktop video card. This thread is dedicated to the practical application of these products to attach a desktop external GraphicsProcessing Unit to a notebook via a expresscard, mPCIe slot, or Thunderbolt port. Ideally, this thread is a place for users to share installation and performance details for others to duplicate or reference.
Which video card to use as eGPU?
This is of course a very personal question since each persons video card needs are different. However, I can address one issue: which brand?!
My recommendation is NVIDIA. For the simple reason that NVIDIA has Optimus for switching between integrated/discrete video cards. In an eGPU setting this means that with certain configurations you can have the eGPU output to the internal LCD (with no additional cabling/adapters required other than the expresscard -> dock cable).
As far as I know AMD/ATI has no comparable capability when it comes to a DIY eGPU setup. Likewise, a lot of the example configurations out there are using NVIDIA instead of AMD. So that is why I recommend NVIDIA.
When it comes to a particular GPU recommendation, the NVIDIA GTX 560 Ti seems to be a popular choice. However, if you have access to an older GTX 460 (as I do) I would recommend just sticking with it since it will do a similar job and you won’t be out any extra cash!
HEXUS.net – Review :: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Ti vs. GTX 460 1GB – at the same clocks : Page – 1/9http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=28691&page=1Knowing that the GTX 460 GPU’s specifications have been set very conservatively and that most can run at the 822MHz/4,008MHz clocks of the GTX 560 Ti with nothing more than a quick dabble in an overclocking program, we set out to investigate just how a Ti 560-clocked GTX 460 1GB would perform. Doing so provides a good indication of architecture-to-architecture differences and will, we hope, give present GTX 460 owners an informed opinion on whether an upgrade is necessary.
Other X220 performance tweaks: 1866mhz RAM on X220 (and SC2!)
To me these improvements look like they are related to going to (2) 4GB sticks of memory, whether they be 1333mhz or 1866mhz… but you can read the threads and see for yourself! 🙂
Kingston HyperX 1866mhz really boost intel HD 3000 (on x220)http://forum.notebookreview.com/lenovo-ibm/602919-kingston-hyperx-1866mhz-really-boost-intel-hd-3000-x220.htmlHi everyone, I just received today my x220. I also received this week 2x 4gb of Kingston HyperX 1866mhz ram (bought for 120$ at directron.com if anyone is interested). I read a… Starcraft 2 Kingston 1866mhz amazing results.http://forum.notebookreview.com/lenovo-ibm/581663-starcraft-2-kingston-1866mhz-amazing-results.html#post7537429My 2 cent. If your like me, having the need to play Starcraft 2 on the x220 with the ips screen and the intel hd 3000 gpu, here is some remarkable improvement using faster memory…
Also, docking solutions for the X220, there are some really nice options! Coming from lots of Dells with good docks, I like having this capability…
Docking Option for the new X220 – Lenovo Communityhttp://forums.lenovo.com/t5/tkb/articleprintpage/tkb-id/X_Series_Thinkpads@tkb/article-id/37Please note: This is the only version of the dock that is designed to be portable for the X220 and X220t, and the only one has an internal optical drive bay. However, it is only…
Other misc links:
[to be updated! feel free to add your tips in the comments section…]