External VGA / GPU for Laptops Using EXP GDC Beast

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Introduction: External VGA / GPU for Laptops Using EXP GDC Beast

About: Hi, My name is David and i'm from indonesia. i am a dangerous person to gadgets if i happen to hold on a screwdriver, i am eager to disassemble, learn, and modify almost any tech stuff.

Hi Guys.. This is my first tutorial on instructables. English is not my first language so please forgive my grammatical errors. I made this based on my experience in upgrading my laptop. And I will not bore you with long introduction since i know none of you will be interested anyway and get straight to the point

This tutorial will be consist of 3 sections. you can refer your problems to each sections

  1. hardware installation.
  2. software configuration
  3. other things you may need to know


DISCLAIMER: I MADE THIS TUTORIAL BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCE. HOWEVER, I DO NOT GUARANTEE IT WILL WORK ON YOUR LAPTOP. IF YOU WANT TO FOLLOW MY TUTORIAL, YOU MUST AGREE THAT I CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE CAUSED. DO WITH YOUR OWN RISK.

ALL PICTURES SHOWN IN THIS INSTRUCTABLE ARE MY OWN. I AM ALSO NOT RELATED TO ANY SELLER OF THE PARTS LISTED IN THIS INSTRUCTION.

You're free to share this tutorial on your website, or anywhere else as long as you still give credit to me and put a link to this site.



Step 1: Check Whether Your Laptop Is Compatible With This Upgrade

there are two things to check before you start buying the upgrade material

1. check your laptop's WLAN slot interface type.. there are 2 kind of interface that could be used as external GPU. the Mini PCIE and the NGFF and expresscard.. the fastest way is to open your laptop, and see the type. or if your laptop has an express card then you don't need to open the laptop. for those who don't know which part is the wlan card, try google "wlan card" and you will see its shape.. usually there are small cables attached to the wlan card.

2. check your laptop BIOS. many laptops (usually thinkpads) has their BIOS Locked for authorized hardware by their manufacturer. my lenovo e145 (and other thinkpads) won't boot if i change the included mini pcie wlan card to 'unauthorized' other wlan card. and sadly the GDC is not an authorized / whitelisted card.

if your laptop is BIOS-Locked, then you need to unlock or whitelist it first. this will require a modding of BIOS and that is beyond my knowledge so i deem it's not worth the risk.

if your laptop has meet the above requirement, you can start gathering the upgrade material

if not, then you can stop here. because this tutorial won't work.

Step 2: Tools and Ingredients

  1. The Laptop. I used an Asus N43SL-VX264D
  2. EXP GDC V8 BEAST. (i'll call this with only "beast" from now on) when you're buying this, choose the one with the same interface as your wlan card. my laptop is using the mini pci-e version.
  3. An External Monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  4. Desktop GPU of your choice. i use a Zotac GTX 950
  5. a compatible desktop PSU for your GPU. just make sure this PSU has enough 6-pin connector if the GPU require it. my gtx950 need 1 while my sister's r9 270x needs 2 6-pin connector.
  6. usb wifi adapter or lan cable. this uprade will sacrifice your laptop's internal wifi adapter so you will need other method to connect to internet. i myself personally prefer the latter. most laptop has limited number of usb ports so i don't want to waste the usb port for internet if i could help it. and the laptop is basically a desktop now.
  7. a screwdriver
  8. cutting tool. a rotary tools with cutting disk will be just fine.

Step 3: Locate Your WLAN CARD, and Replace It With the Beast Interface Cable

the beast comes with 2 cables. the power cable (8pin to 20 pin and 4pin) and the interface cable (that weird mini pcie/ngff/expresscard to HDMI cable)

Open your laptop using screwdriver, locate the WLAN card and replace it with the beast interface cable.

you might want to search in youtube, on how to disassemble your laptop.. but your goal is to take out the wlan card, and plug the beast interface cable. usually, wlan card is a module with 2 cables attached. don't forget to remove the cables first.

after you replace it, you will have to think about the cable layout configuration. make sure it doesn't mess with the fans, and the cable HDMI end can go outside the laptop. this is where your cutting tools come to play. you may need to cut a hole in your laptop bottom to let the cable trough. some laptop owners are lucky since the location of the WLAN card is easy to reach while some others don't.

as for my asus, i need to disassemble the laptop first. but i was lucky the wlan card is located near a hole in my laptop bottom near the RAM compartment so i don't need to cut open a new hole.

i deliberately not posting a picture of this step because different laptop means different layout. and you might want to arrange the layout as you wish.

Step 4: Outer Cable Configuration

This is where that cable you got when you buy the dock goes.

Connect the HDMI End of the beast connector only to the BEAST!


DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PLUG IT TO SOMEWHERE ELSE OTHER THAN THE EXP GDC BEAST

Step 5: Plug the Power Cable to the Beast.

  1. plug the 8 pin to the beast
  2. attach the 20 pin to the 20 pin connector of the PSU
  3. attach the 4 pin to the 4 pin connector of the psu.

some PSU comes with a 20+4 pin.. and another 4pin connector.. in this case you need to separate the 20pin from the 4 pin before connecting it, if you're using old psu which only have 24 pin, it is still compatible but you might need to cut the hook so the 20 pin connector could fit.

please note that we don't use the 4pin that comes with the 20+4 pin but the other 4pin connector. usually with cable colored 2 blacks and 2 yellow.

Step 6: Insert Your GPU

Put your GPU to the pcie x16 of the beast

if your GPU needs a 6pin power, plug it directly from the psu.

Step 7: Finalizing Hardware Configuration

  1. connect the external VGA (which you attach on the beast) to the monitor using HDMI or your chosen interface
  2. plug your networking (wifi dongle or lan cable) to your laptop
  3. attach all power plug to the power outlet of your home
    1. the PSU
    2. the laptop
    3. the monitor

This is where you might want to consider the layout of your cables if you want it to look neat. detach, wrap, arrange the cables layouts, and reattach..

Step 8: Turn on Your Laptop

you might see the beast LED turn on, and the GPU Fan start spinning.

if your laptop bios is locked, it won't boot.

if the external monitor is blank, it's okay.. as long as you can boot to windows using your laptop internal monitor.

after you get into windows, you might see a notification that says windows is downloading driver for new hardware (the graphic adapter) if you see this, then it is best if you wait until windows done installing the new driver. but you still need to install the GPU driver tough

Step 9: Install the GPU Driver

download and install the gpu driver. you can get it from their main website

For Geforce Graphic card: http://www.geforce.com/drivers

for Radeon Graphic cards: http://support.amd.com/en-us/download

Step 10: Restart Your Laptop and Set It to External Monitor

Restart your laptop.

after you boot to windows again, if your external monitor is still blank, you can go to desktop, right click, and choose screen resolution. and set it to show only on your external monitor.

you can still let the internal monitor on for secondary screen, but for games only use the external one.

Step 11: Optional: Disable Your Old Internal GPU

open device manager.

in windows 8.1 press start and type device manager, locate the display adapter, and disable your old gpu

Step 12: CONGRATULATIONS YOU NOW HAVE EGPU

Steps are done.. install any program or games you want

Step 13: Other Things to Consider

  1. the mini pcie bandwidth is not as high as the pcie x16 therefore, if you choose a high end graphic card, it won't be able to give you it's maximum performance. so i suggest you use a mid end graphic card that don't use much bandwidth you can find more recommendations of graphic card if you search the forums.
  2. Take care of the external GPU. since the external GPU is most likely to be placed on the table,
    1. it will be vulnerable to environment. it will catch dust easily, you should clean the gpu fans more often.
    2. it could get knocked down accidentally. so be careful when placing the gpu. and when putting something near the GPU
    3. be careful of bugs and your pets, and other animals. they could damage your egpu. just imagine a bug flies to the EGPU fans or your cat knocks them off the table.

Step 14: Recommended Graphics Card

this step is added on 11.11.2018

The exp GDC beast is now a few years old.. the mini pcie slot is way older..

even the new mid end graphics card might require more bandwidth than the pcie slot can deliver...

so if you're using mini pcie, recommend consulting this chart, courtesy to Banggood

edit on 29 july 2020

if you're having a newer generation graphics card, compare it to the ones listed here to figure out how many bandwidth will be used by that card.. basically if the card have performance equal to or higher than GTX 980, don't bother use it.

i can't say the same for NGFF as it's a newer interface.

Step 15: Help Develop This Tutorial

Hi Guys, if you have any feedback on my tutorial, please write it down in the comment section.

i really wanna know how well i did with this tutorial and how can i improve this tutoria.

Regards

David

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    68 Discussions

    0
    Lerin oronti
    Lerin oronti

    22 hours ago

    Hi so I got everything but when I go onto my device manager it doesn't show any graphics adapter detected even though I've done all the right things with my bios settings it still doesn't show

    0
    DyAnn31
    DyAnn31

    2 months ago

    Mw nanya bro gw pk asus a43s vga gtx650ti +exp gdc 8.5c terinstall dengan baik tp pas utk main game seperti dota2 entar beberapa jam langsung bluescreen aka BSOD random waktunya kira2 knp tuh??? Apakah driver at ap drivernya versi terbaru

    0
    leoalexjunior
    leoalexjunior

    Question 2 months ago

    Can you explain to me how to use the DC power?

    0
    giuseppe1956
    giuseppe1956

    5 months ago

    Hi,
    This guide is great.
    I have laptop asus n56jr and external grapic card sapphire ati raedon rx 580_8192MB.
    What kind of exp gdc best do you suggest for my laptop?
    Is sapphire ati raedon rx 580_8192MB compatible?
    Regards

    0
    Davidshh
    Davidshh

    Reply 3 months ago

    HI, thanks for your comment.

    All graphics card should work but we have to consider the bandwidth limitation. i was using GTX 950 and playing just cause 3. it was good with all the 60fps, but sometimes i got stutter for just a moment when the renders got heavy. around 1-2 second and then back to 60fps again. this is due to bandwidth limitations of pcie x1. the faster your graphics card, the more stuttering you will get.

    about which is compatible with your laptop, i recommend you open your laptop and see for yourself. i cannot say which type your laptop slot is.

    0
    jebripahlavi
    jebripahlavi

    5 months ago on Step 1

    Hi bro, mau nanya dong, ane mau ada niatan buat nambarin vga di leptop ane, nah pas liat spec nya di GDC BEAST V8.4d nya itu maksimal VGA yang bisa di pasang GTX980, nah rencana saya mo saya pasang GTX 1650 Super ke leptop saya ASUS A43SD, kira2 bisa gak ya gan ? apa ntar terjadi bottleneck ? atau crash 43 atau 12 ? untuk tipe exp gdc nya yang tipe berapa atau tipe apa ya?

    0
    Davidshh
    Davidshh

    Reply 3 months ago

    bisa sih bisa aja gan.. bonek nya palingan di kabelnya.. awal2 lancar jaya pas main tapi tiba2 bisa stutterring kalau lagi rame gamenya..

    nah kalau tipe konektornya sih mendingan buka dulu laptopnya, terus lihat sendiri.. ane gak tahu soalnya gak punya A43SD

    0
    SaladinII
    SaladinII

    3 months ago

    Hi. I didn't understand the use of an external monitor?
    Why is it required? Why do I need to set display of to a second screen?

    Can I not disable the internal gpu and continue using the laptop screen itself?

    0
    Davidshh
    Davidshh

    Reply 3 months ago

    Thanks safaan for answering.

    SaladinII RX580 is a good choice for this dock. go for it!

    1
    safaan
    safaan

    Reply 3 months ago

    due to the lower bandwidth of the egpu cable.The cable itself cannot deliver maximum performance in some high end graphics cards(in my case,its around 10-15% performance loss).suppose if u are to use the internal monitor instead,the bandwidth to send and receive data will be extremely low,(around 50-60% performance loss)which,makes the egpu quite useless.

    0
    SaladinII
    SaladinII

    Reply 3 months ago

    Hi

    Thanks for your reply.
    So to summarize, it's possible to use internal monitor, but it's slower and a waste of graphics card capabilities?

    Thanks, I'll get another monitor too.. I will also definitely try and see the difference it makes internal vs external and update!
    Im planning on a sapphire rx 580 actually.. Which is mid range isn't it?

    Any suggestions? Comments?

    0
    vijithraghuram
    vijithraghuram

    Question 3 months ago

    Can I use gt710 as external GPU on my Dell latitude e6520 without external monitor

    0
    Davidshh
    Davidshh

    Answer 3 months ago

    if you don't have external monitor, then don't bother. it's pointless because the performance you get will not be adequate due to limited bandwidth. at least use your TV.

    The beast only use PCIE X1. not the X16. it already have limited bandwidth. so if you're using external monitor, you're using the bandwidth one way but if you're using internal monitor, you're using the bandwidth two ways so it will be basically halve the performane of the graphics card you will get.

    0
    panezaip
    panezaip

    Question 7 months ago

    My laptop HP 840G1 , same dock, graphics card asus strix 970, when i am starting laptop running every things very will. but the laptop screen is black and white , what i do need help.

    0
    Davidshh
    Davidshh

    Answer 5 months ago

    try the display settings..

    or maybe you've disabled all the internal GPU

    if your laptop has 2 GPUs, the integrated (intel ones) and the discrete (Nvidia or Radeon ones) and if you want to use the laptop screen as second screen, don't disable all internal GPU.. just disable the 'strong' one..

    0
    Haritha Dilshan
    Haritha Dilshan

    10 months ago on Step 8

    When I connect my egpu to the laptop, it doesn't boot! My laptop is Toshiba Satellite L740. EGPU, gtx 660. Proce, i3 370M. Ram, 1066 8GB. Why? As google says I tried to unlock bios, but egpu doesn't work yet!😭😭😭 Please give some solution!

    0
    Davidshh
    Davidshh

    Reply 9 months ago

    probably the bios is still locked.

    0
    khalidkoopt
    khalidkoopt

    10 months ago

    can use my RTX 2080 IN A EXP GDC 8.5

    0
    Davidshh
    Davidshh

    Reply 9 months ago

    Yes you can.. but it couldn't deliver the required bandwidth your RTX requires.. so there will be a lot of bottlenecks.

    0
    MidhunJ6
    MidhunJ6

    Question 2 years ago

    my exp gdc dock turns off after inserting graphic card. It turns on and the green light is on when graphic card is not inserted. But when I Insert graphic card the green light blinks for half second and dock turns off. PLS HELP