Intro: External VGA / GPU for Laptops Using EXP GDC Beast
Hi Guys.. This is my first instructables. English is not my first language so please forgive my grammatical errors. I made this instructables based on my experience in upgrading my laptop.
Here's a brief history why i do this upgrade.
I have an ASUS N43SL-VX264D which has an i7-2670QM Processor and Nvidia Geforce GT540 Internal Discrete GPU. i bought this in 2011. and i used this for gaming.
i have done the following upgrade to my laptop in order to make it better gaming device.
- RAM upgrade from 4GB to 8GB DDR3. i did it right when i bought this laptop back then in 2011
- Change the main HDD to 240GB SSD, i did it in 2014
- change the ODD to HDD Caddy, now i have 1 SSD and 1 750GB HDD in my laptop. i did it in 2014
with these upgrades, the spec is decent enough. it could play most games altough not with the greatest graphic settings but at least i still got 50++ fps..
ASUS N43SL is a bulky laptop, weighing around 2.5kg and the adaptor is really like a brick. weighing almost 0.6Kg... it become too heavy for me to bring it as i commute to work. i don't need that much processing power at work as i mainly only deal with office programs, and browsing the internet. so i bought a cheaper and lighter lenovo e145 to work and use my n43sl only at home to play games. connecting it to an external monitor via HDMI, and external gaming keyboard and gaming mouse.
the GPU was great. when i first bought it it could play most games. but now it doesn't meet requirement of a lot of games. the CPU However is still good. it still meet the minimum requirement of most games. so i decide to use external GPU to upgrade my laptop.
Using The external GPU, i could play many newer games without any lag. i now can choose my own gpu. however the upgrade is sacrificing WLAN / Wifi capabilities of my laptop. so i used another way to connect to internet.
This tutorial will be consist of 3 sections.
- hardware installation.
- software configuration
- other things you may need to know
DISCLAIMER: I DID THIS INSTRUCTIONS BASED ON MY OWN EXPERIENCE. HOWEVER, I DO NOT GUARANTEE IT WILL WORK ON YOUR LAPTOP. IF YOU WANT TO FOLLOW MY INSTRUCTIONS, YOU MUST AGREE THAT I CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGE CAUSED. DO WITH YOUR OWN RISK.
ALL IMAGES SHOWN IN THIS INSTRUCTABLE IS MY OWN IMAGE TAKEN USING MY SMARTPHONE. I AM NOT RELATED TO ANY SELLER OF THE PARTS LISTED IN THIS INSTRUCTION.
You're free to share this instructables on your website, or anywhere else as long as you still give credit to me and put a link to this instructables.
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 has their BIOS Locked. my lenovo e145 won't boot if i change the mini pcie wlan card to other wlan card. if your laptop is BIOS-Locked, then you need to unlock it first. but i don't know how. the fastest way to check this is to ask the forum of your fellow laptop-type user.
if your laptop has meet the above requirement, you can start gathering the upgrade material
Step 2: Tools and Ingredients
- The Laptop. I used an Asus N43SL-VX264D
- 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.
- An External Monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
- Desktop GPU of your choice. i use a Zotac GTX 950
- 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.
- 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.
- a screwdriver
- 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 (mini pcie/ngff/expresscard to HDMI)
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
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.
- plug the 8 pin to the beast
- attach the 20 pin to the 20 pin connector of the PSU
- 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 Choice 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
- connect the external VGA (which you attach on the beast) to the monitor using HDMI or your chosen interface
- plug your networking (wifi dongle or lan cable) to your laptop
- attach all power plug to the power outlet of your home
- the PSU
- the laptop
- 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
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.
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
- 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.
- Take care of the external GPU. since the external GPU is most likely to be placed on the table,
- it will be vulnerable to environment. it will catch dust easily, you should clean the gpu fans more often.
- it could get knocked down accidentally. so be careful when placing the gpu. and when putting something near the GPU
- 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: 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.