An eGPU dock that's actually SFF (name TBD)

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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SLI 2 x Zotac 1080 Minis IMO



https://www.amazon.ca/Supermicro-RSC-R2UT-2E8R-2-port-Riser-Card/dp/B0037KAE2O

Pretty sure you could run two ITX GPUs in a single enclosure and still be waaaay smaller than most of the eGPU options on the market right now
 

jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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I'm not a fan of the reinforced PCIe slots so many motherboard manufacturers are putting out, but I think a flexible solution designed to flex a little would be ideal. As for the GPU itself, perhaps some adjustable brackets to keep it in place.

I'll think about it but one of the goals is too keep the design as simple as possible to reduce cost since the custom enclosure would be on top of the price of the AKiTiO and then the power solution.

There's a lot of longer cards, but nothing between 10.5" and Zotac's 1070/1080 minis. I think if you're going to do this as a potentially production run case then it should be 10.5" or longer.

One idea I'm toying with is to have the internal AC-DC at the front of the case so if you want a longer card you could remove it and use an external brick.

Make the end (furthest from the GPU ports) modular - a tool free end cap that fits flush but you could switch it out for a longer one to support larger cards. Maybe ITX length and regular length, or regular length and oversized.

I'll check into but my initial though is there would be no easy way to do this without it looking ugly and being cumbersome.

I think it would be cool to have the smallest dock possible. I like the idea of the Zotac 1080 Mini as the largest supported card.

I tend to agree. Why should manufacturers make small cards if there aren't cases (or eGPU docks) that require it?
 

Runamok81

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I think it would be cool to have the smallest dock possible. I like the idea of the Zotac 1080 Mini as the largest supported card.

Agreed. Go too big and what differentiates this design from what already exists? The Market is already crowded on the full-size end of things.

I was wondering, perhaps you could make the end of the enclosure modular?
[/spoiler]

Ah! That's a very forward thinking addition, nice. A modular end is a nice concession for larger cards. Mac users do this to the smaller AkiTiO Thunder3 as the smaller chassis is the only one having a TB3 board that supports their OS. It could end up being too much of concession... guess we'll see.
 
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Phuncz

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I'd love to see this be more versatile and smaller and have a design that caters to people that can actually buy these. But all those checkboxes seem to be cleared in the inception stage. I'd love to see mSTX and NUC mounting support, along with possibly storage support (2,5" or 3,5" if possible) for when a GPU wouldn't be used.

Also try to omit fans in the design, the GPU and NUC/mSTX already have fans and there's no need to fill it with even more fans if it's designed around this concept, like the NFC S4 Mini. The ZOTAC GTX 1080 Mini as a max size would allow many GPUs to still be used, like an Radeon Nano, RX460, GTX 1050 Ti, GTX 1060, GTX 1070, GTX 1080 and who knows what AMD will be cooking up. Going full length does have a nice advantage to it but only if it doesn't end up being 12 liters.

Maybe incorporate some kind of grip in the design, something like a inward folded edge on the bottom so you can more easily grab it with one hand. And please called it "Bar". Because RGB lights belong in a strip club.
 
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Runamok81

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Also try to omit fans in the design, the GPU and NUC/mSTX already have fans and there's no need to fill it with even more fans if it's designed around this concept, like the NFC S4 Mini.
Unless the design ends up being fully perforated like the S4, I'm thinking that an exhaust fan will be required. Maybe @Josh | NFC can weigh in on that?

If -unlike the designs above-you stick to smaller cards and allow the hot air to diffuse then maybe you can get away without exhaust fans? You'd have to test.
 
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Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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Even looking at the NFC with fairly substantial venting over a very large surface area (both side panels, bottom panel and back panel), thermals are still often a problem. I'm currently up in the air about a fan based vs. fanless design for the case I've been working on and I'm not totally confident I think thermals can be optimal without forced air.
 

jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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It may have to be a dual chamber design if we want to minimize fans and we use the HDPLEX combo since they're only passively cooled, and I don't think stuffing them in the same compartment as a non-blower GTX 1080 would be a good idea
 

Kmpkt

Innovation through Miniaturization
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What I would go for were I designing this eGPU enclosure would be a thick wrap around bezel like on the S4 that both the AC-DC and DC-DC unit can heatsink onto. From there, you can easily put on two side panels and a back panel that can mount to said bezel. Could have ample ventilation and the heat sinking onto the bulkier outer frame of the enclosure would likely keep the thermals of the power system under control.
 
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3lfk1ng

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I wanted to chime in and say that I too like the idea of supporting the tiny 1080 mini at the very least

If rumors hold true, the next-gen HBM2 cards should be shorter-than-normal-length due to the stacking of the memory ICs (like the 8" Fury and 6" Nano) so perhaps the next-gen enthusiast cards will fit as well.

I also wanted to add that I am not opposed to having one or two 12mm low-profile fans to prevent GPU throttling or possible heat soak issues.
 

ChainedHope

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Jun 5, 2016
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Some ideas are probably mentioned somewhere but im in a hurry and cant read the entire thread right now (have to leave the house in a few minutes)

Ideas

- Mounting bracket to attach a NUC to the system. Doesnt need to be a hard mount, just a soft bracket to slot it into. Stick with the general form factor for nucs, not the skull canyon (its the only one in that form factor), or make a new standard for the mount and produce specific brackets for each nuc.

- Modular End. I mentioned wanting to design the accordion of eGPU cases a little bit ago, but never had the time. Essentially design the base station for the mITX variants and have a pull out design that allows it to be pulled out on rails to extend the end of the case to allow longer cards and a simple thumb screw or pressure mount to lock it in place.

- Modular PSU support. Some people want a brick, some people want an internal. Find a way to make it a reality. If you do the modular end idea, putting the psu at the end of the case could allow for someone to mount a SFX or a pico psu (their choice) with a selection of mounting bracket for the power inlet.

- USB power off. Make a circuit to control the power to the eGPU. I see quite a few eGPU cases that have a switch to turn off their psu's for if the consumer doesnt need it. A simple power circuit using a usb to check if power is coming from the 5v to turn off or on the eGPU would be a nice addition. Since most usb power starts transmitting as soon as the motherboard turns on or shortly after post, there shouldnt be much issue with boot errors in windows from connecting a GPU too far into the boot sequence.

Thats what i have thought about so far when i was going to make a similar project lol. Hope to see it take off sometime soonish (within the next few months)
 

jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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Well, after thinking about the time schedule for this, it'll have to be a KISS design. I want to keep March free for other projects so really this will need to be wrapped up by end of February.

So I'm thinking finish up design by end of January. Get quotes, manufacturing (which I hope to take video of if it's fabbed locally), and testing done in February.

It's a tight schedule but I got STX160.0 designed and fabricated within 1 month so it should be doable if the feature scope doesn't get out of hand.

I need to get OBS setup as a backup to John in case he's unavailable for our special CES livestream so I'm tentatively planning to do a brainstorming livestream to test it Wednesday evening (Central time) to start roughing things out.
 

jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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The Thunder3 dock is on Amazon for $250 though.
 

Runamok81

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It's the same board inside isn't it?

Good question. The TB3 boards inside the two products - Thunder3 and Node - should have the same dimensions and mounting points. They both use a variation of the InXTron HDK board here.



Here is a shot of the inside of the Thunder3 (Ordered)



And here is shot of the inside of the AkiTiO Node (Cancelled)



I say should, because I haven't owned both. The TB3 boards inside look to have the same dimensions and design to me. One difference I do know of is that the the older Thunder3 uses a different TB3 controller it uses the Texas Instruments TPS65982 which IS compatible with Mac OSX via some workarounds. The newer Node has a newer TPS65983 which isn't. So the Thunder3 I've ordered actually has the more desirable chip of the two. Dimensions across product should be similar.
 

jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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Hmm, the InXTron does have teh 6-pin for power though, while I forgot the AKiTiO (and what's up with the stupid capitalization?) has the DC jack.
 

Runamok81

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Which part would you prefer? Shall I cancel the Thunder3 order and just get the HDK? I'm unsure of how the 6-Pin plays into it. I suppose it possible supplies 75W to the PCIe slot?
 

jeshikat

Jessica. Wayward SFF.n Founder
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Nevermind, the 6-pin appears to be for powering the GPU, not powering the controller cards.

And the Node includes a PSU for powering the card , so it's not relying on that 6-pin anyway. I suppose if it doesn't work it could be returned and you'd just be out shipping.

Edit: Gah, I'm not sure, the product page on InXTron's site is missing a few key points regarding power. But they specifically say on their page it's not intended for resale so if a bunch of people suddenly starting ordering those kits they may shut things down so probably better to make the AKiTiO work anyway.