Log turning a NUC into a 1080p gaming rig - the cheap way - DIY eGPU

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
Some people might have followed my idea to develop a eGPU case dedicated for NUCs.

Today I want to show you how to build your own eGPU (for your NUC) without the need for some expensive Thunderbolt Graphics Dock.



What you need:
  • NUC (with 2.5" SATA caddy prefered)
  • Graphics Card
  • MEANWELL RPS-400-12-C (ca. EUR 75,-)
  • ADT-LINK R43SL 0.3m riser cable (ca. EUR 25,-)
  • some screws, standoffs and cables (ca. EUR 5,-)
  • something to fix everything together (e.g. piece of metal, plastic or makerbeam)
Here is a short video how everything is put together:


 
Last edited:

hyshka

Chassis Packer
Jun 10, 2020
16
5
This is a really cool concept. Do most GPUs run directly off of 12V? I'm sure you come up with a small custom circuit to configure the +5V to the Meanwell...or if the Meanwell is that much slower an independent circuit which would power on both the Meanwell and Mobo for you with correct timing.
 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
This is a really cool concept. Do most GPUs run directly off of 12V? I'm sure you come up with a small custom circuit to configure the +5V to the Meanwell...or if the Meanwell is that much slower an independent circuit which would power on both the Meanwell and Mobo for you with correct timing.

Thanks.

Yeah, you can connect any good 12v psu with low ripple to the PCIe power connector of your graphics card. So you just need a cheap riser and a good psu and you are ready to go.

I think a flip flop circuit might work to solve the remaining issue, maybe even a cap in the 5v / power switch line would work. but I had no time to test it yet.
 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
Short update on this project: I got it running as it was supposed to be!

Instead of the HRPG power supply I am now using the MEANWELL RPS-400-12-C and it works great.



All you need to do to make it work is to connect the 5V pin of the NUC front-header to the PS-ON Pin (PIN #3) of the RPS-400-12 as shown below. Doing that will switch your GPU ON and OFF together with the NUC without issues.



I also did a few benchmarks comparing the performance of TB3 and PCIE 4x eGPU connection.

Depending on the benchmark (or game) you are running, you will gain about 3% to 5% performance boost with the PCIE 4x connection via M.2

Guess I can go ahead now and finalizing my NUC eGPU case I've been working on. ?



 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
Adding some links of what you need to build this DIY eGPU:

ADT-LINK M.2 to PCIe Riser, R43SL 0.3m



MEANWELL Power Supply:



And if you prefer Thunderbolt over M.2: Just get any of these "Thunderbolt 3 Enclosures for M.2 NVME SSDs" (they all use the same TB3 controller board). Just instead of putting some SSD inside, connect the M.2 PCIe riser cable. Note: make sure to get one of the 40Gbps ones. These sell for USD 100,- and up. The cheaper ones only support 20 or 10 Gbps.

 
Last edited:

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
The plan is that you can use it either together with a NUC (mounted on top) or as tiny stand alone eGPU enclosure (with a top cover and additional fan).

If all works out with the prototype, it will look like this:

 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
  • Like
Reactions: julianknowsme

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
Also are you using an R3G board in one of those photos?

Yeah, I also made some tests with the R3G. It's easier to use if you go with an ATX PSU or Dell power brick. There are many builds on eGPU.io you can check out. If you go with the Meanwell RPS 400 or 500 you can buy the cheaper riser cable.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: julianknowsme

julianknowsme

Efficiency Noob
Aug 12, 2020
7
1
Yeah, I also made some tests with the R3G. It's easier to use if you go with an ATX PSU or Dell power brick. There are many builds on eGPU.io you can check out. If you go with the Meanwell RPS 400 or 500 you can buy the cheaper riser cable.
Cheers, thanks for the link to that website. Hopefully I do okay with my tinkering. Btw, I know you say that the GPU has to be "75 ~ 125W" is there a particular one you would recommend for a NUC8i5BEH... or rather, are there anything to watch out for which won't work with this setup?
 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
Cheers, thanks for the link to that website. Hopefully I do okay with my tinkering. Btw, I know you say that the GPU has to be "75 ~ 125W" is there a particular one you would recommend for a NUC8i5BEH... or rather, are there anything to watch out for which won't work with this setup?

The power recommendation depends on the PSU you are going to use and if you want to power it only from the Riser (PCIe slot) or also using a e.g. 6 pin PCIe power connector. Actually there is no limit if you are using a powerful enough PSU.

For my setup I'm using a 75W GTX1650 which can be powered only by the PCIe slot. Together with my i5 NUC I can run most games at 1080p 60FPS.
 

julianknowsme

Efficiency Noob
Aug 12, 2020
7
1
The power recommendation depends on the PSU you are going to use and if you want to power it only from the Riser (PCIe slot) or also using a e.g. 6 pin PCIe power connector. Actually there is no limit if you are using a powerful enough PSU.

For my setup I'm using a 75W GTX1650 which can be powered only by the PCIe slot. Together with my i5 NUC I can run most games at 1080p 60FPS.

Cheers,
Sorry to keep bugging you for specifics...
This sort of thing is a really cool, "no frills" alternative to getting a Razer Core X (which are huge and crazy expensive at the moment).

So, assuming I get the following items:
  • MEANWELL RPS-400-12-C
  • ADT-LINK M.2 to 16x PCIe riser cable (as per your Amazon link)
  • A 75W GTX1650
Should have all the parts I'll be needing?
I guess I'm confused about where the limiting factor is, with these items. Could I potentially get a higher power GPU?

I was assuming that the Meanwell provides power to the GPU via some kind of power connector (6 pin?) and that the ADT-Link cable just does the data.
However, are you saying in your comment above that you don't need the Meanwell and you can just use the ADT-Link cable without it (so long as you are only using a low power (~75W) GPU, like your GTX1650)?

If I do get the Meanwell, are you saying that (with that ADT-link cable) it's possible to plug in a higher power GPU?

Apologies for all the questions.
I'm also interested in the different ways of housing it all together... but just wanting to clarify the overall components, first.
Cheers,
Julian
 

REVOCCASES

Shrink Ray Wielder
Original poster
REVOCCASES
Apr 2, 2020
2,069
3,348
www.revoccases.com
So, assuming I get the following items:
  • MEANWELL RPS-400-12-C
  • ADT-LINK M.2 to 16x PCIe riser cable (as per your Amazon link)
  • A 75W GTX1650
Should have all the parts I'll be needing?
I guess I'm confused about where the limiting factor is, with these items. Could I potentially get a higher power GPU?

Basically yes. You'll also need some connectors and cables as shown below. Not sure how these are called, might need to search a bit around.

The limiting factor is that the PCIe slot can only provide 75W max. If you want to use higher TDP GPUs you can do this by connecting an additional 6/8 PIN cable to the MEANWELL.

Hope this picture helps: