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Author Topic: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?  (Read 549 times)

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Howard_Casto

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Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« on: August 17, 2017, 11:49:06 pm »
So I might be able to get ahold of a dell e5430 laptop pretty cheap.  I was thinking it might make a decent candidate for a desktop replacement if not for the crappy integrated video card.  So external graphics adapters seem a little sketchy to me and a quick search on ebay shows the average price for the adapter is 40 bucks.  Considering I'm not going to put a high end video card in there anyway would it even be worth it?  Am I going to have a hard time setting it up, ect.....

Any advice would be welcomed. 

ark_ader

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2017, 04:02:05 am »
So I might be able to get ahold of a dell e5430 laptop pretty cheap.  I was thinking it might make a decent candidate for a desktop replacement if not for the crappy integrated video card.  So external graphics adapters seem a little sketchy to me and a quick search on ebay shows the average price for the adapter is 40 bucks.  Considering I'm not going to put a high end video card in there anyway would it even be worth it?  Am I going to have a hard time setting it up, ect.....

Any advice would be welcomed.

Its like everything in life, each tool does a particular job.  When it comes to laptops its a mixed bag, as a gaming machine, office workhorse, or coding/light gaming/office.  Each machine marketed tries to be the everyday tool.  Dell tends to be corporate centric so think stock environment.  Lenovo and lately HP have been adding AMD processors which come with a decent integrated graphiÁs.  Dell (unless stated) is using HD discrete graphics.

Now we look at alternative graphic solutions.  External adapters.  Usb2VGA are the same as Usb monitors.  They do office well but suck at dvd playback and games.  If your laptop has a thunderbolt port or usb C, you might be able to connect an external graphics card.  These have good reviews.

To be honest, I find that laptops for gaming do not give a good return of investment, so a desktop solution would be better.  I bought a lenovo 585 with an A10 quad core processor that had an APU,  and an Ati 7660g crossfire enabled, 8gb and 1td hdd for about $500.  It doesnt play the AAA titles very well, except fallout4.

As a development laptop or office, it just flies.  Your quoted laptop does not have a usb c port, so you are stuck with HD4000, and any exotic external graphic cards or adapters will bottleneck at usb 2.0 speeds.  Even usb3 will not cut it.  The usb2vga adapters are plug and play but get one that is new.  I have a star tech and it is 3 years old and doesn't work on anything after vista.  Be careful not to go too cheap, and get the usb monitors from acer.  People are dumping obsolete tech on ebay.

Is the laptop cheap for a reason?  Maybe.  Can you put that money on a A12 processor with a R7 APU that will play games at low res?

Its not like buying a car, but you have to make sure the battery charges and there is no thermal damage or cracks at the hinges.

So to answer your question. The laptop is decent in the spec department, but graphically challenged  without any expansion.  You will get two displays max native. You can add as many usb displays.  I had 7 at one point, thus the warning of old adapters. 

There are these adapters but unless it is cheap and you have the spare port:

https://youtu.be/bP_8EYQ-2RA
« Last Edit: August 18, 2017, 06:55:06 am by ark_ader »
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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2017, 03:22:15 pm »
Thanks for the reply. 

This is a laptop used in a business environment.... basically they were loaned out to people so they could work from home during sick days, ect...  I've purchased desktops from them in the past and they are always of a good quality. 

The adapter you linked to at the end is actually the one I'm talking about.  I believe the 5430 has an old fashioned pci-e card slot, so I wouldn't even have to remove the wireless adapter.  My home desktop is quite old at this point... a 2.5 ghz core2 quad.  While it runs games just fine, as I have a decent video card in there, the cpu is starting to become a bottleneck for newer emulators (ps3, ds, ect.)  I'm just wondering if it's going to be a wash since the external adapter will most likely gimp the video card somewhat. 

It would really be nice to move to a smaller desk, thus the laptop idea, but like you said, buying a gaming laptop is about like throwing your money away since they are so much more expensive than a gaming desktop. 

ark_ader

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2017, 03:13:39 am »
Thanks for the reply. 

This is a laptop used in a business environment.... basically they were loaned out to people so they could work from home during sick days, ect...  I've purchased desktops from them in the past and they are always of a good quality. 

The adapter you linked to at the end is actually the one I'm talking about.  I believe the 5430 has an old fashioned pci-e card slot, so I wouldn't even have to remove the wireless adapter.  My home desktop is quite old at this point... a 2.5 ghz core2 quad.  While it runs games just fine, as I have a decent video card in there, the cpu is starting to become a bottleneck for newer emulators (ps3, ds, ect.)  I'm just wondering if it's going to be a wash since the external adapter will most likely gimp the video card somewhat. 

It would really be nice to move to a smaller desk, thus the laptop idea, but like you said, buying a gaming laptop is about like throwing your money away since they are so much more expensive than a gaming desktop.

Without sounding rude  :D how much is this laptop?  If it is $150 then I would go for it and bump the memory to 8gb and add an SSD.  What I don't like about that dock, is how flimsy it is.  Nice airflow but a dust magnet.  You couldn't go too high spec, maybe a gtx950 mini and some BYOAC magic for a case.  That data cable needs reinforcing and will it actually fit as these pcie sockets are designed for small wifi boards.  If you have the 950 you could drive 4 monitors, or one 32 inch display.

Tomb raider did look pretty sweet.  So 150+50+50+120 and psu, case(?), and ssd. Laptop+memory+dock+refurbished 950, you get a decent stock rig.  If the laptop is more then chew on the newegg deal and roi depends on your needs.

Now what can I buy for that amount?  Best I can do and its new:

https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834315926&ignorebbr=1&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-PC&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-PC-_-pla-_-Gaming+Laptops-_-N82E16834315926&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1K35st7i1QIVB7jACh05pACSEAkYCSABEgJuZPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
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Howard_Casto

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 07:28:57 am »
Nah it's not even that much.  75 bucks.  I'm not worried about the case.... that's what my 3d printer is for.  They make a version of the dock that has a card at the end instead of the mini pci-e connector. 

Thenasty

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2017, 11:25:15 am »
75 bucks, i'll take 2 shipped :)
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Howard_Casto

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2017, 11:55:54 am »
I wish.... I might not even get it.  There is a lottery where my mom works when they are ready to upgrade their tech..... more employees than laptops.  So it's one per person and if too many people put in for one they pull the names at random.  They've got ipads for 75 as well, but again, I can only apply for one and I'd rather have the laptop. 

I've gotten a few over the years.... some were great deals.... some were probably a decent buy at best.  They've all had very little wear on them though. 

knave

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2017, 06:40:56 pm »
For what its worth the HD 4000 integrated graphics runs a good amount of indie and older games.

I bought an off lease dell latitude and I play games on it all the time. Often I get med settings @720p. on older FPS games

I think for $50 it would be fun  to try the external provided you have an old desktop GPU around.
It kind of ruins the portability with the dock, gpu and power supply all hanging off your lap.

Buy this laptop and use Steam in home streaming to play games from a more powerful PC.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2017, 06:52:15 pm by knave »

Howard_Casto

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2017, 08:24:50 pm »
Well I found these little buggers:

https://www.amazon.com/Fixable-Adapter-Flexible-Extension-Connector/dp/B00IMYODGS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503188317&sr=8-1&keywords=pcie+extender

Apparently people use them for the fruitless cause of bitcoin mining.  I'm wondering why I couldn't just use that.  I mean it is a pci-e slot afterall, even if it is a mini slot.  The thing that freaks me out about it is how in the blue hell is the data being carried over a usb 3.0 line?  The hdmi cable the other adapters use I understand... there's a buttload of pins in hdmi, but I don't get how 4 pins are sending data from 20+ pins unless it's being converted to usb 3.0 and then back again.  That seems like it would defeat the purpose. 

ark_ader

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 05:53:34 pm »
Well I found these little buggers:

https://www.amazon.com/Fixable-Adapter-Flexible-Extension-Connector/dp/B00IMYODGS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1503188317&sr=8-1&keywords=pcie+extender

Apparently people use them for the fruitless cause of bitcoin mining.  I'm wondering why I couldn't just use that.  I mean it is a pci-e slot afterall, even if it is a mini slot.  The thing that freaks me out about it is how in the blue hell is the data being carried over a usb 3.0 line?  The hdmi cable the other adapters use I understand... there's a buttload of pins in hdmi, but I don't get how 4 pins are sending data from 20+ pins unless it's being converted to usb 3.0 and then back again.  That seems like it would defeat the purpose.

As I don't see the point with bitcoin mining, these adapters are for headless gpu processing so 624mb transfer rate in a cluster seems feasible.  USB 3.0 cables are the weak link.  You are not going to get quality with $6.  This would not be a solution, for your laptop scenario.  I wish I could go back to year 2000 and buy 300 bitcoins for $500
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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2017, 01:17:22 am »
So I got the laptop and I'm actually wondering if I even need the video card now.  Fired up mame....... performance is as expected on an i5.  Fired up dolphin.... with the lowest settings fzero gx runs 60fps.  Tried DICE.... no slowdowns.  Installed dirt 3....  I have to use the lowest settings, but again, 60fps.  I'm going to try Mortal Kombat X or something more taxing tomorrow. 

I think I might go ahead and get the external gpu adapter just as an experiment, but I've been pleasantly surprised at how competent it is as-is.  The last time I tried a laptop with intel hd graphics on it the thing ran like crap, so I guess there has been significant improvements in that dept. 


Loafmeister

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Re: Are external video cards for laptops worth it?
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2017, 11:17:27 am »
That's an excellent $75 spent then, congrats on a very good deal!

  
 

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