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Project GPUBox: External GPU case.

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#1
A common problem with modern-day high-end systems is the lack of space. I have six slots in my system, but with two GPUs in it I only have two slots left (one PCI and one PCIe). If I want to add another GTX470 for 3SLI (with some amazing scaling due to the 5760x1080 resolution) I will lose all my remaining slots while only using half of them. I don't think I have to mention the overheating issues caused by stacking three powerful GPUs one on top of the other and then clocking them to heck.

I don't like that, and I want to fix that. At work I commonly work with PCIe extender cables of nearly all shapes and sizes, so this got me thinking: Why not do something like this at home?

Thus the GPUBox concept was born. I plan on building an external box which will be able to accommodate four GPUs and an additional power supply unit to feed them with power. The GPUs will be well-spaced and the box will be well-ventilated to keep them cool. Since it is not constrained as a regular computer case is I can push air from nearly any imaginable direction.

Currently I am researching my options. I can start off from a regular computer case and mod it - This has the advantage of looking better than probably anything I can do myself and being water cooling ready due to having ready radiator mounts. Alternatively, I can build a completely custom case which will lend me full flexibility, but I only have experience with wood working, and no experience or tools in order to work with metal.

Gonna have to think which route I'll take - But I want my third GTX470, and I want my expansion slots back!
 

wolf

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#2
subbed! this reminds me of the early lucid hydra concept which was an external box and board to seat the GPU's.

I can't wait to see how it works out!

I'd suggest a ready made box, as you can pop in a PSU easily, fan mounts etc for w/c if you choose, or just fans. the hard part sounds like the pci-e extenders sitting properly in the case and being fed out of the master rig.
 
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#3
what do you need the slots for?? it sounds like a nice idea.
 

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#4
Interesting. i have a few ideas if you want to discuss them via PM. **Subscribed**
 
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#5
what do you need the slots for?? it sounds like a nice idea.
USB3.0 expansion card, another GPU to output to my TV, god knows what else might come up and I wanna mod something.
 
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#6
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#7
Okay. It seems that getting PCIe extender cables can be a little expensive. I never knew a piece of cable can be this expensive (granted, the signaling rate of PCIe is very high, but still). The ones I am seeing can cost up to 100$ for a single 12" length adapter. There is a ton of cheap ones on ebay, but I am pretty sure that they will not work properly at full bus speeds.

I need to do some research about ordering them through work (I doubt our labs pay this much for one cable).

Anyone has a source for such extenders for less money?
 
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#8
Subbed to see end results and to chip in with development if I can : ]
 
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#9
sub'd :D
 
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#10
Okay, currently checking with our electronics guys at work what is the longest full-rate, x16 lane, gen 2.0 PCIe extension cable they can build for me (or order for me). Still no idea on the costs, but at least it looks like I might have a source handy.
 
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#11
I always wanted to do this, but to mount a rig on my wall
Subbed
 

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#12
Rub a dub subd.
 
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#13
Count me in.. you might wanna patent the idea if it works well, i can imagine a lot of people would be very interested in this.
 
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#14
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#15
Count me in.. you might wanna patent the idea if it works well, i can imagine a lot of people would be very interested in this.
There is nothing patentable here, really. It has been done dozens of times before in HW development environments.

Thanks, but I cannot find a PCIe x16 extender there unfortunately, just x1 and x4 from what I see.
 
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#16
PciE slot you can only enlarge it for 6cm, further then that it will give faults.

there is an existing external PciE for vga's solution from asus rog
 
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#17
PciE slot you can only enlarge it for 6cm, further then that it will give faults.
We use longer extenders at work, so I would say you're not quite correct. Still trying to find out who makes them, though (went through four people so far and have a fifth name on the list. This one is actually supposed to be the one in charge of the orders).

there is an existing external PciE for vga's solution from asus rog
The XG Station? That's for laptops, and isn't 16 lanes.
 
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#18
We use longer extenders at work, so I would say you're not quite correct.
what i ment was the internal pciE can not be longer as a specified lenght,



The extenders you use will be different
 
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#19
Okay. Update at last. I tracked down the company we order the cables from. They are www.samtec.com and I plan to order cables from them this week. They allow you to customize cable lengths and lanes, so I should be able to get exactly what I need from them. I plan on a 500mm extender (cable) length at the moment.

Price is still up the air.
 
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#21
Borrowed a PCIe extender from work to test whether the concept is sound prior to making the actual orders. This is a PCIe X4 -> X16 extender so I'll only have four lanes, but this will be good enough to test whether a GPU works properly across this. Gonna be a PITA to take down my tri-monitor setup and then bring it up again when I am done.

But hey, no effort, no glory.
 
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#22
Nice Idea, i am only concerned about signal interference. PCI-E runs @ 100MHz, I think because of that mobile solutions transfers data via USB. I am curious if this would work.
Subbed!

*edit* How long is that extender?
 
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#23
Nice idea! Let us all know if the test run works out properly.
So you wanted to make a box for the gpu to sit in?
 

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#24
It would be interesting to see how cable lenght affects performance! :)
 
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#25
Nice Idea, i am only concerned about signal interference. PCI-E runs @ 100MHz, I think because of that mobile solutions transfers data via USB. I am curious if this would work.
Subbed!

*edit* How long is that extender?
The extender is 50cm in length from what I am guessing (no way to measure it here at the moment, but it looks about 50cm). We use these extenders at work, and there are no problems with signal interference, so I think this should work.