Modding a R61 with an Advanced Docking Station

Discussion in 'Modding' started by poleposition, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    hey all,
    I am quite keen on seeing what I can get out of this Older Laptop. I originally got it as a portable system that I can bring around and with the use of a Docking Station I can use it to connect upto 2 monitors.

    The thing that appealed to me the most was its ability to use a docking station. I wanted the ability to just put it on the dock and have the functionality of a full system.

    I installed a SataIII 1tb hard drive in the main spot in the hard drive and I have a Ultrabay adaptor coming which would replace the dvd drive, allowing me to have another 1tb hard drive in there.

    The thing that appeals to me the most was the R61 laptop has the ability to change cpus.

    There is a number of docks available

    Basic Dock
    pretty basic and only has one vga out

    Medium Level Dock
    Supports DVI and VGA Twin Screen out

    Advanced 2503 Dock
    Supports DVI and VGA Twin Screen out
    Supports Low Profile PCIe card (inside the actual dock).

    The advanced dock also has an Ultrabay which will allow me to install another 1tb hard drive, but I will probably just end up using an external 4tb hard drive and plug it in since I won't be able to bring that hard drive around with me anyway.

    I don't play a lot of new games and i'm mainly using this system to have some fun.

    The R61 laptop does have a Express Port which would allow me to use a VIDdock but they are quite expensive.

    The factory T7100 cpu was ok, but I found that a T7700 2.4ghz cpu would fit in without any worries so I installed one of those. I'm using 3gb ram at the moment.

    I heard of some people installing a T9300 cpu but it required a modified middleton bios to get running. My hopes were to install a X9300 but the motherboard doesn't support overclocking so it wouldn't have made much diff haha.


    Graphics Card Choice
    The Advanced Dock does have some specific requirements for which Video Cards it supports
    Low-profile full-length or full-height full-length PCI Express card with x1, x4, x8 or x16 slot connectors.
    50-watt power consumption limit.

    I am wondering if anyone could recommend a card that wouldn't require extra power connectors and would use upto 50w power?

    My recommendations so far have been the HD5450.

    The card must not use a large fan since there is only a small amount of space.

    I've been playing some older games like Serious Sam 2 and Half Life 2, just looking for a few more FPS.

    I hope the project might be interesting for a few members, the idea behind it was to show that older equipment (especially older laptops) is still very useful.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
  2. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    I have found that the HD6570 1GB DDR3 card is one of the best cards available that will actually work in the Docking Station.

    Here is a pic of the dock (found online).

    As you can see its quite big

    [​IMG]

    The card sits on the right hand side of the dock when its sitting on the desk
    [​IMG]


    Here is a 3dmark06 test of the card I am looking at running (HD6570 1gb DDR3)
    [​IMG]

    While its not state of the art gaming wise, it makes the system much more capable when running older games like Half Life 2, Call Of Duty, Serious Sam 2 etc

    My aim would be to get this system actually working with Far Cry 3 lol. My other system (HD5770 and a Q6600) seems to play it pretty well.

    I am hoping to try another card with an external power supply one day using a PCIE 1x extender cable, whlie the bandwidth won't be as good it should be

    As mentioned in my first post though, i'm sure for the same money it would be very easy to build a system that would beat this system hands down but the easy way is never as fun haha
     
  3. FuzzyKaos

    FuzzyKaos Member

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    Why don't you use an external power supply for the power to the video card.

    You don' need to use a whole case sized PSU, I used to have one that was the size of a laptop PSU and only hand one molex plug on the end.

    Or just hack it with a soldering iron.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    Hey Mate,
    Thats a good point, it would definitely open up the video card options available. The only issue is the limitation of the cards length and height.

    I've been getting out the older games (2000-2009) like half life, tron 2.0 (how could I have never played this game, its awesome), half life 2, serious sam etc.

    It would be hopeful that I could a card with watercooling abilities and get an all in one unit similar to those Corsair X90 units. It would be done moreso for space limitions than overclocking.
     
  5. FuzzyKaos

    FuzzyKaos Member

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    I'm even thinking a PCIe extension cable if such a thing exists. (I just google'd it and it does, cool!) You can mount the video card on a stand on your desk and have the ribbon running to the dock.

    Or using just a riser card and you can elevate the dock so the video card can dangle underneath.

    LOL lucky you are doing this for fun!
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  6. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    Your right haha. If I was doing it for outright performance I would have stopped a while ago haha.

    I bought a PCIe Extension Cable from ebay the other day as I was really curious if I could get a bigger card on board. The only issue is that the extender cables are only about 30cm-40cm long which unfortunately doesn't leave much room.

    I was thinking of building a Perspex Enclosure for a small PSU and a big video card (might try a 5770 or similar). I have seen some limitations come out from the limited pci 1x port which seems to effect the bandwidth quite considerably.

    Its like making a ferrari out of a Tarago at the moment haha. Trying to combine functionality with performance, never a good thing when you've got me as the mechanic haha.
     
  7. thebranded

    thebranded Member

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    consider a DIY eGPU (VIDock)
    http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/
    particularily the posts from user "nando"

    I have 12" hp 2530p (core2duo) connected to a GTS450 and a 24" screen via docking station

    Power to the GPU is via xbox360 psu

    kits float around ocau from $50-$100
     
  8. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    I wonder if the diy egpu would go quicker through the express port or through the existing pci port on the dock?

    I prefer the option of the xbox360 power supply for sure. All I would need to do is make a small enclosure just for the card and i'm set, on a guide i looked up earlier on google it appears easy enough to do.

    What sort of games can you play with the GTS450 using that port?

    Thanks for the idea
     
  9. FuzzyKaos

    FuzzyKaos Member

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    So join two together.
     
  10. thebranded

    thebranded Member

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    i can play borderlands 2 and TF2 at 1080 resolution with no lag on medium to high settings. BL2 may slow down a bit when lots happening.

    Tombraider (the newest) at 720 resolution , medium to high settings has a bit of lag. All games played in a window, not fullscreen.

    but the GTS450 is not maxing out the single PCI-e port or the xbox psu, so i could go up to a gtx 550 i beleive. (need to check that) and i can use a second cpi-port (my by swaping out my wifi card) but then its not as easy to just undock and walk away.

    what i wanted was a small screen laptop (10"-12") for its portablility but at home as its my main device i also wanted to play some games.

    So laptop by its self = great portablity
    Laptop in dock = basic web surfing and office apps on a 24" screen (and 12")
    laptop in dock and eGPU enabled = gaming on 24" and usually a browser on the 12"

    [edit] i dont ahve a case for my egpu and psu, i've just zip tied them together and kept behind the monitor, i'l post some pics if i remember
     
  11. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    Good idea thanks :), I didn't think of that haha


    Thats very reasonable indeed, considering my onboard graphics wouldn't run most things too well.

    I was thinking of keeping the HD6570 for older games, and then use the experss port adaptor and xbox 360 psu for newer games. I think a GTX550 would be unreal.

    I love the fact that I can remove the laptop and keep using it for what I wanted, then just click it in and have a reasonably decent gaming system.
     
  12. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    I had a thought, if I was to use an external psu to supply power to the card, how would the card react to not having a common ground (since the card will be getting its main power from the motherboard and auxillary power from the seperate PSU, say a xbox 360 one).

    The external vidock solutions normally run a common ground so the psu would power both the pci board and the auxillary molex power required to run the card.
     
  13. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    I finally got around to trying out the laptop with the new HD6570 card.

    I did a 3dmark06 score, didn't actually come out that bad considering its using a mobile t7700 processor and a pci port.

    the stock card got something like 2100 3dmark06

    I know its quite irrelevant these days to run 3dmark06 scores but most of the games I play at the moment were around this time so its good to know what I am running up against. My old AMD 5200+ with a hd4850 pulled around 7000 3dmark06 back in the day so i'm not doing too badly.

    The next text will be a 1gb HD7750 card when I can find one :)

    Any comments would be most welcome:

    [​IMG]
     
  14. miicah

    miicah Member

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    These laptops are awesome, good to see you making use of "old" hardware :D
     
  15. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    Thanks :) I think this was one of the only models to have featured a dock with a pcie port.

    In todays standards 6400 3dmark06 points is pretty irrelevant but i'm proud of the research I did. I had to get one of these docks out from America as they are pretty rare to find.

    I know with a hd7750 i've seen 3dmark06 scores of 12k with the same laptop so that would be the next step for sure.
     
  16. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    I have managed to find a HD7750 graphics card so i'll be trying this out in the next few weeks. I'm not likely to see big improvements but it will allow my notebook dock to output to a 3x eyefinity setup which i'm super keen to check out.

    The PSU fan on the unit is extremely noisy and switches on based on a load sensor, so if you start a game or flick screens the psu fan goes on then off then on. Its very annoying. I am on the hunt for a thin 60mm fan that would be 15mm or so thick (has to fit in a pretty small spot).

    The PCIE slot also has a fan but this won't be used since the graphics card has one accessible.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    I got around to testing my HD5770 with my Advanced dock using a pci extension cable and the results were quite good considering i'm limited to PCIE 2.0 x1

    My original score with the internal graphics was around 3000

    The same video card in my previous setup scored around 15000 with a x3350 quad core processor

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  18. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    Just tried my favourite game richard burns rally, ran beautifully.

    Also tried iRacing with the same success, 1920x1080 with graphics on high and I was getting 50-60fps.

    What a brilliant system this has become. I'm over the moon with its success.

    Its not state of the art but I built it because it was unique and convenient.

    I have 3 docks around the house now, 1 in the garage, one in the lounge and one in the gaming room.
     
  19. thebranded

    thebranded Member

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    congrats, nice setup you have! I've been thinking of upgrading my card but so far have not seen a need for it.

    Do you find the laptop hotter or stressed out more?
     
  20. OP
    OP
    poleposition

    poleposition Member

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    Thanks for that :) I must admit the laptop seems to run cooler since the graphics card component is outside the case and the internal gpu must be working at a bare minimum if any at all.

    My main limitation will always be the pci 2.0 x1 bandwidth, but I am really impressed with how it all worked out. I looked for this particular docking station for about 2.5 months and ended up having to order it from USA. It cost about $85 shipped which is quite a bit but the proof of concept was well worth the outlay.
     

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