Modder Uses Laptop’s M.2 Slot to Run External RTX 3090 Graphics Card

(Photo: PC Watch)

External graphics cards are not a new idea, but they typically require a Thunderbolt 3 port on a laptop in order to function. However, one creative modder managed to hook up a GeForce RTX 3090 to a laptop using an M.2 slot.

As Tom’s Hardware and PC Watch reports, the laptop mod was carried out by an employee of the company Kosin, which is a Chinese subsidiary of Lenovo. He used a Kosin Air 14 laptop running a Ryzen 5 4600U processor and an RTX 3090 mounted on a stand and hooked up to a 650W ATX power supply. The M.2 NVMe SSD was removed from the laptop and a PCIe adapter inserted instead. As the M.2 slot is internal, a hole had to be cut in the laptop casing to allow the cable to run to the graphics card.

As the M.2 slot offers four PCIe lanes (x4 PCIe 3.0 and 4GB/s), the experiment worked and improved the graphical performance of the laptop. However, the RTX 3090 is usually inserted into an x16 PCIe 3.0 slot (16GB/s), so the performance fell well short of what the card is actually capable of. Even so, the modded laptop managed to score 14,008 points on 3DMark TimeSpy. The 3DMark website lists the 4600U with its more typical reliance on a Radeon RX GPU as scoring around 1,000 points, so you can certainly see how an external graphics card can boost performance.

Although such a mod isn’t practical for laptops, it does demonstrate the benefit and therefore potential market for shipping mid-range laptops with a Thunderbolt 3 port to make such an upgrade possible without sacrificing mobility or a storage slot.

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