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wunderlichluke
1 Copper

External GPU & Monitor Support for the XPS 13 7390 (Not 2-in-1)

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Hi, I'm having trouble finding how many lanes each thunderbolt 3 port has on the conventional 7390?

I'm also trying to figure out if the 7390 can support an external GPU, a monitor, a mechanical keyboard, and a mouse for gaming at the same time, if it were to be the brains of my desktop.

Any and all help is appreciated!

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: External GPU & Monitor Support for the XPS 13 7390 (Not 2-in-1)

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If you want to run all of that hardware, your best bet would be an eGPU enclosure that itself provided power to the attached system (the XPS 13 requires 45W for proper functioning) and also had built-in USB ports that you could plug your other peripherals into.  The only other way to do it while maintaining a single cable connection to your PC would be to connect the system to a Thunderbolt 3 docking station that supplied power and included an "upstream" Thunderbolt 3 port for peripherals, and then connect your eGPU to that port on the dock -- but that would be more expensive overall, and considering that you'd presumably be attaching any external displays to the eGPU itself, then most of the dock's functionality would be useless to you.

To the question about PCIe lanes, I believe the answer is x4, but I'm trying to track down an official source there.  As for eGPU compatibility, considering that older systems have been able to run an eGPU, I don't see why you'd have a problem there.  If you haven't already, eGPU.io and its forums are a useful resource for learning about experiences people have with various systems, and as the name implies, it's focused around eGPU setups and therefore has some people very knowledgeable about that subject available.  One thing to be aware of though is that the XPS 13 models use Intel's low power U Series CPUs, not the higher performance H Series CPUs used in models like the XPS 15.  As a result, high-end GPUs could become bottlenecked by that system's CPU, so you may find that money spent getting the top-end GPU would be wasted.  Just fyi.

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: External GPU & Monitor Support for the XPS 13 7390 (Not 2-in-1)

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If you want to run all of that hardware, your best bet would be an eGPU enclosure that itself provided power to the attached system (the XPS 13 requires 45W for proper functioning) and also had built-in USB ports that you could plug your other peripherals into.  The only other way to do it while maintaining a single cable connection to your PC would be to connect the system to a Thunderbolt 3 docking station that supplied power and included an "upstream" Thunderbolt 3 port for peripherals, and then connect your eGPU to that port on the dock -- but that would be more expensive overall, and considering that you'd presumably be attaching any external displays to the eGPU itself, then most of the dock's functionality would be useless to you.

To the question about PCIe lanes, I believe the answer is x4, but I'm trying to track down an official source there.  As for eGPU compatibility, considering that older systems have been able to run an eGPU, I don't see why you'd have a problem there.  If you haven't already, eGPU.io and its forums are a useful resource for learning about experiences people have with various systems, and as the name implies, it's focused around eGPU setups and therefore has some people very knowledgeable about that subject available.  One thing to be aware of though is that the XPS 13 models use Intel's low power U Series CPUs, not the higher performance H Series CPUs used in models like the XPS 15.  As a result, high-end GPUs could become bottlenecked by that system's CPU, so you may find that money spent getting the top-end GPU would be wasted.  Just fyi.

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jphughan
5 Rhenium

Re: External GPU & Monitor Support for the XPS 13 7390 (Not 2-in-1)

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@wunderlichluke  in addition to my post above, I finally found this Dell KB article I remembered having read in the past.  It indicates that the XPS 13 switched from 2 lanes to 4 lanes with the 9370 model.  The XPS 13 9370 is the immediate predecessor model to your 7390.  Dell changed the naming convention for their XPS models between those two systems, hence the awkward transition.  But there's absolutely no reason to suspect that Dell would have switched the older 9370 to 4 lanes after multiple earlier XPS 13 models only had 2 and then would have switched back to 2 lanes for the current 7390.

UPDATE: Forgot to actually link to the KB article.  Fixed the post above.

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