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December 12, 2018, 08:26:02 PM
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tools of the trade  |  Topic: Gear test imminent: External video card for laptops
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Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,293
Unit: Worry

« on: June 09, 2018, 12:57:46 AM »

As we are still without our own squadron space, everything that we set up each visit is carted in by members and carted out by night.

We have brought in a computer worthy of flight simulators a couple of times thanks to a generous member, but his machines are... expensive, to say the least. I think all of us want those machines to not travel often so as to avoid the day something bad happens like the water cooling system leaking after getting jarred loose or worse.

With that in mind using my own funds (more specifically, funds I got from filling out a survey that kicked me an amazon gift card as a result) I have purchased the following device:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0725B6L99/

For those not technically inclined, it means that on modern laptops, we can plug a video card into this device, and plug this device into the expresscard slot on a modern laptop. Then we can use the external graphics card to produce a much better experience (read: higher resolution, higher frames per second) when using things like flight simulators on CAP laptops.

As I don't feel like using CAP property as a test dummy (and I have enough wing IT emails I've sent that are so far past suspense that I doubt a request would get looked at this decade,) I have several months ago acquired for the price of $0 several laptops equivalent in specs to our issued laptops (same model series.) I'll not comment much on what that means WRT the state of issued laptops these days. Suffice to say, under normal circumstances there is no way they will run a flight sim in a pretty fashion.

The Goals:

1. Verify if using cheaply available equipment, we can safely interface desktop GPUs with laptops.
2. Verify that this equipment will run flight simulation gear at a significant level of improvement (acceptable improvement measured as a FPS rate of 60 or higher at maximum laptop screen resolution and standard or higher graphics settings vs the default abilities of the laptops.)
3. If goals one and two are met, create a process document that can be followed by non-technical individuals for deployment.

The hopeful result:
Increased accessibility of flight simulator software and time in our squadron, and hopefully the nation.

If I don't report back next week, either I am busy or I skipped an ORM step.
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Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,293
Unit: Worry

« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2018, 11:14:09 PM »

My initial test was partially successful. The laptop locks up after 5 minutes of running on the external card. This may be a power issue. I will research more tonight after dinner.

That said, the 5 minutes it ran it ran exceptionally.
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2018, 11:24:20 PM »

Might be a heat problem, a lot of devices these days have thermal shut down to avoid melted laps.
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Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,293
Unit: Worry

« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 02:11:13 AM »

I found the problem: An errant bios setting.

All systems are go for using an external monitor with an external GPU; now I'm going to research using windows 10 to route the data back into the laptop's integrated screen.

Tomorrow.
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Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,293
Unit: Worry

« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 02:27:48 PM »

So I wasn't able to test the flight simulator just yet because it turns out my SSD is low on space. I'll be moving files around and that should solve that problem for a test this weekend.

I did however get a chance to take a fairly modern game and playtest it for 30 minutes.

System: Lenovo Thinkpad w540. Internal graphics card: Nvidia Quadro K2100M
Game: Tom Clancy's The Division (Which is based on NSPD-51/HSPD-20 and a pandemic response, so it is just barely tangentially related to ES as well.)
Settings: Low
FPS: 9-12FPS
(And yes, it looks terrible)
---
External GPU: ATI HD7970
Settings: Maximum
FPS: 29-60 (60FPS set as max under settings)
(And yes, it looks really shiny)

I imagine MS Flight Simulator will be less of a strain than this game. But I'll report more this weekend.
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 03:25:30 PM »

I don't believe there is any way on a standard laptop to loopback video to the internal display without a soldering iron.

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Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,293
Unit: Worry

« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 03:32:51 PM »

I don't believe there is any way on a standard laptop to loopback video to the internal display without a soldering iron.

It seems that until Windows 10, you were correct.

Windows 10 appears to be capable of this. I'm told to expect a significant performance hit. When I asked for details from people in the know, it was along the lines of "you won't run anything at 1080P" at which point I laughed since I don't have any CAP laptops that could even think of running at 1080P.
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Eclipse
Too Much Free Time Award

Posts: 29,338

« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 03:52:21 PM »

You're looking at software or a hardware hack?
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Holding Pattern
Salty & Seasoned Contributor

Posts: 1,293
Unit: Worry

« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2018, 03:59:21 PM »

Software.
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CAP Talk  |  Operations  |  Tools of the trade  |  Topic: Gear test imminent: External video card for laptops
 


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