Minisforum DEG1 GPU Dock Adds Discrete Graphics Power Via OCuLink

minisforum deg1 egpu dock
If you've followed the market of handheld machines out of Asia as well as recent mini-PC releases like Minisforum's own MS-A1, you've probably seen an OCuLink connector. This port is a standard connector from PCI-SIG that offers internal or external routing of regular old PCIe on a cable. This makes it much better suited for certain applications as compared to USB or Thunderbolt.

One such application, and likely the most popular one, is for external graphics. OCuLink offers the highest bandwidth and lowest-latency connection between the CPU of an SFF system and an external GPU. We've reported on OCuLink docks before, but they have historically included their own GPU inside. Contrast that with the new DEG1 eGPU Dock from Minisforum that takes an ATX or SFX power supply and any GPU of your choice.

minisforum deg1 epgu dock bare
Bare DEG1 dock showing OCuLink port (on end), PCIe x16 slot, and 24-pin ATX power connector.

That's right: install nearly any desktop GPU you want into this thing, because it's an open-format chassis with mounting holes for the power supply and a bracket to support heavy multi-slot GPUs. You plug the 24-pin ATX power connector to the dock and then your PCIe peripheral power cables (or 12V_2X6 plug) into the GPU, connect the OCuLink to your system, and then turn it on, and everything comes on at once.

The PCIe 4.0 x4 connection on offer is plenty of bandwidth for all but the very fastest graphics cards, and even those will work well enough to be a considerable upgrade over the integrated graphics on offer in most of these mini-PCs. Best of all, using an external GPU leaves more power budget and memory bandwidth available for the CPU cores in a handheld or mini-PC, which means improved CPU performance as well.

collage minisfroum deg1 dock

Keep in mind that the PCIe x4 interface will be more limiting if the GPU you install doesn't have PCIe 4.0; that means cards older than RTX 3000 (Ampere) on the NVIDIA side and RX 5000 (Navi 1x) on the AMD side. Likewise, remember that OCuLink doesn't support hot plugging, so you'll have to shut the system down to connect or disconnect the GPU.

Otherwise, there's really not much else to say about the DEG1. If you have a machine of any sort with OCuLink connectivity, the DEG1 offers an inexpensive way to drop nearly any GPU into such a system. Do be advised that the card will likely have to support UEFI GOP booting. Head over to Minisforum's web shop to pre-order the DEG1 for $99; it's expected to ship in mid-August.
Tags:  SFF, egpu, minisforum, oculink