I’ve long been intrigued by Thunderbolt add-in cards. Apparently regular looking PCIe expansion cards, but shipped with a mystery interface cable to the motherboard, of which there is a small list of supported models.
It’s not a secret that these cards may work in a motherboard which isn’t supported, but full functionality is not a given. I have spent the past few evenings trawling through many forums, reading about the many different experiences people are having, and have also purchased some hardware to play around with myself, so we can dig into these problems and see what (if any) solutions there are.
Excellent deep dive into a topic I had never once in my life stopped to think about. As the author concludes, it would be cool if we ever got working, reliable Thunderbolt add-in cards for AMD or earlier Intel systems, but it seems unlikely.
At this point a nvme -> eGPU adapter seems like an easier choice. Almost all Thunderbolt 3 functionality, except for PCIe can be done on a regular USB-C port. And many implementations don’t allocate full 4x PCIe bandwidth (looking at you Intel NUC), so nvme would even be faster.
Something like this:
That also means your GPU will stay out in the open, along with a full sized PSU to power it (or probably a SFX one to save space). I think it might be possible to hack together an enclosure, or repurpose an older Thunderbolt one 🙂