2 Gamers 1 laptop - older model recommendation?

Hi All,

TLDR: Looking for recommendations on an older Notebook (~$500) used laptop that can do VGA pass-through for graphics as well as an eGPU through expresscard.

Full post:

I have not gone down this road yet but for a while I have been wanting to use my T-5610 to do a 4-gamers 1 CPU setup but haven’t gotten into it. Now for whatever reason, I feel like tackling the laptop project first. I have an HP Elitebook 8570w which I confirmed alas, the expresscard slot is broken. When I plug anything in (2 different cards) and boot up, windows 10 boot is super unusable slow. And same slowness crops up as soon as I plug in when already booted, and goes away when I eject the card. I dropped the elitebook off a table and the expresscard door came off (letting me know I had one!) but my guess also killed the port. If you think I am wrong I am all ears if this is a setup issue but I think it is mechanical. One time and only one time I got a device to work by twisting and bracing the card just right. There is a gap below the card and it just hangs so I figure it is a bad contact.

I am looking at another 8560w but asking the owner to test the slot for me first. I am not a brand fanboy so if there is a Dell or Lenovo model out there which is better I am all ears. I would like a FHD IPS display and trackpoint if possible. I also like 1920x1200 or any 16:10 display for golden ration goodness but realize most new systems gave up on that foerver ago (except macbook and not an option clearly).

I plan to make my own external graphics card that uses expresscard so it has to be there.

Any more thoughts / tips are recommended I assume this project is going to take me a lot of time if I can ever really get it started.

Thanks all!


Any reason you want this setup over just two laptops the savings are probably not worth it for the amount of headaches you will encounter probably. If its just a challenge you want to take (As it seems to be from your comments) I wish you luck.

Yes basically I prefer in person gaming and it would be for heads-up board game type things and my friends that I play with don’t have gaming laptops. Plus it is a challenge to work it out and I have the expresscard external graphics card adapter already so I just need to get an old beater laptop that is decent.

May seem silly to bring an eGPU and an extra monitor for games instead of another laptop, but I am the tech so it’s cool if I can have it setup all in one machine. Plus if I can find a dreamcolor laptop then it’s two IPS displays which is hard to do on a budget with used laptops in my price range.

Any model recommendations are welcome. My sense on here is someone has done this already (at least done the vm with graphics passthrough for games on a laptop) but the question is will they see this post? Taking bets now…

Just re-researching intels SR-IOV, it sounds like 5th gen iGPU graphics may be able to be used by multiple VMs at the same time which could be enough for low end stuff that I have.

I have a Broadwell based Thinkpad T450 which I love since desktop Broadwells were almost impossible to find, and since it was designed for the hotter haswell chips, it runs nice and cool. For turn based games this may work, even to run Warcraft 3 or old school starcraft.

Sounds even harder though and I haven’t installed linux in forever. Would have to image my Win10 setup because it works well enough, unless there is a way I can get windows to host some free VMs for me and still do this.

A lot of modern laptops will have their iGPU as well as a dedicated GPU. I don’t know the ins-and-outs of this very well, but I’m under the impression that your laptop should have a dedicated ‘switching’ chip if you actually want to utilize the iGPU and dGPU separately. Like passing them through to a VM. Nvidia Optimus can(?) be an indicator that a laptop has this functionality.

It would seriously cut down your portability, but using Thunderbolt 3 for a GPU could give you access to a second GPU to pass through to a VM. IIRC there’s a portable external monitor that came out in 2019 that has a Radeon RX 570 in it, that could be your secondary monitor AND GPU in one package.

Edit: I can’t find the monitor I’m thinking of–I think it was actually a RX 560. I did find this tiny RX 560 dock that I’m pretty sure uses the same kind of engineering as the external monitor I’m thinking of.