Working Windows 10 tutorial for the Dell XPS 15 9550 + Razer Core X + GeForce GTX 970

I’ve been researching eGPU’s and compatibility with the Dell XPS 9550 for over a year and started 2019 committed to purchasing the Razer Core X eGPU enclosure and Gigabyte GeForce GTX 970 to resolve the thermal throttling and fan noise issues affecting the XPS series when used as a workhorse or gaming Ultrabook.

Getting it to work through trial and error sucked. Driver conflicts.
Conflicting device resources. BIOS firmware updates. Thunderbolt firmware updates.

This walkthrough should save you the frustration I went through.

The end result is fantastic! Here’s the benefits:

  • Dramatically lowered thermal profile for the XPS 15 even with the lid closed; no more throttling!
  • No fan noise coming from the XPS 15 even when under load (CSGO, video encoding, heavy Chrome GPU usage)
  • Didn’t need to apply thermal pads to MOSFET’s or re-paste the CPU and GPU
  • Consistently better framerate without thermal throttling when playing CSGO and improved responsiveness in general usage across multiple screens (2 x Dell U2414H 24″ monitors)

Here’s the walkthrough:

  1. Seat the GeForce GTX 970 in the Razer Core X enclosure
  2. Connect power to the Razer Core X enclosure
  3. Do not connect any USB devices to your monitors yet. *1
  4. Do not connect the Razer Core X USB C cable to the XPS 15 9550 yet. *2
  5. Run Windows Update and ensure recent updates have been applied
  6. Restart Windows if any updates were installed
  7. Ensure the following Dell software packages have been installed:
    • Dell XPS 15 9550 1.9.0 System BIOS
    • Intel Thunderbolt Controller Driver
    • Intel(R) Thunderbolt(TM) 3 Firmware Update
    • Intel Thunderbolt Controller Driver
  8. Restart Windows if any of the above Dell software packages were installed
  9. Install Razer Synapse 2
  10. Install NVIDIA GeForce Experience
  11. Restart Windows if any of the above software packages were installed
  12. Open NVIDIA GeForce Experience and from the Drivers tab install the latest GeForce Game Ready Driver
  13. Restart Windows if required
  14. Open Device Manager from the System screen (START + Pause/Break) *3
  15. Expand the Display adapters group
  16. Right click NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M and select Disable device *4
  17. While keeping the Device Manager window opened with the Display adapters group in focus open the Task Manager (right click the taskbar and select Task Manager)
  18. Within the Task Manager window select the Performance tab to see the GPU 0 item listed under CPU, Memory and Disk 0/Disk 1 *5
  19. Connect the Razer Core X USB C cable to the XPS 15 9550
  20. Over the next 30 seconds you should see the following:
    1. a prompt from Thunderbolt Software to allow device chaining, close it without answering *6
    2. the Device Manager window refresh several times
    3. a new “Unknown VGA device” appear within Device Manager
    4. the “Unknown VGA device” dissapear and be replaced with “NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970”
    5. hopefully no BSOD! *7
    6. the “NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970” device status will change from a question mark, to a notice, to finally a prompt to restart
    7. Do not restart Windows at this point
  21. Right click “NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970” and select Update drivers *8
  22. Within the Task Manager window you should see a new GPU 1 entry showing “NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970”
  23. Shut down Windows with the Razer Core X still connected
  24. Connect your USB devices to your monitors
  25. Start Windows and when prompted by Thunderbolt Software select “Allow connect” for device chaining over Thunderbolt.
  26. Open Task Manager and from the Performance tab ensure that the GeForce GTX 960M is not visible and that the GeForce GTX 970 is visible

That’s it! 🙂

Gallery

*1: Thunderbolt 3 supports USB device chaining but introducing new USB devices before the eGPU is configured and working may introduce new issues.

*2: Connecting the Razer Core X to the XPS 15 9550 before having the NVIDIA software ready will result in BSOD’s as the onboard GeForce GTX 960M will conflict with the Core X’s GeForce GTX 970 for the same system resources.

*3: This one’s because I am paranoid. You may be able to skip this step.

*4: Disabling a GPU hardware device is not permanent. I found after each restart that the GeForce GTX 960M was re-enabled.

*5: You may need to double click the graph to expand the view so you can select the Performance tab within the Task Manager window

*6: We will allow all Thunderbolt device chaining once the GTX 970 is working.

*7: If you experience a BSOD when connecting the
Razer Core X ensure that the onboard GeForce GTX 960M is disabled from Device Manager

*8: If the Update driver option is not available disconnect the Razer Core X, restart Windows then follow steps 14 onwards

Published by

Michael Visser

I'm a WordPress Plugin developer, UAV & Raspberry Pi enthusiast and general tinkerer. This visser.io domain serves as my development playground for non-WordPress Plugin projects.

3 thoughts on “Working Windows 10 tutorial for the Dell XPS 15 9550 + Razer Core X + GeForce GTX 970”

  1. Fantastic tutorial, thank you.
    I’m planning to get one Razer Core X but I have a little question.
    It is possible to power your Dell XPS 9550 via the 100w PD USB-c of Razer Core X without any issue ?
    I really want to have all plugged to my Razer Core X so I just need to connect the USB-C PD & play.
    I don’t think we can use it and get charged at the same time in the same port since we only have 1 usb-c in this laptop…

    1. Hi there, thanks for asking. No it can’t acceptably charge the Dell XPS 9550. Maybe it works with newer Dell XPS 15 revisions but not with our one so you’re still going to need that power connector.

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