The 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro
Full system specifications: https://support.apple.com/kb/SP776
The 2018 MacBook Pro(s) were a silent and unexpected release that finally increased core counts across the Pro lineup and threw in the T2 security chip which first debuted in the iMac Pro. As a Thunderbolt 3 computer equipped with Titan-Ridge controllers directly connected to CPU PCIe lanes, this Mac makes for a great eGPU candidate – on both macOS and Windows. This master thread is dedicated to the 15-inch model. The discrete GPU itself makes no difference – this thread can apply to models with the 555X or Vega series GPUs, and potentially more generally to later models as well. I bought this Mac around the time it came out so I’ve spent a decent amount of time with it. To this day, it is my daily driver.
This Mac originally shipped with macOS High Sierra (10.13.6), although this quickly changed once macOS Mojave was out and all 2018 Macs have since shipped with newer operating systems. For early adopters such as myself, it is possible to install this initial version of the operating system – however, I have so far been unable to find the forked build Apple used for this Mac – thus leaving me with Mojave as the minimum supported OS. eGPU support is straightforward on macOS as described in Apple’s support article: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208544
For the early adopters on High Sierra however, it was possible to use NVIDIA eGPUs, since High Sierra remains the last OS with third-party NVIDIA driver availability. One can reference my build with a GTX 1070. If there is demand, I can dive deeper into NVIDIA support on High Sierra, but for now it would be simple to consider that only AMD eGPUs are supported on this Mac as of macOS Mojave. Bootcamp/Windows support on this Mac is mostly straightforward as well.
If you look at the aforementioned linked build, it provides a straightforward way to set up an NVIDIA eGPU in Windows. Things have actually improved since then, and both pitfalls mentioned in that build do not occur anymore. In case you do encounter them, take corrective action as advised in that build. The situation with AMD eGPUs in Windows is a little more complicated. The most optimal scenarios for setting up an AMD eGPU on Windows would be:
- To use Windows 1903 (18362.295) and disable software updates.
- Apply pci.sys fix to Windows versions above 18362.295, as described extensively in this thread.
After that, you can simply follow this build to get up and running. Early adopters faced some odd problems with internal displays being disabled, etc., but with recent updates to Windows and Mac firmware, these seem to have mostly been resolved. In any case, if the problem is encountered, the solution is:
- Uninstall the eGPU from Windows Device Manager.
- Unplug the thunderbolt cable.
- Power down system.
- Connect cable again and boot into Windows.
- eGPU should be initialized again without internal display disabled.
Most likely, you may never need to perform these steps, but in case you find a problem, try this. Once problems with pci.sys are resolved on Windows, I think an AMD eGPU could become a near plug-and-play solution for this Mac on either OS.
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