This is my first attempt with M.2 eGPU Adapter which caters to laptops without Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Thanks to NVMe M.2 Thunderbolt 3 enclosures becoming more affordable (as low as $50) we could finally build a DIY Thunderbolt 3 solution for around $100. I bought the ADT-Link R43SG based on @nando4’s recommendation. It was $50 from Aliexpress and took a couple of weeks to arrive. The PSU pairing would depend on power requirement of your graphics card. For this build with a reference RX 5700, the Dell DA-2 220W output was sufficient.
2019 16″ MacBook Pro – i9-9880H/HD Graphics 630 iGPU & Radeon Pro 5500M dGPU/16GB RAM/1TB SSD
This was a surprisingly easy process. The Wavlink UTE02 NVMe M.2 to TB3 mainboard contains TI83 USB-C controller & Intel DSL6540 Thunderbolt 3 controller so it has native support in macOS. So was the Radeon RX 5700 graphics card. The unknown piece to me was the ADT-Link R43SG which hosts the graphics card and facilitates the PCIe connection from the slot through an M.2 connector then eventually to Thunderbolt 3 connector.
The ADT-Link R43SG board has plenty of toggle switches and power connectors. If you’re unsure of the settings, leave everything as is or read usage instructions in this R43SG-TB3 discussion. First step was to connect the 8-pin plug from Dell DA-2 power brick to the corresponding power receptacle on R43SG board. The package comes with an 8-pin to dual 6 + 2-pin PCIe cable to power the graphics card. I used it to connect the RX 5700 GPU. Last step was to secure the M.2 connector to the UTE02 TB3 board. Once these tasks were done, a simple hot-plug got the eGPU going in macOS!
In Windows this setup works the same way. Currently the modified Radeon drivers from Bootcampdrivers.com doesn’t work with the 2019 16-in MacBook Pro‘s RP 5500M dGPU just yet so the RX 5700 eGPU needs an external monitor for gaming use. There are more details in my previous build (XG Station 2 + RX 5700 XT).
I ran Unigine and 3DMark in Boot Camp only. For macOS performance numbers, you can check my other build with the 2019 16-in MacBook Pro + RX 580/RX Vega 56/RX 5700 XT/Radeon VII eGPUs. Due to no gaming drivers for the Radeon Pro 5500M discrete graphics card, I used the stock Apple Boot Camp drivers for these tests. The RX 5700 external graphics card was running Radeon graphics drivers version 19.11.1 (from BCD).
|RP 5500M dGPU||RX 5700 eGPU|
I’m very glad we start seeing more affordable choices for external graphics. This entire eGPU solution was $120 ($50 for ADT-Link R43SG, $50 for Wavlink UTE02, and $20 for Dell DA-2). Better yet the M.2 eGPU adapter is way more versatile thanks to compatibility with many laptops. It also has better performance than Thunderbolt 3 interface. My next build using this ADT-Link R43SG is with the MSI Prestige 15 (6-core i7-10710U). An intriguing host I also have in mind is the 2015 15″ MacBook Pro by using a NGFF M.2 nVME adapter.
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