2019 16″ MacBook Pro + RX 5700 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (ADT-Link R43SG * M.2-TB3) + macOS 10.15.1 & Win10 1903

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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.

 

System specs:

2019 16″ MacBook Pro – i9-9880H/HD Graphics 630 iGPU & Radeon Pro 5500M dGPU/16GB RAM/1TB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

ADT-Link R43SG + Wavlink UTE02 M.2-TB3 + Dell DA-2 + PowerColor RX 5700 + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

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).

 

Benchmarks:

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

 

Comments:

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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Eightarmedpet

This is cool as hell, kinda miss the old self build/hack days (not that I ever did anything more than copy a couple of easy builds from smart folks).  

Erik Holmstrom
Posted by: @itsage

Too bad the 2018 Mac mini doesn’t have an M.2 or NVMe slot. I do have plans for putting together a Mac mini tower with eGPU inside.

But this would still work with the Mac mini simply through one of the four TB3 ports, right? 

EDIT: base on the comment above I now understand that the M.2 would be faster/better performance

joevt

@Sernie David Naungayan You could connect a Thunderbolt 3 device that has two Thunderbolt 3 ports to the Thunderbolt 2 Mac so that you can power the Thunderbolt 3 NVMe enclosure by connecting it to the Thunderbolt 3 device. But Thunderbolt 3 devices are expensive so you might as well get a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure at that point. @Erik Holmstrom Yes, the Mac Mini can power a Thunderbolt 3 NVMe enclosure. It’s limited by the Thunderbolt 3 connection just like any Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure. https://egpu.io/forums/which-gear-should-i-buy/thunderbolt-3-external-drive-slot-m-2-ngff-adapter/ M.2 is faster only if it’s a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection (no Thunderbolt… Read more »

mac_editor

@itsage

Could you elaborate on the M.2 Connector (link between the ADT and Wavlink boards)? Was this included with the ADT or a separate purchase/you already had it? If not included, a product link would be awesome. Am not very familiar with these technologies.

Edit: looking at the ADT product page, it allows for cable length selection, so I am guessing it’s a part of that.

ritterbutzke

@itsage

Going through the Wavlink will deliver the usual TB3 performance correct? Only hooking up to a laptops m.2 slot will deliver more performance?

Also does an active 2 meter TB3 cable work with this setup?
Thanks!

Sernie David Naungayan

@itsage

I’d be interested to see if the same setup could be done to an old iMac 27′ Late 2015 or those that are still in Thunderbolt 2 below.

tsygna

@itsage

This is so sick lol – respect.

CharbarHoo

@itsage

First off, this is really cool! Second, you say this setup will work for computers without TB3, so would this in theory be able to work with a surface laptop 3 that has usb-c but no TB3? Excuse me for being such a noob lol.

joevt

@CharbarHoo GPUs connect to the computer using PCIe. A USB controller cannot do PCIe unless it’s USB4 (doesn’t exist yet) or Thunderbolt 3. You need a connection on your computer that does PCIe. Possible connections are Thunderbolt, PCIe, mPCIe, M.2, ExpressCard. Check the eGPU.io’s Buyer’s Guide.

 

Andrew Keller

@itsage Hello there itsage, I’m a new forum member here on egpu.io. I had discovered your post while searching around to find cheap alternatives to egpu boxes. I was wondering if you could answer something though about this setup for me. I know with other cheap solution for external gpus setups, like the exp gdc beast for example, that when everything is hooked up to a laptop, the gpu doesn’t power up until the laptop is powered on, and vice versa. So what I’m wanting to know is if this is the case when using the R43SG with a M.2… Read more »

Andrew Keller

And it does so even connected to a M.2 to TB3 enclosure?

Andrew Keller

@itsage

I’ll have to take a look at it then. I’ve ordered both the R43SG and a equivalent M.2 to TB3 enclosure online both for a good price, lowest I could find. If anyone is interested in the site I purchased them, PM me

ondert

@itsage

a mini case to house this egpu setup plus mac mini internals (logic board and its psu) and a custom cpu cooler for the mac mini would be the ultimate nearly customizable mac non-pro. 

ondert

That would be terrific! I have a Dan A4 SFX case at home, if only I know CAD programs so I could have design some 3D parts to put all of them together in it.

omardesu

Hero @itsage strikes again!  Nice work!!!

You really are an inspiration to the eGPU community.  While I’ve been going the other route and just going with SFF builds and Windows 10, you’re still plugging away with the eGPU’s and Macs (and other computers as well)!!  I’m interested to see how your Mac mini Evolv Shift X tower comes out.  While I would never need that much power coming out of a Mac, it’s a pretty cool concept.

Fiesta5ever

@itsage

I’m looking to do something very similar with an ITX case. My Red Devil 5700 xt just arrived but I can’t decide on a power supply. What would you consider to be the sweet spot in terms of wattage?

Need to power my gpu and R43SG-TB3. I know the razer core holds a 700w psu but i’ve also read that too much power can have a negative effect.

ondert

I think Corsair SF600 should be enough, if not, there is also 750w version of it.

dramikei

Thank you for such an amazing build guide. I’m wondering about one thing though, why did you go for ADT-Link pcie x16 to M.2 with Wavlink UTE02 M.2-TB3 adapter. Why didn’t you just get ADT-Link R43SG-TB3 which is a pcie x16 to thunderbolt 3 adapter? I’m thinking to buy ADT-Link R43SG-TB3 for my MacBook Pro 2017. Haven’t found any build/review with this particular adapter.   Also I’m new here! just made an account so that I could comment 🙂 looking forward to being a long time member!     EDIT: I think I got it after going through the ADT-Link… Read more »

dramikei

@itsage

Oh, I got it! I went through the ADT-Link discussion page as well!

Thank you for clearing this to me 🙂

Damien

I was wondering the same thing. I have a late 2012 mac mini with Thunderbolt 1 so it cannot power the Wavlink UTE02. But If I go for the ADT-Link R43SG-TB3 which is 2 in 1, do you think it still requires T3 external power from the computer port since it already has the main PSU socket ? I was thinking about ADT-Link R43SG-TB3 and a T1 to T3 adapter to my MacMini. Nice build thanks

joevt

@dramikei

The less fancy ADT-Link cables also work. Or buy an M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter (no cable):
https://egpu.io/forums/which-gear-should-i-buy/thunderbolt-3-external-drive-slot-m-2-ngff-adapter/

dre

Great post/thread 💡 

igerard

If I understand well, this is a way to build our own egpu … tb3 -> nvme -> Pcie

Then how you can have better performances ? The TB3 limit the bandwidth no?

Thanx in advance

Gérard

joevt

@igerard
Thunderbolt 3 NVMe adapter is just a way to make a Thunderbolt 3 egpu.
For best performance, you need to eliminate Thunderbolt altogether and connect directly to an M.2 slot of your computer.

igerard

Yes, At the end I understand well 🙂 Nvme is in case we have direct access.
Interesting stuff! Divide by two+ the price to connect e CG to a laptop…

Thanx

Evrim Aktepe

This is impressive first of all..

I have some question. Can I use this setup on my ImacPro with Nvidia RTX card? 2080Ti maybe..

Sirius Stern

@itsage
Hi
Is it possible to charge mac with your egpu solution? 😀

vorname nach

I just bought the ADT Link together with a 10GB/s M.2 NVME USB 3.1 Adapter. 
After some PCIe Card-try-outs I guess I can‘t make it work maybe it is because the USB 3.1 Standard can‘t transmit PCIe?
I just need 10GBit/s for example for SDI Capture Cards, do I still need to invest in a TB3 M2 Adapter?

nando4

, if you wish to connect a PCIe card to your 2019 MacBook it can be done using the Thunderbolt 3 port since it transmits PCIe. Correct, your NVME USB 3.1 adapter cannot be used to attach your ADT-Link R43SG since it doesn’t transmit PCie.

A JEYI LEIDIAN or Wavlink UTE02 NVME-TB3 adapter mated to your ADT-Link R43SG will allow your PCie card to be used.   Laughing Out Loud  

 

vorname nach

Stupid me tried to save money.
Thanks for clarification @nando4 !
 

Stepan

@itsage, Hello I am new to the whole egpu thing. I have an old macbook pro 2011 with dead dedicated gpu and i am now using the integrated hd 3000. I was wondering if i could somehow plug an egpu and use it with an external monitor. I am also looking for some cheap way to do it. Your post looks like something I am looking for. I do not want anything fancy, probably some cheap gpu so i can run fcpx like intels integrated graphics from 2017. I also have only thunderbolt 1. Do you think this is a… Read more »

Hanson Yu

@itsage, Hi, I’ve got a question to ask, the WAVLINK USB C to M.2 NVMe SSD you used in your build only supports usb3.1 gen 2 10Gbps, doesn’t external graphic cards requires thunderbolts 3? I’ve been recently planning for a egpu build, I just want to clarify wether is it ok to use a gen2 10Gbps adapter or do I HAVE to get a m2-TB3 adapter? Huge thanks to anyone who can help.
 

nando4

, @itsage has been clear that he is using a M.2-TB3 adapter . USB-C Gen2 cannot transmit PCIe signals needed for a eGPU. The M.2-TB3 adapter could be a WAVLINK UTE02, JEYI Leidian or Orico TCM2T3-G40 .

eGPU hardware:

ADT-Link R43SG + Wavlink UTE02 M.2-TB3 + Dell DA-2 + PowerColor RX 5700 + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable

Norman P. Aquino

Do i need to reinstall Windows 10 for the ADT-Link M.2 adapter? I’m moving my NVME SSD to the TB3 enclosure and booting through the Thunderbolt 3 port of my laptop. Thanks.