2013 13" MacBook Pro Retina [4th,2C,U] + GTX 1080 @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (AORUS Gaming Box) + macOS 10.13.3 & Win10 [comfycat]
Greetings everyone! I had this aging Macbook, I got Boot Camp running but it was impossible to play newer games. I was always scrounging for games with low graphics to run on my 1.5GB iGPU. I considered buying a PS4 Pro or XBox One X, but when I had a PS4 Pro I was always frustrated by it's limited capabilities. So I took the plunge and bought a Aorus GTX 1080 Gaming Box... My current opinions are at the bottom of this post.
Late-2013 13" Macbook Pro Retina
2.4 GHz Intel Core i5 -4258U
8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
Running macOS 10.13.3 & Windows 10 Boot Camp
Display & Peripherals
TCL 43" 4k Roku TV via HDMI 2.0
Apple Magic Keyboard 2
Initially this was a bear! In both macOS and Windows, the eGPU wasn't detected. Reboot, check, reboot, check, reboot. After hours and hours of searching and implementing fixes, I got Windows 10 to detect the eGPU and install the drivers. One word: rEFInd. I had to install rEFInd in macOS, and install the custom apple_set_os.efi. At the rEFInd boot menu I select the apple_set_os.efi, let it "boot" for a second, then select Windows 10. eGPU detected! Before installing the new NVIDIA drivers, I first used DDU to remove the default NVIDIA and AMD drivers and reboot Windows. Then I used Device Manager to install the new drivers, and... you guessed it... reboot. Bingo! For macOS, I was helpless. @fr34k's script to the rescue; thanks to some updates it worked perfectly for me and after an obligatory reboot, I was rendering to my external screen in macOS.
The biggest thing that I struggled with initially was getting consistent results. I was reading to plug the eGPU in at different times during boot, and I understand that this may work for some people. But for me it made every reboot a random event, and created more failure and confusion than anything. The way I created consistency was to always do a full shutdown (not a "restart") and always plug the eGPU into the Macbook BEFORE powering on the laptop. This is what I do now, and the Aorus works everytime.
Lastly, the Aorus has issues, in part because I'm using a TB3 > TB2 adapter. In Windows 10 Boot Camp, the USB ports on the gaming box are powered but they do not connect to the laptop; the fans do not work correctly, only the center fan is operational and requires some adjustment with the app Aorus Graphics Engine to get adequate cooling; and the LEDs do not work, which I hated anyways, so that's good?
I'm happy to create some benchmarks if they're useful to other people. Post a request below. I only game in Windows 10, so that's where I care the most about performance.
Gaming on this thing is a blast! It's a rediculous performance boost over the iGPU, and the 4k game play is stunning. With the DS4 controller I feel like I've got a PS4 Pro that won't force me to use their annoying menus (I know they're better than XBox), can run a million more applications and services, doubles as a monitor and a movie screen with ease, and the various parts of my system are updatable (even the Aorus GPU potentially). The big hang up is service time; GOD I must have spent over a hundred hours by now struggling with everything from eGPU detection, to Bluetooth connections, to a faulty SSD drive. It's been TOUGH! I'm NOT a computer wizard, just a tenacious problem solver. In hindsight the Aorus Gaming box is still better than a console IMHO, but I've had to earn it. And there is still a bottleneck going on, something to do with the CPU or TB2 connection that causes textures to load slowly and some games to hang intermittently. And chances are when I do upgrate my laptop, I'll have a new host of service problems, hardware glitches, and general work-arounds to solve before I'm up and running again. So, was it worth it? I hope so. I may yet buy a console, for when I'm feeling lazy.
Please feel free to demand more information. It's a pretty boring setup photo wise, and I doubt I can take a better photo with my phone. Also feel free to PM me if you want my amateur opinion on your eGPU goals or problems. You've been warned!
How many percentage do you think we're missing from the maximum power of the card by using TB2 instead of TB3? I like the fact that if I upgrade my MacBook in the future, I can use the full potential of the card. I don't use BootCamp natively, I only use Parallels to desperately run some windows-only software sometimes like Magic Online, and I think the egpu will help with that too even a little.
Do you have steam games on Mac? I would love to know if your setup can run say DOTA2 or CSGO on OSX Steam. I would love to see some Adobe Premiere rendering performance with a Gaming Box on TB2 but I guess that would be asking for too much.
Lastly, you said you had problems with the Gaming Box features like fans and USBs on windows. Do you have the same problem on Mac?
Thanks in advance!
Hi comfycat! - Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I'm currently in the exact same boat that you were in, so to speak. I also have the late-2013 13-inc macbook pro (but I believe I have the model just one up from yours w/i5-4288U @ 2.6GHz), but haven't taken the plunge yet to purchase an eGPU.
I'd love to know what kind of games you play (on your bootcamp side ofc), and what graphics settings you use (high-medium-low, etc... and resolution) and what fps you're getting...
Do you play Subnautica? Would love to know what I asked above.
Do you play cs:go? Would love to know what I asked above.
Do you play civ5 or civ6? Same questions!
Hey, this late 2013 13`` model on bootcamp, does it work properly on bootcamp with Windows 10? I have a early 2015 one, but everytime I wanna boot it with eGPU on windows its a battle. I have to plug it on the exact location on windows spinning circle on boot. So it takes me from 3 to 20 tries everytime . I'm considering migrating to a 2013 one. Is it worth it?
Hey, sorry to folks who posted replies here. I've been away from using my eGPU, basically because I bought a PS4 pro, and I have been playing that! I had everything working great with the eGPU as of three months ago, but then I just walked away, and I also uninstalled the MacOS eGPU patch because it slows down the MacOS boot time. I would still run Boot Camp from time to time without the eGPU, so that was working great, until today.
Today I tried to run the eGPU and Boot Camp again, but Windows wanted to update before start up, and when it finally booted, I couldn't access the start menu. Reboot, couldn't access it again, reboot, black screen and only the cursor. I was able to shut down with Ctrl-Alt-Del, and now it's clear that something is messed up on the Windows partition; I cannot access the partition through MacOS, and it only boots in Windows to that weird black screen with a free cursor. It's like the desktop won't load properly, and I'm not savvy enough to fix it. This is the third time that a Windows update has totally broken my Boot Camp. I have WinClone, so I might try reinstalling my backup, but I'm VERY wary. Last time this happened, it screwed up my entire hard drive, and I had to reinstall MacOS, ReFind and Boot Camp; it was a couple days of trouble and cursing....
So, just as a brief follow up to my previous review, this stuff is complicated! I wish I knew what was up with my Macbook; maybe an SSD issue? Or just some other mix-up. I'm at a loss. Sorry guys!
I got it working again. Just took reinstalling Windows BootCamp using a WinClone backup I made; so quick!. Don't want jinx myself, but it's working great right now. The Aorus gaming engine software is key to monitoring the fan speed and GPU temp, to prevent damage, but so far it's running perfectly again. I have the PS4, so I do any really intense online gaming on that (Destiny 2, Titanfall 2, etc), and use the eGPU for more mouse and keyboard games, like strategy games or games that are only for PC. I love that I haven't had to upgrade my Macbook to run this amazing graphics card, but I do often wish I had a second laptop, so I can do Mac-y things while in the middle of a Bootcamp Windows gaming session. Anyways, if you have questions, I might be able to warn you of possible difficulties, or sing praise of an Aorus Gaming Box running a GTX 1080 via TB2. For now anyways! So message me if you want.
I just installed a GTX 1080 Aorus Gaming Box on my MBP 2018 15" and I'm having issues with Bluetooth - it will not work with the eGPU connected, but it's ok without the eGPU - you seemed to also struggle with this, so I wonder if you have any insights into what happened.