2017 13" MacBook Air [5th,2C,U] + GTX 1660 Super @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (Razer Core X) + Win10 [steve_pan]
As mentioned from my previous post, I'd give a try on Nvidia cards on Windows Bootcamp, purely because I was unsatisfied with the substandard gameplay of AAA games like Total War on my RX460 in Mac OS. Happy to say that it managed to work surprisingly well despite not having an external display
For whatever it's worth, it took like 2-3 frustrating days (full of intensive research, crashes, BSODs and clean installations of Win10) for me to actually grasp the "right" way of making it stable and running. And it made me realise that the hardest part of eGPU installations are actually the troubleshooting, especially in Win10 bootcamp where eGPUs aren't officially supported. So proceed at your own risk, and ALWAYS BACKUP before making risky steps.
But anyway, here goes. And hopefully it can help someone out there who's about to go crazy.
- 2017 13" Macbook Air (1.8Ghz Intel Core i5-5350U)(rare species here, but posting it for students who aspire to play SOME games smoothly to help them out)
- iGPU: Intel HD Graphics 6000 1536 MB
- RAM: 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3
- Win 10 version: Windows 10 Pro Insider Build 19631.1 (I opted for FAST; there's a forum saying error 12 has been solved in this build but it didn't really work for my RX460 when i first tried it. But i shouldn't be getting code 12 using my 1660 Super, as its supposed to be plug and play. Or so i thought.)
- External displays: Acer SA230 23"FHD IPS Ultra-Thin Display Monitor with HDMI port
(Hardware pictures aren't available before making 5 posts, but basically just connecting wires to the correct ports, simple )
An overview of my humble home setup:
A close-up view of the GPU enclosure:
Pardon my poor cable management skills. As aforementioned, it's a HUMBLE home gaming setup
This is where the tricky part comes into play. People said Nvidia in windows are supposed to be plug and play. It's true to some extent, but it brought up a lot of other complications, especially with my overly ambitious choice of the Windows Insider Build and a pathetic MBA. But anyways, here are the installation steps which worked for me:
(Remember to make a backup first!)
1. Boot into Safe mode and run DDU. (Note that the eGPU is not plugged in at this time.)
2. Click clean and shutdown.
3. When you boot into windows, when the windows logo pops out and the rotating circles reach the top, hot plug your eGPU. It should boot into windows successfully. If not, unplug the eGPU, hard reset your computer and restart this step. (This step was crucial for me as a mistimed hot plug led into a BSOD after login or the system not detecting the eGPU at all.)
^when the circle reaches the top, hot plug your TB2 cable, and your external monitor should flicker and show display.
4. Verify that eGPU has been detected as "Microsoft Basic Display Adapter" under device manager, and Win10 is proceeding to install the necessary drivers. (For me i pre-downloaded the driver beforehand and used the program to directly install the drivers.) There might be some cases of the drivers taking FOREVER to install, if that's the case it'd probably be the mistimed issue from step 3. Unfortunately you'd have to then start over from step 1.
5. After which you're done! In some cases Windows 10 will request a restart, but when i chose to do so it fell into a restart loop as the eGPU was still connected. So do not opt to restart if prompted. If you really have to do so, go to the taskbar and manually disconnect the eGPU before restarting. Do this everytime if you want to switch to MacOS or shutdown. And everytime you boot, repeat step 3.
Unigine Heaven 4.0:
Total War Three Kingdoms: average of 30-40 fps on High-Ultra
The Long Dark: average of 60 fps on Ultra
Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition: 60 fps average on Extreme
Alien Isolation: 60fps on Max Settings
And there you have it. It's quite possible to play on a pathetic Macbook Air with "acceptable" quality, if you're on a tight budget and not aiming for a 60+fps in gameplay. And with a mid tier graphics card, i'd say it worked pretty damn well for me especially with constraints like low-end CPU and internal display.
Would consider getting an external monitor for enhancing gameplay performance. Until then, I'm pretty satisfied with the performance that this build delivers.
Feel free to leave comments for anyone who wants to try out MBA gaming with eGPUs, or ambitious Windows Insider gaming in bootcamp
Congrats on your build! Would love to see some set up pics and some gaming benchmark...
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@steve_pan, Could you try benchmarking using the internal monitor? I'm only getting around a score of 1500 on my GTX 1660 super w/ my Macbook Pro 2017 15" on its internal monitor. Also, could you try it with 8x msaa? Thanks!