2017 13" MacBook Pro TouchBar + [email protected] (AKiTiO Node) + Win10 + HTC Vive [nemolus]  

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nemolus
(@nemolus)
New Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2
March 19, 2018 8:53 am  

Needed eGPU setup especially for HTC Vive VR applications in Windows 10. Goal was to have a powerful but easily portable VR system.

 

System specs

Mid-2017 13″ MacBook Pro Touchbar i7 with 2 TB3/USB-C ports on each side
Bootcamp Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)

 

 eGPU hardware

AKiTiO Node + GTX 1080 Ti (ASUS STRIX)

 

Installation steps

I already bought all the equipment mid 2017 but gave up after a few days of tweaking back then as I was busy with work and nothing seemed to be working. Yesterday I gave the whole thing another chance by adapting the relevant points for my 13" MacBook Pro w/Touchbar from the 'Boot Camp eGPU Setup Guide for Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro' document.

I couldn't use the EFI solution as outlined in the document because for some reason I couldn't format an USB stick as bootable without an ISO as suggested in the guide (macOS Disk Manager didn't give me a 'Scheme' option during erase function). So this is a solution without the EFI bootloader. 

I can confirm success with the following set up without any additional hacks:

1. Install Bootcamp. Restart. Select Bootcamp volume on Mac Startup Manager without eGPU plugged in. In Device Manager disable right TB3 ports (PCI Express Root Port #9 – 9D18). I also disabled the Facetime camera because I don't need it under windows and it was also mentioned in the document. Restart.

2. I already installed newer firmware on my AKiTiO Node in 2017 https://www.akitio.com/firmware/node-firmware Check if it is up to date, if not the Node can be just hotplugged in a clean Bootcamp install without GPU attached and then follow steps by the AKiTiO update software. Unplug. Attach GPU to enclosure. Keep unplugged. Restart.

3. Select Bootcamp volume on Mac Startup Manager. Blue Windows Logo appears. After few seconds the Windows Loading Circle start to spin. In this moment plug in eGPU on left side (I used the lower USB-C port on the left for eGPU).

4. Windows boots nicely and recognizes eGPU as generic Windows Graphics Adapter in Device Manager. Download and install stock NVida Drivers. Card is recognized during install. Restart.

5. From now on repeat step 3 on every Windows boot when eGPU setup is needed. If eGPU is plugged in before the moment where the spinning circle appears the system will crash into a blue DOS-like screen eventually.

 

What works

- Internal Display accelarated through eGPU.
- Connecting TV to GTX 1080 Ti through HDMI at 4K resolution with mirrored and and extended desktop (couldn't test with monitor yet or do benchmarks)
- HTC Vive, which was most important for me, works perfectly with eGPU (connected with HDMI on GTX 1080 Ti + USB hub on upper left USB-C port).

 

Still to be solved

- The GTX 1080 Ti doesn't fit into the AKiTiO Node, so enclosure has to be kept open. That was not what I envisioned and I have to be on the lookout for a better solution 🙁 If this important to you better do your homework well as many of the enclosures don't seem to fit the big GPU's.
- Wifi was much slower from the beginning on the Bootcamp install (especially ping) than on my macOS but with the eGPU the Wifi connection is even worse (drops often and then can't find Wifi networks without restart). 
- System seems to freeze sometimes when plugging/unplugging external USB-hardware like external hard disk.

In total at this point I'm happy that the HTC Vive works nicely. But the setup is not there yet where I envisioned it to be in regards to portability and stability. I'll keep you updated about progress.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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RBeck
(@rbeck)
Active Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 9
July 31, 2018 6:53 pm  

Thanks for the guide Nemolus!

I will try this tonight.

My ASUS STRIX GTX 1080 TI fits fine into the akitio node? Is it the original node or the pro version you are using?

Akitio Node with MSI GTX 1080 inside.


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nemolus
(@nemolus)
New Member
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2
July 31, 2018 9:44 pm  
Posted by: RBeck

My ASUS STRIX GTX 1080 TI fits fine into the akitio node? Is it the original node or the pro version you are using?

The 1080 fits into the Node but the closing lid doesn't fit anymore so I have to keep it open and can't easily transport it. Im using the regular version of the Akitio Node. Good luck with setting up!

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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