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2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + GTX 980 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + Win10 ...
 

2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + GTX 980 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + Win10 1903 [cnon297]  

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cnon297
(@cnon297)
Active Member
Joined: 3 weeks ago
 

I’m a long time fan of this site altho this is my 1st post.  I recently bought a CTO 2019 13” MacBook Pro with 2 TB3 ports and a touch bar (new to this model).  This is currently set up with an existing eGPU that I had leftover from my 2015 MacBook Pro.  

 

Computer specs:

2019 13” MacBook Pro with 1.4GHz 4-core i5-8257U, Iris Plus 645, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD

 

eGPU specs:

Akitio Node + ASUS Strix GTX 980Ti with 6GB GDDR5

 

Monitor:

Philips Brilliance 242G5 1080p 144Hz

 

OS specs:

Windows 10, version 1903, build 18362.418

 

 

Since the computer came preloaded with Mojave and the graphics card is Nvidia, the only eGPU option at this time is Boot Camp + Windows.  

 

Having read the eGPU.io Buyer’s Guide, How-To, and several user builds from this site, the dual Thunderbolt 3 13” MacBook Pro models seem to be a great choice for an eGPU build.  The newly added Touchbar wasn’t an issue.  No extra software was needed and SIP is enabled.  However, there was still quite a bit of trial-and-error to free up resources for Windows to recognize the eGPU.  Hot plugging the eGPU was initially time consuming also since the timing is different from other eGPU builds that I’d read.  It’s possible there are other resource & hot plug combinations that work. This setup works consistently tho so hopefully it will save time for someone with the same (or similar) setup. 

 

 

Procedure:

1- Prep:  Backup your computer with Time Machine or other utility.  Do not power on the eGPU or connect it to the MacBook Pro at this time.  Make sure there are no additional devices attached to the MacBook Pro before proceeding.  Use the built-in keyboard and trackpad during setup.

 

2- Setup BootCamp:  If you haven’t already, setup Boot Camp with Windows 10 using the BootCamp assistant.  Apple has a support doc for this combination if needed.  From a user standpoint there are really only 2 steps.  Pick a storage size for Windows, and provide a Windows 10 64bit ISO image or flash drive.  My retail box of Win10 Pro (3yr old) came with a flash drive but I choose to download the latest Windows 10 image from Microsoft’s site listed as “Windows 10 May 2019 Update”  This turned out to be version 1903 build 18362.418. and works great with this computer.  

 

3- Setup Windows 10:  You will need to purchase a license key if you don’t already have an unused key.  I uninstalled Windows 10 from my 2015 MacBook Pro and was able to re-use it here.   I chose to create an offline account so I wouldn’t have to deal with the Microsoft store at this time.  Once logged in for the 1st time, the Apple BootCamp driver software will run and finish the Windows 10 setup for your MacBook Pro.

 

4- Configure Windows 10 resources:  Log into Windows 10 and access the Device Manager with the Window+X key combination (Command X on an Apple keyboard).  Device Manager is about 5 items down from the top.  Once opened, expand “System Devices” and double-click on the “Broadcom Bluetooth controller Over PCIe Device.”  A small pop-up window will open, click on the “Driver” tab, then Disable This Device button, and close the pop-up window.  Next, do the same for the Camera section near the top of the list and disable “iBridge FaceTime HD Camera.”

 

5- Restart Windows and log in.  Wait about 20 seconds for Windows to finish loading before proceeding.

 

6- Initial eGPU connect.  With the eGPU disconnected from the computer, power it on.  Then hot-plug the thunderbolt 3 cable from the eGPU to the MacBook Pro.  The eGPU power supply fan will start to spin and the computer will emit a series of descending and ascending chimes as the eGPU is discovered.  Run the Device Manager again using Command X.  The Nvidia card may not be listed directly and instead show up as a Generic VGA adapter - separate from the Intel Iris Plus Graphics adapter.  This is due to not having an Nvidia driver at this time.   If you don’t see 2 video adapters, perform a Scan for Hardware Changes.  You shouldn’t have to disable additional resources beyond Bluetooth and the FaceTime camera to get the Nvidia / VGA adapter recognized.

 

7- Install the NVIDIA device driver:  There are couple of ways to do this.  I did a search on Nvidia’s support site for GTX 980 Ti and downloaded the driver-only - I didn’t want to setup a GeForce Experience account.  Next, install the Nvidia driver.  If the driver installer can’t find an Nvidia card it will exit and fail to install the driver.  If so, make sure you shut down the computer before disconnecting the eGPU.  Then go to step 4 and verify that both Bluetooth and FaceTime camera are disabled in the device manager and continue from there.  If all goes well with the Nvidia driver there will be 2 new Nvidia  items in the system tray on the bottom right of the task bar.  One is the normal Nvidia driver settings while the other is an Nvidia eGPU disconnect.  

 

8 - Finish up.  Shut down windows, then unplug the eGPU.  From this moment on, always turn on the computer and log into Windows 10 before hot plugging the eGPU.  Tho it may not be the only method, it has worked reliably since I installed BootCamp / Win10 / eGPU several days ago.

 

eGPU 980 Ti Benchmarks on 1080p 144Hz monitor and 60Hz notebook retina display

Test & Display

Average

Min

Max

Score

Heaven External

97.2 fps

28.6 fps

193.6 fps

2449

Heaven Internal

80.9 fps

27.2 fps

142.5 fps

2038

Valley External

102.0 fps

30.6 fps

194.4 fps

4267

Valley Internal

85.7 fps

31.5 fps

143.6 fps

3586

Superposition Ext

90.34 fps

71.12 fps

127.5 fps

12078

Superposition Int

83.24 fps

69.30 fps

106.47 fps

11129

Settings used:  Heaven & Valley used Extreme, Superposition used Medium 1080p.

 

Helpful items: 

  • “Graphics settings” is located near the bottom of Windows 10 “Display settings” and is a great way to force software to use the eGPU over the Intel Iris Graphics.  This even works on the built-in MacBook Pro display (very cool).  But you have to individually select each app and set it to Performance.  Sometimes the actual app is different from the launcher so you may have to hunt around a bit and select more than 1 for the app.  I hope at some point Windows 10 will allow you to set the default graphics to Performance whenever an eGPU is available.  
  • “Internal notebook display”  There is a small but significant speed penalty (10-20%) for using the eGPU on the MacBook Pro built-in display vs an external monitor.  But not needing to tote a large monitor with your ultra-book is a huge benefit.  Especially with a more modern, compact eGPU such as the Aorus RTX2070 Gaming Box.  Hopefully an RX5700 version will be coming  soon for macOS.
  • “High Refresh rates”  Initially I couldn’t select 100-144Hz monitor refresh for the external monitor from the Nvidia system tray unless I selected a higher refresh from the Windows “Advanced Display settings” first.  Tho you only have to do this once and Windows will remember any time the eGPU and external monitor are connected.
  • “Retina scaling” It’s different in Win10 from macOS in that graphics programs (games, benchmarks) look very small and unscaled while programs with text (browsers, HWiNFO) scale normally.  One workaround is to set the MacBook internal display to a lower resolution (1680x1050, 1600x900) with 100% scaling.  This scales text and graphics equally tho the text might not be as sharp.

 

 

This topic was modified 2 weeks ago

2019 13" MacBook Pro dual TB3 4-core 1.4GHz i5 + Akitio Node + MSI 1080Ti
2009 Mac Pro 5,1 with 3.47 6-core Xeon + AMD Radeon HD 7970 (flashed)


mac_editor and itsage liked
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itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@cnon297 Welcome aboard and thank you for sharing this excellent build guide! The GTX 980 Ti is still a very respectable card for gaming in Windows. 

 

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cnon297
(@cnon297)
Active Member
Joined: 3 weeks ago
 

@itsage Thanks very much!  I updated the build with benchmark results for comparison.

This post was modified 2 weeks ago

2019 13" MacBook Pro dual TB3 4-core 1.4GHz i5 + Akitio Node + MSI 1080Ti
2009 Mac Pro 5,1 with 3.47 6-core Xeon + AMD Radeon HD 7970 (flashed)


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