Early-2015 13" MacB...
 
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Early-2015 13" MacBook Pro + [email protected] (ASUS XG Station Pro via TB3->TB2 adapter) + macOS 10.13.6 & Win10 [OliverB]  

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OliverB
(@oliverb)
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November 6, 2018 10:51 pm  

System specs

-MacBook Pro 13 inch 2015, i7-5557U 2-core, 16GB Ram, 512GB SSD
-iGpu Intel Iris Graphics 6100
-External Monitor Samsung 2560x1440
-Mac OSX 10.13.6
-Windows 10 Build 1803 Bootcamp

eGPU hardware (eGPU enclosure, video card, any third-party TB3 cable, any custom mods)

Asus XG Station Pro
EVGA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti SC2 (EVGA 11G-P4-6593-KR)
Apple TB3 -> TB2 Adapter MMEL2ZM/A
StarTech.com Thunderbolt Cable 1m

Hardware pictures

MBP2015 Asus
tb2 connecting
asus withadapter

 

Installation steps 

MacOSX:
1) Booting via @goalque's Efi-Bootloader from USB Thumb drive (eGPU is not attached)
2) Hot plugging e-GPU after Login
3) Install nVidia Drivers ( https://github.com/Benjamin-Dobell/nvidia-update )
4) Repeat 1 and 2)

It works!

iGpueGPUMacOsxMPB2015

There are some point to pay attention:
1) Using a nVidia card, you have to alter you system. Either with the bootloader or with one of those fine scripts. There is no way around, unfortunatley.
2) Until now, High Sierra (MacOSX 10.13.6) is recommended. Mojave probably won't work for a long time.
3) If you plan to use your eGPU mainly with MacOSX, a Radeon GPU could be right choice, you won't have any of those problems.

Windows (Recommended Windows 10 Build 1803)
1) Boot without eGPU Plugged in (It's actually not possible boot with it plugged)
2) Press ALT for the Bootloader
3) Select Windows and wait for the dots appear cycling "plug-ready"
4 When the first reach the upper part of the cycle, plug in the eGPU (This is the only difficult thing here, this is a matter of timing).
5) After Windwos is loaded check for "Display Adapter"s under "Device Manager", if there is a Microsoft Basic Device Adapter (Error 31).
6) If it is not there or something else went wrong (BlueScreen, Didn't Boot at all, etc..) Repeat from 1)
7) Install latest nVidia Driver
8) Hot plug n play the eGPU as you wish.

It works very well, but when you reboot/start the system you have always to hotplug the eGPU at the beginning (Step 4). Once the system is running, you can hotplug and hot-unplug again and again. This solution is best, if you work mostly with Windows. Ok can let it running.

Benchmarks (MacOsx)

iGpu  eGPU (factor 13.5) 
LuxmarkiGpuBall

LuxmarkeGpuBall

GfxMetaliGPU

GfxMetaleGPU

Borderlands2iGpuMPB2015

Borderlands2eGpuMPB2015

                               

Comments 

It was more a science project: I tried my new eGPU ( https://egpu.io/forums/builds/macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti/) with my former 13" MacBook Pro 2015 (now being used by my wife), so I bought the TB cable und adapter. They are high quality and work perfect.

It boosts the performance for this MacBook Pro about a factor of almost 13 (regarding the 3 MacOSX Benchmarks here). So this whole setup is much more worthwhile than with my new MPB 2018.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 7, 2018 1:09 am  

I got Windows running, once until now. It is the infamous "plug at the right time" problem. I brought some benchmarks, Uniginie Valley Extreme HD and Tomb Raider 1440p Ultimate:

iGPU eGPU (factor about 20x)
Unigine Valley iGPU MPB2015

Unigine Valley eGPU MPB2015

TombRaideriGPU

TombRaidereGPU

 

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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kk1072
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November 7, 2018 5:46 am  

Great information, I need to try this! Thank you

My Mac already updated to Mac OS 10.14, haven't seen any success use case w/ Nvidia card.
Still considering buying options. Currently, only have one GTX 1080ti and mid-2015 MacBook Pro.

I checked that my TB3 to TB2 adapter model isMMEL2FE/A instead of MMEL2ZM/A. Hope nothing much different.

After succeeding install on Mac OS, do you need to hotplug it every time?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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OliverB
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November 7, 2018 10:37 am  
Posted by: kk1072

Great information, I need to try this! Thank you

My Mac already updated to Mac OS 10.14, haven't seen any success use case w/ Nvidia card.
Still considering buying options. Currently, only have one GTX 1080ti and mid-2015 MacBook Pro.

I checked that my TB3 to TB2 adapter model isMMEL2FE/A instead of MMEL2ZM/A. Hope nothing much different.

After succeeding install on Mac OS, do you need to hotplug it every time?

 

I would bet any wager that they are the same adapters. It look like the last two letters have to to with the location where it's sold.

Yes, until now it just doesn't boot with the eGPU plugged-in. It doesn't even blink, I have to hot-plug. That is completely different to my 15" MPB 2018, where you can let it plugged in.

I forget to mention that for MBP2015 build the USB-C Port of the Asus XG Station Pro works very good unter MacOSX but not under Windows -so far. For MBP2018 it works in both OSs.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 8, 2018 12:22 am  

Some more Windows benchmarks, mostly not comparing to iGPU, because it doesn't run with it.

TimeSpy MBP2015

Cuda MBP2015

AIDA64 MBP2015

ROTTR MBP2015

FarCry5 MBP2015

 

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 8, 2018 12:39 am  

Still, the whole plugging issue is far from good for the 13" MPB 2015. It's neither impossible to start plugged, nor to hot plug after the system is up. You have to get the right timing, both for Windows 10 and for MacOSX 10.13.6, while for Windows the time frame is very small. Unplugging results in system crushes, too.

This is completely different to the 15" MPB 2018 where you can let it simply plugged in. Unplugging in Windows 10 works well there, too, but you cannot re-plug, it won't crush, but doesn't work either. Anyway, once it is running, it is very stable and performant.

If anybody has some ideas or tips concerning this plugging-issue, that would be great.

Edit: These are the steps where it works quite well with an external display. It's still unclear which ones are exactly necessary.
1) Unplug -& Switch off egpu-
2) Unplug everything from the egpu-ports.
3) Start Windows (only if not already running)
4) Warm Reboot  (No shutdown, this seem to be a must)
3) Push ALT für Boot-Manager
4) Choose Windows
5) Plug-in when those circling dots appear, before they reach the upper side of the circle.
=> eGPU switches on, so does external display.

 I don't think it matters which TB2-Port is used. I don't use the one next to magsafe2 (as do others). That one is occupied already by a TB-Ethernet Adapter and can stay this way.
Further it's not necessary to switch off the eGPU, neither it's problem with connected devices at the ports. They won't work under Windows, but have nothing to do with boot-success.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 9, 2018 11:13 pm  

I found out an interesting feature in this setup:
The 13" MacBook Pro 2015 only provides USB3 Ports with an max bandwith of 5 GBit/s. With this ASUS enclosure the system gets a nice upgrade, an additional USB3.1 Gen 2 Port with a bandwith up to 10GBit/s. The disk benchmarks of an fast external SSD are evidence for this. Connected to the USB-A Port the speed is clearly capped by 5 GBit/s, while the UBS-C port of the box  is faster.

[email protected] Port of the MBP 2015
MBP2015 USB3.0Port

[email protected] Port of the Asus XP Station Pro connected via TB2 with MBP 2015
MBP2015 OverXP USB C

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 11, 2018 3:32 pm  

It's hard to believe, but actually I just have hot-unplugged and hot-re-plugged successfully!

I am writing this text on the hot-re-plugged eGPU driven display. I knew that hot-unplugging under Windows works quite well, but any attempt with MPB2018 to hot-re-plug failed so far. So despite the bad reputation, it's possible.

It's reproducible: the Windows 10 of the 13" MBP 2015 is in a state where I can hotplug the eGPU without any problem, as often I want. I could even try meanwhile with the 15" MBP 2018, which just doesn't hot re-plug. The Display Adapters don't re-add the NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1080 Ti, but they do it with the MBP2013. Now it's hot-plugged back to the 13" MPB 2015.

Hot Re Plugged Egpu

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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theitsage
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November 11, 2018 5:09 pm  

@oliverb Nice work on this build guide. Can you share the USB-C gen 2 external SSD that's you're using? I had guessed ASUS intended this XG Station Pro to have dual Thunderbolt 3 ports. eGFX certification dictates one Thunderbolt 3 port so ASUS switch the second port to USB-C port.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

94 external GPU build guides


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OliverB
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November 11, 2018 5:20 pm  
Posted by: theitsage

@oliverb Nice work on this build guide. Can you share the USB-C gen 2 external SSD that's you're using? I had guessed ASUS intended this XG Station Pro to have dual Thunderbolt 3 ports. eGFX certification dictates one Thunderbolt 3 port so ASUS switch the second port to USB-C port.

Of course, it's selfmade:

-XT-Xinte USB3.1 TO PCI-e NVMe SSD Enclosure
-Kingston A1000 SA1000M8/240G SSD

You have to watch for NVMe (not SATA, which is restricted to 6Gbit/s, most enclosures are SATA, because people don't care or don't know it better).
This makes the enclosure a little more expensive (enclosure costs about 30 EUR instead of 10 EUR), but much more powerful, always supporting USB3,1 Gen 2.

I have more benchmarks here:
https://egpu.io/forums/gpu-monitor-peripherals/tb3-cables-50cm-80cm-both-passive-and-150cm-active-tb2-cables-with-tb2-tb3-adapter-some-benchmarks/#post-47254

And a picture of the hardware:

externalSSD

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 11, 2018 5:41 pm  

Now after a lot of testing of the ASUS XP Station Pro I have to say, that it is much more valuable in combination with the 13" MPB 2015 than with the 15" MPB 2018:

- Performance Boost is about factor 13-20 instead of just 4-5.
- You get an additional USB3.1 Gen 2 Port, which is not necessary for the MPB 2018.
- dGPU in 15" MPB 2018 is quite worthless with an eGPU, causes more trouble than advantages.
- Plug'n'Play under running (!) Windows Bootcamp
- Immediate acceleration for internal display, without hacks.
- Limited TB2 Bandwith is hardly a factor in high settings (resolution, details).

Yet, there are some disadvantages:
- Cannot boot with plugged-in eGPU, including some nasty fiddling with the right timing in Windows 10.
- USB-Ports of enclosure do not work in Windows.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 11, 2018 10:57 pm  

It's verified: It's Plug'n'Play in Windows-Bootcamp! The eGPU can anytime be removed and re-plugged again.

Still:  When rebooting windows you have to hot-plug it once with the exact timing. After then you can easily remove and add the device with total functionality. Because this is a reason to celebrate I have made some more hardware-picture and added them to the first post.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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November 14, 2018 12:10 am  

As noted on several occastion TB2 has no real impact on performance, especially on high setting (high resolution, high details, not-so-high FPS), see also:

https://egpu.io/forums/psu-cables/analysis-how-much-is-the-bandwith-limiting-the-performance-a-comparison-between-tb3-and-tb2-between-external-and-internal-display

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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omardesu
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January 24, 2019 2:43 pm  

@OliverB good work here.

Are you still not able to boot up with the eGPU attached?  I can boot with my Gaming Box RX580 on my 2014 Mac mini without any issue, but I boot from EFI Boot selection instead of Windows as you mentioned.  And sometimes I get the error 12, but I just keep disabling Port #5 or do a couple reboots until the RX580 shows up without error in Device Manager.

I might actually buy one of these enclosures since the Razer Core X is sold out at many places right now.  I want to compare the RX580 vs the 1070ti that I have just waiting for an enclosure.  So I may be following your build guide to the fullest soon.

1070 Ti: 2014 Mac mini / 2016 MBP 15"
Mini ITX Build in Dan A4 Case


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OliverB
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January 24, 2019 2:50 pm  
Posted by: omardesu

@OliverB good work here.

Are you still not able to boot up with the eGPU attached?  I can boot with my Gaming Box RX580 on my 2014 Mac mini without any issue, but I boot from EFI Boot selection instead of Windows as you mentioned.  And sometimes I get the error 12, but I just keep disabling Port #5 or do a couple reboots until the RX580 shows up without error in Device Manager.

I might actually buy one of these enclosures since the Razer Core X is sold out at many places right now.  I want to compare the RX580 vs the 1070ti that I have just waiting for an enclosure.  So I may be following your build guide to the fullest soon.

@omardesu This boot problem is call "POST issue" does not occur with AMD cards, only with nVidia cards. There are some nVidia cards with Kepler chips that work, too, but they are very rare.
I never get Error 12, when booting with an AMD eGPU, this only happens if I try to hotplug it.
The 2015 MBP 13-inch works much better with an AMD eGPU than with an nVidia eGPU.  This is completely different for my other MacBook, a 15-inch 2018. There nVidia cards have clearly the edge in Bootcamp.

This post was modified 3 months ago

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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mac_editor
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January 24, 2019 3:09 pm  

The POST issue can be bypassed if this command is run before every boot:

sudo nvram tbt-options="<00>"

But for 2014 and older Macs, this would disable TB on Windows since those systems do not support hot-plugging in Windows.

purge-wrangler.shpurge-nvda.shset-eGPU.shautomate-eGPU EFI Installer
----
Troubleshooting eGPUs on macOS
Command Line Swiss Knife
eGPU Hardware Chart
----
Multiple Build Guides


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omardesu
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January 24, 2019 4:30 pm  

Thanks for the info @OliverB and @mac_editor!

So my last question to you would be this:  if you have to choose between a Gaming Box RX580  or eGPU + 1070ti on Bootcamp, which would you choose for gaming (extra I/O ports not a factor)?

1070 Ti: 2014 Mac mini / 2016 MBP 15"
Mini ITX Build in Dan A4 Case


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omardesu
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January 26, 2019 12:21 pm  

@oliverB are you able to control the LED of the XG Station Pro in Bootcamp?  I keep getting a non-AURA error.  I have an EVGA 1070 Ti in the enclosure, not sure if that’s the problem.

1070 Ti: 2014 Mac mini / 2016 MBP 15"
Mini ITX Build in Dan A4 Case


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OliverB
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January 26, 2019 3:43 pm  
Posted by: omardesu

@oliverB are you able to control the LED of the XG Station Pro in Bootcamp?  I keep getting a non-AURA error.  I have an EVGA 1070 Ti in the enclosure, not sure if that’s the problem.

I can control the light from my other MBP (15-inch, 2018). I haven't tried it with this 2015 model, so I can't tell.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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