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

 

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!

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) 

                               

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.

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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OliverB
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kk1072
(@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?

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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OliverB
(@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.

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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OliverB
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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.

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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OliverB
(@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

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

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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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.

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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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

86 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:

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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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.

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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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.

macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-asus-xg-station-pro-evga-gtx-1080-ti
2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-rtx2080ti32gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx1080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

early-2015-13-macbook-pro-rtx2080ti-11gb16gbps-tb2-asus-xg-station-pro-via-tb3-tb2-adapter

2018-15-macbook-pro-rp560x-vega5632gbps-tb3-asus-xg-station-pro
macbook-pro-15-2018-i7-razer-core-x-evga-gtx-1080-ti-2
macbook-pro-15inch-2018-aorus-gaming-box-gtx1080


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OliverB
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