Late 2016 15" MacBook Pro + WX [email protected] (AKiTiO Node Pro) + macOS 10.14 & W10 1803 [theitsage]  

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theitsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3232
August 7, 2018 1:40 pm  

My late 2016 15" MacBook Pro was away for keyboard repair/topcase replacement. In the meantime I found a great deal on an HP Z27q 5K monitor. I wanted to test this MST monitor in Boot Camp as well as macOS. It was plug-and-play in both environments once I sorted out error 12 for Radeon eGPU in Windows. The WX 9100 has 6 mini DisplayPort 1.4 ports. It's capable of hosting up to three 5K monitors @ 60Hz or six 4K monitors @ 60Hz. The HP Z27q requires two DisplayPort 1.2 cables to achieve 5K @ 60Hz resolution.

 

System specs:

2016 15" MacBook Pro - i7-6700HQ/Radeon Pro 450 dGPU/HD Graphics 530 iGPU/16GB RAM/256GB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

AKiTiO Node Pro + Radeon Pro WX 9100 + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable + USB-C 90˚ angle adapter

 

Display hardware:

  • One HP Z27q 27-inch IPS 5K + two DisplayPort cables + two DisplayPort to mini DisplayPort adapters
  • Two LG 27UD69P-W 27-inch IPS 4K FreeSync + two DisplayPort to mini DisplayPort cables

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

This 2016 15" MacBook Pro currently runs High Sierra 10.3.6 and Mojave 10.14 beta 5. The firmware changes with Mojave updates effect Boot Camp in regards to eGPU use. Fortunately the existing Boot Camp eGPU setup guide remains working for the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros. If you have a 2018 MBP, do not update to 10.14 until further reports. Below are the step by step process I followed to resolve error 12 for the Radeon Pro WX 9100 eGPU:

  • Download Windows 10 ISO and install through Boot Camp Assistant [in macOS and Windows]
  • Complete Boot Camp driver installation then download and unpack Display Driver Uninstaller [in Windows]
  • Run DDU with Admin privileges to remove drivers for AMD, Intel, and Nvidia drivers [in Windows]
  • Download and install rEFInd then mount EFI partition to enable spoof_osx_version 10.9 [in macOS]
  • Select Windows volume then hit ENTER - do this every time you boot into Windows to keep iGPU activated [in rEFInd Boot]
  • Confirm there are two "Microsoft Basic Display Adapter" in Device Manager then install Intel graphics drivers for iGPU [in Windows]
  • Download and install 2013 Visual C++ x86 [in Windows]
  • Download 0xbb's gpu-switch and run integrated.bat to attach internal display to the iGPU [in Windows]
  • Disable PCIe Controller (x16) - 1901 in Device Manager [in Windows]
  • Connect eGPU to the right Thunderbolt 3 port closest to display hinge then hit POWER button [Computer off]
  • Select Windows volume then hit ENTER [in rEFInd Boot]
  • Verify there's a new Microsoft Basic Display Adapter then download and install Radeon Pro drivers [in Windows]

If all goes well, you should see AMD Xconnect notification and icon. Due to the dGPU being disabled you need to take caution when switching back to macOS. The default behavior in macOS is to attach the dGPU to the internal display. If you boot into macOS with dGPU disabled in Windows settings, the subsequent boot into Windows will cause the internal display to freeze at the Windows logo. I found having an external monitor connected to the eGPU would allow you to see the Desktop. Then you can either re-run integrated.bat to use eGPU with functional internal display or re-enable dGPU to use the laptop in Windows without eGPU. Here are the screen captures of AIDA, HWiNFO, and Radeon Pro Settings.

 

It was plug-and-play in macOS (10.13.6 as well as 10.14. beta 5). The 5K monitor worked great at native resolution without any configuration. It took longer to initiate output compared to the 4K monitors. This behavior is noticeable when connecting the displays, booting up, and waking up from sleep.

 

Benchmarks:

I ran SPECviewperf off an external SSD (USB 3 gen 1) connected to the left Thunderbolt 3 port. Compared to the 2018 13" QC MacBook Pro, the 2016 15" MacBook Pro still has a performance advantage.

 

Comments:

If you're in the market for a new MacBook Pro to use with eGPU in general and Boot Camp in specific, the 2017 may be the better choice. I observed many strange booting behaviors with the 2018 13" MBP. Even when all Secure Boot settings were off, the Apple T2 chip can still detect non-signed codes and interfere with the booting process. One time it corrupted my macOS system files. Another it asked me to change admin account password. On several occasions, the T2 chip forced the laptop into Recovery mode because it didn't like what I was trying to do. This is one man's opinion but I don't like the way things are going with Mac hardware.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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