late 2016 13" MacBook Pro with TouchBar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Aorus Gaming Box) + macOS10.13 & Win10 [usafballer]  

 

usafballer
(@usafballer)
Eminent Member
Joined:6 months  ago
Posts: 36
January 2, 2018 2:32 am  

System specs  Macbook Pro 13.3 (Late 2016) w/TouchBar - Core i5/512GB/8GB

eGPU hardware  Aorus Gaming Box 1070 w/Cable Matters 2M Certified Thunderbolt 3 Cable ( https://egpu.io/go/amazon/cablematters2mtb3cable )

Hardware pictures 

Nothing pretty to show here!

Installation steps

MacOS High Sierra:

 I don't have much to say here yet.  For MacOS (High Sierra) - I followed the forum guide to install the nVidia Script as well as web drivers.  I can get the system to recognize the GTX1070, although I haven't had much success in getting it to actually accelerate games and content.  Well, I should say I have had some success (I got Civ 6 and Uningine Valley running on an external display in High Sierra) - but not reliably so yet.  

Windows via bootcamp (internal SSD)

This one was actually fairly straight forward, but a few important notes.  I initially installed Win 10 Pro build 1709 (Fall Creators update) - but did not have any success getting Windows to recognize the GPU.

I decided to roll back to Anniversary Edition via an older ISO (build 1703).  Initially I used the hotplug method for a couple weeks, but found out this method is a little tricky to use time and time again (You have to be very quick and plug in the second you see the swirling dots).  I also learned that on the non-H2D firmware, I was getting ~11XX MiBs in H2D bandwidth, which impacted performance considerably.  However, on the H2D firmware, I got the full 22XX MiBs, but found games crashed that were running off an external HDD attached to the Aorus GB.  

I ultimately installed REFIND and used the Apple_Set_OS.efi script, along with the H2D firmware to be the best choice.  The theory is the system auto allocates bandwidth for the USB hub on the AGB, and then allocates ~15XX MiBs for the actual GPU.  So far, this setup has worked reliably.

For initial setup (first time), here is how I proceeded...

1) Fully shut system down

2) Boot and hold the Option key down - select Windows and make sure you are prep'd to plug in the TB3 cable

3) Within a 1-2 Seconds of seeing the swirling dots, plug in the TB3 cable

4) Booting into windows should take longer than normal (you'll see the swirling dots for a while) - and you should see the LED lights on the AGB lit up by the time the Win login screen appears

5) Login as normal - and let Windows driver update auto find drivers and install the GTX1070.  I know there are guides with DDU and whatnot, and I found that unnecessary.  I think the key is to use hotplug for the initial setup and for any device firmware updates.  I also installed GFX experience and installed the later drivers (didn't even reboot between driver updates, GASP).

6) I would recommend always fully shutting down the device (don't let it restart and try to get the hotplug timing right) - but I haven't formally tested this yet.

7) To complete the H2D firmware update, I found an older Intel TB Software install (not the latest) - and because I used hotplug, the device shows up pretty cleanly in the TB Software.  Firmware update was simple.  After this, I shut down completely.  As another note, I had a harder time using REFIND and Apple Set OS.EFI to do firmware updates.  The 1070 will not show up in the TB Software - however, when using hotplug, the software sees the 1070 without any gimmicky un-hotplug, and then trying to "yellow bang" the 1070 in Device Manager.  Just use hotplug for Firmware and you should have an easier time.

8) Boot into MacOS, and install REFIND, along with the Apple_Set_OS.efi script

9) Shut down completely.  Plug in the AGB, the system will give you the charging chime, and begin a boot to the REFIND OS selection page.  From here I first select Apple_Set_OS.efi, and then Win10 OS (installed via Bootcamp).

10) You should be able to flawlessly boot into windows.  CUDA-Z reports I get about 14XX MiBs, and so far my external 4TB drive works very well.  

11) Every time I boot with the eGPU, I have to disable, and then re-enable the Cirrus Audio device in device manager to properly get sound working through the laptop.  If you principally use an external display and have that display split audio to speakers, you probably don't have to do this step.  I haven't tried seeing if I can connect Bluetooth headphones in windows to forgo this somewhat annoying step.

12) I would recommend buying a Win10 Pro license off eBay - and then going into the Windows Update advanced section and selecting defer updates.  There is something called branch updates or something - I'll update with exact language later.  Basically I'm deferring a major OS update for 365 days plus another 4 months or so (it's based off when the Fall Creators update is released for businesses, which to my knowledge, hasn't occurred yet).

13) Profit

Benchmarks 

All of these scores are using the internal screen only!!

Unigine Heaven: 1080P w/8xAA Quality: Ultra / Tessellation: Extreme | FPS: 62.7 / Score: 1580

Unigine Valley: Preset Extreme HD w/8xAA | FPS 69.9 / Score 2926

3DMark Firestrike: | Overall Score 8217 (Graphics 11,994 Physics 5181)

Deus Ex Mankind Divided: 1680x1050/Preset High/no MSAA | 50.2 FPS

Total War Warhammer: 1920x1200 / Ultra Settings w/SSAO | 53.8 FPS

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 1920x1200 / Very High Preset | 54.67 FPS

Comments 

I previously owned an Alienware 13r3 w/OLED as my daily driver – so I have a fairly high standard.  I haven’t done enough extended use to firmly endorse this kind of setup (MBP w/eGPU); but so far, I’m impressed.  In many titles, the eGPU beats my Alienware’s 1060.  However, there are a few games where the dual core CPU becomes a problem (Battlefield 1 a prime example).

As far as how this setup is superior to my Alienware 13:

1) Fan noise.  The Aorus can be loud and annoying, but using my 2M cable I can tuck that noise out of site and mask it to a large degree.  However, the 46 dBA the Aorus makes is still half a fully whirring Alienware 13 at 49 dBa.   

2) Thermals - my previous Alienware got way too hot, even under low load situations.  This made it a poor “laptop”.  While the MBP gets warm thanks to the all metal construction - it's way better during a gaming session.  The keyboard stays much cooler as well.

3) Portability/Weight – You don’t have an option to only take “half” of the Alienware when you need something far more portable for travel.  Granted, choices can be a catch 22 (do I take the eGPU or not).  It’s still great to use an ultrabook for most tasks where I don’t need the horsepower – along with significantly better battery life. 

4) Performance - Simply put, I'm pleasantly surprised, that for most the games I play, the MBP plus eGPU outperforms the 1060 in the Alienware laptop, even when on my internal screen only.  There are a few CPU bound titles that simply struggle though.  I'm thinking about Battlefield 1 right now, which can't hold 60FPS at all times.  However, it mostly holds 60, so for a noncompetitive gamer who just likes to plunk around a virtual battlefield, it's still a great experience.

There are drawbacks:

1) Reliability - let's be honest, the thought that one windows update or driver shift could break things is very concerning.  This is where "Software as a Service" is becoming really annoying.

2) MacOS is way less optimized for eGPU.  Having tried the Aorus gaming box on a TB3 equipped Dell computer – it is tempting me to find a more suitable hot-swap Windows computer in the future.  I may go for the new XPS15 if it supports 4 lanes.  If they can iron out the Mac support by this spring, and update firmware/software for bootcamp to support hot swap for eGPUs in windows.  I won’t be going anywhere.

 

Edited: 5 months  ago

nando4 and theitsage liked
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theitsage
(@itsage)
Noble Member Admin
Joined:1 year  ago
Posts: 2389
January 2, 2018 4:20 pm  

I can relate on the Alienware 13 R3. The one I had screamed loudly when the GTX 1060 was used. Yet, it would thermal-throttle quickly even on a flat surface. Once OEMs build Thunderbolt 3 laptops specifically for eGPU, traditional gaming laptops will be a dying breed.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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usafballer
(@usafballer)
Eminent Member
Joined:6 months  ago
Posts: 36
January 3, 2018 2:14 am  

Yeah I ended up using a 90 watt adapter with my alienware 13 more often than not, which really reduced performance (20%) but ultimately was so much quieter a device.  But that OLED screen was so gorgeous.

I'm extremely eager to see what chip goes in the 2018 Macbook Pro 13 refresh - do you have any insights?  Will a quad core update make a big difference in performance?  Will we see that collaboration between Intel and AMD this year, or is that a couple years off?  If not, will the coffee lake plus Iris Pro graphics offer a fairly large leap in iGPU performance?

I'm really hoping Apple's promise of mainstream eGPU support by this spring becomes a reality - I want hot plug capability in both Mac and Windows OS!  I want this for both AMD and nVidia GPUs.


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