2015 15" MacBook Pro (R9 M370X) [4th,4C,H] + GTX 980 @ 16Gbps-TB2 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.11 & Win10 [Halbertus]
This is my second try on getting a reliable eGPU Setup. I have been testing out an Akitio Thunder 2 with EVGA GTX 980 a few months ago and ran into a lot of issues regarding my setup. I am running a pretty niche display (Dell Up2715k) being one of the two 5K screens available to hook up via 2x DisplayPort. Thats why I am pretty limited in choice and research of compatible graphics cards. Thanks to this nice community I decided to give it another try.
This is going to be a status report and will be updated as I make further progress.
- Mid 2015 MacBook Pro Retina /w AMD Radeon R9 M370X on macOS 10.12.3 (16D32)
- Bizon Box 2S (= Akitio Thunder 2 + Dell D-A), bought used for very attractive price (Just to clarify: I know this is quite a controversial product being mainly a modded Akitio Thunder 2 in a nice enclosure and the questionable commercial use of automate-egpu by goalque, but in my region there is no way I can obtain the Akitio Node anytime soon)
- Dell UP 2715K
Choice of Graphics Cards
I plan on testing out one nVidia and one AMD graphics card to see, which one has better driver support for 5K display output. These are the ones i currently have on order:
I will update this post as soon as i have new information to report!
Please let me know in case you have recommendations on further graphics cards to test out.
Oh. This is of serious interest to me because I plan to get a the HP Z27q (also a 27" 5K display, just a lot cheaper than the Dell) once I get the refund for a dead LG monitor that they no longer have in stock. Any chance that you'd try to drive the monitor in Windows as well, or do you purely use OS X? I have the R9 Fury, so drivers wise it should be similar enough to the RX480 so I can see how setting this up works.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."
Just a quick update while still in the process of testing things out:
I got my hands on an nVidia GTX 970 and I can confoim my Dell UP2715K is working fine in 5K 2560*1440 HiDPI Mode. Caveat: I have to turn the monitor off and on again, aber MacBook is booted.
Desktop performance is nice but I am not getting any performance gains in professional applications. I.e. Playback Performance in Premiere Pro / DaVinci Resolve has not gotten any smoother under mac OS
Just for kicks i installed Windows 10 on my MacBook and when following a strict boot routine (First Boot into macOs, then choose Bootcamp as startup disk, reboot) I got amazing performance. Not a single dropped frame in Premiere Pro while doing a 4K Multicam Edit.
So I can report mixed success so far 🙂
Some new discoveries on how to enable 5K MST when running Radeon cards: https://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/radeon-compatibility-guide-ati-amd-graphics-cards.171291/page-100#post-1462727
Unfortunately I returned my RX480 just yesterday
With EVGA GTX980 5K resolution is working fine though! - Unfortunately there are some problems with cursor misplacement when moving pointer from left so right panel, several users have been reporting this issue and there does not seem to be a fix
Okay, finally I can make a little more detailed report on this project.
RX 480 (Sapphire): Kind of working with kext edits according to the guide by itsage, unfortunately I could not get MST mode to work, so that I could see 2 x 2560 screens in system report, but they would not get stitched together as two panels of the Dell Up 2715k. I also tried adding a custom resolution in SwitchResX without success
GTX 980 (EVGA): So, after my GTX 970 being faulty and the MST mode for Dual Cable Display not fully supported in current sierra radeon drivers I decided to give it another go and ordered a used EVGA GTX 980. With nVidia drivers still installed and also boot-args set to correct spanmodepolicy Dell UP2715K is indeed working great.
Also I tried compatibility with Windows10 via Bootcamp installation. Booting into Windows, with enclosure and GPU being connected the only necessary step was installing nVidis drivers into Windows and restart the computer.
- Whole Setup 100% Silent in desktop mode
- Enough graphics power to work on serious tasks, when connected to 5K Display (i.e. InDesign, Premiere Pro and Photoshop)
- Smooth desktop performance running macOs and Windows
- Gaming in 2560*1440 seems possible (tested shortly)
- Power Cycling of external Display is necessary once after boot
- No wake from sleep mode (so I disabled sleep)
- In 2/10 cases Windows does not boot up correctly, Fix: restart, try again
- Sometimes there are glitches in cursor positioning in macOS, which seems to be a problem resulting from the somewhat wacky nVidia driver. Also legit Mac Pro owners are suffering from that problem
I made two videos, so you could have a look at how this setup performs.
I hope this helps anyone deciding on whether building a similar eGPU setup is worth it. Although there are certain limitations to my mind this solution will help to overcome the terribly product portfolio Apple is having up for sale currently.
Cost for this project all-in-all: 650€
Just downgraded to OS X El Capitan 10.11.6 (15G1421). Great results:
- No more cursor glitches
- Wake from sleep works
eGPU setup is working near to perfect for me now!