How to accelerate the LG UltraFine 4K display with a graphics card that doesn't have USB-C on it, or drive two LG UltraFine 4K displays with a single Thunderbolt 3 cable  

 

machsoftwaredesign
(@machsoftwaredesign)
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October 25, 2017 11:28 pm  

Hi all,

I figured out how to accelerate a LG UltraFine 4K (USB-C only) display with a graphics card that doesn’t have USB-C on it, or drive two LG UltraFine 4K displays with a single Thunderbolt 3 cable.  It took a while to figure this out and I even considered selling one display and getting one with DisplayPort/HDMI on it.  

As some of you may know, a USB-C to DisplayPort cable won’t work with the LG UltraFine 4K display since DisplayPort doesn’t carry power and the display is designed to turn on only when plugged into a USB-C port, as clearly stated on the LG UltraFine 4K display support page:  “A Mac with built-in USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports is required.”

So basically using the Sunix UPD2018 PCI Express card you can take a DisplayPort cable and convert it to a USB-C DisplayPort Alt-Mode signal.  Even though on Sunix’s web page they don't list macOS compatibility anywhere, the PCI Express card does indeed work out of the box on macOS with no drivers required.

So with that, here’s how the process came together:

The Sunix PCI Express card showed up with a capacitor bent, but it works okay so that's fine:

IMG 0182

Getting the USB-C card installed in the Akitio Node Lite:

IMG 4891

USB-C card installed showing the USB-C ports and DisplayPort on the Sunix card, and the Thunderbolt 3 and DisplayPort on the Akitio Node Lite:

IMG 2363

This is where the magic happens and where we convert DisplayPort to DisplayPort over USB-C.  The Sunix card came with a DisplayPort cable and you can see how I'm running it from the DisplayPort on the Akitio Node Lite, to the DisplayPort on the Sunix USB-C PCI Express Card:

IMG 7491

All cables plugged in!

Untitled 1

Final product; I haven't picked up an eGPU yet as I'm waiting for the Akitio Node Pro to be released and for Vega drivers to mature on macOS.  I've got the Akitio Node Lite hooked up to a Thunderbolt 3 Dock  as the Akitio Node Lite only delivers 15 watts which isn't enough to fully charge any MacBook Pro.  Hope someone finds this useful!

IMG 0199

 

 

Edited: 8 months  ago

ha1o2surfer, damonhayhow, Humanovation and 1 people liked
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machsoftwaredesign
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October 27, 2017 3:46 pm  

Haha, thanks 🙂  Of course an Amazon reviewer was kind enough to confirm that the USB-C PCI Express card (UPD2018) was in fact compatible with macOS before I bought it.  But as far as the cables go, I’m not surprised that subreddit exists (but certainly looks nice), lol, and there’s this stereotype that developers/coders are messy people and it seems to be true because they have to routinely zone out of their environment.  Like my friends think I’m crazy how messy I am but doesn’t bother me the slightest.  And I’m always grabbing a Lightning cable and keeping the iPhone or iPad next to my MacBook while I test/develop on it if that makes more sense 😛

Edited: 8 months  ago

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Eightarmedpet
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karatekid430
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October 28, 2017 2:45 pm  

What exactly are you trying to achieve?

You mentioned "accelerating with a graphics card", yet there is no graphics card featured in that entire post.

Why not plug the USB-C monitors straight into the MacBook Thunderbolt 3 port? You never specified, but I assume it is the Thunderbolt 3 MacBook because of your charging comment.

I started making YouTube videos to try and clear up misconceptions with this stuff. My video on YouTube demonstrates that the Sunix UPD2018 converts from DisplayPort to USB-C without a PCIe connection - you just need to power it with a molex to PCIe adapter. Putting the Sunix UPD2018 in an eGPU enclosure solely for the purpose of converting DisplayPort to USB-C is a complete and utter waste of an eGPU enclosure. Simply power the UPD2018 and it will convert from DisplayPort to USB-C, regardless of the lack of USB signal or PCIe data connection. I have no idea why you were looking for driver support for the UPD2018 - you aren't even needing to use the Asmedia controller chip onboard the device.

Future videos will show that the Asrock Thunderbolt 3 AIC can do the same with 2x Displayport to 2x USB-C, but the JHL6540 onboard requires a PCIe connection to be woken up - although this need not be from a supported motherboard, nor the Thunderbolt header cable connected. It should be possible to find a way of fooling it, because the unsupported Asrock Z270 motherboard has never acknowledged that anything is even occupying the slot, and hence it must not be interfacing elaborately with drivers. Just install it into the closest desktop computer for now and it will do everything you need, without wasting an eGPU. Except even that is not needed, since you can just plug the monitors into the MacBook Pro.

Complaining about only 15W? Get the Aorus Gaming Box, sell the Nvidia GPU that comes provided, and install the AMD RX Vega Nano (or R9 Nano until the Vega Nano is released). That enclosure supplies 100W, and the additional power is actually accepted by the Macbook Pro (I have tested with friend's Macbook and the official charger only gives 86W in the OSX info area, and a true 100W charger is acknowledged as 100W). Only downside is lack of daisy chaining, but with 4x Thunderbolt 3 ports, you will not have that issue. I have the Dell 9365 and it is an issue.

I still have no idea what is actually going on here, but here is what I would have suggested if I had only read the title:
- Assume you have working eGPU
- Stick 2x Displayport from the GPU in the enclosure to Asrock Thunderbolt 3 AIC, installed into the closest desktop (does not require a compatible motherboard, just put it in and power it on)
- Stick the LG monitors from the dual USB-C out of the AIC.
- There, you now have eGPU accelerated USB-C monitors. Not converting from internal DisplayPort to Thunderbolt 3 back to DisplayPort from the eGPU enclosure, back to USB-C with UPD2018 for the monitor, all without even managing to get a GPU in there.


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happyplayer
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February 16, 2018 7:18 pm  

Form the posts I'm reading I get the feeling to JUST do the DisplayPort to TB3 conversion you don't need any PCIE bus connection.  It feels like that is just for the USB functionality.  So basically you could just power this with some Mining risers to make a convertor for this purpose.


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willian
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February 18, 2018 4:31 am  

I'm literally trying this option.

I received my Node Pro, Node lite, UDP2018 and GTX1080Ti yesterday, with configuration like this:

Screen Shot 2018 02 17 at 11.34.51 PM

I can get USB controlling my builtin screen brightness, audio coming out from Ultrafine 4k. yet not light up my Ultrafine 4k.

I tested running GTX1080Ti on Windows with benchmark on a 4k TV, it works. Tested running it on Mac for Tensorflow, it works.
So I'm having a doubt that my UDP2018 wasn't working properly.

A cable for Mini-DP to DP is coming on the way for me to test out if my older Mac would work, thus to verify my assumption.

Edited: 4 months  ago

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Eightarmedpet
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February 18, 2018 8:55 am  

Just a heads guys, you can accelerate the Ultrafine displays in Windows just by connecting them to the laptop as per usual - I run all my games on my Ultrafine in windows and it works, err, fine...

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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willian
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February 19, 2018 6:49 pm  

I'm planing on getting a ` Asrock Thunderbolt 3 AIC`, however when I check the official site ( http://www.asrock.com/mb/spec/product.asp?Model=Thunderbolt%203%20AIC#Overview)
It mentioned about connecting a TBT Header.

I'm not sure what that is, and If that would work without it, since a Node Lite closure doesn't seem to have a "plug" for that.


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damonhayhow
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February 21, 2018 1:24 am  

Hi all
For anybody wondering about this, it is really quite easy:

The setup Im using is:

Connections go:

  1. Connect the Sunnix Displayport to USB-C adapter to the PCIE riser card
  2. Connect the PCIE riser card to the Molex power adapter for power
  3. Connect the graphics card Displayport out to the Sunnix Displayport in
  4. Connect the Sunnix USB-C out to the LG 4K Display
  5. Connect the eGPU box to the MacBook via Thunderbolt
  6. In my case, I have currently connected the 2nd 4K display directly to the Macbook

It all just works.

However, a few things I've noticed:

  • I PLANNED on getting a second Sunnix adapter to connect both LG 4K displays to the eGPU. But MacOS 10.13.3 does not manage sleep/wake and connect/disconnection of the eGPU reliably enough. By keeping 1 display connected directly to the macbook, I can avoid having to open and close the macbook to use the internal display.
  • With 2 LG 4K displays, I can drag applications to the eGPU powered display to get the eGPU benefit. On the Heaven benchmark, I get only 4-10 FPS (with all settings maxed) on the direct-connected display. But if I drag the Heaven application to the eGPU display that jumps up to 24-40 FPS!
  • the Razer core power supply fan is on constantly, though the graphics card fans are not. This was not the case when connected to a 4K HDMI display
  • there is no way to dim the LG display brightness on the eGPU display with this setup. The brightness slider does not appear in System Preferences on the eGPU display.

Hopefully these findings help some of you.


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damonhayhow
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February 21, 2018 1:40 am  

Oh, a couple of other points:

  • only 1 of the 2 Sunnix UPD2018 USB-C outputs will send a display signal. You cannot connect 2 displays to 1 card
  • the PCIe riser card with molex power adapter is WAY cheaper than a thunderbolt 3 enclosure to power the Sunnix UPD2018. But it is uglier. However, even though the riser card surface gets hot, you do not seem to need a well ventilated space. I have hidden mine in a desk drawer and the air inside does not even seem to get warm.

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willian
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February 24, 2018 9:08 pm  

I've replace the broken UDP2018 with a new one.

It worked well 🙂


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Eightarmedpet
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April 18, 2018 12:03 pm  

Coming back to this thread because I am wondering about powering my 5K display with the card listed above... its all a bit new to me, but think I can work it out...

My plan is to get this card and a PCie Expansion thing, and use it in or with my EVGA Hadron dual boot, or do folks think thats too much hackery and I'm asking for trouble?

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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ha1o2surfer
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May 6, 2018 12:57 pm  

Great work!, This will also work in windows as well. That Display port "in" on that card is a key find!


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Eightarmedpet
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June 11, 2018 11:05 am  

You can accelerate the 5K display in Windows without the need for extra boxes and adapters - W10 manages it itself.

@machsoftwaredesign have you tried simply daisy chaining your display to the Node Lite with a GPU in it?

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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joevt
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June 15, 2018 2:50 pm  

A solution for displays like the LG 4K and  LG 5K:
https://egpu.io/forums/gpu-monitor-peripherals/egpu-to-run-2-x-lg-5k-with-usb-c-conections/#post-38216
but there's currently no way to enable brightness control, USB ports, audio, camera. Brightness control might work using DDC/CI stuff.


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