Will this work? eGPU for three Apple A1407’s connected to 2018 MacBook Pro
 
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Will this work? eGPU for three Apple A1407’s connected to 2018 MacBook Pro  

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Kaiszen
(@kaiszen)
New Member
Joined: 1 month ago
 

eGPU for three Apple A1407’s connected to 2018 MacBook Pro (touchbar)

 

Good morning. Just discovered and joined your forum. I live in Florida, know my way around Apple equipment of all varieties. And a decent working knowledge of windows environment, networking, etc. Not a pro by any measure. But I was the kid who took everything apart to see how it works ... now I’m the adult who does the same. I’m happy to chime in with help/guidance/suggestions and contribute to the community here, which is incredibly well established! Smile

 

Right now, I’d appreciate a little guidance. I have three older Apple A1407 27” displays with a built-in Thunderbolt-2 cable for hookup.

 

Currently running a 2018 MacBook Pro with Touchbar, and 4 USBC Ports. MacBook Pro is seated in a Henge Dock. The dock is successfully connected to ONE of these A1407 displays via an Apple Thunderbolt-2 to USB-C adapter. 

 

I need to be able to hook up all three A1407 displays in a side-by-side fashion, and use as an extended desktop, while keeping my MacBook Pro in the Henge Dock.

 

Guessing an external GPU is best option to avoid over-taxing MacBook internal GPU. Apple Store lists a third party eGPU from Sonnet Technologies. Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck Radeon RX 560 eGPU.

 

But on the Sonnet eGPU the ports are female DP’s (Display Ports). And I can’t find adapters to  go into these female DP ports, that will connect to the displays (Male) Thunderbolt-2. I’ve reached out to them but haven’t heard back.

 

I’m extremely familiar with Mac and iOS devices but even Apple Support is floundering to assist on these legacy end-of-life A1407 displays and my desired configuration. And Sonnet Technologies not responding to me.

 

Continuing my research I’ve seen isolated documentation that the configuration I’m pursuing would not benefit from an eGPU, due to the graphics hardware already present inside each A1407 display. Unable to verify if this is accurate feedback.

 

I realize these legacy A1407 displays are old, but they look great, mint conditioncosmetically and functionally, and resolution is more than adequate for what I need.

Any suggestions would be awesome.


Even if it’s steering me to a more appropriate Reddit chat thread or other resource. Thanks in advance Smile - Mark

 

 

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@kaiszen, It's not going to be easy or affordable to drive 3x Thunderbolt Cinema displays through a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU. One setup comes to mind is the AKiTiO Node Duo with a GC-ALPINE-RIDGE add-in card. You'd also need 3x Apple Thunderbolt 3/USB-C to Thunderbolt adapters. Depending on graphics card you choose, the power adapter that comes with the Node Duo may not be able to handle it. I'd recommend the Sapphire RX 570 ITX. Essentially you feed two DisplayPort cables into the GC-ALPINE-RIDGE so that the RX 570 can produce two Thunderbolt 3 monitor outputs to the Thunderbolt Cinema displays. The third Thunderbolt Cinema display can use the passthrough TB3 port on the Node Duo enclosure (driven by the 2018 MacBook Pro's iGPU/dGPU).

 

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2020 13" MacBook Pro [10th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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Kaiszen
(@kaiszen)
New Member
Joined: 1 month ago
 

@itsage, thank you for taking the time for the detailed reply. I’m looking into the options you suggested. Agreed, not the easiest or most economical option, but I am researching the configuration you outlined.

Attached (Pasted below) is some addition feedback I got from the technical support team at Sonnett Technologies. Posting here in event it helps anyone else.

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On Jun 3, 2020, at 4:08 PM, Mark wrote to: <[email protected]> wrote:

 

Thanks Robert. 
Disappointing. But your feedback is extremely helpful. 
Won’t waste my time trying to do this option if it’s just simply not compatible. 
At least I now know with certainty.  

 

 
I’m just having difficulty finding Thunderbolt-2 to DP adapters. 
Thunderbolt 2 computer can drive a DP monitor with a mini-DP to DP cable. A DP port cannot drive a Thunderbolt monitor, period.

 

Mark


(Sent from iPhone)
 
————————————————————————————————————————————————————
 

 

On Jun 3, 2020, at 3:24 PM, Sonnet Support <[email protected]> wrote:



I’m just having difficulty finding Thunderbolt-2 to DP adapters.

Thunderbolt 2 computer can drive a DP monitor with a mini-DP to DP cable. A DP port cannot drive a Thunderbolt monitor, period.

 
 
 
————————————————————————————————————————————————————
 

 

On Jun 3, 2020, at 1:01 PM, Support <[email protected]> wrote:

 

Hello Mark, 

 

 
Due to the nature of the Thunderbolt displays, you would just need the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters you mention in your original message, along with Thunderbolt 2 cables.
You may be able to daisy-chain two of the monitors together on one side of the MacBook Pro you have (left-hand ports), and then use the remaining monitor on the opposite side (right hand-ports.)
 
In addition to this configuration shown above, you can also use one of our eGPU Breakaway Devices shown here on one of the remaining Thunderbolt 3 ports to accelerate the graphical processing of your Mac.
While you can not connect the Thunderbolt monitors directly to the eGPU, they will still benefit from eGPU acceleration.
 
Let us know if this helps to clarify.
 
Regards,
Andy
 
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On Jun 3, 2020, at 3:24 PM, Sonnet Support <[email protected]> wrote:

 

Hi Mark,

 

See answers below. Hope this helps.
Robert
 
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On Jun 3, 2020, at 10:33 Mark wrote:

 

Thanks for detailed (and fast) reply Andy. 

 

 
Using the Dock, two USB-C (Thunderbolt-3) ports are seated into the Dock. And they translate to two similar USB-C (Thunderbolt-3) ports on the bottom left of the dock. One is being used for power. The other goes to the Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbold-2 adapters and is plugged into the A1407 display Thunderbolt-2 cable. 

Correct

 
That leaves me with two USB-C ports left available on other side of MacBook, or to be specific, on the top, because of how the MacBook docks into the Henge Dock. I can plug anything into those ports but it kind of defeats purpose of a grab-and-go Dock, if you have to unplug cables. And cosmetically its not a great ‘look’ having any cables plugged into the top. I try hard to hide all my cables. 

We understand, but that is what you would have to do.

 
Cosmetics aside, I agree, take the Dock out of equation, I can use one USB-C for power and the other three for thunderbolt adapters. I do think that will work, but I don’t want the MacBook GPU straining so hard to maintain three active displays. 
 

That will work.

 
That’s why I’m leaning towards one of your breakaway devices. To do the ‘heavy lifting’. 
But you mention I cannot connect these displays directly into your breakaway eGPU. Why is that? 
Because your monitors connect via Thunderbolt, and GPU cards have DisplayPort or HDMI outputs.

 

Yes, I see your eGPU outputs are all DP Display Ports, but couldn’t I use a Thunderbolt-2 to DP adapter in each of the eGPU’s output ports, and connect that way?

No


 

 
I’m just having difficulty finding Thunderbolt-2 to DP adapters. 

Thunderbolt 2 computer can drive a DP monitor with a mini-DP to DP cable. A DP port cannot drive a Thunderbolt monitor, period.


 

Are you saying such an adapter does not exist, because of inherent incompatibility issues. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t some kind of active (powered) device or a (passive) adapter that could transition Thunderbolt-2 to DP. The result doesn’t have to be ‘squeaky clean’ resolution. Heck, the monitors are not even capable to take advantage of the full output resolution of your eGPU’s. And I’m okay with that. So any additional insight on this configuration possibility would be appreciated Smile
 
I feel all this could/should be possible with a little extra effort and determination on my side to find what is needed, but you’re the expert on your eGPU equipment so I have to accept whatever guidance you provide. 
 
If I can find a way to use your eGPU I would benefit from graphics processing workload being offloaded from MacBook, would still be able to use the Henge Dock and would be able to hide everything for a clean looking rig. 
 

The dock can connect to one TB monitor. You would need to connect two additional Thunderbolt 3 ports to the additional TB monitors through TB3 to TB2 adapters.

 
I know I’m trying to connect inherently older Legacy displays to current tech. But, age aside, the monitors are awesome. And Apples foresight to have extra USB ports and FireWire along with a gigabit Ethernet port built into back of the display, means I can get 980mbps/down 888mbps/up when MacBook is docked, and avoid the need for yet another dongle (for Ethernet). And I score the additional USB ports and FireWire. All part of why I like these A1407’s so much. I have seven of these displays total. 
 
Sorry for the long email, just figured being as specific as possible will save (both of us) wasted time back-and-forth. If I’ve mentioned anything contradictory or something that doesnt make sense please let me know. 
 
Mark


(Sent from iPhone)

 

————————————————————————————————————————————————————
 

 

On Jun 3, 2020, at 1:01 PM, Support <[email protected]> wrote:



Hello Mark, 

 

 
Due to the nature of the Thunderbolt displays, you would just need the Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapters you mention in your original message, along with Thunderbolt 2 cables.
You may be able to daisy-chain two of the monitors together on one side of the MacBook Pro you have (left-hand ports), and then use the remaining monitor on the opposite side (right hand-ports.)
 
In addition to this configuration shown above, you can also use one of our eGPU Breakaway Devices shown here on one of the remaining Thunderbolt 3 ports to accelerate the graphical processing of your Mac.
While you can not connect the Thunderbolt monitors directly to the eGPU, they will still benefit from eGPU acceleration.
 
Let us know if this helps to clarify.
 
Regards,
Andy
————————————————————————————————————————————————————
 
Begin forwarded message:

 

From:


Subject: FWD: From Twitter - eGPU for Apple A1407


Date: June 2, 2020 at 10:49:16 PM EDT


 

Good evening. Your Twitter team steered me to this tech support mailbox. Details copied below. Any guidance/suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you. 



 

Mark


(Sent from iPhone)
—————————————————————————————————————————————
 

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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