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[Unboxing] AKiTiO Node Pro Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Enclosure
 

[Unboxing] AKiTiO Node Pro Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Expansion Enclosure  

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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

We've been seeing more inquiries on the Node Pro in the past month. My media sample from AKiTiO arrived last night. One thing I'd like to point is that the AKiTiO Node Pro is Intel-certified for both Windows and macOS to be used as a Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion enclosure. This means it has a different Thunderbolt firmware than Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure such as the AKiTiO Node. Another distinction for PCIe expansion box is the second Thunderbolt 3 port for daisy-chaining. eGPU boxes may have one Thunderbolt 3 port only.

The good news is this doesn't restrict you from installing a graphics card. Keep in mind AKiTiO may not provide full support if you have issues with using the Node Pro as an eGPU. I've tried a few Radeon RX cards so far and it's plug-and-play in 10.13.4 beta as well as Windows 10 1709 (non-Boot Camp). Nvidia eGPU Mac users should check this topic for up-to-date workaround. Boot Camp users can reference our setup guide here. With that out of the way, here are some unboxing pictures and my first impressions.

My package came a little bit beat up. It's well-padded so there's no internal damage to the AKiTiO Node Pro. The front of the box clearly shows Windows and macOS compatibility. The box handle area reinforces this message that it works with both Mac & Windows.

Opening the box reveals a clear plastic bag with manuals and stickers. The small brown box contains the power cord, .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable, a rubber cable tie, and a velcro cable tie.

The AKiTiO Node Pro is much lighter than the Node. This is due to aluminum panels in the Node Pro compared to sheet metal in the Node. The rear ports are two Thunderbolt 3 and one DisplayPort. 

The two cooling fans look to be 80mm and placed in the bottom of the enclosure.

The handle is a very cool feature. It sits flush with the top cover surface until you push down on it to pop up.

Accessing the inside of the enclosure is very easy, loosen the two thumb screws then pull the top cover back to remove.

The mainboard sits vertically similar to other AKiTiO Thunderbolt enclosures. The PCIe slot has its own board. Both of these boards have metal shield. There are two 6+2-pin PCIe cables. The two large thumb screws are much easier to use than small PCIe bracket screws in other enclosures.

You can see there's a lot of room for much bigger cards than the Vega FE I had installed.

The AKiTiO logo at the front is surrounded by an acrylic ring that lights up blue when there's an active connection with a Thunderbolt host. Here's a close-up of the pop-up handle compartment under the top cover.

Power delivery is confirmed at 60W. It's interesting that the Thunderbolt firmware version is 23.1.

In the coming weeks, I will be doing tests with NVMe PCIe storage drive, 10GbE network card, and graphics card for a full review of the AKiTiO Node Pro. Please let me know if I left out any information you’d like to know.

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Flint Ironstag
(@flint-ironstag)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

Looking forward to your full review!  Is it noisy?  Can it handle Vega 64 / Titan Xp at full throttle?

MP 6,1 | 4c | d700
MP 6,1 | 6c | d500


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goalque
(@goalque)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: itsage

It's interesting that the Thunderbolt firmware version is 23.1.

It's due to new JHL6540 controller. Did not support eGPUs in the early releases of Sierra but later macOS versions brought compatibility. DSL6540 might perform better in eGPU use.

automate-eGPU EFIapple_set_os.efi
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2018 13" MacBook Pro + Radeon [email protected] + Win10 1809


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itsage
(@itsage)
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@goalque Thank you very much for the insight. 

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide


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ed_co
(@ed_co)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: goalque
Posted by: itsage

It's interesting that the Thunderbolt firmware version is 23.1.

It's due to new JHL6540 controller. Did not support eGPUs in the early releases of Sierra but later macOS versions brought compatibility. DSL6540 might perform better in eGPU use.

What are de differences between both controllers?

mid-2017 Macbook Pro RP560 + MSI GTX 1080Ti Gaming [email protected] (Mantiz Venus) + macOS10.13 & Win10


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goalque
(@goalque)
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Posted by: ed_co

What are de differences between both controllers?

Not much difference.

https://www.anandtech.com/show/11692/intel-to-discontinue-first-gen-thunderbolt-3-controllers

automate-eGPU EFIapple_set_os.efi
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2018 13" MacBook Pro + Radeon [email protected] + Win10 1809


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simonasher
(@simonasher)
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Joined: 2 years ago
 

Any idea when this will be available to the public?

2017 MBP/TB - Akitio Node + 1080ti - 10.13.5


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itsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 
Posted by: simonasher

Any idea when this will be available to the public?

It's been on Amazon for the past month. They go out of stock quickly though.

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cmm
 cmm
(@mois)
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Joined: 1 year ago
 
Posted by: goalque
Posted by: itsage

It's interesting that the Thunderbolt firmware version is 23.1.

It's due to new JHL6540 controller. Did not support eGPUs in the early releases of Sierra but later macOS versions brought compatibility. DSL6540 might perform better in eGPU use.

Why does a newer Thunderbolt 3 controller have a lower firmware version number (which gives an impression that it's older, maybe even outdated, right), any idea?

The Razer Core X has the same controller and it comes with firmware version 33.1! What difference could firmware version possibly make?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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goalque
(@goalque)
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Joined: 3 years ago
 

DSL6540 and JHL6540 firmwares are not interchangeable, JHL6540 has its own version number.

automate-eGPU EFIapple_set_os.efi
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2018 13" MacBook Pro + Radeon [email protected] + Win10 1809


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cmm
 cmm
(@mois)
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Joined: 1 year ago
 

@goalque, ah great, thanks for confirming. But then, the Razer Core X has the same TB3 controller right and its firmware 33.1 so it's clear that there are 10 new firmware versions out there. So still the Node Pro's firmware is old, isn't it - did I mistunderstand anything?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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cmm
 cmm
(@mois)
Trusted Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

@goalque, ah great, thanks for confirming. But then, the Razer Core X has the same TB3 controller right and its firmware 33.1 so it's clear that there are 10 new firmware versions out there. So still the Node Pro's firmware is old, isn't it - did I mistunderstand anything?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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