How To: eGPU-Accelerated Internal Display in macOS

eGPU Resources 38 Comments

eGPU-Accelerated Internal Display in macOS with HDMI ghost adapter

 

With the release of automate-eGPU.sh v1.0.0 script last week, eGPU for macOS has become a much easier process for all Macs with Thunderbolt connectivity. The next big hurdle was to get the external graphics card to accelerate the internal display in macOS.

One of our forum members, enjoy, showed a clever way to accelerate his MacBook Pro’s internal display with an eGPU in Windows. This trick inspired us to replicate a similar process for macOS. We have great news. You can now force the eGPU to accelerate the internal display in macOS thanks to Goalque’s instructions.

The idea is to have a ghost external display attached to your eGPU. You launch your app on this ghost display and then switch to the viewable internal display using keyboard shortcuts.

A hardware adapter attached to your eGPU’s HDMI or DVI port is required to create a ghost display. The required adapter can be purchased, like the ones we found to work: fit-Headless GS and 4KNewerTech HDMI Headless, or Headless Ghost; or built like what enjoy did.

 

macOS eGPU-Accelerated Internal Display How-to:

 

  1. Download and run Spectacle
  2. Download and run DisableMonitor
  3. Go to macOS System Preferences -> Dock -> Position on screen -> Left (if you arrange your ghost display to the right of the internal display)
  4. Plug the ghost display adapter in and set it as the primary display
  5. Set the resolution to match internal screen in DisableMonitor*
  6. Launch an app such as Valley benchmark from the Dock (there you see its child window)
  7. Switch “Next Display” or “Previous Display” with a keyboard shortcut (CONTROL OPTION COMMAND LEFT or RIGHT ARROW).

* Spectacle switches apps between displays in both Windowed and Fullscreen mode. Matching the ghost display’s resolution with the internal display using DisableMonitor is therefore recommended.

I’ve had great success replicating Goalque’s process on my Late 2016 13″ MacBook Pro using the fit-Headless GS 4K adapter. Performance takes a hit when the eGPU feeds its signal back into the internal display through the same Thunderbolt 3 connection. However, it’s well worth implementing this solution if having an external display is a no-go for you.

Here’s a youtube video showing this configuration in action:

 

Here are a couple of screen captures showing Unigine Valley and Heaven running on a Late 2016 13″ MacBook Pro at 1440 x 900 full screen using an AKiTiO Node + GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU.

 

Join our forum for latest eGPU development. Please share your thoughts in the comments or in our Mac Setup forum.

 

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Anchoricex
Member

I noticed 9to5mac.com posted a video using the Node and a 2016 13″ mbp and they said the dummy USB-C device was required for using hardware acceleration period. Is this only necessary for use on the internal display?

may
Guest
may

Does this ghost external display help when running latest Final Cut pro X, or is it still crashing?

enjoy
Member

@theitsage – Can you test the difference between Internal and External display with your setup? You must run the Unigine Heaven Benchmark with this settings.

I want to view the Thunderbolt 3 performance hit, when the eGPU feeds its signal back into the internal display through the same Thunderbolt 3 connection.

Atip Asvanund
Guest
Atip Asvanund

What is the performance reduction (percentage) between using internal vs external display in MacOS?

Is the performance reduction similar under Windows 10?

Mohammed Rasoul
Guest
Mohammed Rasoul

I’m going to ask some stupid questions so please be patient (any help is appreciated)

Can the Akitio node work on Windows 10 on an iMac late 2013 (thunderbolt 1)?
Follow up question: will it have any significant reductions in usage? (I’ve seen this post of yours https://egpu.io/forums/mac-setup/akitio-node-now-works-in-macos-with-late-2016-macbook-pro/paged/1/ but you haven’t made it clear about wether it works as well as TB3)

Andy
Guest
Andy

How about the internal egpu acceleration for Windows? Does that work and will it require the workaround? Thanks.

Abhimanyu Aryan
Guest
Abhimanyu Aryan

Is it possible to use eGPU for MacBook Pro Retina Late 2014? With Nvidia 1070 ….can I also use internal MacBook display if I bootcamp? Also what about VR support?

Sandy Lee
Guest
Sandy Lee

This method doesn’t work well with in full screen case. You can simply follow step 2 to 6. Then mirroring the display. After that, you will have a eGPU-Accelerated full screen application working fine with your internal display. Sometimes, the application will launch from second display, I don’t know why. You can solve it by switching the primary display then launch and mirroring. It looks like impossible to launch Steam client on second display. Download and run DisableMonitor Go to macOS System Preferences -> Dock -> Position on screen -> Left (if you arrange your ghost display to the right… Read more »

Dsntrgr8
Member

Will this work on a PC?

nidar
Guest
nidar

Will this work if i want to use my imac as a screen for a signal comming from a pc with displayport 1.3?

ariksaja
Member

Question. Is it possibe to manage it with installing windows 10 by using internal fake display accelerated eGPU?

nando4
Admin

@ariksaja, yes, a ghost adapter can provided an eGPU accelerated internal LCD mode in Windows if your system doesn’t have active iGPU for NVidia Optimus functionality to engage. Details as supplied by enjoy is at https://egpu.io/forums/pc-setup/guide-accelerated-internal-lcd-on-non-optimus-systems-enjoy/

ariksaja
Member

@nando4 , cool! Otw to the link.

wimpzilla
Member

See here! PICTURES: How to build you DVI dummy display using a 80-100 ohm resistor on C2/C5 pins of the DVI connector! See here! I don’t think you need links, there is plenty of guides for build DIY ghost adapter. It is worth to mention them, along commercial solutions. Since from long time i saw the discussion move forward, but none of these guides where mentioned. A simple resistor is enough, admins do not implemented in the post the DIY HDMI/DVI ghost adapter, only commercial solutions! Instead if you don’t want to spend, just get a HDMI to DVI adapter… Read more »

ikir
Member

Any news about accelerating internal display on High Sierra without headless? this is quite important for iMacs

Guest

I got ordered of these
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JKFTYA8/
Would this be fine?
 
I own a macbook pro 15″ mid 2015 (with dedicated radeon) and ordered the aikito node, thunderbolt to usb-C adapter and thunderbolt cable.
Hope it all works 🙂 For me it’s all for gaming in windows (bootcamp) on the internal display. Still deciding in which graphics card to buy. (Edit: Decided to go with nvidia 980 6 gb, as opposed to 1060 6 gb since apparantely the 980 usually outperforms the 1060 card still.
Should get all of those things next week.

Guest

Hello, I’m buying a Razer Core v2 + GTX 1070 ti + Apple Thunderbolt 2-3 adaptor. Hope it will works as needed:
– with or without and external display.
Thus, I’ll only need to as a 10€/$ adaptor to create a “ghost display” ?

At the end, @Wesley Beernaert: does you build is up&running?

ricosuave0922
Member

In High Sierra, I have iStat Menus installed to monitor which gpu is being used, and when switching the app from running on the headless display to the internal display you can see it switch from the eGPU to the internal dGPU. If you mirror the headless display and the internal display it seems to accelerate on the eGPU correctly. 

dream3
Member

Posted by: ricosuave0922
In High Sierra, I have iStat Menus installed to monitor which gpu is being used, and when switching the app from running on the headless display to the internal display you can see it switch from the eGPU to the internal dGPU. If you mirror the headless display and the internal display it seems to accelerate on the eGPU correctly. 

I have iStat here as well but can’t figure out how to get to the GPU monitoring part. How do you do that?

Thiago Bolinho Laranjeira
Guest

how do I accelerate both screen internal and external?

I have tried to set main screen to external via display port connected to the egpu and mirror the internal into the hdmi dummy plug also connected to the egpu

with the adapter I got rid of the flickering apps like safari and also pro apps such as Maya, substance painter and designer and marmoset toolbag

BUT, it seems that Maya can’t see properly the graphics cards!

Jason.C
Guest

I had followed the same step can get it work, but once i drag the arrangment of screen of internal to headless display screen i got abnormality display like app graphic distortion on my macbook pro screen. Is there any step that i did wrong?

James
Member

Could you attach the lg 5k monitor to a second TB3 port on your Mac and have the eGPU running through it via its TB3 cable connected to the other TB3 port on your Mac?
So to be clear-
On the MacBook Pro 2017:
1st TB3 port: LG 5k monitor
2nd TB 3 port: eGPU
FCP 10.3 enhanced via the eGPU and displayed on the LG

Srider_
Member

I want to use this but the DisableMonitor app says:
Warning
It has been reported that the software is able to cause irretrievable damages to your computer.
Use at your own risk!

Guest

does it work in 10.13.4?

Chippy McChipset
Member

I tried it once a few months ago. It’s a pretty sketchy solution to the problem IMHO. I do not recommend this to anyone who asks, but if you’ve got a spare host you can use to test, that won’t interfere with your main working computer if something goes wrong, you could give it a shot. Not sure what kind of “damages” are being described earlier but like I said… sketchy.

James
Member

Posted by: limozeen 1. Plug in eGPU 2. Plug in headless adapter (to eGPU) 3. In System Preferences –> “Displays” drag the white bar over to the headless adapter “screen” to make that your primary display. 4. While holding down the option key, click on the white rectangle representing your laptop’s internal display and hold. Continuing to hold the option key, simply drag and drop your laptop display rectangle on top of the headless adapter ‘display’ rectangle. Done. MetalBench calculations show my performance hit (vs. an accelerated external display) to be only 10%. (For me the difference is 720% faster… Read more »

esatamacmodular
Member

Success with this method for MBP w/TB 2016 10.13.6 and using geekbench to verify acceleration. But a few issues. I lose my finder/apps side bar from either screen and have to open apps through search function in upper right corner. Also it becomes difficult to determine which screen is regular and which is accelerated as the “switching” option feels broken after I switch a few times… maybe it takes some getting used to. Also not sure about this “1440×900 60Hz” setting that I’m matching for internal and ghost external… MBP has retina display and I’m confused why this seems to… Read more »

mac_editor
Editor

@esatamacmodular For High Sierra, you can alternatively use set-eGPU.sh to accelerate apps.

ricc
Member

I have a 15″ MBP 2014 with a Nvidia 1070 Aorus Gaming Box, and by using  THIS method I’m able to use both internal display and/or an external monitor. Notice that running games on internal display would be slower because data have to travel both from the mac to the Box and vice versa.

esatamacmodular
Member

@mac_editor, @ricc thanks! I see that purge wrangler links to set-eGPU.sh when it talks about internal screen acceleration. Since I had the ghost plug I just used that, but it sounds like this is a better solution.