How to: eGPU-Accelerated Internal Display in macOS

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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26 Comments on "How to: eGPU-Accelerated Internal Display in macOS"

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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

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

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

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

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

Abhimanyu Aryan
Guest

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
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

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.

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?

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