Last summer there were rumors Apple was working on a Thunderbolt 3 Display with built-in eGPU. Anticipation rose as Apple discontinued the 27″ Thunderbolt Display in July 2016. The October “Hello Again” event brought new MacBook Pro laptops with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity but sadly Apple called it quits on making displays.
What’s a Mac and eGPU enthusiast to do? Mounting a full size graphics card to the back of a display seemed reasonable enough. So I got after it.
What you’re seeing is an RX 470 in an AKiTiO Thunder2 enclosure mounted on the back of an LG 34″ ultrawide monitor through a VESA adapter. It took me some time to find the right VESA adapter for this purpose. The key was something with a slim profile that would also allow sliding in and out of place. This VideoSecu Ultra Thin VESA mount bracket was the perfect match.
I was ready to drill holes on the backside of the AKiTiO Thunder2 inner enclosure in order to make the VESA bracket work. I soon found out I didn’t need to drill at all. The mounting holes for the Thunder2 boards go all the way to the backside. I was able to align the VESA bracket mounting holes to the two existing holes on the Thunder2. I also borrowed 2 mounting screws from the Thunder2 PCIe board.
Installing the other VESA bracket on the back of the LG monitor was no big deal. It’s universal sizing and all went in nicely using the supplied mounting screws in the kit. Once these two steps were done, I could slide the AKiTiO Thunder2 in and out of this VESA carrier with ease. I put two more screws on top to secure this eGPU backpack in place.
The next step was to route the cables to the right components. I’m using a Dell DA-2 power brick connected to a modified cable to supply power to both the AKiTiO enclosure and the RX 470 graphics card. An Apple Thunderbolt 2 cable connects the eGPU to a mid 2011 Mac mini. Last but not least, a DisplayPort cable runs from the RX 470 to the LG monitor.
Here’s a video of this monitor with built-in eGPU in action. 😀
Similar to my earlier build using this Mac mini inside an AKiTiO Node with an R9 Fury Nitro, everything works as if the external graphics card was an integral component. As a matter of fact, I wrote this post as well as edited the photos and video on this machine.
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