The Beginner’s External Graphics Card Setup Guide for Mac

eGPU Resources 121 Comments

April 2018 Update: Apple officially released external graphics card support to the public with 10.13.4 on March 29th, 2018. This update made external GPU functionality plug-and-play for Thunderbolt 3 Macs when paired with supported AMD eGFX. The bad news is the exclusion of older Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 Macs. The good news is we found a workaround, please read our State of External Graphics Card in 10.13.4 for more details.


October 2017 Update: If you plan on using a Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro with Windows, please read our External GPU Boot Camp setup guide.


September 2017 Update: This setup guide is applicable for macOS 10.9 to 10.12 only. For macOS 10.13, please read our High Sierra External GPU overview.


Our goal with this post is to provide a comprehensive beginner’s setup guide so that Mac users can build an external graphics card (eGPU) for their computers. As new Macs and Thunderbolt external GPU enclosures become available, we will update this guide with the latest information. To get started, you’ll need the following hardware:

External graphics cards work with all Thunderbolt-equipped Macs. A 2011 MacBook Pro with the first generation Thunderbolt and the latest 2017 MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 can both harvest the power of an external GPU. In our experience, a Mac with only integrated graphics is easier to set up with an external GPU. Mac models with an asterisk (*) denote they have discrete graphics as a standard feature. The table below details all Mac computers with Thunderbolt connectivity.

Thunderbolt MacPCIe Speed
Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)32 Gbps
iMac Pro (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2017) *
iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Mid 2017) *
iMac (Retina 4K, 21-inch, Mid 2017) *
iMac (21-inch, Mid 2017)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2017) *
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2017, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016) *
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Late 2016, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports)
Thunderbolt 216 Gbps
Mac Pro (Late 2013) *
iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2015) *
iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Mid 2015) *
iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch, Late 2014) *
iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, Late 2015)
iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2015)
iMac (Retina 4K, 21.5-inch, Late 2014)
iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2015)
Mac mini (Late 2014)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014) *
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013) *
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Mid 2014)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2013)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2015)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2015)

 

 

 

Thunderbolt10 Gbps
iMac (27-inch, Late 2013) *
iMac (27-inch, Early 2013) *
iMac (27-inch, Late 2012) *
iMac (27-inch, Mid 2011) *
iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013)
iMac (21.5-inch, Early 2013)
iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2012)
iMac (21.5-inch, Mid 2011)
Mac mini (Late 2012)
Mac mini (Mid 2011)
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Late 2011) *
MacBook Pro (17-inch, Early 2011) *
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Early 2013) *
MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2012) *
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Mid 2012) *
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2011) *
MacBook Pro (15-inch, Early 2011) *
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2013)
MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Late 2012)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid 2012)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Early 2011)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Early 2014)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2012)
MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2011)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Early 2014)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2012)
MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2011)

In order to get the most performance out of an external GPU setup, we recommend using a quad-core processor Mac. From the limited resources we’ve gathered to date, the Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro is currently the best host for external GPU implementation. We found Apple attached the PCIe lanes directly to the quad-core i7 CPU in its newest 15″ MacBook Pro laptops.


⚡ 15-in Macbook Pro is the only current notebook to use the faster TB3-CPU architecture

This is unlike the majority of Thunderbolt computers which route the PCIe lanes through the Platform Controller Hub (PCH). The disadvantage of having the Thunderbolt connection through the PCH is that the PCH shares bandwidth with other internal components (e.g., PCIe flash storage, network cards, USB ports) and potentially limits the external GPU performance. In this table, Nando explains max bandwidth for external graphics card usage on the Late 2016 MacBook Pro.

late-2016 15″ Macbook Prolate-2016 13″ Macbook Pro Touch Bar

No. of active eGPUs : bandwidth per eGPU

1: 22Gbps
2: 22Gbps/16Gbps (on alternate/same side)
3: 22Gbps on side with single eGPU, 16Gbps on side with dual eGPUs
4: 16Gbps

No. of active eGPUs : bandwidth per eGPU

1: 22Gbps/16Gbps (left/right) minus other PCH devices overhead
2: 16Gbps (on alternate sides or left side only) minus other PCH devices overhead
2: 8Gbps (right side only) minus other PCH devices overhead
3: b/w 8Gbps-16Gbps depending on ports used minus other PCH devices overhead
4: 8Gbps minus other PCH devices overhead

Before getting too excited about your Mac’s compatibility with external GPU, you should know that Apple never announced external graphics card capabilities as an official feature on its computers. Building and using an external graphics card with your Mac is totally unsupported by Apple; the Genius Bar will definitely turn you away if you haul your external GPU enclosure into the Apple Store. Our Mac Setup Forum is the appropriate place to ask questions about your external graphics card setup.


⚡ Apple has no current eGPU certified Mac systems

External graphics card development in Mac OS has been a process of modifying system files to enable support for external graphics cards. Future versions of Mac OS may break the existing procedure to enable external GPU. For the time being, these three steps must be completed to have a fully functional external graphics card:

  • Step 1 – Communication between the Thunderbolt enclosure and the computer.
  • Step 2 – Recognition in Mac OS that the enclosure contains a graphics card.
  • Step 3 – Installation and loading of the appropriate drivers for the GPU in Mac OS.

Step 1: Thunderbolt Communication

Most Thunderbolt enclosures with a PCIe slot are able to communicate with Mac OS (10.9 to 10.12). A Thunderbolt 2 enclosure such as the AKiTiO Thunder2 works directly with all first- and second-generation Thunderbolt Macs since the physical connector is the same and Thunderbolt 2 (TB2) is backward compatible with Thunderbolt (TB1). The introduction of the Late 2016 MacBook Pro brought Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) and a new type of connector in the physical shape of USB-C. Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt Adapter allows backward and forward compatibility. With this adapter, TB1 and TB2 Macs can use TB3 enclosures, and TB3 Macs can use TB2 enclosures.

Choosing a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure is very easy because there are only a handful of them. The AKiTiO Thunder2 PCIe Expansion Box is the most affordable and commonly used for external GPU builds. Other suitable TB2 enclosures for external graphics card setup are: OWC Mercury Helios, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Netstor NA211TB-LD.

You have many more options for a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. Since the arrival of the Late 2016 MacBook Pro in October 2016, it seems a new Thunderbolt 3 enclosure comes out every month. Intel is in high gear to promote the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C connectivity standard. Due to the thinner and lighter design language across the industry, the demand for expansion enclosures is at an all-time high. Below is a list of the most popular Thunderbolt external GPU enclosures currently available in 2017 (most up-to-date enclosure information at External GPU Buyer’s Guide: Top 2017 eGPU enclosures compared).

 

 Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2 ▲Top Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures

Zotac Box
Mininew

AKiTiO HOT
Node
Sonnet Breakaway
350 | 550 | 650 | 350D

OWC Mercury
Helios FX

HP Omen AcceleratorPowerColor
Devil Box
Asus XG
Station Pronew

Lenovo TB3
Graphics Docknew

Mantiz
Venus

Asus ROG
XG Station 2
Razer
Core V2
Sonnet Breakaway
Puck
Aorus HOT
Gaming Box
Appearance
Included GPU1 ✖ | ✖ | |RX580
GTX1050RX560 | RX570RX580 | GTX1070 | GTX1080
Price US$
$220$260
$249 | $349 | $449 | $699
$319$300
$300
$330$399$399
$550
$500$399 | $599
preview | $599 | $700
Max PCIe bandwidth32Gbps 32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps 32Gbps 32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps
PSU type-location2
AC-ext SFX-intSFX-intSFX-intATX-intfATX-intAC-extAC-extSFX-intfATX-intfATX-intAC-extfATX-int
PSU max power180W400W350W | 550W | 650W | 350W
550W 500W500W 330W170W550W680W500W160W | 220W450W
GPU max power3
150W
375W300W | 375W | 475W | 225W
375W300W375W 300W 375W500W375W225W
Power delivery (PD)4
15W15W15W | 87W | 87W | 60W 87W60W60W 15W65W 87W100W65W45W100W
USB-C controller
TI83TI83TI83TI83TI83 TI83 TI83TI83TI83TI83TI83TI83TI83
TB3 USB-C ports1111111111111
Ports max bandwidth55Gps5Gbps5Gbps 10Gbps5Gbps5Gbps5Gbps5Gbps5Gbps
USB3.0 ports (+C type)5
44+14+10
2
5443
Ethernet port5
SATA port5
Other portsUSB-C 3.1
1xUSB2, audioUSB-B 3.0QC
Included GPU ports2xDP,HDMI,DVI-D2xDP,HDMI3xDP,HDMI

AMD: 3xDP,HDMI
NV: DP, HDMI,2xDVI-D

Size (litres) [ visual ]
4.1714.09
12.71
12.7116.0016.658.231.78 11.5620.037.655.073.30
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.87/20.012.60/32.012.20/31.012.20/31.011.42/29.012.20/31.012.24/31.1
13.00/33.0
12.20/31.011.81/30.06.65/16.9
Weight (kg/lb)0.85/1.87
4.90/10.783.20/7.103.20/7.105.50/12.103.60/7.922.95 /6.50
0.69 / 1.513.60/7.92
5.10/11.224.95/10.892.38/5.252.35/5.19
Updated firmware626.1✔25.125.2 | 25.2 | 25.2 | 25.1✔??25.2525.101v00325.1v2526.1✔ 25.1✔F1.0 | F1.0
TB3 cable length (cm)7505050505050150 505050505050
Vendor pagelink
linklinklinklinklinklink link linklinklinklinklink | link | link
Reviewlink
linklinkpreviewlinkuserpreviewlinklinklinklinklinkpreview | link | link
User builds
link link link linklinklinklink linklinklinklinklink

1 For macOS 10.13.4: AMD RX480/580 & these are supported. For 10.13.3 and earlier, Nvidia support can be added with an app workaround with good success.
2 Flex-ATX (fATX) PSUs have a tiny 40mm high RPM cooling fan that is noisy under load. Separate external-AC PSUs are not included in product’s size.
3 Meet or exceed your intended video card’s peak power requirements. See TechPowerUp card reviews, eg: GTX1080Ti to find this.
4 Meet or exceed your TB3 notebook’s charger wattage for the TB3 enclosure to be a single-cable solution that includes charging. eg Macbook USB-C chargers.
5 ports’ use reduces eGPU bandwidth by up to 31.2% @10Gbps, 15.6% @5Gbps. Except for (i) Displayport devices (ii) XG Station 2 that hosts ports off a separate USB-B cable.
5 If used on a TB2/1 system via a US$49 Apple TB3-TB2 adapter, USB ports are not visible in Windows (inc Aorus’ fan control). They do appear in macOS. Ref: theitsage.
6 Allows eGPU detection in Windows for systems reporting “external GPUs supported: no” in the Intel Thunderbolt software.
7 If require a longer TB3 cable, consider these: US$55 Choetech 200cm, US$60/$50 Cable Matters 200cm/100cm.

 

 Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2 ▲Top Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
Thunderbolt 3
Enclosures
OWC Mercury
Helios 3
AKiTiO
Thunder3
AKiTiO
Node Lite
AKiTiO Node PronewNetstor
Hercules HL23T
Appearance
Included GPU1
Price US$
$200$220$220US$360
$435
Max PCIe bandwidth 32Gbps 32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps32Gbps
PSU type-location2
AC-extAC-extAC-extSFX-intfATX-int
PSU max power90W72W72W500W300W
GPU max power3
25W25W25W400W300W
Power delivery (PD)4
15W15W15W60W x215W
USB-C controller5
TI83TI82TI83TI83TI83
TB3 USB-C ports6722222
Ports max bandwidth7
10Gbps10Gbps10Gbps10Gbps10Gbps
USB3.0 ports (+C type)7
Ethernet port7
SATA port7
Other portsmDPDPDPDPDP
Size (litres) [ visual ]
2.69
2.64
2.6412.828.16
Max GPU len (in/cm)
7.75/19.67.87/20.07.87/20.012.60/32.012.60/32.0
Weight (kg/lb)1.40/3.082.00/4.392.00/4.393.40/7.402.70/5.94
Updated firmware8B1-25+4.4.325.1✔
TB3 cable length (cm)950505050100
Vendor pagelinklinklinklinklink
Reviewuserlinklink
User builds
link & linklink linklink

1 For macOS 10.13.4: AMD RX480/580 & these are supported. For 10.13.3 and earlier, Nvidia support can be added with an app workaround with good success.
2 Flex-ATX (fATX) PSUs have a tiny 40mm high RPM cooling fan that is noisy under load. Separate external-AC PSUs are not included in product’s size.
3 Meet or exceed your intended video card’s peak power requirements. See TechPowerUp card reviews, eg: GTX1080Ti to find this.
4 Meet or exceed your TB3 notebook’s charger wattage for the TB3 enclosure to be a single-cable solution that includes charging. eg Macbook USB-C chargers.
5 On macOS: TI82 enclosures require TB3-enabler, a kext system file modification tool, to allow external graphics card detection.
6 2nd TB3 port can be used for daisy chaining, as a 10Gbps USB-C 3.1 or Displayport. Note: Intel disallows a 2nd TB3 port on eGFX enclosures. It’s only for PCIe enclosures.
7 ports’ use reduces eGPU bandwidth by up to 31.2% @10Gbps, 15.6% @5Gbps. Except for (i) Displayport devices (ii) XG Station 2 that hosts ports via a separate USB-B cabled USB switch.
7 If used on a TB2/1 system via a US$49 Apple TB3-TB2 adapter, USB ports are not visible in Windows (inc Aorus’ fan control). They do appear in macOS. Ref: theitsage.
8 Allows external GPU detection in Windows for systems reporting “external GPUs supported: no” in the Intel Thunderbolt software.
9 If require a longer TB3 cable, consider these: US$55 Choetech 200cm, US$60/$50 Cable Matters 200cm/100cm.

 

 Thunderbolt 3 – eGFX Thunderbolt 3 – PCIe
  Thunderbolt 2 mini PCIe Expresscard 2.0 NGFF/M.2 ▲Top
Thunderbolt 2 EnclosuresAKiTiO Thunder2HighPoint RS6361ASonnet Echo
Express SE 1
OWC Mercury Helios
Sonnet Echo
Express III-D
Netstor NA211TB
Appearance
Price US$
$209$234$206$230$899$849
Max PCIe bandwidth16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps16Gbps
PSU max power-location
60W-external
50W-external
60W-external
120W-external
300W-internal300W-internal
Graphics max power25W25W25W75W150W~290W
Daisy chaining
Size (in/mm)
9.17 x 2.99 x 5.87
233 x 76 x 149
10.29 x 2.28 x 6.49
261 x 58 x 165
8.63 x 5.63 x 3.50
220 x 143 x 885
9.21 x 4.53 x 2.9
234 x 115 x 74
15.94 x 3.82 x 10.20
405 x 97 x 259
14.60 x 4.33 x 7.87
371 x 110 x 200
Release dateQ3-2014Q3-2014Q3-2014Q1-2015Q4-2013Q1-2014
Vendor pagelinklinklinklinklink
User buildslink & linklink

Note: better value Thunderbolt 3 enclosures work with TB2/TB1 Macs in macOS 10.13.3 and earlier via a US$49 Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter. See examples.

We’ve been using the AKiTiO Node which is a ready-to-go external GPU enclosure. We reviewed this Thunderbolt 3 enclosure and highly recommend it for first-time external graphics card builds. The AKiTiO Node is currently the most affordable solution and has space for almost every graphics card on the market including those with liquid cooling. It also has a built-in 400W power supply. Another important feature it has is the Texas Instrument TI83 USB-C controller. Thunderbolt 3 enclosures with TI83 controller are preferable due to native support in macOS Sierra 10.12.

Another great option is the Mantiz Venus Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. It has more features and gets our recommendation for pairing with the Late 2016 MacBook Pro. With 5x standard USB 3.0 ports, 1x Ethernet port, 1x SATA III connection, and 87W charging power through a single Thunderbolt cable, the Mantiz Venus is the ultimate Thunderbolt 3 eGPU docking station.

All Thunderbolt 2 enclosures as well as Thunderbolt 3 enclosures with the older TI82 controller are not supported and have a harder time communicating with macOS. Kid2010 on Netkas forum discovered this is a software block Apple put in place starting with 10.12.1. Fortunately, he found a workaround to bypass this restriction. If you see the “Unsupported” message in System Information > Thunderbolt device tree for your Thunderbolt enclosure, download and run TB3-Enabler. After running this script, your Thunderbolt enclosure will show “Supported” and be able to communicate with macOS. Mac OS 10.9 to 10.11 does not have this Thunderbolt software block.

Step 2: External Graphics Card Recognition

The next step is to make your Mac recognize there’s an external GPU attached to the enclosure. Goalque discovered the workaround and developed automate-eGPU script to make this process easy. The script modifies existing Mac OS system files to enable the recognition of an external graphics card connected through a Thunderbolt enclosure. automate-eGPU.sh v1.0.1 is the latest version which supports Mac OS 10.9 to 10.12. As mentioned earlier Apple has not officially released this external GPU capability for Mac, so this step will need to be completed every time you update Mac OS.

Step 3: External GPU Driver Installation

Besides enabling the recognition of external graphics card in Mac OS, automate-eGPU script also facilitates the graphics card driver installation process. Some AMD Radeon graphics cards have native and partially working drivers in Mac OS while Nvidia GeForce graphics cards use Nvidia web drivers. Running automate-eGPU.sh v1.0.1 script will either load the appropriate Mac OS drivers for your AMD GPU or install web drivers for your Nvidia GPU.

On April 11th, 2017 Nvidia released the long-awaited web drivers for Pascal graphics cards. The drivers are currently beta but nevertheless allow Macs to use GTX 10 series GPUs. Here is the list of graphics cards, sorted newest to oldest, that we’ve found to work with macOS Sierra 10.12.

Nvidia GeForceAMD Radeon
GTX Titan X PascalPro WX 7100
GTX 1080 TiPro WX 5100
GTX 1080Pro WX 4100
GTX 1070RX 580
GTX 1060RX 570
GTX 1050 TiRX 560
GTX Titan XR9 Fury X
GTX 980 TiR9 Fury / R9 Nano
GTX 980RX 480
GTX 970RX 470
GTX 960RX 460

Juice for your Apple

External graphics card components

Custom external graphics card components

The most common problems with external graphics card builds arise from an improperly paired power supply. Without adequate power, it will be a headache maintaining a functional external graphics card. It’s best to go with a Thunderbolt enclosure that has a built-in power supply with at least 350W. For Thunderbolt enclosures without a built-in PSU, you can either use a Dell DA-2 220W power brick (for GPUs requiring less than 150W TDP) or a 400W+ desktop power supply. The use of an external power supply requires power cable modifications which can be done through soldering of existing cables or buying pre-made cables. eGPU.io Forum has a section with discussions on external GPU power supplies and cables.

External Graphics Card Setup

Once you have chosen and put together all hardware components for your Mac external graphics card build, the next step is software installation in Mac OS. At this time, you cannot connect or disconnect the external graphics card while your Mac is running. Connecting your Mac to the external graphics card enclosure requires a cold boot. Disconnecting the external GPU enclosure while the computer is running will freeze the system and cause a kernel panic. Make sure to always shut your Mac down before unplugging the Thunderbolt cable.

automate-eGPU.sh Instructions

With your Mac turned off, connect the Thunderbolt cable from your external GPU enclosure to your Mac’s Thunderbolt port. Turn the computer on once you’re hooked up. Open Terminal to download and run automate-eGPU.sh [cut-and-paste this one long commandline]

cd ~/Desktop && curl -o automate-eGPU.sh  https://raw.githubusercontent.com/goalque/automate-eGPU/master/automate-eGPU.sh  && chmod +x automate-eGPU.sh && sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh

These extra steps are required for AMD cards (macOS 10.12.2 and newer):

    • Shut down after the completion of automate-eGPU.sh
    • Disconnect eGPU
    • Boot into macOS, hot plug, rerun: sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh
    • If your Mac is newer than Late 2014, you might have to turn on -a mode: sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -a. If the first try is not successful -a mode turned on, turn it off (sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -m), start from the beginning and skip this step.
    • Shut down
    • If you have a TB3 Mac, a USB-C adapter (such as USB-C to USB, USB-C to DP) plugged in the other TB3 port is necessary for now.
    • Connect the external GPU and boot into macOS, and soon you’ll hear the “whoosh” sound!

If all goes well, you should be able to see your graphics card running with Metal support in System Information » Graphics Cards/Displays. Connecting your external graphics card to an external display will work similarly to this AKiTiO Node working with a Late 2016 MacBook Pro 15″.

Once your external graphics card is up and running, you can continue using it with an external monitor or force the external graphics card to accelerate the internal display of your Mac. If you go with the latter option, you will need a ghost video adapter such as fit-headless 4K HDMI adapter. The other one we found to be working are Bee Eater 4K Display Emulator

eGPU-accelerated Internal Display How-to

With your external graphics card running in Mac OS, follow these steps posted by Goalque to get internal display acceleration:

  • Download and run Spectacle
  • Download and run DisableMonitor
  • Go to Mac OS System Preferences » Dock » Position on screen » Left (if you arrange your ghost display to the right of the internal display)
  • Plug the ghost display adapter in and set it as the primary display
  • Set the resolution to match internal screen in DisableMonitor*
  • Launch an app such as Valley benchmark from the Dock (there you see its child window)
  • 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.


Best of luck on your external graphics card build! Consider browsing eGPU.io Mac users’ successful builds or visit the eGPU.io forum to ask questions and share your own success stories.

 

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ed_co
Guest
ed_co

What about the Macbook Pro 15″ retina early 2013? It is not compatible?

Cheers,

E.

theitsage
Admin

Thank you for spotting that. My eyes must got tired looking through all those model years and screen sizes and missed the early 2013. It should be under Thunderbolt (10Gbps) section. I added both the 13′ and 15″ retina Early 2013 to the list.

ed_co
Member

thanks buddy

Guest

ed_co did you make a successful build?

jamar
Guest
jamar

I am running a Bizon Box with a GTX 980 Ti through a thunderbolt 3 to thunderbolt 2 converter into my iMac 2012. The computer can see the card but none of my software will use it like adobe premiere. or anything on the computer. This was confirmed after looking at my “about this mac” and the mac refers to the primary GPU as the internal and the cinebench cant see the eGPU at all. How can I get the applications to use the eGPU?

PLEASE HELP

theitsage
Admin

I would recommend returning the Bizon Box. Get your money back and buy one of the Thunderbolt 3 enclosures in our Buyer’s Guide.

Hugo
Guest
Hugo

Did you find a solution? Same problem here.

Kris
Guest
Kris

Maybe its because the iMac 2012 is Thunderbolt 1 – not 2.

Menneisyys
Member

Surely not. Apps like Capture One Pro were able to use OpenCL with my TB1-only early 2013 15″ MBP (with the Node + RX480 and the Apple TB1/2-TB3 adapter).

Hutson Tech
Guest
Hutson Tech

I am running a MBPr 15″ Late 2013 with i7-4850HQ, 16gb DDR3, GT 750m, and OS 10.12.4. I was currently running an eGPU setup with a GTX 750ti over Thunderbolt 2, but the rendering performance I was getting when using FCPX was minimal. I recently built a hackintosh with a RX480, so I thought it would be possible to update my eGPU setup with a RX460. I can get automate.sh to recognize and complete IOPCIT tunnel keys, etc for the RX460. However, at reboot it doesn’t post my RX460 and reverts to my GT 750m. Is there a way to… Read more »

theitsage
Admin

There are some significant changes in 10.12.4 that we’re still trying to sort out. It mostly effects AMD GPUs. I’d suggest posting a new thread in our Thunderbolt Mac forum so that others with a similar setup to yours may share their experience.

zhutson24
Guest
zhutson24

Thank you, I will do that. As an update, I tried rolling back to 10.12.3, but the same thing happens, except for under System Information | Graphics/Displays the “Display” line shows as ATI with correct hardware numbers. However, the external display won’t work and the about mac only shows internal GPUs. I’m trying to get a 10.12.2 installer to revert back to that and see if it works then.

Guest
Kazu

Thanks for all this info. I’m trying to install the script but im getting this error

nvram: Error getting variable – ‘csr-active-config’: (iokit/common) data was not found
Boot into recovery partition and type: csrutil disable

Thanks

Guest
Kazu

sorry did some more research and found out about disabling system integrity. I got it installed.

theitsage
Admin

I made this mistake all the time too. Disable SIP in Recovery mode is the first step. 🙂

ficklepony
Member

Run the sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh and show
“Thunderbolt device is connected, but no external GPUs detected.”
What’s Problem?
______________________
MacBook Pro 2016 Touchbar + AKiTiO Node + GTX1070

theitsage
Admin

I’d recommend checking the firmware on your AKiTiO Node. Update the Node firmware to the latest version is to get the best performance and compatibility.

ralphjason
Guest
ralphjason

If I dual booted my macbook, is the external GPU automatically recognized? just like in razer blade stealth?

ralphjason
Guest
ralphjason

I mean dual boot with windows

theitsage
Admin

It should. You may have to enable the iGPU in Boot Camp if your Mac has dGPU. Error 12 is another common issue but there are several fixes for it in our forum.

Pedro Fabri
Member

Is the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 1GB compatible?
I need the eGPU setup for a MPB with an almost dead GPU, but I don’t really want to buy a GTX 1080…

theitsage
Admin

I haven’t tried a GTX 6 series GPU. Mac OS has native driver for GTX 650 so I’m fairly certain it will work with eGPU.

RayZamboni
Guest
RayZamboni

Thanks for all the info and updates and comments. Followed as per above and after disable SIP in recovery successfully installed and the GTX 980Ti showed in system info, but when I re-enabled SIP and rebooted, CUDA is showing No GPU detected in red and there is only a generic GPU showing in system info. Does this mean we have to leave SIP disabled? Many thanks!

theitsage
Admin

I’ve always run eGPU with SIP disabled. Re-enabling SIP definitely prevents the proper kexts to load during boot. Therefore the eGPU is not functional even though it’s connected to the system.

RayZamboni
Guest
RayZamboni

Thanks, that makes sense. This work station is not usually connected to the internet anyway so security is less of a concern. Thanks for all the R&D work here too, makes life a lot easier!

Dan
Guest
Dan

15″ MacBook Pro with TB3 connected with the Apple TB2 Monitor – can I use one of the “ghost” drivers to keep using my monitor and add an eGPU in the chain – sending the video signal back out one of my laptops TB3 ports? Would I be able to do the same while running Windows?

Thanks for the help!!

nando4
Admin

Yes, the ghost adapter can be used in Windows. Better yet, can use AMD X-Connect or NVidia Optimus to transparently provide an eGPU accelerated internal LCD mode. See the following related threads:
https://egpu.io/forums/mac-setup/how-to-keep-mbps-irisiris-pro-activated-when-booting-into-windows-boot-camp/
https://egpu.io/forums/pc-setup/guide-accelerated-internal-lcd-on-non-optimus-systems-enjoy/

Andrea Bettini
Guest
Andrea Bettini

This is the first and clear egpu guide, thanks! However, I still have a doubt. Which is the best egpu configuration for my MacBook Pro retina 13 2013, 2,8GHz i7, 16GB 1600, iris 1536, el capitan? Akitio node + titan + t3 to t2 converter? I don’t like the idea to have an external PSU and the akitio, many boxes on the desk. Thanks!

theitsage
Admin

You’re on the right track. Get an enclosure with built-in PSU. Depending on what you use the eGPU for, the GTX Titan may be overkill.

ingrid
Guest
ingrid

What GPU or eGPU is good for MacBook Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015) ?

Thank you!

nando4
Admin

Please review existing eGPU implementations to make your decision:
https://egpu.io/external-gpu-implementations-table/
Anything beyond a GTX1060 starts seeing diminishing returns. RX470/RX480 another popular choice from the Red team.

igerard
Member

Almost all my components are ready, my Node, tb3 (usbc) tb2 adapter, evga gtx 980 ti Hybrid found on price minister at a good price. But I didn’t relaize until I went to get my TB3 TB2 adapter… which is tb2 female, tb3 male, that I would need a tb2 male – tb2 male cable… I am going soon getbit at the Apple Store Opera… anyway I wanted a longer cable 🙂 Need my tools and tomorrow I will take any pieces together and will see if it does work. Somewhere it seems I saw a video or something else… Read more »

theitsage
Admin

You can simply unplug the front fan connector from the AKiTiO Node’s board. Unmount the 120mm from its mounting bracket. Then mount the radiator + cooling fan from the Hybrid GPU onto this mounting bracket. Here’s a discussion about mounting the GTX Hybrid GPUs inside AKiTiO Node.

igerard
Member

Thanx for the input

Everything worked like a charm, just the fan, for now I fixed it as a replacement of the original one, I don’t worry that it is open.

your paper on this possibility, egpu on the mac made me crazy 😉 first step very successful, Cuda and Metal working fine… now some tuning, fan, painting for the pleasure and coding for work

Thanx a lot to the friendly community.

Ben Myers
Guest
Ben Myers

Hello,
I currently have the Mac Pro trashcan running to two matrox triplehead 2go > 3 projectors (for a total of 6 projectors) It’s for a projection dome set up. I can run movies ok, but frame rate for us to make games in Unity has been horrible. Do you think that our set up would work with adding a AKITO Node, 1080 gtx, so that we can work with Unity 3d games? Thanks

theitsage
Admin

Hi Ben,

Does your Mac Pro trashcan currently have FirePro D300s? If so, I would imagine the GTX 1080 eGPU to provide a nice performance boost to power those 6 projectors. As long as you connect the TripleHead2Go adapters to the eGPU directly with DisplayPort cables, they should work.

Timur
Guest
Timur

hey i have a question
i wanna use the exp gdc 8.0 beast mac version on macbook pro retina 13 mid 2014 will it cause any problem? i can set it up but is this compatible? the options with thunderbolt is expensive in my country. and another little thing i just wanna do it on internal display is this possible?

theitsage
Admin

I’m not aware of exp gdc 8.0 beast for Mac. Can you link to the product page?

Timur
Guest
Timur
theitsage
Admin

That looks promising. I don’t think anyone has tried it yet on a Mac. It’s worth giving it a shot and follow the software installation procedure in our setup guide.

Timur
Guest
Timur

there is only a guy tried on an iMac in reviews its the same thing right? i’ll write here or on the forum when i done it.

Garrett
Guest

On the amazon page: Which style and size of the nvidia gtx 1080ti should I get? Does that effect it much? Planning on pairing woth the akitio node.

theitsage
Admin

The AkiTiO Node has enough room to fit almost every double wide GPU. You’re fairly safe getting any style GTX 1080 Ti you’d like. The “ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 Ti AMP Extreme” may be an exception because its cooler is triple wide.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Im using a early 2015 MBP 13″ 2.7GHz core i5.

I know my mbp only has thunderbolt 2, so could i possibly run a GTX 1070 on a thunderbolt 2 case?

nando4
Admin

Yes you can. See the several examples of your 13″ MBP running an eGPU at https://egpu.io/external-gpu-implementations-table/?table_filter=%22Mac%2013-in%22#search

Christian
Guest
Christian

I’m banging my head against the wall, but maybe I’m overlooking something obvious. I’ve got the 2013 MacPro “trashcan” and want to hook up the AkiTio Node. However, the MP is Thunderbolt 2 while the Node is Thunderbolt 3. In the guide at the top, it says that the TB3/TB2 adapter that Apple sells should provide compatibility, “Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt Adapter allows backward and forward compatibility. With this adapter, TB1 and TB2 Macs can use TB3 enclosures, and TB3 Macs can use TB2 enclosures.” but I don’t see how it works. It’s TB2 female/TB3 male adapter, so… Read more »

theitsage
Admin

Do you have a Thunderbolt 2 cable? Here’s how I’m currently using my nMP with a Thunderbolt 3 enclosure:

AKiTiO Node «» Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt Adapter «» Thunderbolt 2 cable «» Mac Pro

Christian
Guest
Christian

AHA! I was thinking of it in reverse! In my mind, the schematic went Mac Pro -> Adapter -> Cable -> Node, so I was trying to figure out how to plug the TB3 end into the Mac Pro and getting nowhere fast. I love it when a problem has a simple solution and I’m just being a ditz 😛
Thank you for the speedy feedback!

John DiCecco
Guest
John DiCecco

Hello. I have a late 2015 MBP connected TB2>TB3 to a Razer Core with a 1080 Ti. Thunderbolt under system hardware shows the core but the Graphics/Display shows NVIDIA Chip Model, not the 1080 Ti. Ordinarily I’d say this is just a beta bug since automate-eGPU.sh recognizes the 1080 Ti. Everything looks good but video out is not happening – not through the HDMI out or any of the three Display Ports. Tried some other third parties like DisableMonitor but still no joy. Any thoughts?

theitsage
Admin

I would recommend uninstalling the script and do full installation again. This happened to me before and that’s how it got it to eventually work. Rerun the script with -a may help as well.

Claudio
Guest
Claudio

Thank you very much!!! Thank you for your effort. I’m in the process to get a better GPU than the D300 in my nMP trashcan and this site is the site!!!

Kudos.
Claudio.

Christopher Glavan
Guest
Christopher Glavan

GTX 980 in Atikio Thunder 2 and Rosewill 650w PSU into Macbook Pro 13″ mid-2012 running OS X 10.12.5.

Both the Atikio and the GTX 980 show up in Profiler, but I’m not getting a signal on my HDMI external display.

Am I missing something?

John
Guest
John

Hello I have iMac 2012 late . How I can connect to Akitio node for internal display. I want working with MacOS. This is possible? And what is needed for this?

nando4
Admin
John
Guest
John

fit-Headless GS 4K adapter is fit for imac 2012 late?

John
Guest
John

Sorry, fit-Headless GS 4K adapter connect to GPU Akitio Node correct?

theitsage
Admin

That’s correct. The fit-Headless adapter goes in the back of the AKiTiO Node. In theory, it should work. In practice, the Thunderbolt 1 speed may make this setup very slow due to its limited bandwidth.

John
Guest
John

But a have Thunderbolt 2.

theitsage
Admin

A late 2012 iMac has first generation Thunderbolt. You can reference our table of Thunderbolt-equipped Macs.

John
Guest
John

A Ok I see thx!!! Do you know how much fps will be in benchmark?

ThomasV
Guest
ThomasV

I do notice that in my macbook pro 15″ late 16 under OS X 10.12.5 my connected ASUS XG 2 shows only 20 Gbit/s for the TB3 Port. All others are 40 Gbit/s. I upgraded the Firmware already. And the GTX 1080 TI always drives internal and external display. I only need it to work with the external one. Is that the point for having half the Bandwidth?

theitsage
Admin

Even with the old firmware, the Thunderbolt 3 connection from your late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro to the ASUS XG 2 should show 40 Gb/s. Which Thunderbolt 3 cable are you using?

SANCHEZ
Guest
SANCHEZ

Hello I have Macbook Pro 2011 late . 2,7 ghz 8GO. How I can connect to Akitio node for internal display. I want working with MacOS. This is possible? And what is needed for this?

nando4
Admin

Yes it’s possible as explained in How to: eGPU-Accelerated Internal Display in macOS.

Michael
Guest
Michael

What about the Macbook Pro 15″ late 2015 with M370X? Can it works perfectly like the late 2016 MacBook Pro, both external display and internal display? Any best practice?

nando4
Admin

Yes it can use an eGPU accelerated internal LCD. See existing M370X 15″ MBP eGPU implementation examples.

Michael
Guest
Michael

Ok, thanks.

Mihai
Guest
Mihai

Hi !
I have a question:
Can I accelerate internal display on imac 27 inch late 2013 using a fitheadless display adapter gs and softwares used in the guide.

theitsage
Admin

It’s possible but we have not seen an implementation of the eGPU-accelerated internal display on these yet. Give it a shot and let us know how it goes.

twistychips
Member

I’m doing research on how to do this. I noticed in the comments someone mentioned 10.12.4 had some changes, and I’m on 10.12.5, and thinking about getting the Node with either a GTX960 or GTX1060. I have a 2015 15″ Macbook pro with M370X, do I still just follow this guide? Or is there something I should pay attention to? Thank you!

thor203
Member

I have a MBP 13″ mid 2012.Does the Sonnet Breakaway Box work with a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter under Windows 10 (Bootcamp)?

theitsage
Admin

Yes it does.

Simon
Guest
Simon

Looking at the graphics showing the internal connections of the 13″ and 15″ 2016 MacBook Pro:
Is the DisplayPort signal of the 15″ MacBook for the Thunderbolt connector really coming from the CPU? Shouldn’t the signal be coming from the dGFX (dGPU)?

nando4
Admin

The Apple GMUX wires the eDP LCD to the CPU’s iGPU when using the iGPU. When the dGPU is switched in then correctly so, the dGPU is wired to the eDP LCD. Regardless, the aim of the diagram is to illustrate the different CPU vs PCH wiring of the Thunderbolt controller with the latter having a DMI bottleneck.

Marius Isaksen
Guest
Marius Isaksen

I have encountered an issue when using the script in this article. I have the 15″ 2016 touch bar MBP with a LG 5k display and an Akitio Node with a Nvidia GTX 1080. When I ran the script, the Mac was able to recognize the Akitio, as advertised 🙂 But my LG 5k is no longer 5k but a scaled up 4k and I can not revert this setting – it is set to optimized resolution under system settings. Why is this happening and can it be fixed without a clean install of the Mac?

Eric
Guest
Eric

Hey there,

I’m running into an issue with the new Macbook Pro 2017 (no touch bar) 14,1

When i connect my Razer Core, it detects it but says unsupported GPU. So followed the guide to disable system integrity protection and tried to run tb3-enabler and get this error message

sudo python tb3-enabler.py apply

unknown file, won’t backup (md5=c9b8ae4f3e64f46058e05075b66fefd1)

anybody happen to know what’s causing this or a solution?

Eric

rohiz
Guest
rohiz

Hey there, I am trying to install a 1080 Ti in a Mantiz Venus egpu on the new Macbook Pro 15″ (2017)- I have run the script and everything seems to have run fine; the device is listed under the Thunderbolt heading in System Report and during the script it recognized the GPU but did not find any drivers for the card- also the GPU is not showing up under the system report- please advise! Thank you!

rohiz
Guest
rohiz

Just to add on, I have manually downloaded the current CUDA Driver, but when I try to download the GPU Web Driver- 378.05.05.15F01.pkg (for Sierra 10.12.5, Current OS) it returns: Mac OS X version 10.12.5 (16F2073) is not supported with this package. Please see NVIDIA’s website for further driver information. Please help! 🙂

theitsage
Admin

The Nvidia web driver, 378.05.05.15F01.pkg looks for macOS build number 16F73. Therefore you’re seeing the error code it’s not supported on your 2017 MBP. You can modify the macOS build number to install Nvidia web driver.

rohiz
Guest
rohiz

Thanks, is there a guide or an easy solution to fix this? Thanks in advance

rohiz
Guest
rohiz

I have changed the version of the os to 10.12.4 using the sudo comands for the plist- it still yields the same return- is there a separate way to change the actual build number?

ngthtg735252
Member

Another problem at this moment is Radeon card, hard to buy and price is too high due to bitcoin miner.
~600$ for RX580 on amazon isn’t worth. Apple Dev Kit is the best way now

PeterWan
Guest
PeterWan

will Rx550 work with Mac mini late 2014

PeterWan
Guest
PeterWan

*** automate-eGPU.sh v1.0.1 ***
* (c) 2016, 2017 by Goalque & FricoRico *
*****************************************
Detected eGPU
Lexa PRO [Radeon RX 550]
Current OS X
10.13 17A291m
Previous OS X
10.12.4 16E195
Latest installed Nvidia web driver
[not found]
Checking IOPCITunnelCompatible keys…

Controller not found.

why it look like this?

theitsage
Admin

macOS High Sierra 10.13 has official support for eGPU. However, the only GPUs compatible with 10.13 are RX 470, RX 480, RX 570, and RX 580. automate-eGPU.sh script is not intended for 10.13. If you run it again in 10.12 it may work with your 2014 Mac mini.

PeterWan
Guest
PeterWan

will RX 460 work?

theitsage
Admin

RX 460 works in 10.12. It does not work in 10.13 at the moment.

Nicholas
Guest
Nicholas

Hi, amazing guide, very informative!

I have a question regarding the AKiTio Thunder2. On the website provided, it says that graphics cards are not supported, while it is not even compatible with Apple’s BootCamp. How would these things affect me if, say, I were to use it on a Early 2015 macbook pro running bootcamp? Also, does the AKiTio require the battery process required to give it juice?

Thanks,

Yaboinicholas

theitsage
Admin

AKiTiO never intended for the Thunder2 to be an external graphics enclosure. Its statement about no GPU support and BootCamp support is to make clear if you are using the Thudner2 for eGPU, there’s no post-sale support from AKiTiO.

You’ll need to modify the power arrangement in order for the Thunder2 to host a graphics card. This barrel plug adapter guide is a good start.

heeroyuyj
Guest
heeroyuyj

is Aorus Gaming Box works with new Mac Pro in windows? i tried the AKiTiO Thunder2 with 980 ti last year, but the 980 wont enable, it can only work in mac os

so im wondering the Aorus Gaming Box, can u test?

theitsage
Admin

The Mac Pro is unique in that it doesn’t have iGPU. Only much older Boot ROM can detect external GPU. If your nMP was not able to detect the AKiTiO Thunder2, it’s likely running a newer Boot ROM that prevents external graphics use. The Aorus Gaming Box won’t change that unfortunately.

Kyungmo
Guest
Kyungmo

I’m considering to install Radeon Vega Frontier card for my Mac as egpu. Is it possible to do that?

theitsage
Admin

Not possible at the moment. There are drivers in the latest build of 10.13 Beta. However, there’s no known support for external graphics use.

Rob
Guest
Rob

Hello i’m running with Late 2011 13″ + akitio thunder 2 + geforce 1050 TI . The system has detected the eGPU but my FPS on LOL has fall in 05 FPS ( WHOW ) …. before qith my onboard intel 3000 was 35 FPS…. can you help me to solve this problem ?

theitsage
Admin

Hi Rob, please post a new topic in the forum with more detail about your eGPU build.

Rob
Guest
Rob

ok

gaben
Guest
gaben

So imagine i had the HTC Vive and i wanted to use my mac for VR with it. Given i have the right GPU, would i be able to do VR?
I have a Retina MBP 13′ Mid 2014 and what i’m planning to have is an Akaito node+tb3 to tb2 adapter+ (Let’s say, a GTX 1060).
would this work?

Guest
Joshua

I have a macbook pro 15 inches from early 2015 with Intel 5100 graphics card and intel 5257 processor. I an planning on buying the gtx 1050 ti and the Akitio thunder 2 PCIe box. Would the eGPU improve my CPU’s performance as well? I have been playing GTA V on it pretty well on lowest settings because it would reach 100% cpu so fast, would it help my cpu be ok on better settings as well? Also curious if my processor will bottleneck even if I build an eGPU. Thanks!

Guest

Hi, I have a macbook pro 15 retina early 2015 with no ssd (128gb). I’ve been using an external hard drive to play games on windows with windows installed in my internal hard drive. Is having a ssd card inside with bootcamp installed there the only way to work my egpu? I’ve been getting plenty of infinite loading & black screens & error 12 and etc since I got the egpu (Akitio box thunderbolt 2 with zotac gtx 1050 ti). It works well once it actually works, but it is really hard to get it to work. Is getting a… Read more »

Guest

Does the 15″ MacBook Pro Mid 2017 also have the TB3-CPU architecture?

Guest

Here’s my problem. I’ve got everything set up and drivers installed, but when I go to start up the Mac with it plugged in all the MacBook does is run likes its trying to boot up. The screen doesn’t come on and it’s stays black. Anybody got an answer for this?

nando4
Admin

@Heath, please apply this workaround for this issue: [GUIDE] MBP eGPU detection issues: delayed hotplugging