Testing: Thunderbolt 3 eGPU + Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro

There have been many reports on the Late 2016 15″ touchbar MacBook Pro working with the Razer Core Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure in Windows. Successes in macOS were few and far between. I’ve been testing a 15″ MacBook Pro with the Radeon Pro 450 discrete graphics card.

My two Thunderbolt 3 enclosures are the AKiTiO Thunder3 and Node. The AKiTiO Node with its TI83 controller is still a no-go in macOS so I hooked up this 2016 15″ MacBook Pro to the Thunder3 with a GTX 980 Ti attached. I changed out the Dell DA-2 power brick for a full-size modular ATX 850W PSU.

Testing: Thunderbolt 3 eGPU + Late 2016 15" MacBook Pro

Apple blocks TI82 controller in Thunderbolt 3 enclosures such as this AKiTiO Thunder3 and the Razer Core. Therefore the first order of business is to unblock this restriction by modifying the controller file inside IOThunderboltFamily.kext. You can either do a Find & Replace in a Hex editor or download and run TB3-enabler (discovered by kid2010 on netkas).

55 48 89 E5 41 57 41 56 41 55 41 54 53 48 81 EC 38 01
55 48 89 E5 31 C0 5D C3 41 55 41 54 53 48 81 EC 38 01

Unblock Thunderbolt 3 eGPU connection with 2016 15" MacBook Pro

Once the Unsupported message disappeared in Thunderbolt System Information, the next challenge is to make macOS recognize a graphics card has been attached to the Thunderbolt 3 enclosure. Goalque’s automate-eGPU script is still the tool of choice for this task. I’ve tried a few AMD GPUs before using this Thunder3 without success, so this time I went with an Nvidia GPU.

GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU with 2016 15" MacBook Pro

I had much better luck with the Nvidia GTX 980 Ti. This Thunderbolt 3 eGPU setup works with the Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro through my AKiTiO Thunder3 enclosure. It requires an external monitor which has always been the case with eGPU in Mac OS environment.

GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU 2016 15" MacBook Pro external display

I ran some benchmarks to compare the Radeon Pro 450 dGPU against this GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU. These numbers show a 4-5x graphics performance boost.

Luxmark on 2016 15" MacBook Pro with GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU

Unigine Valley on 2016 15" MacBook Pro with GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU

Unigine Heaven on 2016 15" MacBook Pro with GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU

CUDA Speed on 2016 15" MacBook Pro with GTX 980 Ti Thunderbolt 3 eGPU

In the coming days, I’ll test this Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro via a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure using the same GTX 980 Ti. Hopefully this will provide insight on the performance difference between the two Thunderbolt generations and whether it’s worth the upgrade if you already own the AKiTiO Thunder2. Join our forum for latest Thunderbolt 3 eGPU development. Please share your thoughts in the comments or in our Mac Setup forum.

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