Testing: Thunderbolt 3 eGPU + Late 2016 MacBook Pro

I recently got an AKiTiO Thunder3 enclosure. Using it with a Late 2016 MacBook Pro through Thunderbolt 3 / USB-C port presents a few challenges. These MacBook Pro laptops are definitely not going to cooperate with just any Thunderbolt 3 enclosures. We read reports from Razer Core owners seeing the Unsupported status under macOS Thunderbolt connection. It’s the same with AKiTiO Thunder3 and likely with AKiTiO Node.

Thunderbolt 3 Enclosure Unsupported message in macOS

My AKiTiO Thunder2 RX 470 eGPU setup works perfectly fine on this Late 2016 MacBook Pro 13″ through a Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. Ironically AKiTiO Thunder3 (and most Thunderbolt 3 enclosures) with a Thunderbolt 3 cable does not have official support.

We’ve learned IOThunderboltFamily.kext and its controller file dictate which Thunderbolt 3 devices are supported. Kid2010 on Netkas discovered a workaround to enable macOS support for all Thunderbolt 3 enclosures.

Goalque’s trusted automate-eGPU script helps macOS communicate to my RX 470 Thunderbolt 3 eGPU. I can get video output to an external monitor but there’s no graphics acceleration or Metal support.

RX 470 Thunderbolt 3 eGPU showing in macOS

RX 470 Thunderbolt 3 eGPU macOS with external monitor

When I tried an Apple flash drive mounted on a PCIe adapter, everything works perfectly through the Thunder3 – full 40 Gb/s 1x through the AKiTiO-supplied Thunderbolt 3 cable. There certainly are more hidden road-blocks on these Late 2016 MacBook Pro in regards to external graphics card implementation.

I installed macOS 10.12.2 Developer Beta 4 last night but there’s no improvement. Out of frustration I daisy-chained the Thunder2 enclosure through Thunder3 enclosure to my Late 2016 MacBook Pro for fun.

Daisy chaining AKiTiO Thunder2 enclosure to Thunder3 enclosure to MacBook Pro

Check out the bundle of cables and TB3 to TB2 dongle in this setup. To the professionals out there, this is your only way to expand the capabilities of your ultra-thin and sleek-looking MacBook Pro.

Thunder2 via Thunder3 enclosure connected to Late 2016 MacBook Pro

Full view of all the cables and Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter

Check out eGPU.io forum for latest Thunderbolt 3 eGPU testing and development. Please share your thoughts in the comments or in our forum.

4 thoughts on “Testing: Thunderbolt 3 eGPU + Late 2016 MacBook Pro

  1. ikir Reply

    Very interesting! What about RX480? Does it get Metal acceleration under 10.12.2?

    • theitsage Post authorReply

      I haven’t tried RX 480 with my Thunder3 yet but it should behave the same way as RX 470. There’s no Metal support or graphics acceleration in macOS yet. There’s something else (besides Thunderbolt 3 Unsupported) preventing Thunderbolt 3 eGPU from working in macOS.

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