I was fortunate enough to receive one of the very first AKiTiO Node units in the US. Here is my first impression of this highly anticipated Thunderbolt 3 enclosure for external graphics card setup.
AKiTiO calls its Node a Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Box. The enclosure is nicely padded and arrived safely.
It comes with everything one would need for an eGPU build except for the graphics card.
Both the PCIe board and Thunderbolt 3 board are different than the boards in the AKiTiO Thunder3. The Node has a TPS65983 USB Type-C and USB Power Delivery Controller which has a High Speed mux for ThunderBolt and DisplayPort sideband data. The Thunder3 has the previous gen controller, TPS65982 (same with the Razer Core).
Unfortunately there’s only one Thunderbolt 3 port. I was hoping for some hidden ports on this board.
As confirmed from earlier reports, Apple only has official support for the newer Texas Instrument controller, TPS65983. Unlike the “Unsupported” message when connecting the Thunder3 to a Late 2016 MacBook Pro, this AKiTiO Node connects immediately with full 40 Gb/s x1 Thunderbolt 3 speed right out of the box.
There’s tons of room inside the AKiTiO Node to fit every full-length double-wide GPU ever made. The downside is that it’s larger than I imagined from pictures online. The silver enclosure is the Thunder3 next to the Node outer case.
With an MSRP of $299 the AKiTiO Node is the best value Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure on the market. It would be a perfect solution to expand the GPU options in the Mac lineup. The bad news is Apple has a software limitation in macOS to prevent such a setup. We are taking a closer look into macOS 10.12.2 to hopefully find a workaround soon.
I have some success with the Late 2016 MacBook Pro in Windows 10. The Node is currently equipped with an EVGA GTX 980 Ti Hybrid. The eGPU is powering the internal display so there’s some bandwidth used up there that isn’t if using an external LCD, consequently some performance loss. Here’s Time Spy results – http://www.3dmark.com/3dm/16739069
Check out eGPU.io forum for latest AKiTiO Thunderbolt 3 eGPU testing and development. Please share your thoughts in the comments or in our forum.