Unboxing: AKiTiO Node Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Enclosure

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 Node Retail Box

AKiTiO calls its Node a Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Box. The enclosure is nicely padded and arrived safely.

Unbox AKiTiO Node Enclosure

It comes with everything one would need for an eGPU build except for the graphics card.

Content inside AKiTiO Node package

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).

AKiTiO Node PCIe and Thunderbolt 3 Boards

Unfortunately there’s only one Thunderbolt 3 port. I was hoping for some hidden ports on this board.

AKiTiO Node USB-C Thunderbolt 3 Board Closeup

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.

AKiTiO Node Thunderbolt 3 Connection with Late 2016 MacBook Pro

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.

AKiTiO Node vs. Thunder3 Enclosure Size Comparison

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.

Late 2016 13″ MacBook Pro + GTX980Ti@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + Win10

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

Edited: 3 days  ago

 

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.

Update: full review of the AKiTiO Node and the state of Thunderbolt 3 eGPU.

10 thoughts on “Unboxing: AKiTiO Node Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Enclosure

    • theitsage Post authorReply

      That workaround is only applicable for Thunderbolt 3 enclosure with Texas Instrument TPS65982 controller such as your Razer Core and AKiTiO Thunder3. This AKiTiO Node uses the TPS65983 controller and does not require the hex edit.

      This TPS65983 controller presents a new challenge Apple puts in macOS to block external graphics card.

      • Shaun Reply

        Do you think the goalque would solve that issue?

        https://github.com/goalque/automate-eGPU

        If the node is recognized, it sounds like this might also the external graphics card to be seen by the system?

        Also does the node fit a full sized graphics card like an evga 980 ti? Thanks!

        • theitsage Post authorReply

          macOS rejects the recognition of external graphics card through TI83 controller in this AKiTiO Node. Therefore goalque’s script can’t be run.

          It has plenty of room. I was able to fit a GTX 980 Ti with liquid cooling inside the Node enclosure.

          https://youtu.be/eK8_7yn5m10

  1. AnOldPhilosopher Reply

    Looking forward to getting one of these. Just to confirm, this works fine with Windows, it’s just macOS it has issues with?

    I’m going to use it on a Mac mini 2014. I know it only has Thunderbolt 2, but I still reckon it will be worth it.

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