Is it possible to link an eGPU to a MacBook Pro...

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by FuzzyWaffles, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. FuzzyWaffles macrumors newbie

    Jul 14, 2013
    Hey folks,

    I have been wondering, would it be possible to link an eGPU via thunderbolt to my macbook pro?

    I would use bootcamp w/ win7 of course (most GPU's are not compatible with OSX)

    I have heard of it working..

    I have searching for hours but I have not found a clear explanation of what is needed and how to set it up for mac...
  2. andeify macrumors 6502


    Jun 10, 2012
    The MSI GUS II is something to look into. The problem with eGPU's is they are limited, firstly by power, and secondly by Thunderbolt. Although Thunderbolt is super fast it isnt as fast as a x16 Lane PCI-E slot, if im correct Thunderbolt can pass x4 Lanes, limiting your graphics performance.
  3. w00t951 macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    ViDock has some solutions, I believe. But there's some issues.

    First, Thunderbolt in its current iteration is about the same speed as a PCI-E 2.0 4X bus, which means anything faster than a GTX 660 will be bottlenecked by the restricted bus speeds.

    Second, power. GPUs are power hogs, and not many external PCI-E enclosures are meant for high speed video cards. Essentially, the GPU will be starved of power, and you'll get underclocked speeds.

    Third, enclosures must be purpose-built for a GPU's ventilation requirements, or you're going to end up severely throttled. Remember, you're dissipating ~150W+ of heat.

    Fourth, while the Thunderbolt port is treated as an external PCI-E bus, there are still latency issues and software problems. Even if Mac OS X and Windows support this hardware setup, the Thunderbolt controller was never meant to be supporting low-latency, ultra high speed data transfers both upstream and downstream at the rate a GPU would demand. Even if the bus were not technically bottlenecking the GPU, you would experience significant frame latency.
  4. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

    Mar 4, 2013
    Aren't there also problems on Macs that have dual GPUs (basically all 15- and 17-inch models)? I know the smaller systems that only have Intel HD graphics can use some form of Optimus (NVIDIA) or Enduro/PowerXpress (AMD) which helps, but since there's no access to the iGPU in Windows, I don't think an eGPU is possible. Naturally, someone correct me if I'm wrong here.
  5. w00t951 macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I don't see how that's related to an external GPU enclosure. Ignoring the hardware issues, the software side of things become complicated. I don't know (I strongly doubt) Mac OS X has the ability to 1) use a PC-oriented GPU and 2) display to an external GPU of any kind. Windows probably will, though, since the Thunderbolt bus is detected as a PCI-E interface.
  6. Mr MM macrumors 65816

    Mr MM

    Jun 29, 2011
    There are problems with macs that have a dgpu (or any system for that matter) that have a dgpu already.

    if you have only the igpu, well, its fine.

    For express card, some models of the mbp 17 are supported

    for thunderbolt the best for that is the r/mbp 13. there are several models for that

    magma 3t, CUBE, sonnet echo, mlogic mlink, owc mercury or something like that, and some others, thermaltake is thinking of launching one

    regarding what gpu is a good fit, I see people with 680s, usually the best power performance ratio is found on the 660ti or closely related gpus.
  7. jread macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    Austin, TX
    You will find a lot of interesting info on this here.

    And here is a gameplay video of Starcraft 2 running on a 13" rMBP with an eGPU (GTX 670). Pretty amazing.
  8. ayeying macrumors 601


    Dec 5, 2007
    Yay Area, CA
    Yes. I linked a GeForce GTX650 2GB with a 13" Retina MacBook Pro via Thunderbolt. There's some problems but for games I play at home, it runs great.

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