Question and answer: External GPU edition.

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by XboxMySocks, Jul 11, 2016.

  1. XboxMySocks macrumors 68020

    XboxMySocks

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    #1
    Hey all. I already posted this to Reddit and got a lot of traction there, so I figured I would post it here as well.

    I noticed a lot of interest in this recently and I figured instead of a few occasional threads that get posted and generally ignored by most and missed by myself, I would post this instead and answer any questions directly that anyone has about the logistics, price, capabilities, experiences, etc.

    For the record, I'm running an early 2015 13 inch retina MacBook Pro at 3,1gHz i7, 16GB of RAM and 512GB hard drive which has 140GB partitioned for Windows and runs Grand Theft Auto 5 and Far Cry 4 off the SSD. The card I am using is an EVGA GTX 960 which is the preferred brand of card because of the internal power management it has, which lends it to working better (or at all, which some brands don't) with eGPU setups. All of this is being piped in through an Akitio Thunder2 Box which I have removed from the metal enclosure (the graphics card is just the slightest bit too big) and have running bare right now.

    Ask anything you want to know! About my own experiences, getting your own setup, whatever.

    For the sake of clarity, here is my setup (With links) as detailed in a post below:

    • 400+ Watt Power Supply by a good company like EVGA, or Cooler Master - the cooler master being the one I got.

    • Some sort of Thunderbolt 2 enclosure. Sonnet Echo works, but is outdated and *very* expensive. The seemingly agreed upon go-to solution right now is the Akitio Thunder2 - can be purchased for $200 as far as I know, however any Thunderbolt 2 enclosure should work. Read the reviews and make sure they aren't Thunderbolt 1 masquerading as Thunderbolt 2, though.

    Amazon Link for $229

    BH Photo & Video Link for $219

    • Any high quality graphics card. I really don't have a full list of certificated working cards, so if you want to play it safe go for the following:

    NVIDIA card
    EVGA brand
    960, 970, or 980

    Apparently 1070 and 1080's do work as well, but I haven't tried them myself.

    My recommended 960 link

    My recommended 970 link

    My recommended 980 link

    In all likelihood, the majority of cards will work with this setup. But I'm just speaking from personal experience of what I know works - eGPU is kinda weirdly precarious so straying from the path is a Certified Brave® choice.

    EVGA brands use different power management systems which lend them to work much better with eGPU setups than most other cards - if I recall correctly MSI brand cards are entirely incompatible with these setups.

    So yeah! Ask me anything you want to know!
     
  2. dukebound85, Jul 15, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2016

    dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #2
    does the akito allow for full size cards?

    Are there any drivers you need to get to work on OS X? how does it know to use the GPU

    will only nvidia cards work or does ati work?


    Is it worth waiting for a thunderbolt 3 box?
     
  3. XboxMySocks thread starter macrumors 68020

    XboxMySocks

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    #3

    Yes, it allows for full size graphics cards. You may have to take it out of the enclosure like I did, but it still works.

    You need to download the Nvidia web drivers for it to work.

    I don't know if ATI cards work. I have not tried any.

    It might be, but you'd need a computer that supports thunderbolt 3 as well. Which currently, no mac's do. I'm very satisfied with TB2 though.
     
  4. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Location:
    5045 feet above sea level
    #4
    Awesome, can you also drive additional monitors straight off this external GPU?
     
  5. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #5
    This is everything! Thank you for posting this - I was about to buy a separate 980 based gaming laptop, which would be nice but not necessary!

    Do the drivers work in Windows 10 or do you need to do something special?
     
  6. XboxMySocks thread starter macrumors 68020

    XboxMySocks

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    #6
    Yes, in fact it's recommended. I use the GPU to drive a 35" LCD HDTV and a 27" Samsung IPS monitor.

    I mean, 980M performance is way worse than 960.

    The drivers work on Windows 10 yes, I use 8.1 because my PARTICULAR card doesn't work with W10 (Literally only card that doesn't, of course).
     
  7. sundragon, Jul 19, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016

    sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #7
    You think the performance is based on the Thunderbolt link between the MBPr and the card or because of W8.1?
     
  8. XboxMySocks thread starter macrumors 68020

    XboxMySocks

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    #8
    Im not sure what you mean. If youre referring to 960 not working with W10, it's a driver issue with the card and Thunderbolt REALLY not being meant for this.

    If you mean actual ingame performance, then it's the Thunderbolt port that has a slight bottleneck.
     
  9. sundragon macrumors regular

    sundragon

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #9
    I meant the possibility of a bottleneck via thunderbolt
     
  10. Meister Suspended

    Meister

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013

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