Thunderbolt GPU questions

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by omvs, Feb 20, 2015.

  1. omvs macrumors 6502

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    #1
    I've been reading up on people's experiences with external gpu's, but have a few issues I'm not sure of.

    Background: I have a 2012 rMBP thats Thunderbolt 1 & HDMI 1.4. I'd like to be able to drive a 3840x2160x60Hz, but can't do that through the thunderbolt/dp prots or the HDMI port. So I'd like to explore the option of a thunderbolt enclosure with a DP 1.2 capable gpu rather than buying a new laptop.

    1> If I'm understanding correctly what I read, it seems like folks are using exxternal gpu but mostly under Windowns with the monitor hooked to the internal ports. Can I actually drive a monitor off the external gpu directly, under OSX?

    2> Would disconnecting the external gpu require a full powerdown sequence, or does hotplugging / unplugging actually work?

    Apologies if these were addressed somewhere else - I did read through most of the threads I could find but might have missed something.

    Thanks!
     
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #2
    Currently, plug-and-play eGPU solutions over TB will only work over Windows in UEFI and OS X (some situations may require kext modifications).

    Hot plugging is unsupported, as the eGPU is treated as an internal PCIe part.

    You can drive a monitor off the eGPU.

    I've a late-2013 15" rMBP with 750M, plus a Sonnet IIID and GTX 780 Ti hooked up to it. Works flawlessly for gaming.
     
  3. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    Great!

    I'm looking at one of the Akitio Thunder2 PCIe boxes since they're more affordable. Not clear if it has enough juice to drive even a 750. - I'd probably have get an external supply, which might be too cumbersome. But at least its an option.

    Thanks again for the info!
     
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #4
    I got an external PSU - a Corsair RM450.

    I went for the Sonnet since someone in the TechInferno forums got it to work without any hassles, so since cost wasn't a factor, I ordered one. Didn't regret it.
     
  5. ooans, Feb 22, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2015

    ooans macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Unfortunately Akitio Thunder2 doesn't have Bootcamp support :(

    Hmm! Confusing. On their Bootcamp support site they claim it works, but on the product page they say it doesn't..
     
  6. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #6
    Some of my web searching has suggested that it does work under bootcamp. Though my primary use is for OSX, so it doesn't really matter. I'll test and find out for sure though.

    Does anyone know if Standby if standby works with any of these boxes? I can always disable on my laptop if need be, but am curious.
     
  7. Synchro3, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #7
    Getting 4K @ 60 Hz with a Nvidia card might be an issue. Read this thread: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1760435

    eGPU with monitor under OS X is no problem, just have to modify NVidia web drivers to pass system checks: http://forum.techinferno.com/implem...ps-tb2-netstor-na211tb-win8-1-osx10-10-a.html and to edit three KEXT's: http://www.journaldulapin.com/2013/08/24/a-thunderbolt-gpu-on-a-mac-how-to/

    Yes, no hotplugging supported.
     
  8. ooans macrumors 6502

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    #8
    After googling around a bit Akitio Thunder2 PCIe enclosure seems like a decently priced way to get an external GPU on a mac. Only 250 euros.

    Of course you still need a power source and the GPU, but finally it isn't ridiculously expensive.
     
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

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    #9
    Note that the TI post you mentioned is on a Haswell Mac that support UEFI Boot Camp, so plug and play without much tweaking is supported.

    Ivy Bridge and older Macs will require quite a fair bit of more tweaking.
     
  10. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Akitio box arrived today. I borrowed a Quadro K600 and was up and running in about 15 minutes - 4k@60Hz right through the K600's displayport. Thx for the links on hacking the drivers.

    The NV Web drivers refuse to load - my builtin 650 may be causing problems, or maybe I missed a step. Looks like the 10.10 drivers are working fine though -- as long as I stick with a 6-series card I should be good to go, and the k600 is nice that it doesn't require a 6pin power cable.
     
  11. Synchro3, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #11
    Yes, a guide installing Bootcamp 5.x to get an UEFI Win 8.1 installation. Bootcamp 4.x runs in MBR mode.: http://forum.techinferno.com/implem...x780@10gbps-tb1-akitio-thunder2-win8-1-a.html

    If you are talking about OS X, i only followed the instructions i linked above, modified NVidia web drivers to pass system checks and to edited three KEXT's.

    eGPU's running with my Mac Mini 2012 and MacBook Pro 2012 (both Ivy bridge), no more tweaking.
     
  12. Synchro3, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2015

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #12
    Which monitor do you have? Because of no issues having 4K @ 60 Hz. :D Are you using OS X 10.10, 10.10.1 or 10.10.2?

    If I understand rightly: You could install the Nvidia web driver, but it refuses to load at startup? Chosen the right driver?:
    OS X 10.10.0 -> 343.01.01f01, 343.01.01f02 or 343.01.01f03
    OS X 10.10.1 -> 343.01.02f01
    OS X 10.10.2 -> 343.02.02

    The Nvidia K600 has really enough power? Because the Akitio box only provides a maximum of 25W on PCI Express port, and the K600 has a TDP of 41W: http://www.nvidia.com/content/quadro/pdf/quadro-power-guidelines.pdf

    Quadro K600 is more or less a GeForce GT 630, which is more or less the same as GeForce GT 730. Playback of BluRay or gaming results in much more higher wattage: http://www.computerbase.de/2014-09/amd-nvidia-guenstige-grafikkarten-euro-test/4/
     
  13. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    I've got the Samsung U28D590. Being a SST display it seems to just work with pretty much every DP1.2 @ 60Hz. But thats one of the few good things I can say about it. Planning on moving to a Seiki SM40UNP whenever it gets released - its not clear whether that's MST or SST, but I'm hoping SST since its relatively new.

    The NV Web driver was of course me grabbing the wrong version. Realized that this morning, grabbed the right driver, re-hacked, and it loaded fine with the onboard card. Don't have the K600 hooked up right now, but I don't expect any problems.

    I didn't push the K600 very hard -- 2D only -- so its power draw was probably pretty low. I also used a 36W DC adapter with the Akitio -- it was already plugged in and so easier than just using the included adapter.

    So for my initial need this should work fine. I'll probably grab a used 410 since its a little lower power and cheaper - some day when I'm feeling really bored I'll may disassemble the box, add a external supply, and throw in the 680.
     
  14. Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #14
    Thanks for the info. Is the image quality the Samsung U28D590 not good enough for you, or it's to small for 4K (28″)?

    I use an ITX case for the eGPU because i prefer having all parts installed in one box, included PSU. It's a Cooler Master Elite 130.
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?p=20735233#post20735233
     
  15. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Its not too small for me - I don't use any HiDPI modes since the software I use doesn't support it, and my eyesight is good enough to handle native resolution. But I doubt there's many people who would put up with it, and having the 27" at work would mean I'd have to mess with the resolution when I need to show stuff on my screen to other people.

    The real problem is the TN panel. It seems good compared to the old TN panels that I used in the past, but the color shifting annoys me, even though my work doesn't need color accuracy. Whats sad is the $300 SE39UY04 panel I use at work just looks better -- even though I think it might be dithering.
     
  16. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Update: I finally got my SM40UNP, and the the Akito box + k600 is driving it nicely. Having to hack the kext's is a bit annoying, but I scripted it so its easy to redo every OS upgrade and/or nvidia driver update.

    Many thanks for all the help!
     
  17. ooans macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Thanks for the update. Interesting to follow someone do this, because I'm considering to do it myself at some point.

    I'm curious: would you be able to take a photo of the Akito box with the external power supply and all? Just wondering how it looks.

    Also, do you need to rehack the kext's every time you update your OS?


    Thanks!
     
  18. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #18
    With a beefy card like the 970 & an external power supply, my solution is not exactly pretty. I snapped an image when I did a quick test to see how the 970 faired.

    And yes, I expect to have to rehack the kext every OS update & every webdriver update. With the k600 & 680 the nvidia drivers aren't necessary, so that hacking stage could be skipped, but with a 9xx card you need the web drivers.
     

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  19. ooans macrumors 6502

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    #19
    Thanks for the pic!

    I can only imagine what my girlfriend would say to me if I wanted to have something looking like that constantly on my table.

    Too bad the case is so short that you can't fit the card inside (even if you would need an external psu.)

    Makes me think of possible trying to find (or create) some case where you could move the innards of the Akitio box so it would look more pretty. Or possibly remove the front part somehow. Really makes you dislike Intel(and/or Apple) for blocking the release of the optimal products (that don't cost a **** ton.)

    Curious, what are those cables called which you use to extend the PCI-E -connection out of the box?
     
  20. omvs thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Well, to be fair I didn't go for pretty - that was a $10 power supply I got that I had to splice in extra PCIE power, so hence the wiring nightmare.

    There's miniITX versions of the GTX960 and GTX970 that would fit in fine -- or you could remove the front piece of the enclosure (would require metal cutting) and let the card stick out. The main problem I see is that cards are probably going to draw too much power from the PCIE connector - my solution is feeding power through the extender instead (it actually powers the Thunderbolt logic that way too - not using their supply). You *might* be able to inject in 12v from a beefy supply without using an extender - there's an internal power cable that could be spliced, or just feed it in through the rear plug.

    I suspect the best solution would be to unscrew the two boards from the Akito enclosure and mount everything in something custom. But I'm way too cheap/lazy for that.
     
  21. dsmedic10 macrumors member

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    #21
    Cool topic. With the eGPU, how does one "disconnect" when you want to go mobile? As in, hook the eGPU to a Macbook when at your desk, then "disconnect" when you take the laptop away. How does OS X handle this? Does the OS resume using the internal iGPU when you open the laptop lid away from the desk? How to you "re-dock" to the eGPU?

    Sounds like a pretty cool solution for when you want to run games at your desk in OS X or Windows.
     
  22. Synchro3, Mar 28, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015

    Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #22
    That's why I placed all parts in an as small as possible ATX case, it's a Cooler Master Elite 130. The ATX case is under the table so no one sees it. Of course the Thunderbolt cables are 2 meters long. I'm using the two fans inside the Cooler Master Elite 130 directly powered by the PSU, they are very silent.

    Now i have two eGPU's, one with the older PE4L adapter and Sonnet ExpressCard/34, and one with the faster ThunderTek/PX board i disassembled. In the moment, I don't need the Akitio because none of my Mac's has Thunderbolt II.

    By the way: For the ITX Power On/Off i use these SWEX's: http://www.hwtools.net/Accessory/SWEX.html

    You have to power off the Mac to connect/disconnect the eGPU, no hot plugging. OS X handles it as you would have just an external display. With eGPU/display connected the main monitor is the external display. When eGPU/display is disconnected it's the internal display as normal. You can have both GPU's, iGPU and eGPU, active at the same time if you want.
     

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  23. capitanbuzo macrumors 65816

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    #23
    I've been interested in doing something like this when I get a new MBP but I thout the case. $1K, $350 for a GTX970 and $100 for a power supply (and also a case to hide everything). At this point,I might as well build a hackintosh as its not that much more but it seems like there might be cheaper options now. What's the total outlay to get one up and running with some other options on the market now?
     
  24. Synchro3 macrumors 65816

    Synchro3

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    #24
    With an Hackintosh you will have all the known hassles (iTunes DRM support, OS X updates and so on). With an eGPU you just have to edit the KEXTs from time to time. No comparable effort. And you can use the eGPU with each Thunderbolt Mac you have.
     
  25. capitanbuzo macrumors 65816

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    #25
    It's not that much work for a Hackintosh. If you have the laptop already and you want extra power, the Hackintosh will be quite faster than a MBP with an eGPU. I could justify a $250 enclosure plus the card but $1,000 seems crazy (especially given that you can't use the cards full capabilities from what I've read until TB3).
     

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