Thunderbolt to PCIe Expansion ?!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Zeov, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. Zeov, Jun 2, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2012

    Zeov macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011

    Thunderbolt is here, it has been here for a while now, and i'm curious to see what the potential really is for this port. Now some months ago i've seen some rumoured Thunderbolt to PCIE slot cases (whatever you want to call them) Heres some links:

    i'd really love to have this, but somehow they are all only for like 100-200W usage, and my question in this thread is, isn't it possible to make this sort of box with an external power source for high-end gaming GPUs? i mean this would change everything.

    MacBook Air as a high-end gaming system, or a mac mini!.

    So my question to sum it up: Why isn't this possible for high end GPUs yet? am i missing something? is it not possible through the thunderbolt yet?

    Hope i wont get flame, i have tried searching for this very subject on google, but nobody seems to ask the same question as me.

    Have a nice weekend.

    Posted this in MacBook Pro forums, sorry if its in the wrong forum.


    Drivers might be an issue, but bootcamp gaming will still be possible.
  2. Acidsplat macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    The power consumption of video cards shouldn't be too much of a problem. From what I can tell, the NVIDIA 600 series and the Radeon 7000 series has a lower power consumption compared to their previous generations. People have got a GTX 680 working just fine in the Vidock enclosure, and that supports up to 225W cards.

    The main issue with the eGPU solutions is that Mac OS X really doesn't have drivers, so you will likely have to Boot Camp it. Vidock is working on a Thunderbolt solution. It's unknown if the MSI enclosure will only be supported under Windows or not, as more PCs ship with Thunderbolt in the coming months.

    People have managed to buy the Sonnet Thunderbolt-ExpressCard adapter as a passthrough, and then connected the Vidock and got it to work. The only issue is that you need an external monitor.
  3. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Devices like you're talking about (MSI GUS for example) already have an external power supply, that's not the problem with supplying power.

    More power = more heat, they'll have to solve heat dissipation problems with more powerful GPUs.
    Solving this problem will make the already expensive units cost more, that's a problem as well.
    You'll be anchored to a wall plug and external monitor to use an external PCIe card, kind of limits its usefulness.

    If you're using Windows anyway due to the driver issues, it would likely be cheaper to just build a gaming PC and be done with it. This way you'll have 2 computers and much more gaming potential.
  4. Acidsplat macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    It still would be interesting to use as a dock for a MacBook if you just want one machine. Have a monitor, keyboard, mouse, and GPU on the desk for working and gaming. Then when you're done, just unplug the one Thunderbolt cord and you're on your way. You certainly wouldn't be taking an eGPU while you travel, let alone a monitor.
  5. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Right, it will really depend on several factors I think. For the cost of a GPU and external enclosure, you could just buy an upgraded MBP with decent integrated GPU (if they include a decent one). Then you'd have a portable gaming machine.

    I have no doubt there'll be a market for a dock like you suggested, but I think it would be mainly an add-on for low priced Windows laptops rather than Macbook Pros.
  6. Acidsplat macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Well, mobile graphics cards have worse performance than their desktop equivalent. Even the latest Radeon 7970m chip only has as much performance as the 7850 desktop card.

    Even with a top of the line MacBook Pro, it may still not be enough for some people in the future. eGPU docks and enclosures will better future proof them, plus you are using a desktop-class card for even more performance.
  7. Zeov thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011
    Yeah what i basically want is a MacBook Pro "15 with everything in one machine.


    Connect my MacBook Pro to a thunderbolt to PCIe Expansion, and be able to have a high end GPU running great quality games and basically just have a great system with external mouse, keyboard and monitor.

    School: Unplug my PCIe Expansion and have my MBP with me, and still have decent graphics for some video editing / photo / games (this is no problem for current Pros and wont be in the future)


    Bring a monitor, keyboard and mouse, the MBP and the PCIe Expansion. Because this setup will still be more mobile than having a huge PC case.

    Will the CPU bottleneck any of the current GPUs ? since it is a laptop CPU. because right now, playing on my high end "15 i use about 16% cpu, while my 5770M uses 70-80%.
  8. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    I know, you have to look at the big picture though.
    Again, there will be a select audience for this type of thing, but it will be small.

    Do you want a laptop with limited but acceptable gaming ability?
    Do you want a laptop which can be docked for increased gaming ability but have little to no gaming ability away from the dock?
    Do you want a laptop and a desktop with maximum flexibility and gaming ability?

    Lets see how they price the more powerful external PCIe enclosures, then we'll have a better idea of which option is best.
  9. Acidsplat macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    There really shouldn't be any CPU bottleneck. The mobile Sandy Bridge (and soon Ivy Bridge) processors are incredibly capable, and more and more games are putting all their demand on the GPU instead of the CPU. A quad-core is of course recommended for very demanding games, just to be sure it doesn't bottleneck.
  10. mikeo007 macrumors 65816

    Mar 18, 2010
    Don't forget, these enclosures can't power top of the line GPUs, and SLI is currently out of the question for obvious reasons. With that in mind, you'll never hit a CPU bottleneck, at least not with the currently announced crop of PCIe enclosures. You're looking at running a 7770 class card, which will be more powerful than any current laptop GPU, but far from top of the line.
  11. Acidsplat macrumors regular

    Aug 12, 2011
    Well, the GTX 680 is pretty top of the line and people got it to work with the Vidock. The 680 uses about 200-220W, and the enclosure supports a max of 225W. SLI only matters now if you're using above 1080p resolutions and multiple monitors.
  12. jasleinstein macrumors newbie

    Nov 18, 2008
    Best config for Final Cut Pro - adobe Premeere

    With yesterday's lack of announcement of a new Mac Pro, what config would be ideal for video production?
    The Mac Pro has a little faster CPUs but no thunderbolt or USB lll, no new Sata.
    The iMac has thunderbolt but single CPU, multi core
    The new MacBook pro has thunderbolt but single CPU multicore.

    Any thoughts?


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