USB 3 Graphics Card

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jblagden, Mar 25, 2015.

  1. jblagden macrumors 65816

    jblagden

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    #1
    Something I've been interested in for a few years is external graphics. I've been wanting to make it work through Thunderbolt so I wouldn't have to buy a new MacBook Pro. However, I've been thinking of replacing it in 2-3 years, and the new MacBook Pros have USB. So, I did a search for USB to PCIe adapters and found one for $4. That's a lot better than $200 for an enclosure. That doesn't include the cost of a power supply, but I can get one for $30. So, for under $40 I'd be able to get an external graphics card adapter set.

    I'd like to know: Will OS X be able to recognize and work with the graphics card or would I still have to modify the kext files? Or are there some drivers I could install?
     
  2. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #2
    Do you have a link for that adapter? I'm curios.

    In any case, PCIE 3.0 x16 gets up to about 128 Gbps, USB 3.0 just 5 Gbps. That's way too slow for a modern graphics card.
     
  3. venom600 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2003
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #3
    USB (any USB) doesn't provide anywhere near the bandwidth necessary to drive a PCI graphics card. Thunderbolt is another story, but Thunderbolt eGPUs tend to be functional only under Windows.
     
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #4
    The only way you can get an eGPU working is using a PCIe to TB2 enclosure like the Sonnet IIID.

    The bandwidth of USB 3 (5 Gb/s) is just too little.

    TB2 with 20 Gb/s will perform at about 85-90% of the card's native desktop performance.

    ----------

    With a Sonnet IIID and an NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti, I got it working in OS X just fine.
     
  5. poiihy macrumors 68020

    poiihy

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2014
    #5
    How is it possible to run a graphics card over USB 3? USB doesn't have any support for such a thing (does it?). Thunderbolt has the PCIe bus built-in which allows you to make Thunderbolt to PCIe adapters and connect PCIe cards to the machine and they'd function as if they were plugged directly in, but USB 3 doesn't have any sort of PCIe going through. Correct me if I'm wrong but I am pretty sure it is not possible!
     
  6. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #6
    You're perfectly correct on all counts.

    The reason why TB eGPU enclosures work is because TB is seen as a PCIe bus.
     
  7. redheeler macrumors 603

    redheeler

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    #7
    Yup, plus the bandwidth limitations.
     
  8. happyfrappy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Location:
    Location eh?
    #8
    There isn't any PCIe to USB 3.0 bridge usable for graphics cards, there are some hardware makers who built PCIe to USB 3.0 bridges for testing/using PCIe 1x/4x cards such as NICs(network cards), SATA/eSATA, desktop PC ExpressCard readers, etc on Windows/Linux but doubtful any OS X support is there.
    If someone *really* wants to use a desktop GPU, Thunderbolt is the only option and Intel doesn't want any part of supporting it(they forbid TB-External PCIe solution makers in supporting or marketing eGPU functions).

    Several makers *do* have USB 3.0(& 2.0) video cards based on CirrusLogic, VIA or Matrox low-power 2D/3D GPUs which handle DirectX 10.1/OpenGL 3/4 with between 256-512mb VRAM. Performance varies from just being usable for video playback, security multi-monitor support, Photoshop tool displays, web data(stock tickers, news tickers, etc) and low-GPU tasks such as a 3rd monitor for web designers/programmers coding/debug work.
     
  9. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #9
    The Sonnet IIID and Akitio Thunder2 are eGPU enclosures which work well.
     
  10. jblagden thread starter macrumors 65816

    jblagden

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    #10
    Here it is

    Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/RIF6-PCI-E-Ad...&qid=1427327401&sr=8-2&keywords=PCIe+to+USB+3

    By the way, I already knew that there's a huge difference in bandwidth between USB 3 and PCIe. I wouldn't do this with USB 3. If I was going to try something like this, I would use USB 3.1, which is equivalent in speed to one Thinderbolt channel. And I wouldn't have the graphics card backfeed to the internal display; I would plug it into an external display.

    This was just something which intrigued me due to years of interest in e xternal graphics cards. In 2-3 years, I think I'll just buy a 15 " Retina MacBook Pro with 512 gigabytes of storage and an Nvidia GT 750m or whichever graphics card it has by then.

    ----------

    I know about those enclosures as well as the Firmtek Thundertek. I was just hoping to find a less expensive way to go about it and I was also hoping to avoid having to modify kext files. I was hoping a USB adapter would be able to function without modifying the kext files, much like the MSI GUS.

    In 2-3 years, I'll just buy a 15" Retina MacBook Pro with 512 gigabytes of storage and an Nvidia GT 750m or whichever graphics card it has by then.

    ----------

    Yes, it's true that Thunderbotl functions as a PCIe slot, but you have to modify the Nvidia kext files to allow the graphics card to function through Thunderbolt. Besides, the MSI GUS used USB.
     
  11. jblagden thread starter macrumors 65816

    jblagden

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    #11
    It's Been Done

    MSI used USB 2.0 for its original GUS. Though I guess they might have made special drivers for this purpose.
     
  12. Rigby macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #12
  13. h9826790 macrumors 604

    h9826790

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2014
    Location:
    Hong Kong
  14. jblagden thread starter macrumors 65816

    jblagden

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    #14
    I'm Aware

    I'm well aware of that option. I just don't want to spend $200 on the enclosure. Though, I would have to spend $140 on a Thunderbolt dock to get USB 3, so I guess an extra $60 for an enclosure wouldn't be too bad.
    It's just that I've had my MacBook Pro since 2011, and I want to replace it in a couple years. Originally, I was thinking of just getting an external Thunderbolt graphics card enclosure and a GTX 650 and keeping my current MacBook for the full ten years, but then I started thinking about just buying a 15 inch Retina MacBook Pro with 512 gigabytes of Solid State storage and the GT 750m graphics card in a couple years. I guess I'll just go with the 15 inch Retina MacBook Pro instead. It'll be a lot easier than editing kext files and that way I'll have the graphics card with me at all times in the MacBook Pro instead of as a separate unit. Besides, then I'll finally have a Solid State Drive. I tried a Solid State Drive in my MacBook Pro, but it just wasn't fast enough, probably due to some SATA issue.
     
  15. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2011
    Location:
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    #15
    I would wait if I were you. The current 15" rMBPs are heavily due for replacement, but were held back (blame Intel for delaying Broadwell-H, and also blame AMD for not upping their ante and giving Intel stiff competition).

    The next-gen rMBPs (Broadwell-H or even Skylake-H, should Apple follow Dell's cue and skip Broadwell-H altogether) are rumored to have the far-better GTX 950M/960M GPUs.
     
  16. JTToft macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark
    #16
    - That doesn't sound right. Care to share your experience?
    Which specific MBP model du you have?
     
  17. jblagden thread starter macrumors 65816

    jblagden

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    #17
    Model

    The model is MacBookPro8,1
     
  18. jblagden thread starter macrumors 65816

    jblagden

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    #18
    Thanks

    You're right. I will wait. That GPU upgrade sounds even better. Thanks for telling me about that rumor.

    Besides, if I did go with an external graphics card, I would use the Firmtek Thundertek: http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Firmtek/TTPX/

    Though, the Retina MacBook Pro would be the way to go since it has a PCI Solid State Drive, dedicated graphics and my MacBook Pro will be 5 years old in a couple years anyway. It might still work for another five years, but I'm not sure since I've used it a lot for copying DVDs and playing games.
     
  19. boast macrumors 65816

    boast

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Location:
    Phoenix
    #19
    So Apple is doing AMD for iMac and Mac Pro, but staying with nVidia for macbook?
     
  20. jblagden thread starter macrumors 65816

    jblagden

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2013
    #20
    Not Exactly

    Actually, the early 2011 15 inch non-Retina MacBook Pro had an AMD graphics card. I have a friend who has one in which the graphics card fried the logic board, which was around $350 to replace. I guess Apple learned from that experience. Though, the first generation Retina MacBook Pros also have that problem even though they have Nvidia graphics cards.

    I guess they managed to get sufficient cooling in the Mac Pro for the AMD graphics card, especially with the "unified thermal core". A laptop just isn't the best in terms of heat dissipation.
     
  21. JTToft macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Location:
    Aarhus, Denmark
    #21
    - If he hasn't already, make sure he contacts Apple for a refund of his expenses.
     

Share This Page