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2013 13" MBP + GTX670@4Gbps+c-TBEC2 (PE4H 3.2) + Win7 [nando4]

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<br>Summary: use the startup.bat and pci.bat in kloper's 2013 MBA writeup at http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/4271-%5Bus%24250-thunderbolt-egpu%5D-2013-11-macbookair-win7-sonnet-expresscard-pe4l.html to get a 2013 13" Macbook Pro Retina BIOS/MBR (bootcamp) Win7/8 eGPU installation working without error 12. With a NVidia Fermi or Keplar card you'll have full Optimus features (x1 pci-e compression and internal LCD rendered by eGPU).

Hardware parts list

<ul><li>US$1499 2013 13" Macbook Pro Retina, i5-4258U@2.40GHz, 8GB, 256GB SSD

<li>US$110 BPlus PE4H 3.2 (module only), Gen2 capable Expresscard-to-PCIe adapter

<li>US$150 Sonnet Echo Expresscard Pro

<li>US$30 Apple Thunderbolt cable

<li> NVidia GTX670 (Asus Mini)

<li>450W Silverstone SFX ATX PSU</ul>

Software parts list

<ul><li>US$25 DIY eGPU Setup 1.30

<li>Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

<li>US$0 NVidia Geforce desktop video card driver with Optimus x1 pci-e compression and accelerated internal LCD support</ul>

Have been working offline with a 2013 13" rMBP owner to resolve the error 12 that a bootcamp MBR/BIOS install of Win7/8 sees against the eGPU. We discovered the chipset and pci-e architecture of this system is exactly the same as 2013 11/13" MBA. Only real difference being the rMBP has the faster CPU, retina high-res panel, bigger battery but shorter official battery life, 2xTB2 ports, slightly thicker and heavier along with a larger pricetag. It makes me wonder if Apple will consolidate the 13" MBA/rMBP into a single product in the next series with lower spec having the lower speed cpu and lo-res panel.

This differs considerably from the 2011/12 series that saw significant architectural differences between the 11/13" MBA and 13" MBP/rMBP in how the Thunderbolt ports were attached as well as overall system performance.

So it's no wonder then that kloper's 2013 MBA startup.bat and pci.bat at http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/4271-%5Bus%24250-thunderbolt-egpu%5D-2013-11-macbookair-win7-sonnet-expresscard-pe4l.html saw the 2013 rMP all working with no error 12.

That owner has been running games and doing benchmarks but is still sorting out some full-gpu load stability issues with his PSU/video card. Once sorted he'll be posting a writeup of the exact steps he did to get it all working. Until that writeup is released other 2013 13" rMBP owners can use this blurb to confidently proceed to do their own eGPU implementation.

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Hi Nando,

Thanks for this information.

I am tempted to spring for the 15" MacBook Pro top spec (but without the Nvidia GPU) and maybe the Sonnet Echo Express III-D to get Thunderbolt 2.0 connectivity. This would be to dualboot Windows/Ubuntu using EFI. Ideally I would like to be able to use the internal screen (initially) but have the option of connecting a larger screen in future (maybe 4k).

Based on what you have found from the 2013 MacBooks can you see any reason why this would fail as it is a substantial investment.

p.s. Also in Australia (Melb)

Cheers

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Hi Nando,

Thanks for this information.

I am tempted to spring for the 15" MacBook Pro top spec (but without the Nvidia GPU) and maybe the Sonnet Echo Express III-D to get Thunderbolt 2.0 connectivity. This would be to dualboot Windows/Ubuntu using EFI. Ideally I would like to be able to use the internal screen (initially) but have the option of connecting a larger screen in future (maybe 4k).

Based on what you have found from the 2013 MacBooks can you see any reason why this would fail as it is a substantial investment.

p.s. Also in Australia (Melb)

Cheers

No reason it shouldn't work. A iGPU-only 15" rMBP (TB2) + TB2 eGPU enclosure is theoretically the highest eGPU performance configuration currently available . It just so happens nobody has implemented one yet.

I have booted Setup 1.30 on the GT750M model and indeed it doesn't boot with the iGPU active. The Iris Pro only model does boot with the iGPU active. When I configured the Iris Pro model to match the GT750M models CPU/RAM/SSD they both came to the same price both in AU and US. You would have thought Apple would give the Iris Pro a price reduction since (at least in MacOS) the GT750M model has switchable graphics so the GT750M improves upon the Iris-only model in that OS.

A MBR/BIOS (bootcamp) Win7/8 implementation would more than likely be able to use the internal iGPU/LCD. That's based on existing MBA and 13" rMBP/mBP implementations being able to do so. EFI may or may not, depending on whether Apple has fixed their firmware since it broke 13" rMBP iGPUs. We'd have to work through both configurations to identify what works and what doesn't.

One important note. While TB2 is advertised as 20Gbps I believe the electrical link is x4 2.0 (16Gbps). So while TB1 limited that 16Gbs to 10Gbps downstream, TB2 sees the electrical link limit the performance to 16Gbps down a 20Gbps wide channel. You may have thought you'd get double the performance when in fact it's "only" a 60% improvement over TB1.

That is, unless Intel up-specced the TB2 electrical link to run at x4 3.0 (32Gbps). Then the 20Gbps TB2 Thunderbolt-Thunderbolt link would cap performance.

t8pj.th.jpg 1me4.th.jpg

Above: 2013 15" MBP Iris Pro iGPU model (left) and NVidia GT750M model(right) snapped at an Apple shop.

These pricey babies cost at least 5 times more than my HP 2570P. Definitely not 5 times faster/better.

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Thanks Nando.

It is interesting you mention that 'While TB2 is advertised as 20Gbps I believe the electrical link is x4 2.0 (16Gbps)'. Based on feedback from Sonnet a few weeks ago I think you are correct. This is quite misleading/deceptive if correct.

I sent this email to Sonnet a few weeks ago:

1. Will you continue to upgrade this case when future versions of Thunderbolt are released (i.e. Thunderbolt 3+)? I notice you don't sell the original Echo Express Pro anymore so that is unlikely to be upgraded.

The Echo Express III-D, unlike the previous Echo Express models, is upgradable (the Thunderbolt cards plug into a PCIe slot on the backplane,). The upgrade from Thunderbolt 1 to Thunderbolt 2 is as simple as replacing the card. We expect the Echo Express III to be upgradable to future versions of Thunderbolt, however the nature of the upgradable to Thunderbolt 3 won't be determined until that technology is released. It could be another simple TB card upgrade, or, if TB3 is Gen 3 PCIe, then it will require that the backplane be upgraded as well. I suspect we have at least until 2015 before we see another generation of Thunderbolt.

2. When will the Thunderbolt 2 upgrade be released?

We expect the Thunderbolt 2 to be released sometime between mid December and the 1st week in January. While we do have a Mac Book Pro with TB2 in house and everything is looking good, we want to have had the Mac Pro for a few weeks of testing before we release the cards.

I wonder if it is worth contacting Magma too?

Cheers

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Thanks Nando.

It is interesting you mention that 'While TB2 is advertised as 20Gbps I believe the electrical link is x4 2.0 (16Gbps)'. Based on feedback from Sonnet a few weeks ago I think you are correct. This is quite misleading/deceptive if correct.

I sent this email to Sonnet a few weeks ago:

I wonder if it is worth contacting Magma too?

Cheers

2013" 13" rMBP has the Thunderbolt 2 controller attached to the Chipset Southbridge via a x4 2.0 link. That there pretty much confirms it's not a pci-e 3.0 device since the Intel Southbridge pci-e ports are only pci-e 2.0.

Deceptive? The vendors could legitimately claim it's a 20Gbps link if the Thunderbolt controller multiplexes the DP and pci-e traffic to utilize the full bandwidth. However quite right, for our purposes it's not the 100% performance improvement going from TB1->TB2 that we'd like. Still x4 2.0 is where you start seeing near-desktop levels of performance (88% NVidia, 94% AMD) according to Ivy Bridge PCI-Express Scaling with HD 7970 and GTX 680 Review | techPowerUp .

If you're going down this path then I expect you have buckets of cash to throw at it. While I like the 2013 15" MBP it's wayyyy overpriced with little wiggle room (if any) for upgrades. ifixit gave it a 1 out of 10 fixability rating.

Heard rumours HP might be upspeccing their ZBook 15 to use a Thunderbolt 2 controller.

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Hi Nando,

That is the problem. There are so few Thunderbolt 2 equipped machines on the market. I was hoping for one of the Dell XPS machines (or their professional equivalents) to have a high speed connector but it is non-existent.

Another option is to use the Sonnet Echo Express SE II product with a DirectCU II type card with external power supply but my preference is to keep the package very tidy and portable. Do you know if there is an adapter cable to convert something like the XBOX power supply brick to the correct plugs for a video card? or is there another (maybe server) power supply brick worth considering?

To be honest, the Macbook is not that over priced as the Dell XPS 15 which is very similarly specced is almost the same price.

Maybe we will see some progress at CES 2014 in a few weeks - including hopefully from Silverstone with the T004.

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Hi Nando,

That is the problem. There are so few Thunderbolt 2 equipped machines on the market. I was hoping for one of the Dell XPS machines (or their professional equivalents) to have a high speed connector but it is non-existent.

Another option is to use the Sonnet Echo Express SE II product with a DirectCU II type card with external power supply but my preference is to keep the package very tidy and portable. Do you know if there is an adapter cable to convert something like the XBOX power supply brick to the correct plugs for a video card? or is there another (maybe server) power supply brick worth considering?

To be honest, the Macbook is not that over priced as the Dell XPS 15 which is very similarly specced is almost the same price.

Maybe we will see some progress at CES 2014 in a few weeks - including hopefully from Silverstone with the T004.

Closest thing would be the 220W AC adapters that EXP GDC or NP XGP sells. They have what appears to be a 8pin pci-e power connector on it. Would just need a splitter to convert to 8+6 or 6+6pin configuration.

I'd rather Intel ditch Thunderbolt 2 and just give us straight x2 3.0. That's what appears to be the Thunderbolt-to-Thunderbolt backend signalling. Want pluggable CUDA/OpenCL processing? Not if Intel can help it. It enroaches on their CPU processing market.

T004 is much needed to push eGPUs into the mainstream.

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I use the late 2013 retina macbook 15" without dedicated GPU, and I'm also looking into the Sonnet Echo Express III-D TB2 solution, using its internal PSU and a fitting Nvidia card.

I imagine this solution will be the least problematic, and highest performing solution available today?

How much of a hassle would it be to get this combo up and running?

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I use the late 2013 retina macbook 15" without dedicated GPU, and I'm also looking into the Sonnet Echo Express III-D TB2 solution, using its internal PSU and a fitting Nvidia card.

I imagine this solution will be the least problematic, and highest performing solution available today?

How much of a hassle would it be to get this combo up and running?

Yes it would be the highest performance eGPU solution available today since it would be running a x4 2.0 pci-e link (16Gbps). Sonnet Echo Express III-D has built-in 300W power supply with 75W auxiliary power connector so power won't be an issue.

What may be an issue is getting Windows to work with it. Unless the underlying numerous PCIe bridges are configured correctly you'll see an error 12 against the eGPU. You'll have the option of doing a UEFI or MBR/BIOS (bootcamp) install. UEFI is easiest *if* the Apple firmware does configure the Thunderbolt bridges correctly AND allows the iGPU to be fully functional. We've had problems with the retina systems with one of both of these previously. To know for sure we need someone to do an implementation. There's also been hints that Win8.1 is better at resolving error 12 issues.

If going the bootcamp MBR/BIOS method then you'd probably need (1) PCI Reset Delay circuitry to allow the system to boot and (2) likely the Setup 1.x software and pci.bat to correctly configure the underlying bridges. See the following references to help you along:

http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/4570-%5Bguide%5D-2012-13-rmbp-gtx660-sonnet-echo-express-se-%40-10gbps.html#post63754 (PCI reset delay implemented using a PCIe riser)

http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/3062-%5Bguide%5D-2012-13-mbp-gtx660ti-hd7870%40x2-2-th05.html#post42483 (comparison of UEFI and MBR/BIOS implementation and discussion of PCI reset delay)

Please updates us of your progress. I and others on here are interested to see such an implementation.

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Is it at all possible this would work with win 8.1? I'm not sure exactly what 8.1 changed in comparison to 8, but I don't want to ruin a rMBP.

Thanks,

- Jackintosh

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Is it at all possible this would work with win 8.1? I'm not sure exactly what 8.1 changed in comparison to 8, but I don't want to ruin a rMBP.

Thanks,

- Jackintosh

This eGPU solution will work with Win7, Win8 and Win8.1.

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This works with a mac mini md388 2013? or i need a PE4L 2.1?.

Thanks. Great guide :)

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Hi,

What about removing express card and sonnet adapter? Will it work: pe4h + mini hdmi adapter + hdmi cable + hdmi to thunderbolt adapter?

Thanks

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@MikhailBV

HDMI to thunderbolt adapter is something you would have to create yourself, and I doubt it will be easy. The products you see in shops are all HDMI to displayport (which uses the same port layout as Thunderbolt, but doesn't have support for PCI-e data transmission which is essential for eGPU usage).

Best option for a Macbook is to use an Akitio Thunder2. If you want to stick with the PE4H option, you will need something like the Sonnect Echo Pro.

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