Jump to content
EwinRacing Flash Series Gaming Chairs
tre87

2014 15" MBP GT750M + GTX970@16Gbps-TB2 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + Win8.1 [tre87]

Recommended Posts

tre87's eGPU implementation | 2014 15" Macbook Pro GT750M + GTX970@16Gbps-TB2 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + Win8.1

Last update on November 16th 2014!





My setup is as follows:

Laptop: Macbook Pro 15 Retina (Mid 2014) /w dGPU (nVidia GT 750M)

GFX: Asus GTX 970 Strix 4GB

eGPU: AKiTiO Thunder2 PCI-E Box

PSU: Corsair RM550

PCI-E: 16x Powered Riser

Case: Cooler Master Elite 130

Thunderbolt cable: Apple Thunderbolt Cable (2.0 Meters)

Extra: Plastic board for mounting, superglue, black wire, cable strips and a standard on/off powerswitch. (Also had a fan silencer from a Noctua fan I used on the front mounted case fan to reduce its noise to nothing. It's not required for this build, but like like to have NO noise :))





Images

More images can posted if someone requests it :)



[ATTACH=CONFIG]13147[/ATTACH]
Front:
Large image
[ATTACH=CONFIG]13148[/ATTACH]
Back:
Large image
[ATTACH=CONFIG]13149[/ATTACH]
Side (Case shield off) -> Yes, some screws are missing.
Was taken while i was testing the riser placements :)

Large image




Benchmarks & Validations

Please request a benchmark if you want it displayed here ;)



3dmark Firestrike, GPU-Z, CUDA-Z, CPU-Z:

Screenshot



Firestrike:

GT 750M

GTX 970 (+ GT 750M PhysX)



Validation:

CPU-Z

GPU-Z





Build





Hardware:

1. Remove the CM Elite 130 case shield and unscrew the 92mm side fan and it's mount!

2. Remove the front of the case and drill out the rivets and unscrew the 2 screws to completely remove the optical drive mount.

3. Open up the AKiTiO box and take out the curcuitboard.

4. Place the AKiTiO board on the plastic board aligning the TB ports and power to point towards the back (where a motherboard would have been) and measure out where to drill and make holes for the motherboard risers

5. Then place the plastic board on the bottom of the case and mark out the holes for mounting.

6. Drill all the holes -> Small holes for the AKiTiO board so that you can super glue the motherboard risers (comes with the case | image). Large holes for the case screws.

7. Once all holes has been drilled and the glue has dried, place the AKiTiO board on top of the risers and insert the screws.

8. Now mount the plastic board in the bottom of the case and insert the screws (See the Side image above).

9. Install the PSU and connect the 24-pin motherboard connector.

10. Take 2 pieces of wire and insert one of the wires into the corresponding green wire (PS-ON) in the 24-pin PSU connector. (See this image for the layout). Place the other wire in the above or underneath black wire (Ground).

11. Remove the case front and pull both wires thrue the bottom right USB port and put the case front back on.

12. Insert both wires, one in each end of the on/off switch and mount it like you see in the Front image above.

13. Install the powered riser in the AKiTiO board and the other end to the GPU.

14. Mount the GPU in the case. (I used a cable strip from the GPU fanshield to the case to tighten the card in the opposite end of the case mount. Otherwise it won't be stable!)

15. Install the 6+2-pin PSU cable for GPU and the 12V Molex PSU cable for the powered riser. Remember to connect the front mounted case fan as well with a molex connector! I also used a silencer (one of those that comes with a Noctua fan to slience the fan to no noise at all).

16. Use some cable strips and sort out any loose cables to make room for the front fan to make some airflow.

17.Put the case shield back on and let the fun begin.



Note: You won't need the AKiTiO power adapter. Everything will be powered by the PSU.



Prerequisites:

1. Install Windows 8.1 (UEFI) on your MacBook

2. Have the newest nVidia drivers downloaded



Software (+Power up):

1. Connect the Thunderbolt2 cable from the AKiTiO board to your MacBook.

2. Power on the eGPU via your on/off switch. (Note: If you have a Corsair RM series PSU and/or the ASUS/MSI GTX 970/980 the fans wont spin on power on. They will start spinning once the PSU/eGPU is under load)

3. Power on your MacBook.

4. It sometimes helps to halt the bootup by holding down the option key and give it a few seconds before booting Windows. (Thunderbolt devices apperantly needs some initialization time)

5. Once you reach the Windows logon screen the MacBook display should flicker and turn off while your external monitor(s) will come on (Might take a few seconds since it is actually installing the GPU drivers). If that happens everything is good! :) If you have the iGPU version of the MacBook you will properly use the MacBook screen as Optimus will be engaged immediatly.

6. Login and start your nVidia driver installation. Choose the custom option in the installer and tick the Clean installation before installing.

7. Once the GPU driver installtion is complete -> Reboot and your eGPU is ready to go! Enjoy! :D





Extra

Made a post about this setup at the danish hardware forum HardwareOnline.dk (Danish) -> My alias on there is ZazzY:

Post (In danish)

Post (In english using Google translate)





My thoughts so far...

At the time of writing this I've had this setup up and running for 14 days. I've been using it everyday for both professional work and gaming! I'm a .NET developer and I use my MacBook for designing, developing, browsing and lots of gaming with my friends. And the gaming part is really an outstanding experience with this eGPU setup.



So far the last 14 days has been a blast! The setup is TOTALLY stabile. I haven't had one crash or anything! All games run smooth and the whole thing ran over an entire weekend of none stop gaming, I didn't even restart during an almost 48 hour period of pure gaming! :) Let me just say that this setup goes beyond my expectations and that I can see myself using this setup for LOOOONG time!



More experiences and thoughts will come once I've have a lot more experience! All I can say is, don't wait for this - do it, DO IT NOW! :Banane10:



--->



Please comment or ask any questions you may have... I'll answer as soon as possible. More will be added to this post as my time with this setup increases! :)
  • Thumbs Up 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting this. I recently did a similar setup, but am not using an external case.

I'm currently using the AC power from my Akitio, and powering my GPU with another power-brick. I've read about potential ground loops, and I've been having some crashes, so I'm thinking about switching to a small case like yours with an ATX power supply (powering via riser).

Can you provide more detail on how you connected the Akitio boards to this case? You said you have them on some plastic. How was that done exactly?

Thanks!

Edit: Also - was curious if you were happy with that case, or if you would have chosen another one now that you're up and running?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent, I have the same MacBook setup and I am looking to do something very similar. Would you mind sharing an idea of costs?

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for posting this. I recently did a similar setup, but am not using an external case.

I'm currently using the AC power from my Akitio, and powering my GPU with another power-brick. I've read about potential ground loops, and I've been having some crashes, so I'm thinking about switching to a small case like yours with an ATX power supply (powering via riser).

Can you provide more detail on how you connected the Akitio boards to this case? You said you have them on some plastic. How was that done exactly?

Thanks!

Edit: Also - was curious if you were happy with that case, or if you would have chosen another one now that you're up and running?

Hi! Sorry for being so slow to get back to you. I updated the entire post just now so can see a small guide and some more images! If you need some more info, just ask :)

The case is awesome and IMO one of the best for this setup ->

- Smallest case to house a full ATX PSU

- Lots of mounting wholes

- Very robust, even after removing the optical drive mount

- Fits all GPU's due it's length

- Comes with a 120mm fan that dosen't make any noise when using a silencer

- - - Updated - - -

Excellent, I have the same MacBook setup and I am looking to do something very similar. Would you mind sharing an idea of costs?

Cheers!

Hmm... I think the best thing for you is to take my component list and look each part up manually. I ordered from a lot of different places and everything is so damn expensive here in Denmark :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would it be possible for you to try ARMA 3 Breaking Point? Eyeing the exact same rig and would be helpful to know what sort of fps to expect. I might be playing with the MPB display, so the higher the resolution you can get at the better! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was wondering whether you experience any stutter or crashes after you have been gaming for a while...?

I too use this case, along with a powered riser, and the setup works well for only low GPU loads: I can use Photoshop and 3DS Max without problem for a whole day straight, but from the moment I start playing a game, the game will start to stutter or crash after a seemingly random period of time.

Could you link the powered riser you use? Does it have a capacitor soldered to it?

Thanks in advance, and cheers for your clear guide.! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the updates.

Can you confirm if when you are using the external GPU that the MacBook fans are not spinning up? Does the MacBook stay at normal operating temperatures?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Would it be possible for you to try ARMA 3 Breaking Point? Eyeing the exact same rig and would be helpful to know what sort of fps to expect. I might be playing with the MPB display, so the higher the resolution you can get at the better! :)

Hi, where can I obtain ARMA 3 Breaking Point? Is it free or will I have to buy it? Remember that if you want to play on the rMPB screen, you will need the Inten GPU version of the MacBook. Also, my external monitors supports 2560x1440, so the resolution should get up there :)

- - - Updated - - -

I was wondering whether you experience any stutter or crashes after you have been gaming for a while...?

I too use this case, along with a powered riser, and the setup works well for only low GPU loads: I can use Photoshop and 3DS Max without problem for a whole day straight, but from the moment I start playing a game, the game will start to stutter or crash after a seemingly random period of time.

Could you link the powered riser you use? Does it have a capacitor soldered to it?

Thanks in advance, and cheers for your clear guide.! :)

I haven't experienced any crashes or significant stutter at all, some stutter might occur due to it being a poor console port or lack of updated drivers. I played 4+ hours of Far Cry 4 yesterday without any problems other than som stutter when traveling the map, but I won't blame the setup since my friends with full PC setups experience the same thing.

Yes, my powered riser does have a capacitator soldered to it. This is the riser im using: ebay

So my guess is that your powered riser might be the problem here! What GPU do you have?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply. :)

Alright, I will try to replace my riser next then, when it appears that giving the Akitio board extra power by adding a molex-to-barrel adapter isn't doing what I hope it will do. :P

I have a Gigabyte GTX770 4GB running at the moment. Its connected to a Corsair RM450 using a 6 and 8 pin PCIe power connector. So, using the TDP listed as a guideline (240Watt TDP), the card should be powered adequately using a powered riser and the PCIe power connections. But I think it may be a stability issue with supplying the power, since the riser I use doesn't have any capacitor or anything. But I'm no expert in these matters... :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi, where can I obtain ARMA 3 Breaking Point? Is it free or will I have to buy it? Remember that if you want to play on the rMPB screen, you will need the Inten GPU version of the MacBook. Also, my external monitors supports 2560x1440, so the resolution should get up there :)

Unfortunately it's not free. So if you don't got a pal that has it or really like these kinds of games I don't blame you for not buying it hehe.

ARMA 3 is avaliable on Steam: Arma 3 on Steam

And the Breaking Point mod is available here: Breaking Point Launcher download - Mod DB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the updates.

Can you confirm if when you are using the external GPU that the MacBook fans are not spinning up? Does the MacBook stay at normal operating temperatures?

They don't! Unless you play a CPU intensive game! Running FurMark only results in the GPU fans start spinning, the MacBook remains quiet! Playing games like League of Legends, Call of Duty AW and recently Far Cry 4 all makes the CPU load quite a bit and therefore the fans start spinning :)

- - - Updated - - -

Thanks for your reply. :)

Alright, I will try to replace my riser next then, when it appears that giving the Akitio board extra power by adding a molex-to-barrel adapter isn't doing what I hope it will do. :P

I have a Gigabyte GTX770 4GB running at the moment. Its connected to a Corsair RM450 using a 6 and 8 pin PCIe power connector. So, using the TDP listed as a guideline (240Watt TDP), the card should be powered adequately using a powered riser and the PCIe power connections. But I think it may be a stability issue with supplying the power, since the riser I use doesn't have any capacitor or anything. But I'm no expert in these matters... :P

I can't see any other things that should cause any troubles other than the Powered Riser, unfortunately my knowledge about it is also limited. But they are dirtcheap, so I would recommend a proper riser with a capacitor. Could also be a defective GPU? If possible, could you try the card in a full PC setup? What triggers that thought is that it the problems only occurs under high load...

- - - Updated - - -

Unfortunately it's not free. So if you don't got a pal that has it or really like these kinds of games I don't blame you for not buying it hehe.

ARMA 3 is avaliable on Steam: Arma 3 on Steam

And the Breaking Point mod is available here: Breaking Point Launcher download - Mod DB

Damn! I'll try to ask some of my friends if they have it on their Steam account. If they have I can borrow theirs and give it a run.

On the other hand, all other games I've played has no issues at all. So I can't see why ARMA 3 shouldn't work! If you get this setup with a GTX 970 I would almost guarantee that you would be able to wreck ARMA 3's FPS limit :D

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Awesome! I now have the same Macbook Pro model and want to have another Thunderbolt 2 eGPU. Before that I have several questions.

1. I <strike>originally have ViDock 4++ Overdrive and</strike> plan to switch my eGPU to ones with Akitio Thunder2. I focus on mobility rather than that having to use it as a desktop, which means that I prefer using only internal monitor. Should you only use the internal display??

2. Do you have any link to install Windows 8.1 UEFI mode? I made a huge research and cant find one for Macbook Pro.

btw "You won't need the AKiTiO power adapter. Everything will be powered by the PSU" Sounds cool. All I need to learn is how to configure all those cables...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awesome! I now have the same Macbook Pro model and want to have another Thunderbolt 2 eGPU. Before that I have several questions.

1. I <strike>originally have ViDock 4++ Overdrive and</strike> plan to switch my eGPU to ones with Akitio Thunder2. I focus on mobility rather than that having to use it as a desktop, which means that I prefer using only internal monitor. Should you only use the internal display??

2. Do you have any link to install Windows 8.1 UEFI mode? I made a huge research and cant find one for Macbook Pro.

btw "You won't need the AKiTiO power adapter. Everything will be powered by the PSU" Sounds cool. All I need to learn is how to configure all those cables...

1. If you have the same model as I do, then you have the dGPU (nVidia) and therefor Optimus will not currently work in BootCamp. I don't know if it will work in OS X, but some other implementations/guides can properly answer that :) You need the Optimus tech for the internal screen to be able to utilize the nVidia eGPU.

2. On all NEW MacBooks, using a normal BootCamp installation should result in a Windows 8.1 (UEFI). For the cable part it is really simple, look at my guide and use the links to view the layout of the 24-pin cable. If you are in doubt about anything, just ask and I will reply ASAP.

-> Feel free to throw me a PM if you want some further assistance over mail/skype.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm currently in the process of purchasing all the components listed here but I'm struggling with the PCI-x powered riser because I'm buying in the UK from ebay.co.uk. The only risers that seem to match the one listed are on ebay.com. I'm assuming that I need the version with the capacitors as most do not seem to have these.

Does anyone know of any UK sources for these?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm currently in the process of purchasing all the components listed here but I'm struggling with the PCI-x powered riser because I'm buying in the UK from ebay.co.uk. The only risers that seem to match the one listed are on ebay.com. I'm assuming that I need the version with the capacitors as most do not seem to have these.

Does anyone know of any UK sources for these?

Here yo go: Ebay

This one has capicitors, they are just one the opposite site of the cable on the picture. I asked the seller, but ended up finding another one before he got back to me :)

  • Thumbs Up 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey tre87, thanks for the post! I'm trying to build an eGPU similar to yours. I have the same macbook (mid-2014 i7 with dGPU) and just purchased the Akitio, Evga 970, Corsair 550w, coolmaster elite, x16 riser and they should be arriving in a couple of days. I was just wondering what type of plastic board you used and what dimensions would fit into the coolmaster. Also I own a hand-drill and not an electric drill, would that be enough to drill holes into the plastic or would the platic be too thick? And did you use the thunderbolt cable included with the Akitio or would you recommend buying an apple brand one?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hey tre87, thanks for the post! I'm trying to build an eGPU similar to yours. I have the same macbook (mid-2014 i7 with dGPU) and just purchased the Akitio, Evga 970, Corsair 550w, coolmaster elite, x16 riser and they should be arriving in a couple of days. I was just wondering what type of plastic board you used and what dimensions would fit into the coolmaster. Also I own a hand-drill and not an electric drill, would that be enough to drill holes into the plastic or would the platic be too thick? And did you use the thunderbolt cable included with the Akitio or would you recommend buying an apple brand one?

Hi jazzyjester!

Nice hardware and congrats, you're gonna love that setup once you've got it up and running :)

For the plastic board, its actually a small cheap chopping board from IKEA. We had a few unused ones in house and I just cut of the end with the handle and then had a perfect square that fitted inside the case. From there on I just placed the board in the case and marked where to make 4 holes for mounting the board in place. Then proceeded to markup holes for the AKiTiO board. Only thing you have to pay attention to is to have room for the graphics card. So don't have any board taking any place under the 2x expansion slots (where ths graphic card is going to be mounted). For drilling the holes, a hand drill should be just fine as long as you have some proper drills. Don't go to fast though, you don't wanna melt the holes, but drill them :D

The included cable is just fine, however I bought an Apple cable (2 meters) since the included one is very short and I mounted the CoolerMaster case under my desk.

Hope that answers everything for you :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi jazzyjester!

Nice hardware and congrats, you're gonna love that setup once you've got it up and running :)

For the plastic board, its actually a small cheap chopping board from IKEA. We had a few unused ones in house and I just cut of the end with the handle and then had a perfect square that fitted inside the case. From there on I just placed the board in the case and marked where to make 4 holes for mounting the board in place. Then proceeded to markup holes for the AKiTiO board. Only thing you have to pay attention to is to have room for the graphics card. So don't have any board taking any place under the 2x expansion slots (where ths graphic card is going to be mounted). For drilling the holes, a hand drill should be just fine as long as you have some proper drills. Don't go to fast though, you don't wanna melt the holes, but drill them :D

The included cable is just fine, however I bought an Apple cable (2 meters) since the included one is very short and I mounted the CoolerMaster case under my desk.

Hope that answers everything for you :)

Ah I see, thanks for the info. I also have a few more questions if you don't mind :chuncky:. How has is your setup running today? Have you experienced any crashes and are there any high-end games you haven't been able to play at ultra with reasonable framrates (I'm asking because I was able to get Far Cry 4 with my gpu purchase and want to be able to play it at max setting :witless:) . Also has there been any change to Optimus support for the macbook with a dGPU or will I still be forced to use an external monitor. Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah I see, thanks for the info. I also have a few more questions if you don't mind :chuncky:. How has is your setup running today? Have you experienced any crashes and are there any high-end games you haven't been able to play at ultra with reasonable framrates (I'm asking because I was able to get Far Cry 4 with my gpu purchase and want to be able to play it at max setting :witless:) . Also has there been any change to Optimus support for the macbook with a dGPU or will I still be forced to use an external monitor. Thanks again!

My setup is running perfectly today, no issues whatsoever :) I actually completed Far Cry 4, playing in 2560x1440 and max'ed settings, so you won't have any troubles there. Just make sure to update the game so that it can utilize multiple CPU cores. Besides Far Cry 4, I've played a shitload of Hearthstone and just recently started playing CS:GO again and picked up ARMA 3 with various mods. Everything is running smooth, no GPU related crashes at all, only mod crashes in ARMA 3, but that is very common :D

Regarding the optimus support, I haven't looked into it recently. I don't need the internal display at home where I use the eGPU. But you could do a search for it, i know that various coommunities are working towards getting the iGPU enabled via a hacked BIOS. But for now you will have use an external monitor :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there! newbie here.

Just curious about something. After some research, someone said that the MBP internal screen can be used if you drag and drop the application from the external display (MacRumors Forums - View Single Post - 2013 15" Macbook Pro + GTX780Ti@16Gbps Thunderbolt2 eGPU implementation)

Would you mind giving it a shot and verify if it's possible at all?

Thanks in Advance!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hi there! newbie here.

Just curious about something. After some research, someone said that the MBP internal screen can be used if you drag and drop the application from the external display (MacRumors Forums - View Single Post - 2013 15" Macbook Pro + GTX780Ti@16Gbps Thunderbolt2 eGPU implementation)

Would you mind giving it a shot and verify if it's possible at all?

Thanks in Advance!

Hi parczefal and welcome :)

I've actually tried this and it works, however you will loose a great deal of performance. Still runs better that way compared to the dGPU when talking the internal display, but only tested this for a short amount of time and haven't really used it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the update! I have an external monitor (a small 27" tv actually), but I'll try to see if I can get the internal monitor working. My stuff should be arriving soon, so I'll update you guys on my progress. Thanks again!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks tre87! I'll definitely give it a shot then. I was going to get a 4K screen anyways, so let's see how it goes!

In terms of performance loss, when you use the internal screen using the drag n drop method. How much do you think you're losing? Around 20% or more?

Greetings!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the update! I have an external monitor (a small 27" tv actually), but I'll try to see if I can get the internal monitor working. My stuff should be arriving soon, so I'll update you guys on my progress. Thanks again!

I doubt you will be able to make the internal monitor working, cause you need the iGPU in order to utilize Optimus. If you manage to get it working, then please post since a lot of people will be happy around here :-)

Thanks tre87! I'll definitely give it a shot then. I was going to get a 4K screen anyways, so let's see how it goes!

In terms of performance loss, when you use the internal screen using the drag n drop method. How much do you think you're losing? Around 20% or more?

Greetings!

Nice! I'm rocking 2xDelll U2711 with 2560x1440 resolutions. Thats more than enough for me resolution wise. I'm going to replace one of them for either the Acer or the Asus 27" IPS with G-Sync once they get put on the market.

Regarding the performance loss I saw someone somewhere calculate it (I'll see if I can find the actual post) and that was everything from 10% to 40%. But give it a go and posts your results here. I would be really interested to see :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.