Hello, friend! (Mr. Robot reference)
This is a guide to setting up an eGPU with the new 2015 15" Macbook Pro Retina with the AMD Radeon R9 M370x. A few people stated that it was impossible to use an eGPU with the new 2015 Macbook's but, I got it to work after a lot of researching.After chatting with 2 different Apple engineers at a Genius Bar, I was told that no changes were made to the new 2015 line of Macbook's that would effect the application of a eGPU build, and that it's highly possible to do so. With this in mind I decided to continue with my project and was able to install a GTX 970 with my Mac. The hardware remains the same, meaning there's nothing extra you should buy, that you would not have bought if you were building an eGPU for any other Macbook. The software, from what I can see is where it gets tricky but I'll get to that later.
First off I purchased these:
Power Supply - Used to power parts.
Graphics Card/GPU - The thing that's going to play Star Wars Battlefront on ULTRA at 60FPS
Akitio Case - Used to make GPU thunderbolt Compatible. (You're connecting your thunderbolt cable to this, as GPU's don't have thunderbolt ports).
Barrel Plug - Used to attach Dell DA-2 Power supply to Akitio Case and GPU.
Precision Screwdriver - Used to bend the Akitio case to fit the above GPU.
GAMEPLAY VIDEOS FOR THOSE CURIOUS HOW IT RUNS:
Batman Arkham Knight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ_N9a-1UKc
Super HD Drawing of what the Connections look like
You set up the Hardware like you would any eGPU build.
First things first, if you're using a graphics card that doesn't fit in the Akitio case, like mine, you're going to have to bend the right side of the Akitio case. This is what the Precision Screwdriver is for. This isn't just a simple apply some pressure and bend though, in my opinion this was the hardest part of the whole project. Follow this guide in order to bend and open the right side of the Akitio case:
CLICK HERE. My only advice for this part is don't hit the hammer too hard when breaking the weld. You don't want to accidentally damage your PCIe in the Akitio.
After you've bent the case, do the following:
1. Connect Graphics Card to Akitio Case.
2. Connect the BARREL PLUG to the DELL-DA 2 POWER SUPPLY. (It will look like it doesn't fit but it does, don't worry. And do not connect the other end of the power supply to the wall yet)
3. Connect the PCIe plugs on the Barrel plug to your graphics card.
4. Connect the cylindrical plug on your Barrel to the Akitio.
5. You have now powered the GPU and the Akitio case.
6. Your hardware is ready.
(Requirements: Windows 8.1)
At first I thought that the software would be just like any other Apple e-GPU project. Meaning, connect eGPU, install drivers etc. However, the new 2015 line of MBPr's that have dedicated GPU's (dGPU), use AMD rather than nVidia. What this means is that you can no longer use nVidia's Optimus technology in order to connect the eGPU to the new Macbooks with dedicated GPU's. What Optimus does is if it detects that there are 2 nVidia cards connected to the device (the one in the Macbook and the eGPU), it switches to the one with the most power, which would be the eGPU, automatically disabling the default dGPU for you. This allows someone with a 2014 Macbook that has a dedicated GPU, to use the internal LCD screen (the Macbook screen). This is not the case with the new MBPr's with AMD dGPU's. So now, we have to figure out a way to disable the default AMD dGPU and enable the Intel iGPU.
The problem is that device manager doesn't show the Intel iGPU by default, as that's the way Bootcamp is optimized. It is explained in more detail in the thread below. If you have one of the new 2015 MBPr's with a dGPU and you were to go into device manager on Windows, you would only see the AMD dGPU. You wouldn't see the Intel iGPU.
In order to solve this issue I looked at THIS thread. This thread basically solved the whole problem, thanks to users @ah- for providing the file that makes it so device manager shows Intel's iGPU (Intel Iris Pro 5200).
The instructions for device manager to show your iGPU are as follows: (Huge thanks to @juniordiscart , wouldn't be able to do this without him)
1. Install reFIND via Windows.
2. Reboot your computer, you should now see a new boot screen. You will see this every time you boot up from now on. Boot back into Windows.
3. Download THIS file and place it on your desktop.
4. Open up Command Prompt, run as administrator.
5. (Thanks to @juniordiscart for the clear and concise instruction)
Enter the following commands:
mountvol S: /S
This will mount the EFI partition in Windows and assign it the drive letter S. You won't be able to see it appear in "My Computer" however, it remains hidden.
Check the output after these commands. If you see a directory for refind, then you have refind installed and you can proceed with the next set of commands. Otherwise, make sure you follow the installation instructions for rEFInd for Windows onthis link: The rEFInd Boot Manager: Installing rEFInd
xcopy /E C:\Users\YOURUSERNAME\Desktop\apple_set_os.efi S:\EFI\custom\
This last one copies the efi file to the custom folder of the EFI partition. Make sure you get all of the "\" right and that your path to your apple_set_os.efi file is correct. It should ask you to create any custom directory if you don't have one already.
6. Now that you've done the hard part, when you reboot you should be brought to the reFIND boot screen and there should be a new option called something like "apple_set_os.efi". Open this up.
7. It should flash the screen quickly and bring you back to the reFIND boot screen. (If it opens up and stays on the screen for more then a minute, shut off your computer and try again)
8. Boot to Windows.
9. Check device manager. Your Intel iGPU should now show up.
Congrats you've done the hard part! Now install your Intel Drivers ( https://downloadcenter.intel.com/ ) BUT WAIT------
While installing your Inteldrivers your screen will flash black and most likely freeze up. Let it sit like that for a couple of minutes or so and shut down your computer by holding the power button till it turns off.
Turn it back on. One thing you have to keep in mind is that everytime you restart your computer you have to open up the apple_set_os.efi file in refind before launching Windows, otherwise your Intel GPU will not show. However, once we get the GTX 970 set up, we will not have to do this again.
Ok now the fun part
1. Now we finally get to plug in our power supply, and start up our graphics card!
2. So just plug in your power supply, and your Akitio should have a green light on the left side indicating it's on. MAKE SURE YOU HAVEN'T PLUGGED IN YOUR THUNDERBOLT YET! Make sure you have the nVidia driver already downloaded and on your desktop .
3. Turn on your Mac, and reFIND should open up. Run the apple_set_efi, NOW you can plug in the thunderbolt to your GPU and to your computer, and boot into Windows.
4. Right click on the Windows button on the bottom left and open up device manager. You should have 3 things listed under display adapter. (R9 M370X, Iris 5200 Graphics, Something else)
5. Now disable the R9 M370X, your computer will switch to the Iris Pro.
6. Install thee nVidia driver.
7. Reboot, however now YOU DO NOT HAVE TO RUN the apple_set efi. Just launch straight into Windows. Go to Device manager. You should now see your graphics card and your Dedicated graphics card.
8. Plug in a separate monitor via the HDMI plug on your GRAPHICS CARD not your computer. And VOILA!
This guide is still being updated with pics and fixes/recommendations for clarification. Any troubles please leave in the comments.
Things to know:
- Whenever you're not using you're eGPU, meaning when you want to unplug it and take your Macbook into another room to lay on the bed and watch Netflix, go into Device Manager, re-enable the Radeon R9 M370X, turn off your Macbook, unplug the eGPU, and reboot your Macbook. It should now go back to using the default dedicated GPU and it should work like normal.
- When you want to plug your eGPU back in, disable the R9 M370X, turn off your Macbook. Plug in the eGPU. Turn on your macbook and boot into Windows. And now you're back to your eGPU set up.
- Do NOT unplug the eGPU whilst using it.
- I'm currently waiting on a better monitor and keyboard to come in so I can upload some game play footage. So far, everything runs as smooth as butter. In 2-3 days I'll upload links to Arkham Knight, Bioshock Infinite, Watch Dogs etc footage.