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tranj10

2015 13" MBP + GTX970@16Gbps-TB2(AKiTiO Thunder2) + Win8.1/OSX10.10 [tranj10]

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tranj10    22

After two weeks of fiddling around with my eGPU setup I have finally found a method that works well with my hardware. There are many suggested modifications on this forum (Evo*'s modified boot files, DSDT overrides*see note bottom of post, DIY eGPU setup), but it seems that these modifications are not necessary for the 2015 13" MBP. The setup includes easy plug-and-play hardware setup, fairly easy software setup (little bit of command line), and installation of Windows 8 on an external drive.

 

Many users with 2015 MacBook Pros seem to have trouble booting up consistently with the eGPU on 2015 MacBooks, so hopefully the power up process I've found works on other MacBooks.

 

Hardware:

AKiTiO Thunder2 PCIe Box

ASUS DC MINI NVIDIA GTX970 (fits in AKiTiO case without physical modification, but unable to close the case)

Dell DA-2 AC Adapter

Samsung T1 Portable SSD

Cables: These cables from ebay are what make the hardware just plug and play

Akitio Egpu 8 Pin to 2 x PCI E 6 Pin Super Low Profile No Latch 1 x Barrel | eBay

Two PCI E 6 Pin to One PCI E 8 Pin 90 Degree Bend Right Low Profile USA Made | eBay

 

Hardware installation:

- Do not use the PSU that came with the AKiTiO enclosure

- Really simple installation, just plug everything in (there aren't many cables and ports to figure out). Just make sure none of the 6-pin and 8-pin plugs are upside down, but it should be easy to tell.

Note that for my software installation below, everything was done right after I reset the MBP to factory settings.

 

eGPU and OS X:

Goalque's automate-eGPU.sh script makes OS X very easy to setup for eGPU use. (http://forum.techinferno.com/mac-os-x-discussion/10289-script-automating-installation-egpu-os-x-inc-display-output.html)

1) Boot into OS X without eGPU connected

2) Download automate-eGPU.sh and then move it to desktop

3) Press command + space and type in terminal to open up a terminal instance

4) Run the following commands in the terminal

- cd ~/Desktop

- chmod +x ./automate-eGPU.sh

- sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh

5) Go through the commands with "y" and then shut down

6) Go through the Power up process described below

 

Bootable Windows 8 on external SSD:

Follow this detailed guide (BleepToBleep: Mac: Install Windows 7 or 8 on an external USB3 or Thunderbolt drive without using bootcamp)

- In step 3 part 1, enter the command 'cd C:\imagex' (or wherever you put the imagex.exe file)

 

eGPU and Windows 8:

1) Boot into Windows 8 without eGPU connected

1a) Install Boot camp drivers if not done so already.

2) Perform Windows Update ignoring the suggested intel graphics update (not sure if ignoring intel graphics update is neccesary)

3) Download latest NVIDIA drivers

4) Power on eGPU and connect the thunderbolt cable to the MacBook

5) Check Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Device Manager > Display Adapters for a new display adapter entry

6) If nothing is there or you got a BSOD just restart MacBook and try again

7) Install NVIDIA drivers, selecting custom installation, and include all the options

8) Shut down

9) Go through Power up process described below

I sometimes run into a Windows 8 boot up hang, but they don't seem to happen often so just power off and try again.

 

Power up process:

This is the power up process I always use to consistently have a successful boot without any black screen issues.

1) Have everything powered off

2) Connect thunderbolt cable to eGPU and MacBook

3) Power on the eGPU power supply (use a power strip with on/off switch)

4) Wait ~15 seconds

5) Power on the MacBook while holding option key

6a) Select the boot partition you want

6b) If you run into a blank black screen:

- Force power off for MacBook

- Power off eGPU power supply

- Disconnect thunderbolt cable from MacBook

- Power on the MacBook while holding option key

- Boot into OS X, log in, and shut down

- Go back to step 1 (there will be no black screen issues for at least the next boot up)

- If you still are getting black screens after repeated tries then try a NVRAM clear (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063)

- Note that the NVRAM clear does mess with the changes implemneted by automate-eGPU. So you'll need to run 'sudo ~/Desktop/automate-eGPU.sh -skipdriver' to re-enable the changes

- If the NVRAM clear doesn't help then try enabling -a mode with automate-eGPU by running 'sudo ~/Desktop/automate-eGPU.sh -a'

 

Benchmarks:

I have run 3DMark Fire Strike on the internal display and external display for the GTX 970 at stock manufacturer settings.

- There is a 18% difference between internal and external display graphics performance

- There is a 16% difference between external display eGPU and desktop GPU graphics performance

- The external display eGPU (stock settings) performance is on par with the top overclocked desktop GTX 960s

Here is a link to the comparisons: Results

- They are ordered as: Desktop GTX 970 (stock) | Desktop GTX 960 (overclocked) | external display eGPU GTX 970 (stock) | internal display eGPU (stock)

- The cpu is definately a bottle neck

 

Thanks to @goalque for all his help in getting my setup for the 2015 MBP up and running!

 

I would be interested in knowing if my power up process works for others out there, or if it's just a fluke. I am not sure if every step in the process is necessary (booting in OS X versus just waiting with everything off)

 

edit: I went through this procedure a second time for a clean install, and it still works mostly fine. For some reason now only the thunderbolt port closest to the MagSafe port works for eGPU recognition in Windows 8. Both ports are usable for eGPU in OS X though.

 

edit2: I am using the dsdt override as suggested here (http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-gpu-projects/7476-%5Bguide%5D-dsdt-override-fix-error-12-a-2.html). It doesn't seem to hurt or help, but I am just noting what I am using now.

 

post-37228-14495000617878_thumb.jpgpost-37228-14495000616121_thumb.jpg

post-37228-14495000617036_thumb.jpg

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@tranj10 , thank you for posting your guide.

Would you mind taking some photos of your card as it sits in the AKiTiO Thunder2 and all the cabling. You are one of the first to do what is a full neat plug'n'play implementation without needing any soldering or chassis mods.

It would then be a guide of significant interest for noobs wanting a very simple hardware purchase list to put together.

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tranj10    22

Sure I can take a couple pictures today, but it doesn't look that great aesthetically.

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Syncytia    10

I just got my eGPU set up running on my new 2015 13" Macbook Pro. Essentially still at a fresh OS X install. I guess I'll do a thread once I get some of the kinks worked out. My GPU is an EVGA GTX970 SC ACX2.0, also using the Akitio, DA2, and same cable from ebay. Here's a quick run down of what I did, mostly what I did differently (I didn't do any OS X set up, really just want to use it in Windows):

1. Installed Windows 8.1 via normal bootcamp process on internal SSD partition.

2. Updated bootcamp drivers, with intel graphics drivers (didn't think about this when it happened...)

3. Installed Nvidia drivers - custom: only the driver and physx.

4. Tried to boot a good 10-15 times before it finally worked. Had some boot hang ups, a couple windows errors, but I just kept going at it trying to power on the eGPU at different times.

5. FINALLY it booted all the way into windows.

6. Success!

I've only booted 2 more times and I use the same method. eGPU on, wait 10 seconds or so, turn on Macbook. I'm 2 for 2 so far :P

I've only tried Half-Life 2 so far but it worked great so I'm pretty happy. I'm not sure how to get it to run on the internal display if someone can help me out there in anyway? I've never messed with nvidia experience so maybe I need to mess with or activate Optimus there? I did reinstall the drivers with nvidia experience and everything to see if it would magically work. I know I still have a lot of tweaking to do, underclocking etc.

Is there coil whine with your mini GTX970? What about the temperature and the noise?

Not quite the answer you're looking for but it may be potentially applicable if there are coil whine reports around the internet for the mini 970. My EVGA 970 has coil whine in my desktop but not so much that I can hear it unless I get down next to my case. In the eGPU setup, there's definitely coil whine and can be quite loud... but of course Half-Life 2 is running at like 300fps and the higher the fps the louder the whine.

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jackfsqyj    10

I've checked other threads before...I believe the setup for my Macbook air would be much easier than those with dGPU. Anyway, I want to buy a msi GTX970 and wish it's not going to have annoying coil whine.

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tranj10    22

@jackfsqyj: Yeah, there is some noticeable coil whine when the GPU is in use. I use headphones though, so it doesn't bother me too much.

@Syncytia: Great! Hopefully you continue to have good boot ups. I get a boot up hang for Windows 8 maybe every 1/10 tries.

I didn't do anything extra for Optimus to work. Just installed all the components in NVIDIA driver install, booted up with eGPU into Windows 8, then optimus is ready to go.

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Dschijn    329
I've checked other threads before...I believe the setup for my Macbook air would be much easier than those with dGPU. Anyway, I want to buy a msi GTX970 and wish it's not going to have annoying coil whine.

There is a big chance to have the coil whine problem. It's the GTX970 lottery and not really linked to a special manufactor. I did RMA of 3 cards and had in total 5 GTX 970 cards (MSI, EVGA, Galaxy/KFA2) and all of them had CW.

Biggest issue is, that eGPUs are mostly "open" and very close to the user. So any noise/whine is easily noticed.

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jackfsqyj    10

So are there any graphic card without CW which can be powered by Dell DA-2 but better than GTX960? Like GTX750ti or something. But I've heard about that GTX900 series are most stable ones compared to old GTX700 or 800 series. Really hard to choose.

I am also going leave the graphic card naked like @tranj10 and I have a roommate. So CW might be a serious problem.....:62:

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Dschijn    329

If it has to be Nvidia, there are only the GTX960 and GTX970. Someone made a reference GTX980 work, but imho that is close to the limit of the DA-2.

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hxu976    10

I recently built nearly the exact same setup except with a mid 2014 13" MBPr and a Gigabyte GTX 960 ITX. It was very easy with everything plugged in in 5 minutes. Then another 10 min to detect card and install drivers. I use the same boot procedure and it does hang sometimes (10-20%?) but usually a power off and on fixes it. Just need to be sure the Dell DA-2 gets powered off as sometimes it can still be powering the Akitio board for as much as 30 seconds after switching off my power brick. I occasionally get windows startup repair starting to load and hang but its fixed by shutting off and booting into OSX instead.

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tranj10    22

I was able to increase my firestrike benchmark graphic scores by changing some power management options. I changed the Windows power option from 'Balanced' to 'High Performance', and I changed the power management mode within NVIDIA control panel from 'Adaptive' to 'Prefer Max Performance'.

My external display score went from 8767 to 9576 and the internal display score went from 7797 to 7971.

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Syncytia    10

I might as well mention here, since I'm not to a stable point and ready to make a thread and I'm also on a 2015 13" MBP... I'm not sure what happened but I ended up just wiping my partition and reinstalling windows again. Ended up getting it to work again without too much issue - got Metro Last Light at 70+ FPS at highest settings, SSAO off, 1080p, external monitor. But then... it crashed after about 5 minutes and I haven't been able to get windows to boot with the GPU connected since.

So overall, I see the potential and would be thrilled to get this working and stable but it's proving to be quite the process. I'm tempted to try again with windows booting off an external drive to see how that works. And possibly use the eGPU script for OS X. Is there a chance that might help somehow when I boot?

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mvpzzp    10

Benchmarks:

I have run 3DMark Fire Strike on the internal display and external display for the GTX 970 at stock manufacturer settings.

- There is a 18% difference between internal and external display graphics performance

- There is a 16% difference between external display eGPU and desktop GPU graphics performance

- The external display eGPU (stock settings) performance is on par with the top overclocked desktop GTX 960s

Hi,tranj10,did you run 3D mark in windows or OS X ?How to use external display in OS X ?

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tranj10    22

@mvpzzp 3D mark on windows 8.1. You can enable eGPU using goalque's script (instructions in my first post in topic). Enabling the external display is just plugging your monitor cable into the GPU.

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bluecitrus    11

Just wanted to say thanks - I'm running an identical setup (although I'm using a Zotac GTX970 rather than an ASUS) and I've got it working. The big problem is the Windows startup: if you don't time it right then Windows will just go into a 'loop' when starting and the circle will keep and keep spinning. I tried using a timer and turning on the Macbook about 10 seconds after I turn on the eGPU seems to work.

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tranj10    22

Great to hear @bluecitrus! I've observed similar things in trying to avoid the 'loop' you described while booting into Windows 8. It is not common for me to encounter the 'loop' though. Do you use Windows installed on the internal drive or external drive? I am curious to know if Windows on internal/external drive has any effect on the booting reliability.

@qqq66660 No, enabling optimus at boot does not seem to be needed. Post #77 - #80 here http://forum.techinferno.com/mac-os-x-discussion/8558-%5Bguide%5D-macbook-enabling-optimus-internal-lcd-mode-8.html seems to imply that enabling Optimus using Evo*'s method isn't helpful.

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bluecitrus    11

@tranj10 I'm running Windows off of the SSD of my Macbook. That may be why I get hangs so often: I tried 3 times just now and it wouldn't work. If others have more success of an external drive let me know and I'll switch over. For what it's worth I'm running Optimus too.

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jackfsqyj    10

I basically followed your instructions but after I installed the drivers of gtx970 and reboot, I booted into windows with black screen or automatic repair. It's the same situation for both win10 and win8.1.( I thought it was because win10 so I reinstalled windows in EFI ) What should I do? @Tech Inferno Fan

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tranj10    22

Windows automatic repair will come up if Window's is unsuccessful in booting up after two tries or after a blue screen of death. You can get rid of automatic repair by booting into Windows successfully without the eGPU connected.

When does the black screen happen? I have never gotten just a black screen after selecting Windows from the boot menu (menu from holding option key at power up). I will sometimes get a screen where the Windows 8 circling dots just loop forever, so I force power off the MacBook and try again.

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bluecitrus    11

I'd disable automatic repair if I was you. Follow the instructions here. I think it is just about getting the right timing. That being said, I've also never gotten a 'black screen', unless you're referring to getting a blank screen when the Macbook doesn't boot up correctly sometimes.

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jackfsqyj    10

Sorry for late reply.. I didn't receive any notification about your reply.

I installed win8.1 and win10 in EFI way 2 times( which went into black screen) and I just reinstalled win10 thru bootcamp yesterday but haven't installed the drivers for that. I need to think about what's wrong with my procedure and get started.

it was when the circling dots start looping and soon disappear( about half loop). Would it be better to use bootcamp or even more difficult to install all things on bootcamp?

I heard of some guys using rEFInd to avoid black screen, but not sure whether it works for eGPU.

I am kind of tired about reinstalling windows again and again. I am actually using Mac with perfect eGPU experience( except of loss of gaming perf.)

:too_sad:

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tranj10    22
Sorry for late reply.. I didn't receive any notification about your reply.

I installed win8.1 and win10 in EFI way 2 times( which went into black screen) and I just reinstalled win10 thru bootcamp yesterday but haven't installed the drivers for that. I need to think about what's wrong with my procedure and get started.

it was when the circling dots start looping and soon disappear( about half loop). Would it be better to use bootcamp or even more difficult to install all things on bootcamp?

I heard of some guys using rEFInd to avoid black screen, but not sure whether it works for eGPU.

I am kind of tired about reinstalling windows again and again. I am actually using Mac with perfect eGPU experience( except of loss of gaming perf.)

:too_sad:

I recommend trying to get Windows 8.1 to work first. I have had trouble with Windows 10 and never got it to work for me.

I noticed your model is a macbook air, so it's possible your results will differ.

It seems that installing with bootcamp and bootcamp driver is fine. Just going by this thread, @bluecitrus and @Syncytia have semi-successfully used it for booting up Windows 8.1 installed with boot camp. They both seem to have trouble booting up consistently though which I think may be due to them installing on the Macbook internal SSD.

I installed Windows 8.1 on an external drive I listed in my first post in the thread. I rarely have any issues in booting up with my eGPU and Windows 8, so I recommend you to try use the external drive if you can. I am currently unsure on the difference between booting up Windows from external vs internal drive, so I'm just speculating.

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euqlaog    4

@jackfsqyj:

Early 2015 13” MBP is supported:

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204990

A normal Boot Camp installation, a full ISO file method is better than upgrade from Win8.1. Then hot plug the eGPU, install Nvidia drivers, and reboot. If you see black screen or BSOD, boot into OS X and type “sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -a”, select BOOTCAMP startup disk, and try again. Let me know if that works.

@tranj10 said that Evo*’s “enabling Optimus” method is not necessary. In fact, it should be avoided with 2015 MBPs. In case you have done it -> https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204904#erase

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