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USB / Thunderbolt issue using apple (option) loader

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I have an issue with what I am doing that Is possibly not correctable.

I have a fully bootable Windows 10 USB3 SSD Drive. It boots every time via using the Mac (option key) loader.

However when I connect the eGPU via Thunderbolt (1 in my case) the system hangs permanently at the (option) loader screen.

As I said the drive boots every time when TB is not connected.

Drive Boots if TB is disconnected after reaching (option Key) loader screen.

Boots but TB Not Recognized if I hot plug after starting Win10 Load)

Freezes if I leave TB Connected during the whole process.

Freezes if I Connect TB after getting to (option) loader screen.

Now I got the eGPU and Thunderbolt to actually load once but I am not exactly sure how but it was something like the Windows USB10 drive plugged in on option screen then TB then click to load but I haven't been able to duplicate that.

This same issue has seemingly occurred in the past when I was loading through Windows 7 on the internal HD IF a USB Hub were connected when loading Win7 though the (option) bootloader. This is why I am thinking that it might not be correctable and may be a flay in the way either the Mac or windows deals with the first few seconds of scanning when loading windows.

If anyone has any experience with this USB/Thunderbolt issue pleaselet me know.

Thank you.

Brion

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Can you go into the boot loader without the eGPU and withour the eSSD, wait until the WiFi search wheel stopped and start your external devices after that?!

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Is this happening with 2012 MBP from your build guide? Do you have another Thunderbolt cable to try>

I run my Windows partition from an external SSD as well, but I'm connecting it through TB1 on my late 2012 iMac 27. I've had pretty good luck getting it to work most of the time, but there are situations that seem to prevent it from working properly. One area I noticed is with Windows Updates. I'll need to not have the eGPU connected when those run (or at least after the forced reboot) or I find my iMac gets stuck in an endless reboot cycle (and when this happens, I notice the OS X chime sounds like it coming from a backup speaker and not the main speaker of the iMac as the sound is very thin and no bass). In these instances I unplug the eGPU and boot into Windows to let it do the rest of the updates, reboot again to make sure they are all completed, then I shut down and connect the eGPU and boot back up.

I also think that when I swap back and forth between Windows and OS X with the eGPU, it can break the reliability of the setup working in Windows (I never have any issues with the eGPU not working in OS X). The other day it took me almost an hour trying to get Windows to properly recognize the eGPU after using it with my MBA. It would boot up and only show the iMac's dGPU and screen and have the eGPU listed in Device Manager (maybe Error 12). In either case, I just went back and forth moving cables, fully powering down the eGPU by unplugging the power cord from the Dell DA2. And once it starts working again, I find it works every time unless I use it with another machine or do some significant changes. And note, I power on the eGPU before booting up my Mac and that works for me pretty well with no additional device manager errors.

Lastly, unless something changed, I know that unplugging a Thunderbolt connection, or powering down a TB device while connected to the Mac, will cause a kernel panic and the system will freeze and crash. I'm wondering if you are having a flakey connection that is causing a disconnect and freezing up the system. I also noticed that my Lacie 2big external (USB 3.0) blips after the boot menu like the bus gets disconnected and then rediscovered a few seconds later. However, I was running Windows from a USB 3.0 SSD on my MBA and had no issues, so really unsure what your problem(s) are. I'm hoping just a faulty TB cable.

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If you're talking about freezing at the EFI boot menu then here are two things to try.

1) Use goalque's shell script with -a mode (http://forum.techinferno.com/mac-os-x-discussion/10289-script-automating-installation-egpu-os-x-inc-display-output.html). This modifies a NVRAM parameter that can help with hot plugging the eGPU at the EFI boot menu.

2) Try the power up process method I use here (http://forum.techinferno.com/implementation-guides-apple/10614-2015-13-macbook-pro-gtx970%4016gbps-tb2-akitio-thunder2-win8-1-osx10-10-%5Btranj10%5D.html). I have no issues getting the eGPU and MacBook to fully power up at the same time when I use this method. I am not sure why it works, but it does for me.

If you mean the freezing happens while Windows 10 is booting up, then I had the same issue, and I just went back to Windows 8.

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Thank you for the information, TechInferno was't sending me notifications so I am a little behind.

Anyway it is the apple boot loader (the one with the option key at startup) where it is hanging with the USB drive.

OK here are some answers for the above.. Hope I catch them all:

My Internal Drive Windows 7 install still works fine. However, if I do connect a USB HUB to the mac and try to start the Internal Win 7 it does freeze right after clicking on it in the Mac Loader (Option Key) Immediate freeze no spinning disk, no nothing arrow freezes in the drive.

I did have this SAME USB SSD working with a Windows 7 install on it at USB2 speeds (as the Win 7 Drivers for USB3 would BSOD the start-up as it switched to them) Hence why I wanted Win 10 to get USB3 Native. This Drive as well as the Akitio could be connected at all times and Boot perfectly from either install.

Upgraded to Win 10 on the USB and the drive now causes the freeze in the exact same manner that the USB Hub connection causes with the Win7 install ONLY when the Akitio is connected otherwise it boots absolutely fine.

I am actually not even sure that the MacBook Pro even gets to any Windows files. It normally takes about 5 seconds regardless of which version of Windows I select to begin the windows boot process (black Screen with the blinking "_") when it freezes it never comes up.

@Dschijn - To answer your question I have tried that by first plugging in the SSD and then the Akitio after that point as for some reason the one time it did work that was the order of plugging them in but it hasn't worked since that time. and I have tried a few different options for plugging order and time. I would love to get it to again with Win10 without having to do all the plugging and unplugging.

@martinm0 - Yes, this is using the same hardware in my guide - Given that it works with the other boot I highly doubt it is the TB Cable. The experience you have with Updates I think is similar to this and what I experienced with my normal Win7 install in that it will hang (in the common matter for me) at the Option Screen if I have the Akitio connected after an update restart of Windows. Mine doesn't reboot but does hang. This is where I wonder if it is something in the MBR of the Win10 SSD that is thinking that it needs to check something that it really doesn't, such that happens with an install reboot of Windows. Normally with Windows 7 I just have to reboot in Win7 let it finish its clean up, connect the Akitio. Restart and it all works again. Booting into Win10 from the USB doesn't clean-up whatever seems to be causing the issue.

I actually have never set it up yet to work in OSX but I have left it connected when going to OSX and haven't had issues with my normal Internal Win7. It sort of sounds like it could be a disconnect hang as you describe right after you select the OS to be loaded, However, with all connected this only happens with the Windows Partitions and right now ONLY the SSD so it is weird..

@tranj10 - I haven't actually tried doing a NVRAM reset or anything like that. I also have not tried reconstructing the boot loader either as I was hoping for a something a little less intensive. I will have to look into the @goalque 's script and see if it might help but I thought that script was mainly for the OSX partition. I will also look over the start-up procedure you use and see if anything different occurs. As for Going back to Win 8 unfortunately I don't have that luxury as I never had Win 8, I could go back to Win7 but with USB2.0 boot it is unbearably slow. With USB3.0 boot and Win10 it only takes about twice as long as My internal SSHD (probably about the same as a normal HD) the USB2.0 took windows 7 a few minutes to load.

Thank you for your attempts to help I will keep you updated if I find anything specific.. BTW I want the Dual Win7 / Win10 boot options because I have really expensive programs that run on WinXP Compatability in Win 7 and I don't want to spend thousands on upgrading them as I don't need the new stuff. But Win10 is going to work out much better in the future for my gaming addiction. Plus I can then keep work and play separate.

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Thank you for the information, TechInferno was't sending me notifications so I am a little behind.

That might be our bad. I notice folks like to just add new posts as a reply, I may have done that...

Do you have any ability to install Windows internally and cut out the external for testing? I'm only running Windows 10 from my internal SSD on my 2014 MBA and it works great, just as Win7 and Win8.1n ran. I was planning on moving Windows to an external but just haven't done it yet.

And very odd about you having to run USB 2.0 drivers on Win7. Not an issue I had on either my iMac or MBA.

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That might be our bad. I notice folks like to just add new posts as a reply, I may have done that...

Do you have any ability to install Windows internally and cut out the external for testing? I'm only running Windows 10 from my internal SSD on my 2014 MBA and it works great, just as Win7 and Win8.1n ran. I was planning on moving Windows to an external but just haven't done it yet.

And very odd about you having to run USB 2.0 drivers on Win7. Not an issue I had on either my iMac or MBA.

That is actually how I installed Windows 10, by swapping my internal and just did it all by internal.

The Running the USB3 drivers is not an issue if you run Windows 7 off of an internal OR via Thunderbolt.. however USB3 is not native to Win7 so If you Initialize a USB3 driver while starting off of a USB drive it will crash when Windows 7 Initializes the USB3 Driver as it has to shut down the USB for a second to initialize and when it does that it effectively stops the booting process midway and BOSD's with a Startup error. Win 8 and 10 have USB3 drivers as a native part of the system so it loads USB3 drivers on initial start.

I might have found some information on the boot files that will help me out in this situation.. I will keep updating as I make progress as I am sure I am not the only one that has thought about External booting. I do believe that booting via Thunderbolt is probably a whole lot easier as even if there is an issue with USB/Thunderbolt booting with it all on the Thunderbolt line it won't show up. Easiest of course is internal though.

Brion Sohn

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Well I have a bit of new information.. Though I still have not got Windows 10 to boot well with the eGPU Connected.

However in my playing Windows 7 or 10 not sure which decided to Overwrite the boot sector of my main drive which changed the whole boot menu and actually removed the DIY eGPU set-up from the start menu and added Windows 10 and a Windows 7 Recovery both located on the External drive.. It also set Windows 10 to the default start but of course it didn't load and came up with an error. I was able to fix all of this by reintalling Set-up and running it after Deinstalling it and also using msconfig to reset the boot parameters to remove the other systems and default Win7. So now all that is back up and running as normal.. So back to working on Win 10..

In fixing all of this I think I may have found something that is playing with the boot process.. I did notice that if windows starts in Selective startup (which windows auto selects when it does updates or loads a temporary boot menu) it does hang if it starts in normal mode then it appears to load properly with the Thunderbolt port being used.

When running Win10 I was able to get it to load with the Thunderbolt attached after selecting normal boot in the System Configure program (msconfig). though it went right back to Selective after that one boot and that is when I noticed the boot sector overwrite so I havent yet tried it again. However on that second time that I had the Win 10 boot work I was able to confirm the GTX970 as being installed with the correct drivers AND that it did have the code 12 error. Further than I have been before..

Now to figure out how to keep the Main HD Boot sector from being overwritten and to get Win10 to always load in Normal mode and I think I will have it.

Brion Sohn

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Wooo Hoo.. I have it working.. as it turns out the Normal Start-up issue was the main culprit in things not working correctly.. I am guessing it sets something to disable or interrupt the Thunderbolt driver load causing a hang.

As I mentioned in my earlier post I had to rebuild My Windows 7 Partition boot sector using msconfig by removing all other Windows entities that showed up, Once done I checked the "Make boot changes permanent" and applied I then uninstalled and reinstalled Setup 1.2.

With Windows 10 I did the same thing as above through System Configuration (as it is just renamed mschonfig). I used Setup 1.2 on Windows 10 as well.

After I did that everything worked fine with the same startup caveats of having to sometimes reset windows before using the eGPU by loading into windows and shutting down without the Akitio attached AND sometimes having to load OSX and restart to Windows in order to reset something that hangs windows though in normal usage these issue only occur AFTER major software installation on the windows side.

A Note on my system for those who might read this and haven't seen my build.

Macbook Pro 15" mid-2015 non-retina Nvidia 650M internal GPU - TB1

Main Drive boot camped with OSX and Windows 7

USB3 SSD boot drive for Windows 10

4 External Monitors driven off of a Nvidia GTX970 in an Akitio Thunder2 case (3 monitors set-up in surround)

Now for weird Win10 Quirks:

Nvidia Surround is really strange to set up in Win10. It sets-up but appears to crash and blanks the monitors. To fix this I had to do a bunch of extend this display to that display commands within the Win10 monitor set up otherwise they were dark and didn't even show up in on the Win10 Control panels. That being said I totally forgot that Win10 duplicates many control panels and the old Win7 control panel was available to use and probably would have made this process easier. Still that being said the Nvidia Win10 Control panel is a little flaky but it does work.

Win 10 also initially set my surround display to enlarge everything by 150% not sure why and because it was strange to me it took me a while to figure out what was going on the display just looked weird.

Note: Win10 has a hard time remembering some changes you make (like the above extended settings for my monitors) this is because of the Dual control panels. sometimes setting something on the Win10 panel will not migrate into the system if it is not actually adjusted on the old style control panel. I had this happen upon installation with the Easy Access Narrator. Kept turing off that thing with the Win10 panel and every restart would turn it back on UNTIL I found to turn it off in the Legacy control panel and then it took.

Other than Windows quirks everything is working.. However the one thing I think I am going to do it to Remember not to have the Win10 USB connected to the computer anytime I decide to use the Win7 internal partition. The Reason is I am afraid of it detecting the system on that disk and screwing with the boot section again as it did prior.. Not sure it would but I don't want to take my chances.. In all reality though I will not ever need to have it connected at the same time.

Brion Sohn

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