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Posts posted by Relentless

  1. Hi,

    I was one of the early adopters of the MacBook Pro 15 Thunderbolt eGPU using a Sonnet Echo Express SE II (Thunderbolt 2.0). I have an MSI GTX760 with a Corsair RM650 power supply.

    I recently moved house and was able to use my eGPU again (it has been a few months) and in that time I had upgraded to Windows 10. After upgrading I discovered that Optimus mode does not work in Windows 10 (annoying) but I have just got a new 4K screen so I didn't care too much. After receiving the screen and hooking up the eGPU via Thunderbolt 2.0 and installing the drivers I was able to play Fallout 4 for a few minutes before my PC froze, black screen, unresponsive. Ever since I have not been able to get the card to work.

    I have tried:

    - removing nVidia drivers using DDU and I am able to see the graphics card in device manager as an unknown display device until I install new nvidia drivers where it correctly detects GTX760. If I then try restarting the PC with the eGPU plugged in then windows will not boot (or maybe the graphics card is not showing any output).

    - setting up OSX egpu (unfortunately I had never done it before). Using the installer script I was able to detect and install the GTX760 drivers but when I booted this time I got a very strange screen (as shown in attached image). this image is the same from both mini displayport and dvi ports.

    It looks to me like a GPU failure. Any thoughts?


  2. @squinks @Nando

    So I have worked out a repeatable process for getting my Optimus setup to work:

    1. Turn off Macbook.

    2. Power off Sonnet (I actually pull the power out of the unit). This seems to reset the state of the Sonnet to clean.

    3. Turn off power supply to GPU.

    4. Power on Sonnet and plug in Thunderbolt cable.

    5. Turn on laptop holding ALT/Option to allow OS selection.

    6. When MacBook startup chime happens (a couple of seconds after power on) turn on GPU power supply.

    7. Choose Windows from the OS selection menu.

    This works 3/3 times. I think the key learning is to make sure you turn off/unplug the Sonnet so any memory/state is lost from their board.

    Of course, if you want to use an external screen then just turn off the MacBook and make sure the Sonnet and the GPU are powered and it will just work.

    • Thumbs Up 1
  3. I guess the GPU wouldn't fit anymore inside the Sonnet case with a PCI Express x8 to x16 Extender?


    You definitely wont be able to fit a decent graphics card in the case with that riser unless you can find an extremely low profile card. It is already very tight.

    According to the Sonnet website the Echo Express SE II has two PCIe x8 slots. I understand that you received a newer board with a PCIe x16 and x8 slot. But how is it possible that I can see three PCIe slots on both boards?
    I think he completely dis-assembled the Sonnet, and removed the Thunderbolt card as well, which is also plugged in as a PCI-e card. So there are 3 PCI-e slots, but only two are available for your own devices.

    This is a photo of the 'motherboard' of the Sonnet Echo Express SE II. The rightmost slot of both of them is used for the Thunderbolt PCI card. It is done this way so they could provide upgradability (like when they went from Thunderbolt 1 to Thunderbolt 2). FYI in the Sonnet Echo III-D the Thunderbolt PCI card input is located on the bottom of the PCB and it has three slots on top.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I wonder if that process would enable Optimus on my setup. The only thing that has worked so far is hot plugging the card at the moment the Windows logo appears.

    As far as the math goes. I see what you did. Adding the bandwidth both directions. That really puts it into an alternate perspective since you can't interpret it as a hard drive, usually only doing one thing at a time, read or write. If CUDA-Z was only doing host to device or vice versa, perhaps the bandwidth would be around 20Gbps in one direction. @Tech Inferno Fan, can you weigh in on this. Perhaps Sonnet isn't doing false advertising after all?

    I'm testing some Optimus stuff on my wife's 13" rMBP w/SEL and GTX 760. I'm testing your version and hot-plugging as well. There has to be an easier way and I won't resort to cutting wires.


    more info on the 'hotplugging':

    I did the initial process yesterday and it worked first time. I have a feeling there is something holding connection state on the Sonnet board which holds the state of the GPU connection for some time after power off (seconds?). My reasoning is that each time you have the Sonnet on and then turn on the graphics card via PSU the fan speed of the graphics card is inconsistent (sometimes runs full, sometimes low). This suggests to me that there is a state being stored in the Sonnet which makes it hard to determine a repeatable process. I think you want to disconnect the Sonnet's power supply for a few seconds between restarts to clear that state before trying to work out a pattern that works for you.

    Also, once the connection is there the GPU has been completely stable and can be left on for hours without any adverse effects. The Corsair PSU that I am using (RM650) is so overkill that the fan doesn't even have to turn on and it stays very cool.

    I really need to try some more taxing games.

    Does anyone know if you can get portable versions of these 3DMark packages? (I hate installing software if I can avoid it).

  4. Hi @squinks

    My math is by typing:

    2614MB/s in Gbit/s into Google as it can be used as a calculator.

    It is a very tight fit with the power cable and I am a bit worried about putting force on the card. Too bad Corsair don't sell these cables separately and one with a 'low profile' 90degree bend would be very nice.

    With regard to turning it on for Optimus, I believe the sequence actually might be:

    1. Turn on laptop with Sonnet ON and PSU OFF.

    2. Hold ALT from Laptop poweron until Windows selection screen.

    3. Unplug Sonnet.

    4. Power on PSU.

    5. Plug in Sonnet.

    6. Start Windows.

    Process to be confirmed once I get a repeatable process. I think it's the Sonnet that is doing a second layer of funky process (after the MacBook BIOS) as the graphics card fan does not always start at the same frequency suggesting another variable there.


  5. Hi guys,

    Following on from @squinks' work: http://forum.techinferno.com/implementation-guides/6689-%5Bguide%5D-2013-15-macbook-pro-gt750m-gtx780ti%4016gbps-tb2-sonnet-ee-iii-d-win8-1-a.html#post91182

    I have finally got my Sonnet Echo Express SE II working with the MSI Nvidia GTX760 and my late-2013 Macbook Pro 15" which I custom ordered to have only the Intel Iris 5200 GPU. It is also a quad-core with 16GB ram and 512GB SSD. I am powering the card using a Corsair RM650 because that is what was easily available, fully modular (so I only need the PCIe power cable) and has a power switch easily accessible. I am running Windows 8.1 which I have installed UEFI using this guide.

    Originally when I received the Sonnet I found out that the PCI slots were only 8x length and so you could not insert the graphics card which is 16x length. Because I am a bit of an idiot and couldn't find a google answer easily enough I tried to hack off the end of the slot with a utility knife. Unfortunately it seems that when I did that I put too much pressure on the PCB and broke it. I received the new board yesterday and you can see in the photo below that it looks like in the later revision (right) they changed the left slot from an 8x to a 16x so you don't have to hack up the slot like I (failed) to do. It is a shame that they didn't extend both of the slots as there would be more airflow if the middle slot was 16x too as the edge of the enclosure would be further apart. Also, the power cables only just fit and are under some pressure when the case is on, I haven't been able to find many 90 degree 'low-profile' PCIe power cables but that would solve this problem.


    In terms of operation it is a bit of a pain. If the Sonnet and the graphics card are powered when you turn on the machine then Apple's BIOS disables the Intel GPU. This will work perfectly with an external screen but if you have used one of these MacBooks you will know how incredibly good the MacBook's screen is. To get Optimus (or to install drivers) my turnon sequence is:

    1. Turn on machine with only the Sonnet plugged in (PSU off). It annoyingly doesn't have a power switch but will turn on when the Thunderbolt cable is plugged in and MacBook is powered on. Hold down the alt/option key so you can select Windows.

    2. As soon as the Apple startup chime is heard turn on the PSU (and therefore the graphics card).

    3. Quickly start up Windows. I suspect something is happening with the Sonnet's power settings that if you delay then the GPU is not detected. Weird.

    4. You should be able to tell the GPU has started as Windows does some strange stuttering on startup only (e.g. typing in password is strangely laggy) but this is completely gone after logging in.

    I haven't got that many benchmarks but you can see it is running correctly over Thunderbolt 2.0:


    Performance Information


    Memory Copy

    Host Pinned to Device: 1262.49 MiB/s

    Host Pageable to Device: 1128.11 MiB/s

    Device to Host Pinned: 1352.1 MiB/s

    Device to Host Pageable: 1206.5 MiB/s

    Device to Device: 64.3746 GiB/s

    If you do the maths then Host to Device (1262)+Device to Host (1352) then we are getting pretty good speeds:

    2614 (Megabyte / s) = 20.421875 Gigabit / s

    Also, you can see this is much higher than the Thunderbolt 1 Thundertek CUDA-Z score (for Device to Host only) of 790MiB/s vs 1352.1 MiB/s (171%).

    Now if only we had some other manufacturers interested they could quickly address these BIOS/EFI level issues and we could have true plug-and-play eGPUS!


    • Thumbs Up 6
  6. Thanks for the information squinks.

    I received my replacement 'motherboard' for my Sonnet Echo Express SE II after I murdered the first one. Unfortunately they sent me the wrong one and sent the model from the Echo Express III-D motherboard by accident. Now i need to ship them back and get the correct one shipped so I estimate at least another two weeks before all that happens (PITA).

    I will be able to update here when I get the correct one back. I am running a late-2013 15" Macbook configured with only Iris graphics. Have a mini-itx Nvidia 760 which fits nicely in the box and one of those Dell DA-2 power supplies.

  7. Hi,

    I followed this guide:

    Dual-booting Windows 8 and Mountain Lion natively using EFI at insideTheAsylum

    I did this on my late-2013 15" which I configured to have no Nvidia GPU. Everything works and the only annoyance I have is that sometimes after reboot Windows loses my network card and creates a second one. Not a big deal but because I use VirtualBox and it is linked to the first card my VM's sometimes don't boot properly. You have to then remove both the cards in device manager and it will find and assign it back to the first one again.

    • Thumbs Up 1
  8. Wow @Relentless, sorry about the mishap. The Sonnet III-D has a 16x slot for full length, full width cards. No modifications. Pure plug and play

    Thanks squinks.

    For those playing at home this may be the biggest reason to get the big Sonnet box. I know it is actually not that hard to do the modification of the Sonnet's PCIe box but it was pretty stressful at the time - and it turned out that I broke it anyway ;) The next one should run more smoothly.

    P.s congratulations on this: AnandTech | Running an NVIDIA GTX 780 Ti Over Thunderbolt 2

    • Thumbs Up 2
  9. Good one squinks.

    A quick question: did you have to modify the Sonnet's PCIe slots to allow the card to be inserted?

    I have all the parts for the same thing with the Sonnet Echo Express SE II and a GTX760 but when I tried to cut off the end of the PCIe slot on the Sonnet's motherboard I broke it - a new one is on its way now from Sonnet. For anyone reading, the Sonnet Echo Express SE II has a 4x slot with solid ends so the 16x card won't fit in. I found out too late the the correct way to cut the PCIe slot is to heat up a scalpel type knife on your stove to very hot then it will cut through the plastic with very little force.


  10. Looking again at the FirmTek TT/PX enclosure, I'm concerned about having enough power to drive a video card. It looks like that enclosure doesn't have room for a PSU. Isn't one of the advantages of an eGPU that you can have additional power available for high-end GPUs?

    Still fobbing around in the dark here...

    Here is the solution - bypass the FirmTek for PCI power:

    PCI E PCI E Express Riser Cable 16X TO 16X With Molex Connector Powered | eBay

    There are better ones around so check through ebay for your area.

  11. Just saw this guys (this forum is linked in the post as well)

    Review External Graphics Cards for Laptops - NotebookCheck.net Reviews

    Very interesting:

    The results prove that the external GTX 570 can significantly improve the performance. It is surprising that the ExpressCard connection scores more points than the connection via Thunderbolt. The reason is the data compression of the Optimus driver, while data via Thunderbolt is not compressed. We are excited to see, what Thunderbolt 2 and other graphics cards will bring in the future. In our tests, the MacBook could indeed keep up with gaming laptops, but it failed to reach desktop performance.

    I was surprised to see this in their benchmarks. We really need to see what Thunderbolt 2.0 can do to these numbers.

  12. Thanks floppah.

    I did a quick comparison of your FireStrike scores against the highest scores for the GTX660 (not-SLI) and found:


    Yours: 20.3fps

    Theirs: 47.1fps

    This means yours is about 42% of the speed of their (quite ridiculous) gaming machine which is probably completely overclocked and runs a top model i7 desktop CPU. I don't think this is actually a bad result as these guys probably spend their whole lives trying to maximise benchmark scores. Also, I don't think he can just unplug his GPU and take the rest of the machine with him.

    I wonder what is constraining this? the Thunderbolt 1.0 interface or your MacBook's older i5 CPU.

    I hope we can see some Thunderbolt 2.0 and Haswell i7 benchmarks soon to answer some of these questions.

  13. Thanks for you reply, I noticed that the Echo Express SE II, while having 80W provides +12V @ 7.0A which from what I understand is bad since this particular GPU needs 20Amps

    For the record physics hasn't changed to my knowledge so P = IV still remains valid.

    If the Sonnet puts out 80W then divide that by 12V to get the number of amps it is able to provide = 6.66A which they have rounded up to 7A. If the max the Nvidia needs is 60W then you are looking at a maximum draw of 5A so it would play happily with the Sonnet Echo Express SE II.

  14. It looks like NVidia is progressing well with their new 750Ti (Maxwell) significantly increasing energy efficiency so that it now pulls just 60W and is ~6 inch long (see here for the Anandtech review). That means that you could put one in the little Sonnet Echo Express SE II (still expensive) but should run from the internal PSU and still put out almost 40-50FPS in BioShock Infinite at 1080p Ultra Quality. All the pieces are coming together ... if only Intel would play nicely.

    • Thumbs Up 1
  15. A response from ThunderTek about whether they will make a Thunderbolt 2.0 PCIe connector:

    The current ThunderTek/PX-Q6G maximizes the speed of the Q6G with up to 700MB/s performance. When using 3.5" hard disks it is hard to exceed that performance level.

    Thunderbolt 2 in theory can reach 1100-1300MB/s but to get that high you would need to use costly SSD with limited storage capability in comparison to large 3.5" HDDs.

    The extra performance may not actually be used by those with video editing needs because of the requirement for larger volumes than SSD can support - especially at a reasonable cost.

    FirmTek will have a Thunderbolt2 product at some point in the future but it will not exist until we can find a good real world storage usage match.

    Best regards,

    FirmTek, LLC

    - - - Updated - - -

    evening chaps,

    Has anyone tried either Express Card or Thunderbolt eGPU connectivity with the new Lenovo W540 laptop yet? I might pick one up and wondering if any issues.


    I have been considering the Lenovo W540 but it is a disappointment they have only done Thunderbolt 1.0 and that it has such a limited set of ports (particularly display). Amazing given how much it costs...

    • Thumbs Up 1
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