First and foremost: this is a HASSLE-FREE BUILD.
You will not find creative schematics, acrobatic soldering, custom BIOSes or anything like that: this is pure "just works eGPU" with Win10 bootcamp and an external display (so, no OSX support and no internal monitor either)
- Macbook Pro Retina Mid 2014 with nVidia GT750M
- Akitio Thunder2
- MSI GTX 1070 Armor 8G OC
- Dell DA-2 12V (ended up not using it)
- Old Corsair 540W Modular PSU
None. Absolutely no software setup. I had my previously working Win10 bootcamp machine installed, and it was a regular, apple-certified, Win10 installation done via bootcamp assistant, so no UEFI workaround or custom BIOS.
Got my Akitio, unbox and open. Just 2 screws and voila.
Removed the back plate (4 little screws)
I unplugged both the fan and the led cable and removed the glued support for the cable, you can still see the glue
Removing the fan was just a matter of removing 4 screws, the LED light took just a bit of force and it popped out of the socket.
Here's all the things from the Akitio you will not use.
As you can see from the hardware list, I decided to go with a full sized GTX card, and not just a full-sized one, a pretty big one at that.
The MSI GTX1070 Armor OC does not have any LEDs or fancy things, just 2 big (and quiet) fans and that's that.
So, of course, I had to bend the Akitio to make room for the card.
I went with the "jeweller's screwdriver" technique. Fast and easy: just put a little flat screwdriver near the soldering at the bottom of the enclosure and work your way in lightly with a hammer.
Took me 1 minute and the little solderings popped open.
Now it was just a matter of applying a bit of brute force and bend the enclosure open.
Not pretty, I know... but I'm not looking for pretty. Besides, the card is so long it covers the bent enclosure and then some!
I gotta say, I was getting pretty impatient at this point.
I put the card in, adjusted the two screws to set it in place and checked the spacing between the card and the bent enclosure.
Everything was in order. Not pretty, again, but in order.
At this point, I encountered a little snafu in my plan.
I had bought the famous Dell DA-2 to power my GPU.. turns out this monster of a card has an 8 pin power slot, not a 6 pin one.
Huh. Now what?
Remember, this was supposed to be a hassle-free installation, no soldering or complicated workarounds.
I remembered I had an oldish PSU from my desktop era sitting in a closed, took it out, plugged it in and got a nice 8-pin cable to power my GPU.
(of course I had to use the paperclip-trick to power the PSU, but it's so basic, I'm not counting that as a hassle).
To power the Akitio, since this a... let's say it again, everyone... hassle free build, I didn't want to use any custom made barrels or anything, so I used the original PSU, plugged it in and that's it.
It was time to power it all up and see what the future brings.
Thunderbolt cable connected, external monitor plugged in with a displayport cable, everything powered up... turn on MBP: nothing. Black screen.
Powered down, tried to plug the thunderbold cable in AFTER the boot.
Got a "hey I found something" sound from Windows, but nothing else.
Now the MBP started in Bootcamp, and Device Manager said there was a "Microsoft Basic Display Adapter".
Downloaded latest nVidia drivers, gave it a go: oh, damn! I have 2 video cards!
The external monitor came to life, so I closed the lid on my MacBook (I'm using it in clamshell mode, I have no need for another screen) and there it was.
With this solution, you don't even need to go and disable the "internal" 750M,
Didn't have the time to make a 3D Mark benchmark, yet... but these were the settings of my WoW client yesterday
and @2560x1440 with all ultra settings I had 67fps. Not too shabby
- power the Akitio via the barrel to remove an external PSU
- organize cables and spaces
- switch PSU: this one has a terrible case of "coil whining", it looks like I'm skinning a cat...
- IF I ever have any spare time, try and put everything inside a box: I'm thinking of one of those ikea metal boxes...
Thank you all for your help and... comments appreciated! (everything but: "it's ugly!". That one I know )