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Late-2013 15" MBP GT750M + GTX1080Mini (AKiTiO Thunder2) + Win10 [external monitor only, hassle-free build]

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Just like last time with my 1050 Ti setup, I wanted something that was powerful, but as hassle-free as possible: no weird scripts, hacks, EFI tweaks, metal-bending, etc. (Bootcamp and external displays only were an acceptable compromise to achieve this.) Fortunately, everything went as smoothly as it could have with this upgrade. You can find the full writeup on my blog: http://archagon.net/blog/2018/07/25/egpu-redux/


The Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 Mini ITX happens to (almost) be the ideal form factor for the Thunder2. Length-wise, the fit is perfect, but it's a bit too tall for the default case. I might end up 3D printing a new top case at some point in the future. In the meantime, I'm running with the top off. The Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080 Gaming Box might have been a better purchase if I had a different model of Macbook (since it's the same hardware at a similar size plus TB3, USB ports, and internal power), but apparently the TB3 to TB2 adapter doesn't work if you're using an Nvidia eGPU and your dGPU is also an Nvidia.


Connecting the PSU required a tiny bit of cable-assembling in the form of a 4-pin ATX to 5.5x2.5mm barrel plug adapter. I also needed a 6-pin to 8-pin PCIe adapter since my PSU was a bit too old to have one natively. In the future, I hope to replace my current PSU with something like the Silverstone Flex SUG 300W PSU, since it's significantly smaller than either the Dell DA-2 or Mean Well adapters, as well as potentially modular.




After hooking up the PSU and switching to the lower TB2 port on the Thunder2, everything started working exactly as it did with the 1050 Ti. The PSU can be turned on ahead of time. It sometimes takes a few tries to hear the chime and see the boot menu on startup, but once you launch into Windows, the behavior is completely native, with no additional scripts or hacks involved. Software-wise, I didn't have to do anything new: the Nvidia drivers installed automatically when I booted for the first time and went into Device Manager. (They were already present from my 1050 build.)






Benchmarks are great: 2.5–3.0x as fast as the 1050 Ti and 20% slower than internal (as per the TB2 toll). I can play VR games and Far Cry 4 on Ultra without any issues.


  GTX 1080 GTX 1050 Ti SC Improvement
3DMark Fire Strike
Graphics Score 17109 6993 2.45×
Graphics FPS 1 81.86 32.28 2.54×
Graphics FPS 2 68.17 28.74 2.37×
3DMark Time Spy
Graphics Score 6343 2040 3.10×
Graphics FPS 1 41.61 13.67 3.04×
Graphics FPS 2 36.17 11.43 3.16×
3DMark Sky Dive
Graphics Score 55760 22564 2.47×
Graphics FPS 1 233.78 102.25 2.29×
Graphics FPS 2 279.52 103.83 2.69×
3DMark11 Free
Graphics Score 21363 8802 2.43×
Graphics FPS 1 104.98 42.83 2.45×
Graphics FPS 2 116.34 42.18 2.76×
Graphics FPS 3 131.99 54.32 2.43×
Graphics FPS 4 57.58 25.13 2.29×


I think I lucked out with this particular model of Macbook, since I hear that computers with TB3 or AMD dGPUs have a lot more trouble with this kind of setup. So be careful: if you don't have this exact Macbook, you might have to deal with a lot more headaches!


Edited by archagon
minor fixes
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