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Thunderbolt eGPU with Thunderbolt display?


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  • 3 months later...

Hi all I have an issue, I'm still waiting to receive all parts to create my Akitio eGPU. But I have a question quite important in my mind.


my setup is a Mac mini 2014 connect with LG ultra wide The nderbolt 2 display. I would love to keep my Mac mini connected that way to my display just because the monitor itself have a USB hub.  Reading the forum I've read that it is much better to connect the display to Amitio eGPU directly. Is it still true with latest drivers?


my main use will be final cut, pixelmator and gaming. So if you say to have gfx acceleration I must connect my display to DisplayPort to eGPU, i will do this even with my hearth broken :logik:




let me know, I can't wait to join your crazy eGPU army!

Edited by ikir
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  • 3 months later...

Hi everyone,


I am considering going the eGPU route.

Mainly for gaming, a little bit for OpenCL.

My actual set-up is a mid-2013 MBAir, and an Apple TBDisplay.


I am targeting a Akitio Thunder2 + GTX 970 Zoltac + PSU. Potentially a GTX 1070 (knowing building will need for efforts).

From what I understood so far this set-up could work under BootCamp and Win10 through Optimus, although reducing benefits (going through the Intel Graphics to feed the Apple TBDisplay).


Question 1

There is only 1 TBD2 port on the MBAir, but 1 TBD2 port on the back of the Apple TBDisplay, so can I have the following daisy-chain

MBAir <== TBD 2 ==> Apple TBDisplay <== TBD 2 ==> Akitio

Could some equipped people tell (Arnautovic this one is for you)?


Question 2

My fear is not only that the set-up could work badly (increased booting order problems) or not work at all.

The bandwidth is going to be an issue: for the same port on the MBAir, picture computing orders are going to the Akitio connected GTX (first data flow although not the worst one), then pictures are coming back to the MBAir (second data flow, a heavy one) then are going out to the display (third data flow, same as the second one) thanks to the Intel Graphics. So the bandwidth of 20Gbps for the single MBAir TBD2 port is going to be limited to something like 9.5 Gbps for the pictures data flow, right?

In addition to the Intel Graphics bottleneck, would this set-up provide enough horsepower to run some serious FPS with the Apple TBDisplay native resolution?

I'm not talking of Witcher3, but FPS like BF4.


Question 3

Woud the set-up work for OpenCL under OSX?


Question 4

The eGPU described set-up is going to cost more than 500$.

Since there will be one day I'm going to replace my MBAir by some newer MBPro, would it be smarter (for gaming) to invest these 500$ into getting the maxed-out Radeon 460 Pro - 4 Gigs MBPro (compared to a lesser equipped MBPro)? This Radeon 460 Pro is pretty weak compared to a GTX 970, but no Intel Graphics / TBD2 port bottleneck there ...


Any help would be highly appreciated!

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1. First guess would be to connect the AKiTiO in the middle

2. Not sure if the TB display will eat your TB bandwidth, you could right and limit your setup

3. Some apps in which you can directly adress the GPU in the settings, yes

4. Problem is that new MBs will only support TB3 and the future of eGPUs in OSX is not 100% secure

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Thanx alot for your answers!

1. Thought you could not daisy-chain the TBDisplay to the Akitio ... but seems I made a confusion with Bizons stuff (I know about the rip-off)

2. Well 2560 x 1440 pixels x 8 bits per color x 60 frames per second (just hoping) = around 5 Gbps of bandwidth ... and it has to go from the GPU to the Motherboard, then from the Motherboard to the TBDisplay by the same port ... so daisy-chain will eat almost 10 Gbps over the 20 Gbps of the single TB2 port of the MBAir ...

3. Great!

4. In case I would go the MBPro route without eGPU, then would the 4 Gigs Radeon 460 Pro offer some solid performance under bootcamped Win 10?

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... that's funny: I should rather keep my old MBAir and DIY-eGPU-mod it than upgrade to a 3 k$ MBPro!

I really need to understand the TB2 port and Intel Graphics bottlenecks (since I want to keep my TBDisplay).

Price of GTX 970 / 980 are going down quite rapidly now, and it could be a far better deal than having to build a game-dedicated PC with TB2 ports ...


Anyone with benchmarks on a similar set-up (MBAir or MacMini / TBDisplay native resolution / GTX 970)?

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@ProtoW Well, the benefit of the new MBPr would be that it just works and no work around would be requiered. MBA also just has two Cores, which will limit you in certain games! Some games might not even start.

What apps / games you want to run?

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Apps: Apple Pro Apps (Motion, FinalCutX, LogicProX, although I don't think the latter does support OpenCL)

Games: 1-2 years old FPS like the BF titles


I now the MBPro "just works", but as per gaming, it seems it just doesn't work that well.

Even a GTX970 is having some work to play BF4 on the 2560x1440, and the Radeon Pro 460 seems below the GTX960 ...

So considering a GTX970 with a i7 DualCore of the MBA may still give the new high-end MBPro a gaming lesson.


I just need to have a clear view on:

- the fact daisy chaining will work

- the impact of Optimus / Intel graphics bottleneck

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