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DIY eGPU Macbook experiences

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I have updated the OP with my findings regarding the thunderbolt awareness required from the graphics driver to run the eGPU.

Additionally I am thinking of getting the GTX750ti which has good performance with low power consumption and does not require auxiliary power connections.

What do you think about this card? And by the way since we only get some 80% from these eGPUs is this a good choice? Please advise.

I have a new question. The GPUs are PCIe 16x, most of the adapters we can get are PCIe 4x. How does this impact performance?

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I did some math and I am considering maybe the Sonnet Echo Express SE II + GTX750ti would be a better option.

This option could be plug and play from the hardware point of view (excluding the software setup). It says it has a 80W and the GTX750ti needs 60W, so I assume no modding will be needed.

The other option is not much cheaper since I want to make it look good putting it in a case (and not just any case) + PSU and I will have to make it work all together.

Please comment your thoughts.

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I did some math and I am considering maybe the Sonnet Echo Express SE II + GTX750ti would be a better option.

This option could be plug and play from the hardware point of view (excluding the software setup). It says it has a 80W and the GTX750ti needs 60W, so I assume no modding will be needed.

The other option is not much cheaper since I want to make it look good putting it in a case (and not just any case) + PSU and I will have to make it work all together.

Please comment your thoughts.

Since you have a 2012 15" rMBP there is no performance benefit in getting the TB2-capable Sonnet SE II since your system is not TB2 capable. What you have instead is a $300 price difference between the $499 Sonnet Express Express SE II and the $199 Firmtek product.

If it was me I'd be hacking the Firmtek product to remove the main board, wire in a PCI Riser to give a x16 slot, PCI Reset delay and external ATX power input and enclose the total solution in a nicer box. The biggest benefit there being the overall cost along with the ability to accomodate more powerful cards. As efficient as the GTX750Ti is, it's still a low end card.

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Since you have a 2012 15" rMBP there is no performance benefit in getting the TB2-capable Sonnet SE II since your system is not TB2 capable. What you have instead is a $300 price difference between the $499 Sonnet Express Express SE II and the $199 Firmtek product.

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

Could you please take a look at my other questions?

  • A PCIe 16x GPU in a PCIe 4x slot. How does this impact performance?

  • Will this riser be my better choice when it comes to modding in a Reset delay?
  • The power from PSU will only be used to power the GPU through the molex attached to this raiser and the main board will not need any power to work?

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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

Could you please take a look at my other questions?

  • A PCIe 16x GPU in a PCIe 4x slot. How does this impact performance?

  • Will this riser be my better choice when it comes to modding in a Reset delay?
  • The power from PSU will only be used to power the GPU through the molex attached to this raiser and the main board will not need any power to work?

1. TB1 forms a x4 2.0 electrical link to the pci-e card. The additional lanes of a x8/x16 slot are not used.

2. That riser is fine. Keeping in mind that the x16 side will be a problem since you'd be plugging into a x4/x8 slot. Solution then is either to use a box cutter to change the x4/x8 slot to be open ended OR to cut the additional x8-x16 lanes from the riser so it would fit into the slot.

3. Per pci-e 2.0 spec, up to 75W is supplied to the slot. If the video card needs more then that it obtains it via pci-e 6/8 pin connectors on the card itself.

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Thank you, I got all my answers for now.

I think I can go ahead and order the parts I need (this will take a while to be shipped to my country :) ) and I will be updating the thread as I have any progress.

I encourage everyone to give feedback, suggestions regarding this setup are much appreciated.

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I did some more research and I have a new question.

I'm thinking maybe a PE4H v3.2 will be better for me. It's not expensive and does not require any mods.

The reason I am considering this is because I have read in another thread that the performance benefit of the x2 2.0 over x1 2.0 when using an external monitor is max 18.1%

If I understand correctly x2 2.0 would be a native thunderbolt and x1 2.0 would be the expresscard to thunderbolt. I was expecting double the performance when going from 5Gbps to 10Gbps but 18.1% is not that much, I think I can live with that.

Is this info accurate? Or am I missing something?

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Native Thunderbolt 1 is about 2.2x2.0. Running one of the bigger GPUs, 660+ or 760+ will definitely suffer significantly by the bottleneck that is the express card slot. I'd go native Thunderbolt. At the very least the external enclosure will maintain considerable resell value, assuming you don't destroy it, and if you get a TB2 enclosure (4x2.0) it will even be suitable for future upgrades.

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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.

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In this post @Tech Inferno Fan talks about the performance difference between 5Gbps and 10 Gbps.

@floppah

TB2 won't help me since my Laptop only has TB1

@Relentless

are you saying that in theory the GTX750ti will work in the Sonnet Echo Express SE II without an additional PSU? or it should?

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Hi,

First post, I'll try to introduce my self :)

I'm a OSX gamer, which some people refer to masochist.

Month ago I've acquired a Bplus TH-05 on ebay (if you ask I thought its wasn't a bargain, but when I see prices now, I'm happy with the price I paid ^^').

Knowing that I my knowledge wouldn't be enough to make it work and more other that I would not have the time to make it work, I gave it to a very nice and competent man who's writing a great blog about OSX and other oddities.

He came up with a nice solution for almost every eGPU system under OSX (A Thunderbolt GPU on a Mac : How-to | Le journal du lapin). Keep in mind that this can be useful for all creative software on macs.

If you're french fluent there's plenty of nice subjects here.

So now I have my TH-05 back, I've powered a Sapphire Radeon 7950 Vapor-X GPU with a Cooler Master Silent Pro Gold 450W PSU

Everything should be at least detected, but Mavericks System Report says that there's no Thunderbolt device connected. :/

*What I've tested so far:

-Test the 7950 Vapor-X GPU in another Computer. It worked

-Connect another PSU -more powerful. It didn't work

-Connect a Sapphire 6950 Toxic to the TH-05. No occurrence in console nor system report.

*What I should test:

-Test a Nvidia GPU on the TH-05.

-Test another ATI/AMD GPU

-Suggestions?

Also if some of the few lucky owners of the TH-05 knows:

  1. how the "diagnostic less" are working,
  2. what's the purpose of the 3 position switch a the end of the board
  3. could send me a user manual. If it even exists..

It would be very nice.

Thanks beforehand.

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So you followed the instructions to change the kext files? You might want to download kext utility and let it run. What this application does is it repairs all of your kext files. My card wasn't detected until letting kext utility run.

As far as I know, all nVidia cards will work (I've had os x running fine with a 560, 660, and 670) so that could be something to try. But there are hackintosh users with AMD cards so hopefully yours is supported.

Good luck!

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Hi EpicBlob :)

Thanks for the answer.

For what's is worth, I've made a little step in my setup. I'll be updating this post for more infos soon, but meanwhile, there's what Ive done:

(reminder: my main problem to begin, was that my system report told me there was no Thunderbolt device connected)

-For the 4th time, I've unplugged everything.

-Inspect (again) the TH-05,moving around switchers making shure they are working well.

-Got rid of the 4pin (Molex to floppy) power adaptor that was in between my PSU and the TH-05.

-(Since I was looking for infos in the console, I got of my SMC Fan Controller Deamon that flooded my console with errors, and got Macs Fan Control)

-I even turn around my thunderbolt cable since I had no clue at all.

Then:

-On the TH-05, Put the PCI-e Switcher on 2x++ (SW1 on 3) then the Portridge delay switcher on 500ms (SW2 on 2)

-Power switch on the atx power board on OFF position (SW1 on 3)

-Like I told before, I turned around my Thunderbolt cable.

-Tried a Sapphire 6950 Toxic instead of my 7950 Vapor-X

-I plugged everything in place, while my mac mini was on. (was typing everything I've done on notepad)

... The rig powered by it self, and the diagnostic leds changed colors. (instead of LD1 = PVCC3V3 , LD3 = PERST# , LD4 = DET I had LD1 and LD4 to 6 on)

The TH-05 appeared in system report :D

Then I went to the console , and while modifying the extensions... Kernel panic.

-> CMD+R.

->Maverick re-install. (clone is not working for what ever reason)

:/

After rebooting on a fresh mavericks, went straight back to console.

Change the extensions again, Terminal > sudo touch /System/Library/Extensions , reboot.

(AMD6000.kext ; AMDSupport.kext ; IONDRVFramebuffer -> I've edited IONDRVSupport instead ; And I didn't touch the AppleHDAController.kext as it didn't appeared, and not even AppleHDA.kext as I fought it was only for people wanting to fix HDMI/Sound support )

(Change also AMDX3000.kext in the Cayman section with is the codename of the GPU)

Notice my menu bar is flickering, and flooding my console for checking if the drivers are working.

iStat seamed to be the source of this problem.

I deleted it, my menu bar came back again.

The card appears in System report under Graphic card / monitor but not under PCI card. No hardware accel, but i can plug an HDMI cable ton my mojito and use it as a second Monitor (power by HD4000 but linked to the eGPU)

Turn off everything then out back my Vapor-X on the TH-05

Boot. Console tells me that I need to modify AMD7000.kext, which I do.

Reboot. Card is detected, as the 6950 but no acceleration either.

I modify the AppleHAD.kext then reboot.

No acceleration.

That's all for now, its the week end, I want o go outside see the sun a little bit :D

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I want to know if anyone has tried, connect egpu for mac osx and function it with parallels desktop 9 with multi scerrens. with 3 screens.

I want mac os x on one screen. And windows on 2 screens with touch.

if someone knows anything about it, please answer :D

sorry for my english

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Would this setup work out of the box without an external PSU and without modifications (except the cutting the PCIe x8 slot to accept x16)? My laptop is a 13" Retina MacBook Pro (late 2013) with Thunderbolt 2.0 ports. I'm looking for an elegant and affordable solution (+/- $ 600) so I can play modern games in Windows 7 or 8.1 at acceptable frame rates with a resolution of 1280x800 on the internal display of my laptop. The Iris HD 5100 is great for older titles but it struggles with modern games like COD Ghost, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider, etc. (+/- 20 fps at lowest settings and 1024x768). Thanks in advance for your advice.

Sonnet Echo Express SE II (ECHO-EXP-SE2): $ 499,00 (Retail) / € 519,90 (Amazon)

  • PCIe: x8 => Need to cut an opening in the end of the slot
  • Power: 80 Watts
  • Height: Two PCIe slots
  • Length: 7.75”

EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti (02G-P4-3751-KR): $ 149,99 (Retail) / € 138,14 (Amazon)

  • PCIe: x16
  • Total Power Draw: 60 Watts (Max. 68 Watts according to TomsHardware)
  • Height: 4.376in - 111.15mm
  • Length: 6.7in - 170.18mm

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I just tested a small fanless r4550 card without a modified riser and it didn't work. I'm thinking it's a pin 8 problem, and that would mean having to add a reset into the circuit.

But this might be because I'm running in MBR, and not EFI.

Can anyone corroborate this?

Would this work with a win8.1 EFI installation?

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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.

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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.

Hope your project goes well! If you have a GPT Windows installation (should be the default on your mac), then you will need to perform one GPU hot-plug for driver installation and then you'll be set for external display usage. If you want a continuous Optimus setup, you'll need to build yourself a PCI Reset Delay. Performance is quite a bit lower as well over Optimus so I personally prefer the external. Best of luck!

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Thanks a lot for all your tests. Now I think that I will build a mini-itx game system because it is getting too compliated to use an eGPU for my 13" Retina MacBook Pro (Late 2013).

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Yeah, thanks a lot for your tests!!!

But I arrived at the conclusion that a mini-ITX gaming system is the best solution. What's the point to have an external screen/GPU/PSU/Motherboard (close to)/housing ? At the end the only part of the laptop you'll use is the memory and the CPU.

I was interested by the challenge, but now I'm about using my MBPr (late 2013) for lightroom/web/movie/... under OSX. And a Mini-ITX for gaming under Win8.1.

A big NAS would be the only "cross hardware" between the two, for data accessibility.

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Yeah, thanks a lot for your tests!!!

But I arrived at the conclusion that a mini-ITX gaming system is the best solution. What's the point to have an external screen/GPU/PSU/Motherboard (close to)/housing ? At the end the only part of the laptop you'll use is the memory and the CPU.

I was interested by the challenge, but now I'm about using my MBPr (late 2013) for lightroom/web/movie/... under OSX. And a Mini-ITX for gaming under Win8.1.

A big NAS would be the only "cross hardware" between the two, for data accessibility.

+ @Sachin10

I understand the reasons to not do eGPU. I still believe it's much more simple to have an external chassis with a card rather than a complete alternate desktop PC. In response to the computer only being used for CPU and memory. The truth is, you are using every single component in the MacBook except for the GPU. Storage, RAM, CPU, speakers/headphones, keyboard, mouse input, microphone, the display (Optimus), power/battery, camera and other sensors. In a nutshell, every single piece of hardware other than the GPU. In my book, that is very significant and is what makes it worth abandoning desktop computers for good.

Just my 2 cents : )

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My original idea was to buy the 13" rMBP for portability and use the price difference to build an eGPU. But I have noticed that the the dualcore CPU isn't fast enough for video editing and gaming. So guess it would be better to build a dedicated mini-itx PC for both things that doesn't work great on my laptop. Or maybe I should sell my laptop and buy the 15" rMBP.

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My original idea was to buy the 13" rMBP for portability and use the price difference to build an eGPU. But I have noticed that the the dualcore CPU isn't fast enough for video editing and gaming. So guess it would be better to build a dedicated mini-itx PC for both things that doesn't work great on my laptop. Or maybe I should sell my laptop and buy the 15" rMBP.

That's what I would recommend. Everyone has their own budget and needs. Personally, I want to own one computer for everything I do, and especially for work (I'm a programmer). Portability, good power, good display etc. That is the 15" MBP w/quad core. When I come home, I plug in a Thunderbolt cable. Instant desktop gaming. In my mind, there is nothing superior to that.

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I just tested a small fanless r4550 card without a modified riser and it didn't work. I'm thinking it's a pin 8 problem, and that would mean having to add a reset into the circuit.

But this might be because I'm running in MBR, and not EFI.

Can anyone corroborate this?

Would this work with a win8.1 EFI installation?

Could you solve the problem?

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I just tested a small fanless r4550 card without a modified riser and it didn't work. I'm thinking it's a pin 8 problem, and that would mean having to add a reset into the circuit.

But this might be because I'm running in MBR, and not EFI.

Can anyone corroborate this?

Would this work with a win8.1 EFI installation?

Does it physically fit in the system and power on? Sounds like the circuit stuff is something else...

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