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DIY eGPU Macbook experiences

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@tranj10

1) The first step is to clear your NVRAM (and possibly SMC)

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204063

2) boot cmd+r key down

3) Erase and install: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201376

It’s good to test if the EFI menu freezing is default behaviour from the very beginning when eGPU connected. Then proceed the OS X steps you described from the step 2, eGPU disconnected.

I would add one more step between “sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh” and “sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -a”, that is restart with option key down to check if you have freezing EFI boot menu or not. If you have no freezing, no need to use [-a] mode.

Some suggestions to Windows part. I think that you cannot Boot into Win8.1 with eGPU connected when you have no Nvidia drivers installed. This is the difference compared to 2013-2014 MBPs, they did allow that. So try the following:

When you have Win8.1 Boot Camp with support software installed, boot into Win8.1 without eGPU connected. Power on eGPU and plug in the TB cable to Mac -> Microsoft basic display adapter should pop up under device manager/display adapters -> now you can install Nvidia drivers.

Then shut down, power off eGPU, connect an external monitor (preferably DVI/HDMI) to eGPU, turn on eGPU, turn on Mac, keep option key down, select Windows partition. What happens? If freezing EFI menu and -a mode command not yet executed, boot into OS X, run the script with -a, and try again option key down.

The basic Win8.1 Boot Camp doesn’t interfere with the automate-eGPU.sh, but -a parameter has an effect on EFI menu.

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Hey guys! Pretty awesome work you guys are doing here!

My setup is a 2014 rMBP with Akitio Thunder2, GTX 960, and Dell DA2.

My question is: Is there a way to get clamshell mode working? Or disable and reenable the internal display easily?

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@goalque: I really appreciate all the help you've given me. Thanks!

So I cleared my NVRAM and cleared my hard drive to reset to factory settings to test out the eGPU setup.

I try two methods of powering up with eGPU:

Method 1) Have eGPU TB cable disconnected, power up to EFI boot menu, connect eGPU

Method 2) Have eGPU TB cable connected, power up to EFI boot menu

1) Fresh OS X install: Both method 1 and 2 seem to have a 50% success rate, no eGPU recognition in OS X even if bootup is successful

2) With automate-egpu.sh: Both methods 1 and 2 seem to have 50% rate again, but eGPU is recognized at all successful bootups

3) With automate-egpu.sh -a: Method 1 had a 10/11 success rate. Method 2 had a 5/8 success rate.

It seems like Method 1 is the way to go and that the -a option within goalque's script is very helpful. All my sample sizes are small though, so I wouldn't put too much value into them yet.

Few other notes:

- I notice about a half second freeze (can't move cursor with trackpad) when I plug in the TB cable with Method 1

- I never got a restart to work from OS X (always end up at blank black screen)

- I failed at getting a successful OS X boot up only once (after successful power up/TB connection at EFI). It happened when I was logging in. I had the eGPU connected to an external monitor, and it tried to activate mid-log in but both internal and external screens just went black. Now I just log in without the external monitor connected, and I have not run into one OS X boot up failure.

- The eGPU fan seems to spin at max setting until I log in to OS X

- I am using only the TB port furthest away from the Magsafe port

Since it seems that the -a option is helpful do you have any suggestion on how to handle the Windows 8.1 boot camp install?

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I honestly have no idea whats going on with my eGPU set up. It was working fine for the first week or so, playing games like Batman Arkham Knight, Dirty Bomb, Skyrim, all maxed out, flawlessly. Ever since I attempted the Optimus guide it's been going nuts. As soon as I launch the game, press "load game" in any game, not only witcher, after the loading screen, the external monitor just goes black, and my 970 Fans go nuts.They literally sound like a jet engine for 5 seconds than my whole PC crashes and reboots. I can't launch a game without that happening.

Edit: For clarity, i was trying to enable internal LCD via Evo's Optimus guide. It was clear to me it didn't work when my windows wouldn't even boot so I just wiped clean my whole hard drive hoping it would wipe the EFI partition as well but I don't think it did, because when I hold option and the boot screen shows up I still see EFI boot instead of Bootcamp partition.

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I honestly have no idea whats going on with my eGPU set up. It was working fine for the first week or so, playing games like Batman Arkham Knight, Dirty Bomb, Skyrim, all maxed out, flawlessly. Ever since I attempted the Optimus guide it's been going nuts. As soon as I launch the game, press "load game" in any game, not only witcher, after the loading screen, the external monitor just goes black, and my 970 Fans go nuts.They literally sound like a jet engine for 5 seconds than my whole PC crashes and reboots. I can't launch a game without that happening.

Edit: For clarity, i was trying to enable internal LCD via Evo's Optimus guide. It was clear to me it didn't work when my windows wouldn't even boot so I just wiped clean my whole hard drive hoping it would wipe the EFI partition as well but I don't think it did, because when I hold option and the boot screen shows up I still see EFI boot instead of Bootcamp partition.

I don't think you wiped the whole hard drive if the EFI boot with nvidia icon is still there. What I did to wipe everything was

1) Unencrypt internal drive in OS X by, System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault > Turn off filevault

2) Reboot and let filevault unecrypt

3) shut down and power back on with cmd + r

4) Go to disk utility and erase your internal drive (now you should just have one big partition formatted in Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

5) Reinstall OS X (I re-encypted my drive here)

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I don't think you wiped the whole hard drive if the EFI boot with nvidia icon is still there. What I did to wipe everything was

1) Unencrypt internal drive in OS X by, System Preferences > Security & Privacy > FileVault > Turn off filevault

2) Reboot and let filevault unecrypt

3) shut down and power back on with cmd + r

4) Go to disk utility and erase your internal drive (now you should just have one big partition formatted in Mac OS Extended (Journaled)

5) Reinstall OS X (I re-encypted my drive here)

Yeah you're probably right, I still do have the EFI Boot with the nVIDIA icon. I'm properly erasing everything now, will update on progress.

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@goalque: I really appreciate all the help you've given me. Thanks!

So I cleared my NVRAM and cleared my hard drive to reset to factory settings to test out the eGPU setup.

I try two methods of powering up with eGPU:

Method 1) Have eGPU TB cable disconnected, power up to EFI boot menu, connect eGPU

Method 2) Have eGPU TB cable connected, power up to EFI boot menu

1) Fresh OS X install: Both method 1 and 2 seem to have a 50% success rate, no eGPU recognition in OS X even if bootup is successful

2) With automate-egpu.sh: Both methods 1 and 2 seem to have 50% rate again, but eGPU is recognized at all successful bootups

3) With automate-egpu.sh -a: Method 1 had a 10/11 success rate. Method 2 had a 5/8 success rate.

It seems like Method 1 is the way to go and that the -a option within goalque's script is very helpful. All my sample sizes are small though, so I wouldn't put too much value into them yet.

Few other notes:

- I notice about a half second freeze (can't move cursor with trackpad) when I plug in the TB cable with Method 1

- I never got a restart to work from OS X (always end up at blank black screen)

- I failed at getting a successful OS X boot up only once (after successful power up/TB connection at EFI). It happened when I was logging in. I had the eGPU connected to an external monitor, and it tried to activate mid-log in but both internal and external screens just went black. Now I just log in without the external monitor connected, and I have not run into one OS X boot up failure.

- The eGPU fan seems to spin at max setting until I log in to OS X

- I am using only the TB port furthest away from the Magsafe port

Since it seems that the -a option is helpful do you have any suggestion on how to handle the Windows 8.1 boot camp install?

Thanks!

You said “I have not run into any bootup hangs and the eGPU is recognized each time I have used OSX and eGPU.”

- Did you have 100% success rate on OS X with the combination of Evo*’s script + [-a] mode? (don’t try again)

- Do you have a chance to use an external DVI/HDMI monitor? You said earlier “no external monitor though”, so I want to confirm this. The external monitor connected to the eGPU, what is the success rate of booting into OS X with the [-a] mode?

- If you had FileVault enabled with you tests, disable it.

And for the Windows installation, I recommend to switch back to [-m] mode by typing “sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -m” in OS X Terminal.

1) Create a Win8.1 install USB disk in Boot Camp Assistant by using a ISO image downloaded from Microsoft. Check “Download the latest Windows support software from Apple”.

2) When the Win8.1 installation begins and lists partitions, you may notice that you can’t proceed with continue button. Select the BOOTCAMP named partition, and format as NTFS. Then continue.

3) If you see that Windows support software is not automatically installed (volume change and WLAN doesn’t work), select the support software package from the USB flash drive, install and restart.

4) Downloading and installing latest Windows updates is recommended, but not compulsory.

5) Shut down.

6) Without eGPU connected, boot into Win8.1, power on eGPU when logged in, and plug in the TB cable to Mac.

7) Microsoft basic display adapter should pop up under device manager/display adapters. Install Nvidia drivers.

8) Shut down.

9) Boot into OS X without eGPU connected, and run “sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -a”

10) Shut down.

11) Turn on eGPU with DVI/HDMI monitor connected.

12) Power on Mac and boot with Option key down.

13) Plug in TB cable and select Windows partition.

14) Success?

Set the internal screen as main display on the left in Win8.1 screen resolution settings, and choose “extend these displays”. You can also try without an external monitor, by setting “show desktop only on 1” (left internal screen) for Optimus.

You must boot into OS X, run “sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -m” and then “sudo ./automate-eGPU.sh -a” before each reboot into Win8.1. The script is designed for OS X only, but it may have a big effect on Windows boots as well with 2015 Macs.

EDIT: It might be enough just boot once into OS X between each Windows boots when [-a] mode is enabled. When you boot into OS X & log in, it may take a while until daemon process launches, then after shut down/restart you may have near 100% success rate.

The above procedure might be beneficial for a 2015 15" R9 M370X as well.

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I'll try the Windows 8.1 install later today.

Responses to @goalque

- I only tried Evo's script + automate-egpu.sh without -a mode (never tried Evo's script + [a] mode). It would freeze many time when I tried to connect the TB cable at EFI menu. The 100% success rate is for booting into OS X and having the NVIDIA eGPU being recognized. I only tried this for two days so small sample size.

- Yes I'm using an external DVI monitor right now, but I leave it disconnected from the eGPU while logging into OS X. This is because when you log in and leave the external monitor connected, the external monitor will try to activate mid-log in. This crashed on me once, so I never tried again with leaving external monitor plugged in.

- Yes, FileVault is enabled on everything I have reported in this thread so far. I can see what happens if I disable.

One thing to note about Either disabling FileVault or NVRAM clear though is that one of these processes messes with the recognition of the eGPU in OS X. I'm not sure which one it is because I did both before testing out the eGPU. This is something I was testing before resetting to factory conditions, so I don't have this problem anymore.

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update on what happens after disabling FileVault: I disabled FileVault to see how it affects the EFI freezing issue when connecting TB. I froze on my first try, so I booted back into OS X without eGPU and reran the automate-egpu with -a option (I never messed with automate-egpu before I disabled FileVault). I was able to avoid a freeze 5/7 times.

One thing to note is that disabling FileVault moves OS X boot up to right after EFI Boot menu selection versus OS X boot up after log in when FileVault is enabled. This is important because for test cases where FileVault was disabled. If I select the Mac HD quickly after I connect the TB cable, OS X will boot up but the eGPU won't be recognized. System Report will show only a NVIDIA chip model is attached rather than saying a NVIDIA GTX 970 is attached. To fix this issue you have to wait about 10 seconds at the EFI boot menu after attaching the TB cable (if you have FileVault disabled)

Maybe it's just my feeling, but it seems like power up/boot up/eGPU recognition was working better when FileVault was enabled.

edit: Maybe waiting the ten seconds at EFI boot menu after connecting TB doesn't work. I now had two boots that didn't recognize the eGPU.

edit2: So I noticed a new pattern. If I connect the eGPU at EFI boot menu, and the eGPU fan spins at a normal speed the OS X will recognize it after boot up. If the eGPU fan is spinning at max speed when connected, OS X will not recognize it. This seems to be a problem introduced after disabling FileVault, I didn't run into this issue when it was enabled.

I'm fairly confident that this is the case. And it seems that subsequent tries after the max eGPU fan speed results in EFI freeze at plug in. I need to reset the power to the eGPU to get a working bootup again.

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update on what happens after disabling FileVault: I disabled FileVault to see how it affects the EFI freezing issue when connecting TB. I froze on my first try, so I booted back into OS X without eGPU and reran the automate-egpu with -a option (I never messed with automate-egpu before I disabled FileVault). I was able to avoid a freeze 5/7 times.

One thing to note is that disabling FileVault moves OS X boot up to right after EFI Boot menu selection versus OS X boot up after log in when FileVault is enabled. This is important because for test cases where FileVault was disabled. If I select the Mac HD quickly after I connect the TB cable, OS X will boot up but the eGPU won't be recognized. System Report will show only a NVIDIA chip model is attached rather than saying a NVIDIA GTX 970 is attached. To fix this issue you have to wait about 10 seconds at the EFI boot menu after attaching the TB cable (if you have FileVault disabled)

Maybe it's just my feeling, but it seems like power up/boot up/eGPU recognition was working better when FileVault was enabled.

edit: Maybe waiting the ten seconds at EFI boot menu after connecting TB doesn't work. I now had two boots that didn't recognize the eGPU.

edit2: So I noticed a new pattern. If I connect the eGPU at EFI boot menu, and the eGPU fan spins at a normal speed the OS X will recognize it after boot up. If the eGPU fan is spinning at max speed when connected, OS X will not recognize it. This seems to be a problem introduced after disabling FileVault, I didn't run into this issue when it was enabled.

I'm fairly confident that this is the case. And it seems that subsequent tries after the max eGPU fan speed results in EFI freeze at plug in. I need to reset the power to the eGPU to get a working bootup again.

I observed exactly the opposite! When I disabled FileVault, all my trouble was gone. So if I enable FileVault (without Goalque's script), I will not get boot + recognition of the card. Only if I disable FileVault and plug in right after the Apple appears, it works without the script. With the script, it's all fine of course. :)

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@tranj10

Peculiar findings… As I had a chance to test a new 2015 15” rMBP (Iris Pro), I chose not to turn FileVault on when I set up the Mac the first time. If you turn it on/off later on, the encryption/decryption is done in the background, takes time, and possibly have an impact on my script daemon process. Therefore, the success rate might not be very accurate.

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I believe I have found a good boot up method that seems to work 100% of the time. I will retest it again tomorrow, and if it works I'll write out my implementation guide for a 2015 13" MBP with Windows 8 fully on an external SSD and OSX 10.10.4 on internal SSD.

- No modifications to Windows 8 and its boot files (Evo*'s method, dsdt override)

- All Windows update installed except optional recommended intel graphics driver

- Boot Camp 5.1 Drivers

- FileVault disabled at OS X install (still disabled now)

If anyone wants to try my method, it is:

1) Have everything powered off

2) Connect thunderbolt cable from eGPU hub to MBP

3) Power on PSU - Wait ~15 seconds

4) Power on MBP while holding option key

4a) If black screen then run goalque's shell script from within OS X with -m and then -a options. Go through steps 1-4 again.

5) At EFI boot menu - Wait ~5 seconds then select Windows boot

So far I have had no black screens for instances right after running goalque's script, and I have not run into a boot up hang at Windows 8. I hope my testing results don't change tomorrow!

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I believe I have found a good boot up method that seems to work 100% of the time. I will retest it again tomorrow, and if it works I'll write out my implementation guide for a 2015 13" MBP with Windows 8 fully on an external SSD and OSX 10.10.4 on internal SSD.

- No modifications to Windows 8 and its boot files (Evo*'s method, dsdt override)

- All Windows update installed except optional recommended intel graphics driver

- Boot Camp 5.1 Drivers

- FileVault disabled at OS X install (still disabled now)

If anyone wants to try my method, it is:

1) Have everything powered off

2) Connect thunderbolt cable from eGPU hub to MBP

3) Power on PSU - Wait ~15 seconds

4) Power on MBP while holding option key

4a) If black screen then run goalque's shell script from within OS X with -m and then -a options. Go through steps 1-4 again.

5) At EFI boot menu - Wait ~5 seconds then select Windows boot

So far I have had no black screens for instances right after running goalque's script, and I have not run into a boot up hang at Windows 8. I hope my testing results don't change tomorrow!

I'm actually curious about the External SSD with Win 8.. How did you create that, what type of drive interface (USB 2/3? Thunderbolt?) and does it boot through the apple Bootcamp loader i.e. does it show up as a bootable drive when holding down the option key at startup. Personally I would like to make an external USB3 SSD start-up of Windows for use with my eGPU and Windows as I have found that for my purposes I don't tend to use it with the OSX partition and I would like to offload some of the more GPU Dedicated programs to just be on the external SSD that would be booted for use with the eGPU.

Thank you

Brion Sohn

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I'm actually curious about the External SSD with Win 8.. How did you create that, what type of drive interface (USB 2/3? Thunderbolt?) and does it boot through the apple Bootcamp loader i.e. does it show up as a bootable drive when holding down the option key at startup. Personally I would like to make an external USB3 SSD start-up of Windows for use with my eGPU and Windows as I have found that for my purposes I don't tend to use it with the OSX partition and I would like to offload some of the more GPU Dedicated programs to just be on the external SSD that would be booted for use with the eGPU.

Thank you

Brion Sohn

I followed this detailed guide to make a bootable Windows 8 (BleepToBleep: Mac: Install Windows 7 or 8 on an external USB3 or Thunderbolt drive without using bootcamp).

The guide places the boot files on the external SSD, so booting from boot camp control panel isn't working. I just use the option key to boot to Windows.

I am using a Samsung T1 drive. http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Portable-USB-External-MU-PS1T0B/dp/B00RWXVRW8

Going by this review at anandtech (Storage Benchmarks - Samsung Portable SSD T1 Review), it seems the Samsung T1 (USB3) and Lacie Rugged (Thunderbolt) are the best external drives you can get today. I don't know if anything newer and better came out though.

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I followed this detailed guide to make a bootable Windows 8 (BleepToBleep: Mac: Install Windows 7 or 8 on an external USB3 or Thunderbolt drive without using bootcamp).

The guide places the boot files on the external SSD, so booting from boot camp control panel isn't working. I just use the option key to boot to Windows.

I am using a Samsung T1 drive. http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Portable-USB-External-MU-PS1T0B/dp/B00RWXVRW8

Going by this review at anandtech (Storage Benchmarks - Samsung Portable SSD T1 Review), it seems the Samsung T1 (USB3) and Lacie Rugged (Thunderbolt) are the best external drives you can get today. I don't know if anything newer and better came out though.

Thank you for the information.. I don't think I have every used the bootcamp control panel for booting windows on my machine it has always been using the option key so that sounds like it might work for me. I actually got a small Gamer SSD from Galax when I bought my card and thought it would work well for what I am thinking of doing.

Thank you.

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Just finished my install and ran 3dmark11. using stock zotac card might try some overclocking later. install and everything was a breeze! massive thanks to everyone in this amazing community! wouldn't be possible without you guys.

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 video card benchmark result - Intel Core i5-4258U,Apple Inc. Mac-189A3D4F975D5FFC

theres my score

12,125 graphics, 3863 physics 4021 combined, 7964 total score.

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I did some more testing on my boot up method today after erasing my internal SSD and reinstalling OS X with FileVault enabled. It appears the methods I described before still works.

Goalque's script might not be necessary to get a clean power up without black screen though. I didn't rerun the shell script after the clean install. On the occasion that I do get a black screen, powering off the eGPU, then booting into OS X without eGPU, and then shutting down seems to prevent a black screen on next power up.

I do wonder if having the external SSD connected at power up is somehow affecting the black screen issue. I'll try to see if having it connected is actually helping or has no effect at all.

I have run into a Windows 8 boot up hang a few times, but the vast majority of my attempts have no boot up hangs. So it seems to be not a big problem.

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i have problem getting display output from my akitio+kfa2 setup. how do i troubleshoot this?

i boot into osx without egpu, stick thunderbolt, everything powers up, device gets recognized but no display detected. display is connected by simple dvi->hdmi cable.

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Hey everyone,

I am running into issues.

Currently I have a GTX 960 plugged into a Akito Thunder with a Dell A2 powering it. I am attempting to download the Nivida driver mannually from the evga website (900 series). I am doing this because when I turned on my Mac into windows it stalled. I originally thought the machine wouldn't power on so I killed the power took out the lightning connection to the eGPU and booted it again. Slightly dim black screen again and here I am thinking I destroyed the computer somehow when the Windows 8 starts loading. So for some reason the boot process was really long. Anyways I had the machine on now and logged into Windows 8.1 and try to install the driver but it says it can't find any hardware. So naturally I plug the lightning back in and it still can't find it. Now I have the eGPU without the case on it. The fan on it isn't spinning all the way it does like 4 rotation a second and then stops for 3 seconds. What am I missing to make the eGPU compatible?

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i have problem getting display output from my akitio+kfa2 setup. how do i troubleshoot this?

i boot into osx without egpu, stick thunderbolt, everything powers up, device gets recognized but no display detected. display is connected by simple dvi->hdmi cable.

Have you tried running goalque's shell script? http://forum.techinferno.com/mac-os-x-discussion/10289-script-automating-installation-egpu-os-x-inc-display-output.html

It sounds like you are trying to get the eGPU working through hot plugging. Hot plugging has never worked for me. My method is to power on the Macbook with the eGPU powered on and already connected.

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Hey everyone,

I am running into issues.

Currently I have a GTX 960 plugged into a Akito Thunder with a Dell A2 powering it. I am attempting to download the Nivida driver mannually from the evga website (900 series). I am doing this because when I turned on my Mac into windows it stalled. I originally thought the machine wouldn't power on so I killed the power took out the lightning connection to the eGPU and booted it again. Slightly dim black screen again and here I am thinking I destroyed the computer somehow when the Windows 8 starts loading. So for some reason the boot process was really long. Anyways I had the machine on now and logged into Windows 8.1 and try to install the driver but it says it can't find any hardware. So naturally I plug the lightning back in and it still can't find it. Now I have the eGPU without the case on it. The fan on it isn't spinning all the way it does like 4 rotation a second and then stops for 3 seconds. What am I missing to make the eGPU compatible?

Also now I am having audio issues... The audio works intermittedly if I jiggle the headphone wires and not at all if the headphones are turned off

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Can you boot with the eGPU plugged in?

Which card do you have? Some big cards can turn off the fans in idle for low noise.

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Have you tried running goalque's shell script? http://forum.techinferno.com/mac-os-x-discussion/10289-script-automating-installation-egpu-os-x-inc-display-output.html

It sounds like you are trying to get the eGPU working through hot plugging. Hot plugging has never worked for me. My method is to power on the Macbook with the eGPU powered on and already connected.

i did run it previously and tried again - it didn't help. what did help was running Kext Wizard and rebuilding cache/whatever.

booting with egpu plugged in works, display started in mirrored mode, so i disabled it and made external one primary, diablo 3 started and was certainly using gpu to render. one thing that got me worrying was that when i entered the game card started making weird sounds, which is possibly the ground loop problems mentioned to me earlier because of my powering setup (i mix original akitio psu with dell da-2 to power the card exclusively). i'll wait with testing until i get the barrel attached and power everything using dell da2.

cc/ @Dschijn

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@keymore: If the card makes "noise" like this, it is the common coil whine / buzzing problem that many GTX 970 owners have. And that is to be considered normal, unfortunately.

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Can you boot with the eGPU plugged in?

Which card do you have? Some big cards can turn off the fans in idle for low noise.

I am not sure if this is towards me but I will answer it like it is.

I can boot with it plugged in but the EVGA GTX 960 that is plugged into the Akito Thunder is not spinning or being recognized by my computer. I have attempted to install the driver manually but the NVIDIA Installer fails at the system check. Version 353.30 of the driver if it helps. There is only one unknown USB input in my Device manager and nothing new in the display adapter area. If I scan for changes nothing is new.

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