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eGPU on 2012 MacBook Pro makes it faster than any current Mac


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#1 ozzy

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 07:41 PM

Hi all,

I just finished getting my eGPU setup work in both Mac OS 10.12.4 and Windows 10.  You can read more about it here (https://egpu.io/foru...e-mac-oswin-10/).  I bough an Akitio Node, Apple Thunderbolt 3 -> 2 adapter, Apple Thunderbolt 2 cable, and Nvidia 1070.  For ~$700 this has turned my 5-year old MacBook Pro into a gaming beast that is far faster than anything Apple is making today.  I can play Mad Max silky smooth in 1440p with all settings on their highest in both Windows and Mac OS.  I must say it's pretty awesome.  Once I'm done with that I plan on catching up on a few other games I haven't been able to play in the last 2-3 years because my machine couldn't handle them (Shadow of Mordor is next).

In Mac OS it is very simple to setup (about 5-10 minutes).  It's obviously not officially supported by Apple, so it could break with OS updates, but hasn't yet and for me the risk is worth it.  Only real downside is you have to restart to connect/unconnect the eGPU, and the eGPU doesn't support sleep.  In Windows the setup is a bit more complicated (and depending on your model very complicated) - it's worth doing a bunch of research on the egpu.io website to understand for your specific model which are the best cards, eGPU boxes, and instructions to get it to work.

For a sense of the benchmarks, I used the Unigine Heaven benchmark in both Windows and Mac.  All the screenshots are in the thread linked above.

Mac OS 10.12.4:
Heaven at 1080p on external screen: 66 FPS
Heaven at 1440p on external screen: 42.3 FPS
Heaven at 1080p in windowed mode on internal MBP screen: 26.6 FPS
Heaven at 1680×1050 on internal MBP powered by 650m: 6.0 FPS

Windows 10:
Heaven at 1080p on external screen: 73.2 FPS
Heaven at 1440p on external screen: 47.8 FPS
Heaven at 1080p in windowed mode on internal MBP screen: 35.7 FPS
Heaven at 1680×1050 on internal MBP powered by 650m: 10.2 FPS


#2 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 08:08 AM

Did you get these numbers running off of the internal display or an external display?
2015 13" rMBP: i5 5257U @ 2.7 GHz || Intel Iris 6100 || 8 GB LPDDR3 1866 || 256 GB SSD || macOS Sierra
Gaming Build: R5 1600 @ 3.9 GHz || Asus GTX 1070 8 GB || 16 GB DDR4 3000 || 960 Evo NVMe, 1 TB FireCuda || Win10 Pro
Other: Dell OptiPlex 3040 as VMware host || QNAP TS-228 NAS || iPhone 6S 64GB

#3 ozzy

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Posted 05 May 2017 - 10:26 AM

The first two in each of the Mac OS and Windows 10 groupings are on an external display.  The third one that is marked as windowed mode on internal MBP screen is on the internal display.  As you can see it takes a ~50% hit in Windows and a bigger hit on the Mac vs. external display.  This is where the bandwidth restrictions of having a Thunderbolt 1 device come in - there just isn't enough data bandwidth on Thunderbolt 1 to get data out to the card, and then back into the machine.  Thunderbolt 2 fares a bit better, and Thunderbolt 3 much better.

One note is that if you want to use the internal display without an external display you have to get a headless HDMI adapter and basically trick the computer to thinking there is an external display.  There are pretty clear instructions on the egpu.io Mac implementation guide, but it's still not a simple easy thing to do.