eGPUs - What We Know So Far By Joshua Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

eGPUs - What We Know So Far By Joshua Blagden

So far, we know of two low-cost enclosures, which, though not intended for eGPUs, will work. Namely the Akitio Thunder2 and the Firmtek Thundertek. We also know of the Vidock, which uses V2, which is similar to ExpressCard, and requires a Thunderbolt adapter to be Thunderbolt-compatible, but is better because has a built-in 150 watt power supply, though the required $150 Thunderbolt adapter makes the Akitio Thunder2 the better choice in terms of price, portability, and bandwidth.

We know how to make alterations to kext files to allow the use of a Thunderbolt eGPU, and which ones to modify: There’s actually a shell script which automates this process:  

These eGPUs are not hot-pluggable because according to the drivers, they are connected via PCIe. We know that to install Nvidia web drivers, we used to have to alter them and repackage them before installing them: Fortunately, Nvidia’s current drivers no longer require alteration for use with eGPUs, probably because Nvidia discovered that a significant number of Mac users have complained about this inconvenience. Nvidia likely had no qualms about making this change since it was less work for them and they probably saw it as a way to sell more graphics cards. Regardless of Nvidia’s reasons, it’s certainly a welcome change.

There are some graphics cards which cannot be used in OS X, at least not if you want a boot screen on a Mac Pro. Most, if not all of them are of the Maxwell line of graphics processors, which are sometimes incompatible because they use uEFI instead of BIOS or EFI. However, you can use a Maxwell card if you install drivers from Nvidia’s website or if you’re running OS X 10.10.2.

If you want a portable eGPU and you’re going to use a GPU which requires up to 220 watts, you can use a Dell DA-2 power supply. It’s a laptop-style power supply, but instead of using a barrel connector, it has a six-pin power connector. The nice thing about it is that it provides enough power for pretty much any graphics card, and it does so without requiring modifications to either itself or the eGPU enclosure.

In terms of bandwidth, Thunderbolt provides roughly 90% of the performance of a 16 lane PCIe 2.0 slot because Nvidia’s drivers allow data to be compressed over PCIe (as long as you use an external monitor): 

Aside from what I have just stated, any new discoveries by readers can be stated in the comments section below. I will later add readers’ observations to this section.

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015
000webhost logo