ArsTechnica article on eGPU in OS X 10.13.4

Mac Technical Support
https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/04/are-external-gpus-for-macs-viable-in-macos-10-13-4-we-tested-to-find-out/

It's pretty comprehensive and well worth a read if you have any interest in the topic.

TLDR: It does work, you (basically) need Thunderbolt 3, expect to use an external monitor (so not great for iMacs), does not support nVidia cards (without hacks), still has some issues.

Perhaps most relevant to us here, in WoW it did basically double the frame rate wt an AMD RX580 vs the 460 Pro at 1080p resolutions. So it's definitely a solution for people wt a TB3 equipped laptop and an external monitor.

Some recent game benchmarks including an eGPU for comparison.

http://barefeats.com/rise_of_tomb_raider.html
Starting to get back into WoW, and excited to use this setup for it. Bought the eGPU case as a way to save the 980GTX I had in my retiring 2008 Mac Pro. And swapped it out for the natively supported RX580 now.

Have had some quirks where the frame rate in HotS is a third of what it should be at times, though a shutdown and power cycle of the eGPU fixes it.

Looks like Apple has a 10.13.5 in the pipeline too which may further stabilize these setups. The power of PCIe in a tiny plug, the futures looking pretty great
BareFeats has some information on it for getting nVidia cards to work in an eGPU box and some more benchmarks.

http://barefeats.com/egpu_nmp_titan_vega.html
Reading between the lines of this barefeats article implies this might very well work on other machines without Thunderbolt 3 -- the machine they use for the benchmarks (a 2013 Mac Pro) only had Thunderbolt 2. Going to have to test this out. 2011 machines might be back in business for BfA.
04/27/2018 04:59 PMPosted by Sagerremeseb
Reading between the lines of this barefeats article implies this might very well work on other machines without Thunderbolt 3 -- the machine they use for the benchmarks (a 2013 Mac Pro) only had Thunderbolt 2. Going to have to test this out. 2011 machines might be back in business for BfA.


You might want to take a look at the caveats in that article. That indicates that you own't be able to replicate that on the older Macs, as the 2013 Mac Pro was given far more leeway to operate in various modes than the iMac/MBPs were back then. And also keep in mind that TB2 connections are equivalant to a measly x2 link width, severely limiting the capabilities of the GPU, and anything else connected to the same TB2 controller would have to be disconnected as well.

eGPUs are definitely nice to see functioning where possible, but they're most certainly not a cure-all. And those caveats are going to be more than most end users are willing or able to put up with.
I agree with you it's no pie in the sky solution. The question is can it be made to work at all. *If* it can (and yes, there's no guarantee), it does offer a potential solution. My goal will be to get it to work with an old Apple 23'' cinema display (1920 by 1200), which thunderbolt 1 should be able to handle, on a 2011 vintage machine.

That said, some of the older machines had more leeway to operate than the later ones as they were tightened down for "security reasons" over time.

Just need to find the time ... probably after Memorial Day.
As of the latest 10.13.4 update, Apple "officially" killed support for eGPUs on any TB2 connection. To get them working you have to do some serious trickery (hence the reference to MacVidCards, a.k.a. Rominator), who hasn't exactly been forthcoming in letting others know how he's gotten eGPU working thus far. Every limitation, sadly, is purely put in on purpose by Apple. They want to make damn sure that their "obsolete" machines remain obsolete. It's why so many of us went the hackintosh route. None of us are all that eager to repeat the mistakes of history, like the good ol' proprietary Apple Display Connector (see: PowerMacs + multisync monitors).

Make no mistake, eGPU as far as Apple is concerned is aimed squarely at getting their lower end machines sold more widely by putting a carrot on a stick to make them potentially more useful when not on the road. They're doing so because they're being squeezed by far, far more capable PC laptops, some of which even have SLI/CrossFire enabled dual GPUs right around Apple's iGPU-only price point.

Things would be happening more rapidly if the people holding onto the "how to" knowledge would finally share it (it's been three years now and still no public release of that info). Hopefully that happens sometime soon. The end users would all benefit from it.
There are 2 approaches to egpu: hardware and software.

Rominator: macvidcards.com netkas.org are firmly entrenched in the hardware camp. Their solution is to flash cards with a custom EFI that only requires pasting 1 line of Apple's own code into terminal. After that it's a 'just works' situation. This convenience ain't free. Check their forum and blog for more info.

The good folks at egpu.io have created an all-in-one script that is getting there... but can be hit or miss depending on your particular model. Great progress and community though.

A pinch of salt is needed with the benchmarks showing the percentage FPS loss on TB1, TB2. Considering how much you're GAINING over iGPU, it's worth it even on 2011 Mac Mini. I tinkered with it on MP 6,1 too for a bit after the d700s couldn't keep me happy at 4k. MP 6,1 with 1070, 1080, & Titan rocks. Mini I believe I had only the 1070 available - played with that for weeks. Well worth it.

Just a shame we have to jump through these hoops. Apple should have continued on their original path: leave TB1 & TB2 as unsupported, not attempt to kill it.

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