It’s possible to use an eGPU with Windows 10 on a MacBook Pro using Thunderbolt 3. It’s a bit of a chore, and everything is updated to the most recent versions as of 12/2019. I’m using 2018 rMBP, Sonnet 550 eGPU box, and Sapphire PULSE Radeon RX 580.
Installing is a huge pain, the plugin dance that worked for me is as follows:
- Turn on the computer, lid open, eGPU disconnected
- Hold “option” once the Apple logo shows
- Select Windows (Bootcamp installed partition)
- Plugin eGPU (with the box on)
- Quickly close lid
- Quickly hit enter on the external keyboard
- I’m using bit locker (seems to help pause the boot enough to help too)
- Enter bit locker password, hit enter
- Hopefully see Windows login screen within 2 minutes
- It might take a while during the first boot. You’ll hear Windows auto loading the drivers.
I installed the AMD drivers via their website. Any Windows update that needs to be installed, I do so with eGPU detached. The same is true for AMD GPU updates, update with eGPU attached (have to in order to detect) shutdown, disconnect, restart, apply updates and shutdown and follow the steps above.
I know other folks have had issues between Windows updates, but it really seems to be related to ‘beating the TB3 addressing,’ I think bit-locker actually helps with this, however with the 1909 update I’ve had a lot more issues with timing.
It use to be I could get to bit-locker then attache the eGPU, close lid, and boot, this works maybe 10% of the time now. I should note it takes a lot of practice to get the timing right. With 1909, failures in timing result in black screens and seemingly no Windows boot. Prior to 1909, Windows would boot properly, but not detect eGPU properly.
To enable BitLocker on the Bootcamp partition:
Run gpedit.msc Navigate to Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > BitLocker Drive Encryption > Operating System Drives in the left pane. Double-click the “Require additional authentication at startup” option in the right pane. Select “Enabled” at the top of the window, and ensure the “Allow BitLocker without a compatible TPM (requires a password or a startup key on a USB flash drive)” checkbox is enabled here.
Final Thoughts & Opinions
It’s become an increasing pain to run an eGPU. Even the apple boot process freezes if an eGPU is attached prior to boot. I understand PCs have some issues as well, but nothing as widely reported or seemingly undocumented as on the macOS platform.
About the author:
Andrew lives in Portland, OR and has worked in tech for over 15 years. With a foundation in philosophy, political theory, and communications, he is an avid thinker & tinkerer, constantly learning and exploring the world around us.This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License © 2019.