Windows 10 eGPU setup with Optimus!

Last year I did a Thunderbolt 2 enabled external GPU setup using Windows 8.1. I did not upgrade right away when Windows 10 came out because Optimus was broken which meant I could not use the internal laptop screen. Now NVIDIA has finally fixed the problem in the latest 361.75 driver as described in the release highlights:

Beta support on GeForce GTX GPUs for external graphics over Thunderbolt 3

I will be starting from scratch so this post assumes you already have

Driver installation

  1. Turn the laptop and eGPU off
  2. Plug in the thunderbolt cable from the eGPU setup to the laptop
  3. Power on the eGPU setup
  4. Power on the laptop and boot into Windows 10 (hold down the ALT key to get to the boot menu)
  5. Confirm that the graphics card is detected in Device Manager

    External graphics card detected in device manager before driver installation
    External graphics card detected in device manager before driver installation
  6. Install NVIDIA driver (use 361.75 or later)
  7. Reboot into Windows 10 (hold down ALT key for boot menu if needed)
  8. The internal and external graphics card should now both be visible without any errors in Device Manager

    External card now correctly detected with the NVIDIA driver installed
    External card now correctly detected with the NVIDIA driver installed
  9. Confirm that the eGPU is working by doing a benchmark, I used Geeks3D GpuTest

    GPU benchmark under Windows 10 using the internal screen (Optimus)
    GPU benchmark under Windows 10 using the internal screen (Optimus)

Usage

After the driver installation I do the following every time I need to use the setup:

  1. Make sure the laptop and eGPU setup is powered off and disconnected
  2. Connect the laptop to the eGPU system using the Thunderbolt cable
  3. Turn on the laptop and boot into the boot menu by holding down the ALT key
  4. Turn on the eGPU system
  5. Wait a few seconds (I can usually hear the graphics card fans starting) and then continue booting into Windows 10

The above steps might be overkill, but for now I have successfully started the setup with no problems many times in a row.

Troubleshooting

  • If you boot into a blank screen you probably have the internal screen disabled. Do a full shutdown in Windows 10, disconnect the eGPU setup, boot into Windows 10 without the eGPU, shutdown again and follow the steps described in the section “Usage”. To shutdown with a blank screen you could try the following:
    • If you have access to an external monitor, connect this to the external graphics card and you should now see the login screen for Windows 10. Shutdown Windows 10 from here
    • If you don’t have access to an external monitor and want to do a proper shutdown, this trick worked for me. If it does not work try it again. When the blue light of the AKiTiO Thunder2 is off then you know the laptop is turned off.
      • Press ENTER
      • Type your Windows 10 password
      • Press ENTER
      • Wait a 10 seconds for Windows to start
      • Press CMD + R
      • Type “shutdown -s -t 0”
      • Press ENTER
  • If the blue light on the AKiTiO box does not light up when powering on the setup, check that the PCIe riser is firmly attached to the box and the GPU. Also make sure that the thunderbolt port is working (try using it with another device)
  • If you get an error 12 on the eGPU, try using a DSDT override as described in my previous post here

Help and support

There is a large eGPU community out there. For the best help and support please visit these sites:

  • TechInferno: Perhaps the biggest source of info on DIY eGPU setups. This is the first place to look for answers
  • DIY eGPU setup: Software created by Nando4 which make can make otherwise impossible eGPU combinations work!

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73 Comments on "Windows 10 eGPU setup with Optimus!"


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Chris
February 8, 2017 20:17

My friend has a mid-2012 Macbook Pro with a 650m dGPU, and with TB1. From everything i’ve gathered, a TB3 eGPU enclosure will work using the Apple TB3 to TB2/TB1 adapter. This will be used for gaming under Windows 10 bootcamp. I was under the impression Optimus would be able to drive the internal display with an eGPU setup for this laptop. Do you know if that will be possible and if so, what the steps might be? Thanks

Stripes
December 26, 2016 13:32

Will it work if you are running BIOS? I don’t want to have to reinstall the whole OS in UEFI because of my data …

Eli
December 2, 2016 22:30

Hi guys. I’ve got an acer aspire r13. I’m considering to buy an egpu, either the acer graphics dock with a gtx 960m via thunderbolt 3, or a thunderbolt 3 expansion box with pcie sockets to use a gtx 1050 ti. I’m just worried that the thunder 3 expansion box with the gtx 1050 ti won’t work with my laptop. So is it possible to get a thunder 3 expansion box working with any laptop or what do I have to mind before buying any of these two options?
Thanks for your replies!

Lukas
November 19, 2016 18:43

HI. I am using egpu gtx1060. Once i have turned on my laptop and my egpu, it turn my laptop to blank scree. Do you have any suggestion to fix this?. I am using Asus Rog 751jt laptop

Ocean
November 7, 2016 06:33

My eGPU setting: EVGA 500W PSU, EVGA GTX 960 4GB, Akitio Thunderbolt 2 PCIE Box, the cable
My Macbook Pro: i7, Intel Iris Pro, 15′, win10
After I finished the installation of drivers and restart, I can find the card in the settings. However, when I ran the software to test it, the drivers will just clash. Details are: after showing FPS 60+, the test just stopped and after I pressed Esc, i find the graphics driver “clashed and recovered”. Even I tried to reinstall the drivers for many times, it never works. Can anybody help me?

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