Improve MacBook Air graphics 7x using a DIY Thunderbolt external GPU

first_imgThat new 11-inch Macbook Air has a spiffy new CPU from Intel’s Haswell family, so the battery life has been vastly improved. But it could really use a little more juice in the graphics department, right? If only there was a way to rig some sort of powerful video card add-on. Actually, there is as long as you’ve got a video card, $250 in unmarked American currency, and some patience.An industrious forum users has posted a detailed walkthrough of adding an external GPU to the 11-inch Macbook Air via a Thunderbolt connection. It’s not pretty, but the results can boost graphics performance by 5-7 times. Intel still lists GPU as an “unsupported” device for use over Thunderbolt, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work.The materials required are the 11-inch Macbook Air (2013 model), a copy of Windows 7, a Sonnet Echo ExpressCard, a BPlus PE4L ExpressCard to PCI-Express adapter, a copy of DIY eGPU Setup 1.X, a 4GB USB thumbdrive (to install Windows), a 400w PC power supply, and a video card of your choosing (Nvidia works best). All this stuff is required to get the power from that card into the Macbook. Did I mention you need patience?The basic procedure requires you to install and configure Windows 7 in Basecamp, then use eGPU to prepare it to accept the graphics card. The BPlus PE4L accepts the PCI- Express GPU and outputs over ExpressCard. The Sonnet Echo ExpressCard Pro gets that signal into the Thunderbolt cable, and then into the Macbook. You can render in internal LCD mode to use the laptop screen with your external GPU, or connect an external monitor for slightly better performance.You’ll have to do some work getting the card and power supply mounted in an acceptable casing to avoid damage, but it’s never going to be a pretty mod. The actual process is more complicated and comes with various warnings. It’s best to check out the original post before you get your heart set on this project. Still… impressive.last_img

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