Looking to get a ThunderBolt 3 device working on a hackintosh? The way to get TB3 support on macOS with a hackintosh isn’t actually by purchasing a motherboard with a thunderbolt port on the rear IO. I made this guide to provide some clarity on ThunderBolt 3 and what needs to be done for ThunderBolt 3 devices to work.
I have a motherboard with a USB-C Port why won’t ThunderBolt 3 work?
For thunderbolt to work in Mac OS you need a ThunderBolt port based on the Alpine Ridge Controller. If you bought a new motherboard with a USB-C port thinking you will get TB3 support on macOS that’s unlikely because only a tiny bit of motherboards come with an Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt Controller. For example right now the only Coffee Lake motherboard to come with a Thunderbolt 3 port is the ASROCK Z370 Fatal1ty ITX and I’m not aware of anyone who has gotten a TB3 device to work nor do I have the motherboard yet myself to test. As to why there is only one motherboard with a ThunderBolt 3 support I would venture to guess that’s there simply isn’t a demand for TB3 and not worth the cost to these manufacturers to add it. But some of these motherboards have support for Thunderbolt AIC, in which case you can get Thunderbolt 3 working using a PCIe card.
How to get Thunder Bolt 3 support on a hackintosh?
To get ThunderBolt 3 support on a hackintosh you need one two things. The first thing you need is a motherboard with Thunderbolt 3 AIC Support or in other words a ThunderBolt 3 Internal Header (TB_Header) 5-pin connector on your motherboard and then you will need a ThunderBolt 3 PCIe card based on the Alpine Ridge Controller. The PCIe card will include a cord that connects to the TB3 Internal Header of a compatible motherboard addition to being placed in a PCIe slot. I recommend you pair ASUS motherboard with an ASUS PCIE card or a Gigabyte motherboard with a Gigabyte PCIE card. Not every motherboard comes with included with a TB3 Internal Header and right now only ATX motherboards are available with it. Here’s an example of a motherboard and PCIE card you’ll need depending on what brand you’re using.
ASUS TB3 Hackintosh Setup
The only motherboard for ASUS that I’m aware of with external TB3 support is the ASUS Prime Z370-A to which ASUS said has full support for the ThunderboltEX 3 PCIe Card. The ThunderboltEx 3 card can also support Z170 and Z270 motherboards with a TB_Header.
(Motherboard) ASUS Prime Z370-A
(Card) ASUS ThunderboltEX 3 PCIe Card
GIGABYTE TB3 Hackintosh Setup
(Motherboard) GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS Gaming 5
Note: Since Gigabyte supports a wide range of motherboard’s the Gaming 5 is only a recommendation of mine. Other supported motherboards include: Z370 AORUS Gaming 7, Z370 AORUS Gaming 3, Z370XP SLI, Z370 AORUS Ultra Gaming, Z370 AORUS Gaming WIFI. For a full list of supported motherboards see: https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/GC-ALPINE-RIDGE-rev-10#ov
(Card) Gigabyte GC – Alpine Ridge PCIe Card
ASROCK TB3 Hackintosh Setup
ASUS and Gigabyte and the preferred choice for Thunderbolt 3 as ASROCK may have issues related to ThunderBolt and sleep, but it still should works, as long as you are able to get working in Windows as the reviews aren’t too hot for the ASRock AIC card with some complaining they can’t even get it working in Windows. I’m not aware of anyone who has tested the ASROCK AIC with a Z370 motherboard, but it does work with Z270 motherboard.
(Motherboard) ASROCK Z370 Taichi
(Card) ASROCK Thunderbolt 3 AIC
ThunderBolt 3 Hackintosh Setup
1. Firmware update
The first thing you do when you get a TB3 PCIe card is update or flash to the latest firmware on Windows for support on the latest motherboards.
- ASUS – ThunderboltEX 3 firmware update tool (Utilities Section)
- Gigabyte – Thunderbolt FW Update Tool (Utility Section)
2. BIOS Settings
Be sure to enable the Thunder Bolt Card in BIOS
3. Hackintosh ThunderBolt 3 Hotplug Limitaion
Hotplugging with TB3 is the main thing that’s still a problem on a hackintosh. Hotplugging is the process where you plug one device and plug in another while the operating system is running. This means you will need to have the thunderbolt device plugged in before you boot the machine. If you happen to unplug the device and then plug it back it it won’t work, you will then have to restart to get the TB3 device detected once again. People in the hackintosh community are trying to get hot plugging which you can read up on and make use of their incomplete SSDT patch to help improve your TB3 hackintoshing experience.