Cheapest egpu setup for a 2012 mac mini?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by Mac Tyson, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. Mac Tyson macrumors regular

    Mac Tyson

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    #1
    What is the cheapest egpu setup out now? Trying to see if it’s cost effective to give this 2012 mac mini 2.6 i7 quadcore some life or better off to sell it? I don’t do any video editing and would rather unload this mac mini.
    I was thinking of just keeping it as a backup desktop to my high specced gaming rig but it just such poor image quality on HDMI on my gaming monitor.
     
  2. fricotin macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Now that High Sierra is out is there any egpu that would enable a 2012 mini to watch 4K movies at 60fps ?
     
  3. Trusteft macrumors 6502a

    Trusteft

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    #3
    Eh, don't you need the latest version of thunderbolt to use the egpu?
     
  4. ziggy29, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017

    ziggy29 macrumors 6502

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    #4
    Nope. I am using an eGPU (Mantiz Venus enclosure) on a Late 2012 Mini with Thunderbolt 1. Obviously the performance will be bottlenecked for that reason, so getting a fire breathing GPU would be overkill -- the overhead and limits of the TB1 bus would make that wasted money. There's no point in throwing a GTX 1080 in there, for example, with a TB1 Mac.

    I used it just fine with a GTX 1050 Ti under Sierra (10.12.6) and now with a RX 580 under High Sierra (the latter being plug and play, basically, and doesn't require disabling SIP). It's doing pretty well -- I can usually get 1080p @ 60 FPS for gaming, but that looks close to maxed out with the TB1 bus. Still, it can be used for a future Mac with a TB3 port. I think the 1050 Ti is probably about the sweet spot for an affordable card (about US$150) that can still deliver almost the max the TB1 interface can handle.
     
  5. Mac Tyson thread starter macrumors regular

    Mac Tyson

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  6. ziggy29, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017

    ziggy29 macrumors 6502

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    #6
    The Venus is one of the costlier options at US$389. BUT -- you also get 5 USB ports, an Ethernet port and space for an SSD inside the enclosure with a SATA interface. It's basically an eGPU *and* a Thunderbolt dock in one. And it can provide a little extra juice to charge a laptop.

    You can go cheaper -- I think the Sonnet Breakaway Box (350W) is around US$270, give or take, but doesn't have the additional ports. In reality the additional ports aren't too useful in TB1 since you don't have too much extra bandwidth to spare and give away to other I/O. But I'd imagine they are sweet in TB3.

    On the relatively low end, an eGPU enclosure and card would start at around US$450, with something like the 350W Sonnet Breakaway Box, a GTX 1050 Ti, and a TB3 to TB2 adapter. (And if you don't plan to upgrade to a new machine any time soon, it's probably all you need with a TB1 system.) Of course, you take the risk of dealing with an unsupported environment in the NVIDIA cards with High Sierra right now. But you could also pick up something like an RX470 or RX480 now that the cryptocurrency craze is starting to throttle down and demand for the Radeon cards is bringing prices closer to reality.

    For what it's worth, the Open GL based benchmarks I've run are giving me 3-4 times the FPS with the eGPU as the internal graphics.
     
  7. Trusteft macrumors 6502a

    Trusteft

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    #7
    What about FCPX performance, any difference there?
     
  8. ziggy29 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Don't use that app, I don't know.
     
  9. padams35 macrumors regular

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    #9
    The absolute cheapest eGPU would a GT 1030 in a not-certified-for-eGPU Thunderbolt 2 PCIe enclosure with an upsized power supply for ~$325 total. However that currently lacks High Sierra support and spending a little extra for a better card gives much better performance.

    For something with official High Sierra support the cheapest I can spec is ~$500 total for an amazon Sonnet Breakaway with a locally retailed RX 570.
     
  10. fricotin macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I’m a bit of a noob when it comes to egpus, all I need it for is to watch 4K videos at 60 fps. Would that be possible ? I don’t play games.
     
  11. ziggy29, Oct 11, 2017
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017

    ziggy29 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    True. I'd have a hard time recommending going that ultimate cheap route, though, under the circumstances. A TB2 enclosure is limited and cripples you for the future -- you get a TB3 Mac in the future, you're still limited to TB2 speeds despite considerable investment. But it can be done. And right now it doesn't play nice with High Sierra like the supported RX 470/480/570/580 does. The hitch, of course, is the need to buy another $50 adapter from TB3 to TB2 (the TB2 connection is compatible with TB1). Of course, if you upgrade to another TB3 capable machine, you might be able to recoup a fair amount of that on eBay. And another hitch is that the officially supported cards have been inflated in price due to cryptocurrency miners; apparently the AMD GPUs are better for that than the Nvidia cards.

    And it's funny that a RX 570 is cheaper than a 470 -- and even a 580 is about the same price as a 470. I guess the 470 must be better for cryptocurrency mining?

    On a budget the Sonnet Breakaway Box (350W) is a good buy for a TB3 enclosure that will be used with a TB1 or TB2 system and modest GPU, even more so given Sonnet's reputation in the aftermarket Mac product space -- but there is the cost of the adapter, too....
     
  12. Mac Tyson thread starter macrumors regular

    Mac Tyson

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2010
    #12
    Thanks for the response. Sounds like a headache to get my '12 Mac mini a viable egpu. I think I'd rather buy a quad core macbook pro than go through all this.

    If anyone is interested, I'm selling a 2012 mac mini, 2.6GHZ I7 Quadcore. Upgraded ram to 16gb. 1TB Fusion. Includes original box + magic keyboard + magic trackpad.

    PM for price, etc.
     
  13. padams35 macrumors regular

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    Nov 10, 2016
    #13
    Theoretically, but an TV 4K is even cheaper and more user friendly.

    Nah, the 4XX series just has the same pricing fate as any other discontinued product: only scalpers have new inventory remaining.
     

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12 October 11, 2017