DIY eGPU for Mac Mini 2012 OSX

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
Hi guys. Just wanted to share my experience on DIY eGPU Implementation using Mac Mini 2012.

I was able to run steam games on OSX. My setup is AkiTio Thunder 2, GTX 770 4GB Classified, ASUS Gaming Monitor, Thunderbolt Display and PSU.

Here's the detail of my setup and guide.

HARDWARE CONFIGURATION

  • Apple Mac Mini 2012 16GB with Intel HD 4000
  • AKiTiO Thunder2 PCIe Box
  • Corsair CX750 M
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 770 4GB
  • 2x Thunderbolt Cable
  • HDMI
  • SWEX
  • Monitor (ASUS VG248QE / Apple Thunderbolt Display)

PREPARATION

Step 1 (Note: eGPU setup should be all disconnected)

Step 2
  • Download and install a modded NVIDIA Web driver
  • Usually, NVIDIA's official Web driver will do a system check. Official web driver can only be installed on MacPro 2008, 2009, 2010. If you are using a iMac or Mac Mini or MacBook Pro, you can't even install. But Modified Web driver avoids the system check. Modded Web driver file name is ModdedWebDriver-334.01.02f02.pkg.
  • File mirror: https://app.box.com/s/wa2tblhb4y5dtd3fgh1z

Step 3
  • Modify the following KEXT files from your Terminal and look for sections beginning with CFBundleIdentifier and add just before , the two following lines

    <key>IOPCITunnelCompatible</key>
    <true/>


KEXT Files to edit
/System/Library/Extensions/NVDAStartup.kext
/System/Library/Extensions/IONDRVSupport.kext
/System/Library/Extensions/AppleHDA.kext/Contents/PlugIns/AppleHDAController.kext​

  • Every time you upgrade your OS you need to modify these KEXT files
  • Finally, clear the cache by issuing the following commandsudo kextcache -system-caches and shutdown your OS.
  • Warning: The following procedure at your own risk. Please be sure to take a backup in case of emergency.

Step 4 (Setup and connect your eGPU. I am using EVGA GeForce GTX 770 4GB Classified)
  • In my case, I have the following setup;
  • GPU card is connected to AkiTio PCI-e slot without the PCIe riser. AkiTio is powered by its supplied power adaptor
  • GPU card is powered with PSU thru its two 8 pins
  • Connect your AkiTio and Mini using Thunderbolt Cable
  • Connect your GPU and Monitor using DVI, Display Port or HDMI cable
  • BONUS: I have an existing Apple ThunderBolt Display, I was able to mirror my display. I connected my TB display to the extra TB port on AkiTio


A BIG Thank you to the following
  • maxserve blog: (MacOSX 10.9.4 edition) How to recognize GPGPU via Thunderbolt external PCIe Box at MacOSX
  • A Thunderbolt GPU on a Mac : How-to | Le journal du lapin
  • goalque
  • nando4

Results
  • I no longer experience the kernel panic in my previous setup. I am not sure if its with the GPU card that I previously used (760). It appears that this time this is stable compared from my previous setup using PCI-e riser.
  • I can play better games on Steam

PHOTOS and Video


https://flic.kr/p/p6hb1r
https://flic.kr/p/oP3pdR
http://flic.kr/p/p6vsuo
http://flic.kr/p/oP3pdR

https://vimeo.com/104886425

BENCHMARK
https://flic.kr/p/p4HDXL
https://flic.kr/p/p4HD3Q

Enjoy!
 
Last edited:

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
Performance

Although I was able to perform those benchmarks from UniEngine and Cinebench, how would I be able to verify if I am really utilizing the performance of my eGPU compare to a Mac Pro or MBPr?
 

mattspace

macrumors 65816
Jun 5, 2013
1,418
1,084
Australia
these really interest me - the ability to drive 3 large monitors, without using usb adapters looks achievable again.

and of course the flight of fancy that ensues is that with Yosemite and a potential nMM, that this becomes a supported way of doing things, even if it's for the mini only (like the external superdrive being limited to machines that never shipped with an optical) - the limitations of a GPU over thunderbolt mean it's unlikely to ever directly compete with the nMP as a solution, and Apple could stick with lower end Intel graphics to keep the machine cost down.

Does anyone happen to know if the port / channel aggregation that TB2 has would mean that an external GPU could feasibly have 8 lanes available?
 

romrp

macrumors newbie
Aug 26, 2013
10
0
Dude, I liked very much your idea, but I guess it is not fancy at all. For this box you would need a half length video card. I got the same mini you have, but I'd put a 256 Gb SSD as primary. The lack of a good video card limits me sometimes, but spending another $450 in this... maybe an iMac would be in order... Well thanks for the experience, all the best, RomRP
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
iMac vs eGPU

Dude, I liked very much your idea, but I guess it is not fancy at all. For this box you would need a half length video card. I got the same mini you have, but I'd put a 256 Gb SSD as primary. The lack of a good video card limits me sometimes, but spending another $450 in this... maybe an iMac would be in order... Well thanks for the experience, all the best, RomRP

You have a point. But here's the run down cost of the eGPU setup which is around $1600. And you have the ability to upgrade the GPU anytime.

1. 770 4GB - 400$
2. AkiTio - 225$
3. PSU - 50$
4. Monitor - 100-300$
5. Mac Mini - 799$

Then if you have a MacBook you can also use the eGPU :)

While the entry level iMac (i5) is around 1800-1900.

But yeah, this is fun :)
 

h9826790

macrumors G5
Apr 3, 2014
14,139
6,767
Hong Kong
Although I was able to perform those benchmarks from UniEngine and Cinebench, how would I be able to verify if I am really utilizing the performance of my eGPU compare to a Mac Pro or MBPr?
I think you better use LuxMark to check the performance, which is less CPU dependent, and much more accurate.
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
output to Cinema display

Hey, I have a question. Do you think with my eGPU setup, I would be able to output my display from my GPU 770 to Apple Cinema Display?

I will be using a female mini display port adapter to Display Port.
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
Mac Mini / Macbook Pro 2011 OSX eGPU with Apple Cinema Display

Hey guys, I have another implementation of eGPU for my Mac Mini and guess what... an old 2011 MBP 13-inch. This time I tried using the Sonnet III-D TB enclosure. I had the AkiTio Thunder2 previously.

I returned my ASUS gaming monitor and settled for a refurbished Apple Cinema Display :)

Here's the video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiBFe3yc2Xk

Here's the implementation and benchmarks

http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-...0ti@10gbps-tb1-sonnet-iii-d-osx-10-9-4-a.html
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
LuxMark test result

I think you better use LuxMark to check the performance, which is less CPU dependent, and much more accurate.
Hi, here's my LuxMark result for my GTX 780 Ti


1641 - Sala Medium Benchmark (488k triangles)
6903 - LuxBall Sky (262k triangles)
 

dylin

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2010
647
49
California
Hey guys, I have another implementation of eGPU for my Mac Mini and guess what... an old 2011 MBP 13-inch. This time I tried using the Sonnet III-D TB enclosure. I had the AkiTio Thunder2 previously.

I returned my ASUS gaming monitor and settled for a refurbished Apple Cinema Display :)

Here's the video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uiBFe3yc2Xk

Here's the implementation and benchmarks

http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-...0ti@10gbps-tb1-sonnet-iii-d-osx-10-9-4-a.html
Was it just as simple as plugging in the cable and installing the Drivers from NVIDIA and that was all?
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
Was it just as simple as plugging in the cable and installing the Drivers from NVIDIA and that was all?
Yes. Now, It makes my eGPU as a docking station for all my Thunderbolt Mac (Mini and MBP) machines
 

dylin

macrumors 6502a
Jun 10, 2010
647
49
California
Yes. Now, It makes my eGPU as a docking station for all my Thunderbolt Mac (Mini and MBP) machines
Thanks. Not to sound incredibly nooby, but do i still have to modify kexts files or will i be good to go if i just use a video card that is compatible with OSX out of the box?
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
You still need to modify the KEXT files. I thought of creating an installer for this :)
 

mattspace

macrumors 65816
Jun 5, 2013
1,418
1,084
Australia
Could you provide a bit more detail about the external power supply - is that necessary because the thunderbolt chassis doesn't supply enough juice for the card?
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
Could you provide a bit more detail about the external power supply - is that necessary because the thunderbolt chassis doesn't supply enough juice for the card?

Correct. Yes you need an extra PSU to power the GPU thru the it's 6/8 pin. In this case the AkiTio has only 75W which is not enough to power the GPU itself.

For the Sonnet III-D, it's built-in 300W PSU can power the GPU too. Someone solder a 6/8pin cable to the chassis' power source. You can find it below.

http://forum.techinferno.com/diy-e-...tan@10gbps-tb1-sonnet-iii-d-osx-10-9-4-a.html


I didn't try doing the above as I am not an electrician, and don't have the courage to do it :)
 

i101

macrumors newbie
Sep 15, 2013
2
0
Is this setup possible without a 2nd Monitor? Mac Mini 2012 + Thunderbolt Display only?
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
Is this setup possible without a 2nd Monitor? Mac Mini 2012 + Thunderbolt Display only?
You need another monitor because you can't output the display from the GPU card to TB display.

I bought a refurbished Apple Cinema Display and use a mini/display port adapter to connect to GPU. Then my Thunderbolt Display is connected to the extra TB port in the chassis.

However, if you choose your TB display as the main display over the Cinema display, the HD4000 GPU will kick in.

Hope that helps!
 
Last edited:

i101

macrumors newbie
Sep 15, 2013
2
0
Thanks for the info. A 2nd Display is no Option for me. I am regretting the Thunderbolt Display purchase more and more.
 

mattspace

macrumors 65816
Jun 5, 2013
1,418
1,084
Australia
Some more questions, cause this is a fascinating development...

You need another monitor because you can't output the display from the GPU card to TB display.
Is this a case of the TB display specifically not working with the ports plus adapters the card you're using offers, or are you saying that you can't have the eGPU as the only monitor(s) on the system?

For example, if the card supports 2 displays, could you just have 2 displays plugged into the card, and nothing running from the built in graphics?

cheers,
 

entzoe05

macrumors member
Original poster
Dec 20, 2012
74
8
Some more questions, cause this is a fascinating development...



Is this a case of the TB display specifically not working with the ports plus adapters the card you're using offers, or are you saying that you can't have the eGPU as the only monitor(s) on the system?

For example, if the card supports 2 displays, could you just have 2 displays plugged into the card, and nothing running from the built in graphics?

cheers,

Yes you can output multiple display from the card. What he was asking was for the Thunderbolt Display. You can still use the TB display (connected to the extra TB port). However, if you make TB display as your primary display or you do extended display, internal graphics kicks in, while if you do mirroring, the eGPU will kicks in.


Check this image that I posted from another forum;

http://forum.techinferno.com/attachments/diy-e-gpu-projects/12457d1410019457-untitled-3.jpg


(sorry for my english)
 
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