eGPU Benefits for non-gamer, non-videographer

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by DaveP, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. DaveP macrumors 6502


    Mar 18, 2005
    I'm looking at getting the new i7 Mac mini. Are there really any benefits to an eGPU if you are not a gamer and do very little video work (occasional editing of 4K drone footage). My main use cases are Xcode, virtual machines (1-2 at any given time), image editing (Lightroom, Pixelmator Pro, Affinity), and of course the usual email, Internet, etc. I will have two 4K monitors connected. It seems the GPU is not used very much for those sorts of applications, but it is tough to get good info. There are also some thoughts that an eGPU can lower the CPU temps, but counter points that it isn't an issue unless the temps get really, really high.

    I use my computer very heavily and for my livelihood. So I'm not trying to pinch pennies here, but if the difference is hardly noticeable, I'd rather not have an eGPU taking up room on my desk.
  2. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Considering your usage, I wouldn't rush out and buy one.

    DO get the Mini, it's very nice.

    But after getting the new Mini, I'd take more time (say, 4-6 months) to see how the eGPU market develops.
    And then make a buying decision...
  3. ncrypt macrumors 6502

    May 16, 2012
    As long as you get more than 8GB of RAM, I don't think you'd need an eGPU
  4. Honumaui macrumors 6502a

    Apr 18, 2008
    ditto others I might say just do the 32GB upgrade yourself ? if you do not want to mess with that and want to order 16GB should do you fine and save you money ?

    use it make notes if/when you notice slow down then research if that program takes adv of the eGPU in those areas and then I bet you could get away with just something like the 580 GPU in a base sonnet box so figure $400 would get you into a nice eGPU setup
  5. Stephen.R, Apr 23, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2019

    Stephen.R macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2018
    The key thing will be how you use your monitors.

    At “default” (ie retina mode - “looks like 1920x1080”) a 2018 mini with sufficient ram will generally be ok driving two 4Ks, but if you use the other scaled resolutions (ie looks like 2560x1440) it will not be great, regardless of how much memory you have.

    Reference: I have an i7/64GB mini running two Dell P2415Qs. I intend to order an eGPU soon (I miss the extra screen real estate - 1080p at 24” is too low IMO).
    --- Post Merged, Apr 23, 2019 ---
    I should add my usage is even less graphical than yours - headless VMs (almost always 1 running, sometimes up to 6 or 8, anywhere from 0.5 to 2GB of Memory allocated to each), IDEA Ultimate (the IDE), sql client, terminal, safari, etc.
  6. DaveP thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 18, 2005
    Thanks everyone for the info. Stephen.R, that's an interesting point about resolution on monitors, and not one I have heard before. I would definitely have higher than 1920x1080 on the two 24" monitors. I can also do my own tests and then get an eGPU if needed.

    My business partner is telling me to wait and see what/if something Mac Pro related is announced at WWDC. But I'm guessing the starting price will probably be like $4,000 and would only be marginally better for my use. So I'm getting impatient...
  7. D.T. macrumors G3


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    My use case is almost exactly the same as yours! Code work (web, native mobile, various platforms/frameworks/langs, VMs, services (like DB, web servers), "lite" image editing, general computing, and it's critical business tool.

    I'm currently running 2 X Dell U2518 displays, that's a 25" QHD (2560x1440), off my '15 MBP (i7/16/370X dGPU). I went 25" with the QHD as it bumped up the PPI a decent amount, and figured that was a good middle ground to be driven by the MBP - so I'm figuring if (when?) I pick up a Mini, these displays will be terrific, and not really need too much additional GPU power (for my specific uses). I think my plan is to score an i7/3.2/512/32 Mini, use these displays, "wait and see" with regards to an eGPU, and then if that option really sorts itself out, I'd pass these monitors on to my wife and/or daughter, do an eGPU and switch out to 27" 4L displays.

    FWIW, I was using a VM for Windows, then had some work opps that needed more [Windows] performance, so I went to BC (later that turned out to be __way__ to slow, switched to a beastly gaming/VR machine), but in the last couple of years, it's gotten to where my workflow would be greatly enhanced by moving back to a VM - in fact, I'm currently running my BC as a VM with Parallels 14. So I'd like a more CPU performance, some additional RAM headroom (32 vs. my 16), and my notebook stays "docked" 99% of the time - seems like a new Mini is a perfect fit for me.
  8. adamk77 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 6, 2008
    I code for a living.

    Xcode - most definitely yes if you will be using the simulator. I have an i7 Mini with 32GB of RAM. I got an eGPU because the simulator was slow with the integrated GPU. Enough so that it was interfering with my productivity. Even something innocuous as Slack screen sharing was frustrating with the integrated GPU.

    Check out the 2 threads I created below. The first thread describes my frustration with the Mac Mini after having owned it for a week. The second thread details my eGPU solution, which was a direct result of trying to solve my problems in the 1st thread.
  9. DaveP thread starter macrumors 6502


    Mar 18, 2005
    Thank you, very helpful post. Pretty much all my iOS development is with physical devices, but sounds like I would likely run into some graphics bottlenecks somewhere. I think the conclusion is to just go for the eGPU. I'll probably end up with a very similar setup to yours. Thanks again.
  10. jerwin macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2015
    Pixelmator Pro suppossedly benefits from a beefy gpu

    Screen Shot 217.png

    Not sure how that translates to an eGPU.
  11. Hessel89 macrumors regular


    Sep 27, 2017
    Have actually tried it? Because my Mac Mini i7 with 32GB runs both my LG ultrafine 5k and my Dell UP3216Q at 2560x1440 hiDPI without any trouble. At the same time btw. I also consider an eGPU but only for gaming and CAD.
    --- Post Merged, Apr 27, 2019 ---
    I run two monitors at 5K (rendered internally) and it works fine. If you need a Mac now don’t wait for the Mac Pro. The Mac Mini is a great investment and it’s good to know you can always add an eGPU if you need it.
  12. Stephen.R macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2018
    Yes. That’s why I commented.

    It’s only doing the inefficient scaling on one of those displays (and mine will scale 1x4K screen “inefficiently” without issues too) though - the 5k display is at its “native” @2x resolution so it’s less demanding.

Share This Page

11 April 23, 2019