eGPU on 2014 Mini - Anyone done it yet?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by MacVidCards, Nov 20, 2014.

  1. MacVidCards Suspended

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    #1
    Netkas and I have spent last few months working on eGPUs for machines lacking real ones.

    Curious if anyone has had luck getting new 2014 Mini running with eGPU via TB2?
     
  2. corvus32 macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    I suppose it made sense at one time, but there are now mini PCs with Intel R series chips (quad core and Iris Pro graphics) that are smaller in form and cost less.

    Spending $500-$1000 on something with dual-cores and non-upgradeable RAM, then hundreds more on the necessary parts (plus time to get it working) doesn't seem very efficient.
     
  3. magbarn macrumors 68000

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    #3
    Isn't it more like $1000 more? The Sonnet TB2-PCIe case goes for around $1000 right? That's still without a vid card! You could easily slap together a Haswell gaming PC with decent specs for one grand that would easily blow away a 2014 Mac Mini Dual core paired with a eGPU GTX980.
     
  4. mattspace macrumors 6502

    mattspace

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    #4
    No form of Intel graphics will provide any Mac with the ability to drive 3 external displays, discounting USB adapters. That is a structural separation in the product range irrespective of what a component should be able to do.

    If you want a mac with 3 displays of your own choice, the current option is a MBP with discreet graphics, or a nMP.

    For that reason alone, the eGPU is something to pursue.
     
  5. brdeveloper macrumors 68020

    brdeveloper

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    #5
    I think Thunderbolt is the new Firewire. It will be affordable only when it reaches the obsolescence. The good news is that Thunderbolt 1 adapter are becoming affordable and will be even cheaper when TB3 comes. Of course, who will want 10Gbps when he can get 40Gbps?
     
  6. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    #6
    But does not run OSX....
     
  7. Nosferax macrumors regular

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    #7
    If all you need is a third display and your not planning to use it for gaming, then why not just buy a USB graphic adapter?
     
  8. MacVidCards thread starter Suspended

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    #8
    Sadly, the reason these aren't plentiful and cheap has more to do with Intel and Apple artificially forcing things to go their way.

    The Akitio Thunder 2 is $220 or so and offers TB2 with 2 ports.

    Intel most likely is behind the decision to make it's PCIE slot run below the usual spec. (25 watts vs 75) when properly powered this has become the best choice right now.

    Uningine Valley score is improved by a factor of 10. (Literally)

    So Mini can become CUDA processor or even gaming machine, things impossible by itself.
     
  9. mattspace macrumors 6502

    mattspace

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    #9
    Because USB adapters are at best a hack. Perhaps you don't want to have to remember that video or 3d reference always has to go to specific screens. There's a whole world of software that, while perfectly adequate on any current CPU, gets most of its performance from, and often more or less requires, discreet GPUs.
     
  10. jwhazel, Nov 20, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2014

    jwhazel macrumors regular

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    #10
    No, connecting a gpu powered by an external power supply through a bandwidth limited cable and modifying the display drivers to recognize it is a hack.
    [​IMG]



    USB graphics adapters work pretty much exactly as they were intended... as a easy way to add functionality by plugging in a cable and installing a driver without having to do any of that stuff above. If you really do need the power of an external gpu, you save zero time or money over buying an actual purpose built machine like an imac/mbp/pro.
     
  11. mattspace macrumors 6502

    mattspace

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    #11

    No argument that the current eGPU setups are a hack, that doesn't change the facts about USB graphics adapters - they're hacks.

    There's a few simple things to take as read:

    • The iMac has an unacceptably reflective screen.
    • The MBP with discreet graphics will probably die from thermal fatigue running that many screens, if history is any guide.
    • In Australia at least, the nMP is, in real terms after currency equivalence, $1000 more expensive (plus sales taxes) than the US prices.

    So we have a choice of machines that are unusable in a lit environment, destined to burn out, or grotesquely overpriced.

    Back to square one - eGPU or Hackintosh. Personally, I'd prefer to invest more than the cost of an iMac in a reliable Mini/eGPU setup.
     
  12. jwhazel macrumors regular

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    #12
    1.) Thats entirely subjective. A lot of us prefer glossy over matte, even in a lit environment. Glossy not your cup of tea? Understandable. Unacceptable and unusable? Thats a bit over the top.
    2.) Having worked in a very large apple service center for 5 years, defective gpu's weren't quite as common as everyone wants to make them out as. The bulk of the ones we did get were typically 3-4 years old by the time they crapped out. Given the number of models apple made without gpu issues, and the low overall quantity of ones we saw that did have them, the only thing I can take from history as a guide is that the gpu has a pretty low chance of failure and if it does fail apple covers the repair.
    3.) I'll take your word for it. That sucks, but I can't envision any person who works in a professional capacity to let an additional 33% price increase deter them from buying a machine that was designed to do what they need. And if they do (and can't adapt to a cheaper comparably equipped pc), they aren't going to last real long in whatever line of work they're in. A grotesquely overpriced proper tool for the job is still the proper tool for the job.


    And thats fine if you do. But there is nothing reliable about that setup. Unless you build a case or buy an ungodly expensive custom chassis, you've got wires exposed everywhere. The kext's require hacking to get OS X to recognize the card, updates to the OS will almost always overwrite them and put you back at square one. Hot swap is a no go so if you accidentally somehow loose connection you get an instant kernel panic. You're paying more than the cost of an iMac for a fraction of the bandwidth gpu bandwidth among other things. If one is doing this to tinker around and have fun with then by all means, go for it. If one is doing it to fill a niche for a serious job that usb adapters can't fulfill (which aren't hacks at all, not sure why you keep insisting that), you've got the wrong tool for the job and you're wasting time and money.
     
  13. crazzapple Guest

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    #13
    There is a class action lawsuit moving forward right now because of this. Apple doesn't cover the repair, if they did it wouldn't be happening.
     
  14. jwhazel macrumors regular

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    #14
    Theres been a class action lawsuit for pretty much every gpu in a mbp. Whats new. I had customers threaten me (personally :rolleyes:) with lawsuits for failure of everyday things like hard drives and cheap 3rd party chargers.

    Like every other failure, apple watches repairs metrics very closely. If defective parts (which all get returned to them) reach a threshold, they'll investigate and act accordingly. And they are pretty proactive about it. They haven't done anything about the ati's in the 2011 (yet) because they simply haven't seen enough of them fail. If it truly turns out to be a defect in workmanship, they'll cover it like the rest.
     
  15. Nosferax macrumors regular

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    #15
    1) For graphic intensive work I preffer Glossy... Way better contrast than the washed out non reflective screen.

    2) I don't use Apple laptop so I don't have an opinion.

    3) That's the price to pay for living in Australia, I'm sorry to say... Apple is an American company and the USA is still their biggest market with China catching up.

    As for USB being a hack, you can't be more wrong. We use those where I work on laptop used by engineer who are using Autodesk Autocad and Civil 3D and have the need for a 3rd monitor. The transition form one screen to the next is seamless. The only thing the USB isn't made to do is GPGPU processing really. And if you are in need of heavy GPGPU power then the Mini is really a bad choice even with an external TB gpu hack which would probably amount to the same price as the entry nMP once all is done.
     
  16. MacVidCards, Nov 21, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014

    MacVidCards thread starter Suspended

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    #16
    I'll let the pictures speak to the "why"

    :)

    I moved the display connector from 780 to Mini for 2nd test. So GTX780 vs HD5000.

    I went to Barefeats to see what other Macs did on this test.

    My crappy, bottom-of-the-barrel Mini smoked every shipping Mac tested by Barefeats.

    http://www.barefeats.com/imac5k7.html

    http://www.barefeats.com/tube04.html

    EDIT: Realized that Rob tested at "Extreme" not "Extreme HD" like my first tests. I have retested at "Extreme".

    Looking forward to same test run on that USB adapter.;)
     

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  17. mattspace macrumors 6502

    mattspace

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    #17
    "Better" contrast, or more accurate contrast?

    AFAIK Eizo, NEC etc don't use glossy for their colour critical screens. That says enough to me. How you can see fine gradations in tone when you've got your own face reflected is beyond me, other than turning up the brightness to inaccurate levels.


    So when Displaylink software, which powers most of these things, was kernel panicking machines if you had 2 of them plugged in, that's not at all hacky?

    @MacVidCards have you actually got an eGPU running on a new mini?
     
  18. MacVidCards thread starter Suspended

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  19. crazzapple Guest

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    #19
    Wow, nice upgrade. I'm surely dreaming here, but I'd like to see apple offer an add on box here or maybe integrate it into the next cinema display.
     
  20. MacVidCards thread starter Suspended

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    #20
    I don't believe Apple will. For less than $1K I made the slowest Mini faster at OpenGL than anything Apple sells.

    They would much rather sell you a whole new machine then be able to so easily do this. The whole reason they removed slots from Mac Pro
     
  21. corvus32, Nov 21, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2014

    corvus32 macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Well, since we're posting Valley benchmarks...

    And this for hundreds less than the price of a fully spec'd Mini.
     

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  22. MacVidCards thread starter Suspended

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    #22
    Cool, Bro.

    What Mobo did you get?

    Did you get the reverse sequencing chase lights?

    Water cooled power switch? Which Westbridge chip cooler?

    Favorite daily virus scan?

    Windows Forever !
     
  23. crazzapple Guest

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    Oct 19, 2014
    #23
    Interesting... it seems Intel has been putting its lawyers on the few companies that have made all-in-one egpu solutions, other than the incredibly pricey Sonnet. They must be afraid people will just upgrade video cards instead of Intel cpus.
     
  24. magbarn macrumors 68000

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #24
    If what your saying is true, then a Mac mini egpu setup is just as bad as a hackintosh. If you're modding kexts, you might as well put a separate hackintosh together for cheaper with better CPU specs than a mini.
     
  25. SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040

    SlCKB0Y

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    #25
    That could just be buggy...not hacky
    :D
     

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