External GPU (eGPU) Resources

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by F-Train, Nov 13, 2018.

  1. Meatsuit, Dec 1, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018

    Meatsuit macrumors newbie

    Meatsuit

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    #201
    I think it could be a toss up between Sonnet box or the OWC box... Looks to be the same.
    Back in the days of Firewire and SCSI and Zip Drives i had purchased a Sonnet processor upgrade for a G4. It fried and was not happy at the time. Replaced it with one from OWC and it fried too. But they replaced it really fast and all was well in the world. Guess i still holding a little grudge.
     
  2. Rockies, Dec 1, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018

    Rockies macrumors 6502

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    #202
    So the only way I can get my Mini to use the eGPU is connecting monitor to Mini on initial startup then disconnect and connect to eGPU to get eGPU graphics. Is there a work around this?

    Update:

    1. If you have a Mac mini (2018) with FileVault turned on, make sure to connect your primary display directly to Mac mini during startup. After you log in and see the macOS Desktop, you can unplug the display from Mac mini and connect it to your eGPU.
     
  3. KennethS macrumors 6502

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    #203
    If your monitor has more than 1 input, is there a problem/downside to having both the mini and the eGPU connected using different inputs and just switching input on the monitor from mini (during boot and login) to eGPU after login is complete? Only downside I can identify is the use of an extra port on the mini.
     
  4. apolloa macrumors G5

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    #204
    Here in the UK the Blackmagic Pro with its Vega 56 is £1199, the Asus box price is around £250, add a Vega 56 card for what £500, and that’s a saving of £450!!
    The standard Blackmagic price I could just about stomach, the Pro model is just a pure rip off.
     
  5. Maccotto macrumors 6502

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    Oct 6, 2012
    #205
    Sorry the question: i will have same problem if i use mini with a monitor with 2-3 plugs? (My monitor has Display port, hdmi, vga ecc )


    Have you the problem also after stop or only for first boot?
     
  6. F-Train, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018

    F-Train thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #206
    The U.S. price of the Blackmagic Pro is $1200. The August, 2017 retail launch price of the Vega 56 GPU was $400.* On Black Friday weekend, ASRock was selling its version of the Vega 56 for $340, and I believe that the retail price is going to settle in the next few weeks at $400 to $450. This means that you are paying about $750 to $800 for the enclosure.

    It's instructive to read through Blackmagic's web page on its RX 580 and Vega 56 products: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/blackmagicegpu/

    Blackmagic's main claim is that its enclosure is "super quiet". However, there does not appear to be any difference in design between its RX 590 and Vega 56 enclosures, the Vega 56 being a more powerful GPU. Also, Blackmagic essentially says, correctly, that noise is a function of fan operation:

    Extruded from a single piece of aluminum, the Blackmagic eGPU features a machine anodized finish and a unique thermal grill that’s designed for balanced airflow, convection cooling and efficient heat dissipation. This allows the variable speed fan to run more slowly, resulting in super quiet operation.​

    The fact of the matter is that the AMD "partners" that make these AMD GPUs differentiate their products, in part, via heat dissipation and fan operation features. Looking at gaming sites, it's clear that gamers believe, rightly or wrongly, that some partner designs are better at heat dissipation and quiet operation than others. The key point is that there is no difference in principle between what these partners do and what Blackmagic is doing. Indeed, there's a pretty good chance that one of the partners designed the heat dissipation and fan operation features of the GPUs in Blackmagic's enclosure.

    For the last three weeks, I've been using Asus's XG Station Pro enclosure with Sapphire's Nitro+ RX 590 GPU, including for gaming with the X-Plane flight simulator. Heat dissipation and noise are absolutely not problems. I have not tested the Blackmagic GPU, but I have a lot of trouble believing that it is somehow "better" when it comes to these issues. Indeed, Blackmagic does not even claim that its enclosure is better; this is just how some people apparently choose to interpret its statements.

    Meanwhile, one winds up with an external GPU that can't be upgraded. Forget about AMD's roadmap, which calls for replacement of the Polaris series of GPUs over the next year, and forget about using a Nvidia GPU when, and if, Nvidia and Apple settle their differences.

    At US$1200, the Blackmagic Pro strikes me as a very hard sell. Blackmagic's prices might have been understandable when GPUs were selling for crazy money due to demand from cryptocurrency miners, but not now.

    * For launch dates and original prices of AMD GPUs, see post #189.
     
  7. Bartjes macrumors newbie

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    #207
    I do use the Sonnet Breakaway Box with a 2 m Thunderbolt 3 cable (70 Euros !) and it works fine.
     
  8. F-Train, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018

    F-Train thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #208
    @Rockies's post, which is the clearest and most constructive post that I've seen on the FileVault issue, prompted me to try something with my monitor that may be useful to others.

    I have been interested in finding an easy way to switch between my mini's internal GPU and my external GPU. There are many things for which I don't need the external GPU and I'd like to minimise power consumption. If you use FileVault, or if your eGPU generates unwelcome noise or heat, an easy way to switch might also be attractive.

    On my new monitor, I can summon up an on-screen control panel that lets me select my monitor input port. I have a choice of four HDMI ports, one DisplayPort port and one Thunderbolt port.

    As an experiment, I ran an HDMI cable from my mini's HDMI port to one of the monitor's HDMI ports. Then I ran a Thunderbolt 3 cable from one of my mini's Thunderbolt 3 ports to the Thunderbolt port on my Asus external GPU enclosure. Finally, I ran a DisplayPort cable from my external RX 590's DisplayPort port to my monitor's DisplayPort port.

    It turns out that I can use the monitor's on-screen control panel to switch between the monitor's HDMI connection to my mini and its DisplayPort connection to my external GPU. The only additional thing that I have to do is turn my external GPU enclosure on or off depending on which connection I want to use.

    Coming from an iMac, I don't know whether my monitor is typical. If it is, there would seem to be a simple way to switch between the mini's internal GPU and its external GPU, without the need to mess with cables and port plugs.

    P.S. I haven't tested it, but there's no reason why I couldn't do this using two HDMI cables and ports (my RX 590 has two HDMI ports) rather than one HDMI and one DisplayPort.
     
  9. F-Train, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018

    F-Train thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #209
    I have a question arising from the test discussed in the post above (#208). Coming from an iMac, my knowledge of current monitor functionality is very limited. Can anyone say whether the monitor function discussed in that post - ability to easily switch between input ports - is now common?

    I do realise that this is not the sort of issue that most people are likely to encounter with their monitor day to day, and I'd be surprised if it gets much attention, if any, in user manuals. As far as I know, this idea has not even been raised, let alone tested, in the many discussions about FileVault.

    If anyone can test whether their monitor supports this functionality, that would be great. It is highly unlikely that the monitor that I am using is the only one that will support this.

    Thanks
     
  10. rmdeluca macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2018
    #210
    Yep, extremely common. Some monitors even have built-in KVMs with multiple USB inputs as well.
     
  11. F-Train, Dec 2, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2018

    F-Train thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #211
    Ha!

    For those, like me, who haven't got a clue what KVMs stands for, it's apparently a Keyboard, Video, Mouse switch.

    There's been a lot of ink spilled on external GPUs that could have been more focused, if not saved, if people were thinking in these terms.
     
  12. rmdeluca macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2018
    #212
    Yeah, I've mentioned it several times now throughout the various eGPU discussions. Yet I'm still regularly seeing people afraid to embrace eGPU because they don't realize they only have to press a few buttons on their monitor when they boot into Windows or when entering the FileVault/firmware password.

    The value added by an eGPU is much greater than the slight hassle of pressing buttons on one's monitor during bootup.
     
  13. KennethS macrumors 6502

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    UK
    #213
     
  14. nampramos macrumors 6502

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    Dec 14, 2010
    #214
    Is anyone running a Gigabyte Vega 56 on their Mac? Any compatibility issues or it’s straight plug-n-play?
     
  15. Rasta4i macrumors regular

    Rasta4i

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    London
    #215
    Does using a egpu through thunderbolt 3 cause performance penalty on your GPU?

    For instance i’m looking into a Mac mini or MacBook Pro 15” and pairing one of those with a vega 64. If there’s a performance penalty would it have equivalent performance of a vega 56 or something slower?

    Currently i’m swaying towards a 15 inch 2018 MacBook Pro with an egpu as my sole computers for fcpx editing

    I’m sure I’ve asked this question in this thread before but I’ve not found a conclusive answer with the facts to back it up anywhere online. I also don’t feel like experimenting as it’s quite an expensive one.
     
  16. rmdeluca, Dec 3, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018

    rmdeluca macrumors 6502

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    #216
    Yes, there is a performance penalty.

    https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/external-gpu-egpu-resources.2154653/page-5#post-26823254
     
  17. Rockies macrumors 6502

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    Oct 4, 2011
    #217
    Are you connecting monitor to both mac mini and eGPU?
     
  18. rmdeluca macrumors 6502

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    Oct 30, 2018
    #218
    Yes.
     
  19. DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a

    DesertSurfer

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    #219
  20. F-Train, Dec 3, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018

    F-Train thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #220
    I have an RX 590 and I've started using it with X-Plane 11. If you use X-Plane, you know that the bottom line is frame rate, and that frame rate depends not just on choice of resolution, but very much on choices in graphics/rendering settings and flight area, some flight areas requiring manipulation of a lot more visual data than others (e.g. NYC vs Nantucket Island). Plus, some of X-Plane's rendering settings are CPU intensive and some are GPU intensive.

    There are so many performance variables in X-Plane - one can spend a lot of time tinkering with them - that I think it's a good idea to keep in mind @rmdeluca's caveat in his post: "These are of course just guidelines. Performance in individual titles and vs. different models of GPU cards will vary."
     
  21. Rasta4i macrumors regular

    Rasta4i

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    #221
    So for instance i’m only playing to use the egpu with Final Cut Pro and Davinci Resolve so I shouldn’t lose performance based on that correct?
     
  22. rmdeluca, Dec 3, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2018

    rmdeluca macrumors 6502

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    #222
    No. You'll almost always lose some performance running a card over TB3 as opposed to what it could have done if it were running natively in a x16 PCIe 3.0 slot with all other hardware being the same. In most workloads we're seeing the overhead is proving to be around 15-20%.

    What you really care about though is performance relative to what you have now.

    The UHD 630 iGPU in your Mini is anywhere from 3 to 13 times slower than the GPUs you currently can use under Mojave, if we include all AMD GPUs between an RX 560 and RX Vega 64, inclusive.

    If you have no prior reference to compare to other than the 2018 Mini's iGPU, any card in the above range will be faster with workloads that can properly utilize an eGPU than what you had before. The only time the overhead really matters is if you're trying to replicate a specific performance level seen on an otherwise equivalent desktop machine. Then, the "go up one class of GPU" rule of thumb I provided will rarely steer you wrong.

    If you're buying an eGPU specifically to accelerate specific professional tasks you should buy as much GPU as your budget allows and not worry about the fact that it's going to run 15 or 20% slower as an eGPU. Right now the bang-for-buck sweet spot is between an RX 580 and RX Vega 64. The price for an RX 580 as an eGPU starts at around $440:

    https://www.amazon.com/Sonnet-Breakaway-Thunderbolt-Expansion-GPU-350W-TB3Z/dp/B077K8KNDS?th=1

    The Vega 64 is currently available for around $400:

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814202326

    But you'll have to put it in an enclosure that usually retails for around $350 (there are others that will work too):

    https://www.sonnetstore.com/products/egfx-breakaway-box-650?variant=7209888055330
     
  23. F-Train thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #223
  24. DesertSurfer macrumors 6502a

    DesertSurfer

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    #224
    All true. Once you have your settings the way you like them, maybe you could share so we can see what you can do with x-Plane on the RX 590 in an eGPU.
     
  25. Rasta4i macrumors regular

    Rasta4i

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    London
    #225
    Thanks for such a detailed response, I was considering getting the mini. However I currently have top spec 2017 5k iMac with the 580 but I need a laptop but currently don’t want to keep using two systems.

    I’m considering MacBook Pro 15” 2018 six core mobile processor with Vega 64 via eGPU. I’m hoping it’ll give me better graphic performance in Final Cut for video effects and things that are GPU accelerated tasks as for certain videos I do this element causes me the biggest delay.

    I gusss i’m trying to figure out if MacBook Pro with Vega 64 can give me more performance than the 580 in the iMac?
     

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