Mac Mini and Blackmagic eGPU

inmnbob

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 6, 2014
218
80
Chicago and Twin Cities
Okay, for all of you considering the BM eGPU I finally figured it out and now understand why it isn't working with the Mac Mini. When we correctly connect to the eGPU it would look like this: mac mini > eGPU > monitor. When we boot the Mac Mini we are not able to boot into the eGPU and since the eGPU is controlling the monitor we get no image. What's actually happening is the Mac Mini has booted up, but with no display connected. If you are lucky enough to watch other peripherals etc you can estimate when the system is at your login screen (if it was on) and type in your password. You will need to type your password blindly but if you are correct then the mac mini will boot into the eGPU which will then power the monitor.

I called and talked to Blackmagic and they were unaware of this and said that most installations use two monitors so you boot into the main monitor and the eGPU then controls the second monitor/ That makes sense but the use case with the Mac Mini is different and not how the device is promoted even on the Apple site.

I don't know if this will be fixed or if it is a big deal to you. Is this how the other eGPUs work too? I now have to reconsider everything but at least it is working.

I will run some additional benchmarks to see how it works when it is properly configured .
 

F-Train

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2015
1,457
988
NYC & Newfoundland
Okay, for all of you considering the BM eGPU I finally figured it out and now understand why it isn't working with the Mac Mini. When we correctly connect to the eGPU it would look like this: mac mini > eGPU > monitor. When we boot the Mac Mini we are not able to boot into the eGPU and since the eGPU is controlling the monitor we get no image. What's actually happening is the Mac Mini has booted up, but with no display connected. If you are lucky enough to watch other peripherals etc you can estimate when the system is at your login screen (if it was on) and type in your password. You will need to type your password blindly but if you are correct then the mac mini will boot into the eGPU which will then power the monitor.

I called and talked to Blackmagic and they were unaware of this and said that most installations use two monitors so you boot into the main monitor and the eGPU then controls the second monitor/ That makes sense but the use case with the Mac Mini is different and not how the device is promoted even on the Apple site.

I don't know if this will be fixed or if it is a big deal to you. Is this how the other eGPUs work too? I now have to reconsider everything but at least it is working.

I will run some additional benchmarks to see how it works when it is properly configured .
Very, very helpful.

Next question is whether this is also an issue with other eGPUs, which luckily is not your problem.
 

tpivette89

macrumors 6502
Jan 1, 2018
411
212
Newark, DE
If it's possible to solve this problem by not using a password, I'm in :)
I would imagine that since the eGPU uses a GPU (in this case, the RX 580) that doesn't have a Mac EFI present, that boot screens will not appear. This has always been the case when using certain GPUs in the classic Mac Pros. A simple fix is to go into "Preferences", then "Security and Privacy" and disable the login password so it boots right into OSX once the boot process is complete.

Take this with a grain of salt, though, cause I'm not yet familiar with the newest Mac Mini or a eGPU setup with said machine.
 

F-Train

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2015
1,457
988
NYC & Newfoundland
I would imagine that since the eGPU uses a GPU (in this case, the RX 580) that doesn't have a Mac EFI present, that boot screens will not appear. This has always been the case when using certain GPUs in the classic Mac Pros. A simple fix is to go into "Preferences", then "Security and Privacy" and disable the login password so it boots right into OSX once the boot process is complete.

Take this with a grain of salt, though, cause I'm not yet familiar with the newest Mac Mini or a eGPU setup with said machine.
I just disabled the password and enabled automatic login on my Mac mini. Restart worked fine, booted directly into my user account.

I don't know if he's up to it, but it would be interesting if @inmnbob could try this and see if it bypasses the issue.
 

inmnbob

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 6, 2014
218
80
Chicago and Twin Cities
I have to try a couple things like letting it go to sleep and see what happens. I think so far the screen goes blank from text but is still being powered by the eGPU because I can see the display still has power to the screen. I will try the passwords to---that's a good idea by-the-way. I will post updated benchmarks too
[doublepost=1542072618][/doublepost]The eGPU benchmarks are really good. The new Mac Mini with the Intel UBH 630 had an OpenCL score of 24292 while the Radeon Pro 580 in the Blackmagic eGPU scored 115431. I can notice the speed difference in apps too and within the activity monitor since this is finally connected correctly mac > eGPU > monitor
 

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F-Train

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2015
1,457
988
NYC & Newfoundland
I have to try a couple things like letting it go to sleep and see what happens. I think so far the screen goes blank from text but is still being powered by the eGPU because I can see the display still has power to the screen. I will try the passwords to---that's a good idea by-the-way. I will post updated benchmarks too
You can enable automatic login in "Security and Privacy", but I actually did that part in "Users and Groups", at which point the change was reflected in "Security and Privacy".

At one point in "Security and Privacy", I was asked if I wanted to disable/erase iCloud Keychain. I just said to keep it.
 
Last edited:

killawat

macrumors 65816
Sep 11, 2014
1,443
2,185
Yep, this has been happening since the early days of eGPU, the Mac mini poses a unique challenge with no integrated display. I've gotten quite adept at navigating the preboot interface blind (it comes down to timing). Mojave for some reason drastically increases the amount of latency between keypresses, maybe for security reasons.

Now you do have some options, amazon is chock full of cheap TVs meant for in car DVD players and raspberry pi, which you can leave hooked up (wouldn't recommend) or use as needed without futzing with your eGPU setup.

For the cleaner solution you could always get a flashed Nvidia card but that would be something from the 7x, 8x or 9x era. Still operates as expected.

Speaking of flashing, the eGPU community had hopped Apple would offer a way to flash officially recommended cards such as the Sapphire Pulse. The reasoning behind this is because Apple had released Aquantia (10 Gb) firmware updates baked into 10.13.3 wild that actually turned PC version Aquantia cards into Mac versions. Hackintoshers were loving the free upgrade.

Ok, make sure you're sitting down for this one. Boot screens work natively with nVidia RTX based cards. (for technical reasons that I won't go into unless someone asks). Yep, read that again. nVidia RTX based cards offer native boot screens for our Macs but no driver support within macOS as we all know. In short, Nvidia baked in the EFI juice to make it work. Yet, officially recommended Radeon cards offer no boot screens but great macOS support. RTX offer great boot screens but no macOS.

This is the Macintosh in 2018.
 

PianoPro

macrumors regular
Sep 4, 2018
232
118
I thought the original problem was that the eGPU isn't being activated until Mojave fully boots (past the LOGIN screen) so you don't see the LOGIN screen from the eGPU connected monitor? That isn't a boot screen problem. The RX-580 always shows a LOGIN screen when not used as a eGPU (e.g. on cMP). It can NOT ever show a Boot Manager screen (start up holding Option key), but that has nothing to do with this problem. So I wouldn't expect ANY video card used as an eGPU to show the LOGIN screen.

Have I misunderstood the problem?
 

PianoPro

macrumors regular
Sep 4, 2018
232
118
You nailed it. I thought that Apple working directly with Blackmagic would have tried to solve this
So my question is this: Is this a problem with the Blackmagic eGPU only, or is it a Mac-mini/Mojave problem that the eGPU video card is not activated for the LOGIN screen (which would affect ALL eGPU boxes)?

I don't want to bypass the password protected LOGIN screen as some have suggested, so that isn't a solution for me. I also have 3 monitors currently in use, so I don't want to add a 4th monitor, even a small one, just to use as a login screen. I suppose I could attach one of my 3 monitors to another port on the Mac mini and use that as both a login screen and a work screen. I would expect the Mini to only see that one monitor at login time and use it for the login screen, and then after fully booting it would arrange all 3 screens anyway I wished (i.e. the login monitor would not have to be monitor #1 in my setup - which I might prefer to be connected to the much higher performance eGPU).

Another solution, which I don't like, would be to run 2 cables to one monitor (one from the Mini and another from the eGPU) and switch the active input of that monitor after typing in a password on the login screen. But that is too much of a hassle to always remember to do each time I boot up.
 

inmnbob

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 6, 2014
218
80
Chicago and Twin Cities
The $50 7" HDMI monitor from Amazon may be the solution. Another issue I am having is when the mac mini goes to sleep. The screen does go blank but the monitor doesn't go to full sleep now as it did when the mac mini was connected to it. It keeps trying to connect to one of the ports and goes dark for a few seconds then has a little power to it trying to connect again. I don't think I have a monitor setting for this other than it will turn off in 1,2 or 3 hours.

It is always something......LOL
[doublepost=1542077229][/doublepost]I found this on the Apple website.....

...macOS currently doesn't support eGPUs in Windows using Boot Camp or when your Mac is in macOS Recovery, at FileVault login, or installing system updates.

Is the text I highlighted above a special boot issue that would be resolved if i turned off FileVault?
 

rmdeluca

macrumors 6502
Oct 30, 2018
250
390
Ok, make sure you're sitting down for this one. Boot screens work natively with nVidia RTX based cards. (for technical reasons that I won't go into unless someone asks). Yep, read that again. nVidia RTX based cards offer native boot screens for our Macs but no driver support within macOS as we all know. In short, Nvidia baked in the EFI juice to make it work. Yet, officially recommended Radeon cards offer no boot screens but great macOS support. RTX offer great boot screens but no macOS.

This is the Macintosh in 2018.
This is what is infuriating about OSX right now. An RTX 2080Ti would bring at least GTX 1080 graphics performance to the Mini even with the x4 lane bandwidth tax. An RTX 2080 would give us GTX 1070 graphics. That's bragging rights for Apple. That's more Core ML development options. That's greater QoL and satisfaction for power users who are still up a tree waiting for a new Mac Pro.

I'm not sure who to blame right now - NVIDIA or Apple.
 
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inmnbob

macrumors regular
Original poster
Aug 6, 2014
218
80
Chicago and Twin Cities
My next test is to turn off FileVault and see if the Mac mini will boot into the eGPU. Apple did allude to four scenarios where the macOS doesn’t currently support eGPUs :

1. in Windows using Boot Camp or
2. when your Mac is in macOS Recovery
3. installing system updates
4. at FileVault login
 

jrlcopy

macrumors 6502
Jun 20, 2007
457
259
My next test is to turn off FileVault and see if the Mac mini will boot into the eGPU. Apple did allude to four scenarios where the macOS doesn’t currently support eGPUs :

1. in Windows using Boot Camp or
2. when your Mac is in macOS Recovery
3. installing system updates
4. at FileVault login
It's filevault. Had the same issue, turning i off fixed it for me.
 

joolsyp

macrumors newbie
Jul 21, 2010
6
1
Vancouver, BC
Vega 56 + Razer Core X.
jrlcopy - which version of the Vega 56 do you have? Are you happy with performance in the Razer Core X? I think this is the combo I'm going with for my new i7 Mac Mini but in Canada prices for the Vega 56 are through the roof at the moment!
 

stratokaster

macrumors member
Jul 30, 2011
73
52
Dublin, IE
This problem is exactly why I created this thread: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/using-the-new-mac-mini-with-an-egpu.2153930/

If your display has more than one input, my suggestion would be to connect it both to the Mac mini and to the eGPU at the same time. When you turn on your Mac mini, the monitor would turn on as well and display the signal from the Mini, and when the system boots up, you should be able to switch back to the eGPU.
 
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PJivan

macrumors 6502
Aug 19, 2015
456
431
You can connect both the macmini and the egpu to the monitor and then switch the monitor input to the second (egpu) HDMI?
 

Shaddix-be

macrumors newbie
Nov 2, 2018
19
11
Wow, this is the thing I wanted to move away from.
I'm now running a Hackintosh and have 2 cables connected to my screen, one that starts from my motherboard (equivalent off plugging a cable into the Mac Mini), and one that starts from my GPU (equivalent of plugging it in an eGPU). I always have to switch my screen to the first one, after boot go to the second one. Sad that this would still be the case with a Mac Mini.

Does anyone know if this trick would make Mac OS think that there are 2 screens connected? I have this problem with the hackintosh setup and it's annoying because I sometimes lose my mouse into this phantom screen...