-seeking- Real world experience with Mini and EGPU in Windows

BigBoy2018

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Hi. I thought I would start a thread looking for those who have the 2018 mini, an EGPU and a bootcamp installation.

The one thing holding me back from the Mini right now is the uncertainty of whether, or how difficult it is to utilize and EGPU in Bootcamp.

Anyone with real world experience please let me know! Thanks.
 

rmdeluca

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Oct 30, 2018
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Hi. I thought I would start a thread looking for those who have the 2018 mini, an EGPU and a bootcamp installation.

The one thing holding me back from the Mini right now is the uncertainty of whether, or how difficult it is to utilize and EGPU in Bootcamp.

Anyone with real world experience please let me know! Thanks.
I've been playing games all day today with my GTX 1080 in an Asus XG Station Pro on an i7 2018 Mini. It works quite well.

To get Windows installed, I needed to use the 1803 image, not 1809 (October).

After I had Windows installed, I updated it to version 1809.

Then, I plugged in the eGPU and let Windows install the drivers. Rebooted, plugged the eGPU into another input on my monitor, rebooted one more time and everything was golden. Has been flawless ever since. Even sleeps and wakes up properly.

When I boot back into OSX, I switch the input on my monitor using the OSD (it has a built-in KVM) and everything is golden.

If you're not a hard core gamer I'd suggest going with an ATI/AMD card like the RX580 or Vega so that it will work out of the box in OSX.

Otherwise, you get to play the waiting game for NVIDIA's Mojave drivers.
 
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BigBoy2018

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I've been playing games all day today with my GTX 1080 in an Asus XG Station Pro on an i7 2018 Mini. It works quite well.

To get Windows installed, you need to use the 1803 image, not 1809 (October).

After I had Windows installed, I updated it to version 1809.

Then, I plugged in the eGPU and let Windows install the drivers. Rebooted, plugged the GPU into another input on my monitor, rebooted one more time and everything was golden. Has been flawless ever since. Even sleeps and wakes up properly.

When I boot back into OSX, I switch the input on my monitor using the OSD (it has a built-in KVM) and everything is golden.

If you're not a hard core gamer I'd suggest going with an ATI/AMD card like the RX580 or Vega so that it will work out of the box in OSX.

Otherwise, you get to play the waiting game for NVIDIA's Mojave drivers.
Thanks for the reply but you got me confused on a couple counts. You say to use the 1803 image, not the 1809, but then update it to the 1809 before doing anything else? How is that any different from startig with the 1809 in the first place?
Also you wrote ‘I switch the input monitor using the OSD (it has a built in KVM).’. Umm no idea what you mean there - since I dont know what OSD or KVM stands for. Could you re-explain the whole process for dummies? (me, lol)

Btw, you also wrote ‘Then, I plugged in the eGPU and let Windows install the drivers. Rebooted, plugged the GPU into another input on my monitor’.
huh? plugged what GPU in? the eGPU is the only GPU plugged in, and it was already plugged in prior, so im REALLY confused by that
 

rmdeluca

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Oct 30, 2018
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Thanks for the reply but you got me confused on a couple counts. You say to use the 1803 image, not the 1809, but then update it to the 1809 before doing anything else? How is that any different from startig with the 1809 in the first place.
The Boot Camp utility failed to install with the 1809 image from Microsoft. I tried several times, each time it failed to "download the Windows support files" even though I could manually download them just fine. I switched to the 1803 image and everything worked on the first try.

The reason why I had to update 1803 to 1809 is that 1803 has a bug that caused the Windows Audio service to use 50% CPU even when idling at the desktop. I have a Thunderbolt audio interface, so that may be why. Updating to 1809 though instantly and permanently resolved the issue.

Also you wrote ‘I switch the input monitor using the OSD (it has a built in KVM).’. Umm no idea what you mean there - since I dont know what OSD or KVM stands for. Could you re-explain the whole process for dummies? (me, lol)
I have a Dell U3417W monitor. It has multiple video and USB 3.0 inputs and the ability to assign the inputs to each other. So I can have, for instance, my Mini plugged into Display Port 1, and my Linux workstation plugged into HDMI port 1. Then I assign USB input 1 to the Display Port, USB input 2 to the HDMI port and when I switch inputs on the monitor it automatically connects my mouse and keyboard to the appropriate machine.

Once I setup the eGPU, I connected the GPU to another Display Port input on the monitor. This is necessary because the GPU I'm using is not currently supported in OSX, so unless I want to crawl on the floor each time I boot into OSX or Windows I have to use a third input on my monitor.

When I boot into Windows, I switch the monitor's input to the second DP and tell it to use the USB input that is connected to my Mini. When I boot back into OSX I switch the monitor to the first DP input and I'm good to go.

I do the switching using the monitor's On-Screen-Display (OSD) i.e. a little menu that appears when I click the buttons on the bottom right corner of the monitor.

A KVM (Keyboard-Video-Mouse) switch lets you connect multiple computers to the same monitor, keyboard and mouse and press a button (or use a hotkey) to switch between computers. My monitor happens to have KVM functionality built-in, obviating the need for an external switch.
[doublepost=1542582817][/doublepost]
Btw, you also wrote ‘Then, I plugged in the eGPU and let Windows install the drivers. Rebooted, plugged the GPU into another input on my monitor’.
huh? plugged what GPU in? the eGPU is the only GPU plugged in, and it was already plugged in prior, so im REALLY confused by that
When the eGPU is connected to the Mini it's over Thunderbolt. Unless you want to intentionally cripple your speed by sending the video back over the Thunderbolt to the built-in iGPU and then out again through another Thunderbolt port (or the HDMI port), you have to connect the eGPU directly to your monitor.
 
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BigBoy2018

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The Boot Camp utility failed to install with the 1809 image from Microsoft. I tried several times, each time it failed to "download the Windows support files" even though I could manually download them just fine. I switched to the 1803 image and everything worked on the first try.

The reason why I had to update 1803 to 1809 is that 1803 has a bug that caused the Windows Audio service to use 50% CPU even when idling at the desktop. I have a Thunderbolt audio interface, so that may be why. Updating to 1809 though instantly and permanently resolved the issue.



I have a Dell U3417W monitor. It has multiple video and USB 3.0 inputs and the ability to assign the inputs to each other. So I can have, for instance, my Mini plugged into Display Port 1, and my Linux workstation plugged into HDMI port 1. Then I assign USB input 1 to the Display Port, USB input 2 to the HDMI port and when I switch inputs on the monitor it automatically connects my mouse and keyboard to the appropriate machine.

Once I setup the eGPU, I connected the GPU to another Display Port input on the monitor. This is necessary because the GPU I'm using is not currently supported in OSX, so unless I want to crawl on the floor each time I boot into OSX or Windows I have to use a third input on my monitor.

When I boot into Windows, I switch the monitor's input to the second DP and tell it to use the USB input that is connected to my Mini. When I boot back into OSX I switch the monitor to the first DP input and I'm good to go.

I do the switching using the monitor's On-Screen-Display (OSD) i.e. a little menu that appears when I click the buttons on the bottom right corner of the monitor.

A KVM (Keyboard-Video-Mouse) switch lets you connect multiple computers to the same monitor, keyboard and mouse and press a button (or use a hotkey) to switch between computers. My monitor happens to have KVM functionality built-in, obviating the need for an external switch.
[doublepost=1542582817][/doublepost]

When the eGPU is connected to the Mini it's over Thunderbolt. Unless you want to intentionally cripple your speed by sending the video back over the Thunderbolt to the built-in iGPU and then out again through another Thunderbolt port (or the HDMI port), you have to connect the eGPU directly to your monitor.
Alright. So let's say I've got the simple setup of one mac Mini, and a blackmagic radeon 580 egpu. In that setup, you think everything would work just fine and require no gymnastics when switching between mac and windows, and every app and program would utilize the egpu rather than the intel 630?
 

rmdeluca

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Oct 30, 2018
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Alright. So let's say I've got the simple setup of one mac Mini, and a blackmagic radeon 580 egpu. In that setup, you think everything would work just fine and require no gymnastics when switching between mac and windows, and every app and program would utilize the egpu rather than the intel 630?
Yeah, should work pretty well.

eGPU support in specific professional applications is still spotty though, so verify support with the developer(s) of any apps that are of critical importance to you if you NEED eGPU performance.
 
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BigBoy2018

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Yeah, should work pretty well.

eGPU support in specific professional applications is still spotty though, so verify support with the developer(s) of any apps that are of critical importance to you if you NEED eGPU performance.
Ah so in windows, the os wouldnt just treat it as the default video card and use it for everything including games?
 

BigBoy2018

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For games, yes. Some professional apps, maybe, test to be sure.
Great to hear. All the pro apps I use are on the mac side, only use windows for games, so sounds like i’ll be good to go. The mac adobe apps (premiere) would use the egpu, correct?
 
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PJivan

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Well premiere uses the gpu (radeon 560) in my 2017 21.5 imac...
They use Open Cl in fact, never test it with egpu tho, if you are looking for experience and articles make sure they are recent, with high sierra not even final cut was properly using egpu
 

BigBoy2018

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They use Open Cl in fact, never test it with egpu tho, if you are looking for experience and articles make sure they are recent, with high sierra not even final cut was properly using egpu
Yep, thats why I’m asking the question.

Want to see if people using an egpu with mojave 10.14.1 can testify to any improvement in things. My hope is that using an egpu is already close to the same experience as using a built in gpu (in other words, seamless).

If not, it would be great if people could post here their experiences and issues as we go to 10.14.2, 10.14.3 and so on, and share the onging state of affairs with egpu's.
 
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F-Train

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Y

Want to see if people using an egpu with mojave 10.14.1 can testify to any improvement in things. My hope is that using an egpu is already close to the same experience as using a built in gpu (in other words, seamless).

If not, it would be great if people could post here their experiences and issues as we go to 10.14.2, 10.14.3 and so on, and share the onging state of affairs with egpu's.
You might find it useful to check out the following thread, which is on-going: https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/external-gpu-egpu-resources.2154653/

If you do a search for Blackmagic in the tile, you will also find a thread about a problem that turned out to be about FileVault.
 
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marc_b

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Nov 6, 2018
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Cologne, Germany
I spent the weekend playing with a Sonnet Breakaway Box in Bootcamp. I got the 350W version which isn't compatible with my particular version of the GTX 1070 so I put my old 970 into it for now. (The 550W Breakaway Box should arrive today so I'll switch to my 1070).

Setup in Bootcamp was pretty straightforward, performance in games was really nice. The only issue I'm seeing is that Windows immediately reboots if I change ANY USB plug on the back of my Mac mini while the eGPU is connected. That's really irritating but manageable. Just led to a silly reboot when my mouse battery died and I plugged in the cable while gaming.

It's definitely a viable solution for me. I hope nVidia will work things out with Apple, though, and release Mojave drivers for MacOS. I'm not really dying to switch to AMD.
 

Zackmd1

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So just this past weekend I got my Mac Mini i3 setup with a Zotac Amp Box Mini and a GTX1060 (Seriously Apple, approve the damn web drivers so I can use this in mac and not just windows...). As others have stated, I could not get 1809 to install through bootcamp. Had to drop down to 1803 (April update) and then update through windows to 1809. Once updated, I had to hotplug the GPU at the Windows Logon screen in order for the 1060 to be detected and setup correctly. Installed Nvidia drivers after initial setup by windows and it was complete! With the amp box mini I cannot hotplug the gpu at windows desktop without getting a BSOD and I cannot boot with it plugged in due to A) needing to see the option menu to boot into Windows and B) Windows will not boot with it plugged in. So the general process for me is to have the HDMI port plugged into the mac mini, boot with GPU off and select Windows, let Windows load to logon screen, turn gpu on and switch to displayport input on monitor (displayport plug is connected to 1060). Seems like alot but its not difficult at all and so far as been rock solid since setup.

The astonishing thing is, gameplay is actually better on the mac mini then it was on my desktop.... My ryzen 2200g must have been the bottleneck in the desktop system. So far games play beautifully at 1080p high settings (60fps). I have tried Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Crysis 3, Titanfall 2, and Doom. All can run at 1080 High/Ultra with a rock solid 60 FPS. Very impressed. Thermals in the Mac Mini could be better but I have not noticed a performance hit due to throttling yet.
 

Spankey

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I had no issues at all installing 1809 directly. Not sure why others had difficulty. I boot into Windows directly and use Windows Hello through my Brio to log me directly into Windows.

Maybe the Bootcampdrivers.com drivers are the reason I have better luck with an AMD card than Nvidia users. Either way, I turn on the computer and have the gpu connected at all times. No issues whatsoever.

I will say this, to get back into Mac OS change the startup disc through the Boot Pamp control panel in the task bar. You may not always see the OS selection screen if holding down Option at boot.
 

marc_b

macrumors member
Nov 6, 2018
54
52
Cologne, Germany
The astonishing thing is, gameplay is actually better on the mac mini then it was on my desktop.... My ryzen 2200g must have been the bottleneck in the desktop system. So far games play beautifully at 1080p high settings (60fps). I have tried Battlefield 1, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Crysis 3, Titanfall 2, and Doom. All can run at 1080 High/Ultra with a rock solid 60 FPS. Very impressed. Thermals in the Mac Mini could be better but I have not noticed a performance hit due to throttling yet.
The Mac mini and Breakaway Box 550W + GTX 1070 works reasonably well for me in Windows. A few days of gaming with one nasty crash/reboot didn't feel too stellar, though, but maybe I was unlucky.

But I can't say it outperforms my desktop. In fact, using an eGPU instead of using the same GPU directly via PCIe caused a performance loss of around 20%.
Which... isn't great, considering it means always having to buy a video card class higher than you wanted to.

For 1440p gaming in ultra settings on an ultrawide monitor I need at least a 1070 even without the eGPU bottleneck. So I'm not really sure if this can be a permanent solution for me. Which is fair enough; maybe I shouldn't have expected more from this solution.

Quite disappointed by the Breakaway Box. I used the 350W version with a GTX 970 and then a 550W version with a GTX 1070 and it was more noisy than I had hoped for. The PSU made quite irritating noises in both versions so that was annoying.

All things considered, I may have to give up my hope of using just one Mac mini for my gaming and productivity needs in W10/MacOS. In the end it might make more sense for me to just keep my gaming PC.

If I do that, I'm not sure what to do with the Mini, though. If I keep it for productivity, I'd still need an eGPU for it since the internal GPU sucks. Having a gaming PC AND a Mac Mini with a relatively big eGPU box feels very, very silly.

Which leaves me with... I don't know what solution? Get an iMac instead and deal with needing space for a big iMac in addition to my big 34 inch ultrawide screen?
 

Zackmd1

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Oct 3, 2010
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The Mac mini and Breakaway Box 550W + GTX 1070 works reasonably well for me in Windows. A few days of gaming with one nasty crash/reboot didn't feel too stellar, though, but maybe I was unlucky.

But I can't say it outperforms my desktop. In fact, using an eGPU instead of using the same GPU directly via PCIe caused a performance loss of around 20%.
Which... isn't great, considering it means always having to buy a video card class higher than you wanted to.

For 1440p gaming in ultra settings on an ultrawide monitor I need at least a 1070 even without the eGPU bottleneck. So I'm not really sure if this can be a permanent solution for me. Which is fair enough; maybe I shouldn't have expected more from this solution.

Quite disappointed by the Breakaway Box. I used the 350W version with a GTX 970 and then a 550W version with a GTX 1070 and it was more noisy than I had hoped for. The PSU made quite irritating noises in both versions so that was annoying.

All things considered, I may have to give up my hope of using just one Mac mini for my gaming and productivity needs in W10/MacOS. In the end it might make more sense for me to just keep my gaming PC.

If I do that, I'm not sure what to do with the Mini, though. If I keep it for productivity, I'd still need an eGPU for it since the internal GPU sucks. Having a gaming PC AND a Mac Mini with a relatively big eGPU box feels very, very silly.

Which leaves me with... I don't know what solution? Get an iMac instead and deal with needing space for a big iMac in addition to my big 34 inch ultrawide screen?

Sorry for your experience. I was considering a sonnet breakaway GFX but it just was way to large for my liking. The Zotac is nice and compact but requires an ITX card less then 200mm to fit.

I should have seen the same 20% degrade in performance that you saw but I did not. I can run the same game at the same settings and resolution and achieve the same 60fps. That is what leaves me to believe that my 2200g was a significant bottleneck in my previous system. I likely could have been achieving 80+ fps with high settings on the desktop with a more powerful cpu.

With all that said, I am happy that I can play the same games at the same settings as before. 1440p and higher frame rates might be another story but for now I'm happy with 1080p60.
 

Spankey

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Sep 30, 2007
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NJ
Sorry for your experience. I was considering a sonnet breakaway GFX but it just was way to large for my liking. The Zotac is nice and compact but requires an ITX card less then 200mm to fit.

I should have seen the same 20% degrade in performance that you saw but I did not. I can run the same game at the same settings and resolution and achieve the same 60fps. That is what leaves me to believe that my 2200g was a significant bottleneck in my previous system. I likely could have been achieving 80+ fps with high settings on the desktop with a more powerful cpu.

With all that said, I am happy that I can play the same games at the same settings as before. 1440p and higher frame rates might be another story but for now I'm happy with 1080p60.
Interesting to hear experiences with Nvidia cards. Right now I can do some 4k gaming with a Vega 56 and mostly everything comfortably at 1440 with High\Ultra settings. It really took 1809 to get everything working smoothly so I think most issues with Bootcamp have been on the Windows side. Definitely using the bootcampdrivers.com drivers have helped immensely as well.