2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + GTX 1080 Ti @ 10Gbps-TB1>TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10...
 
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2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + GTX 1080 Ti @ 10Gbps-TB1>TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10.13.6  

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cnon297
(@cnon297)
Trusted Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
[Update - added 1440p benchmarks]

Computer: 

2012 CTO Mac mini 2.6GHz 4-Core i7-3720QM, HD Graphics 4000, Thunderbolt, 8GB RAM, 512GB SSD

 

eGPU:

AKiTiO Node + MSI GTX 1080 Ti Gaming X with 11GB DDR5X VRAM, 2M Apple TB2 cable, and Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter.

 

Monitor:

Philips Brilliance 242G5, 1080p, 144Hz, 1ms, Display Port, 2x HDMI, DVI-DL, VGA

Asus ROG PG279Q, 1440p, 144/165Hz, 4ms, Display Port 1.2, HDMI 1.4, G-Sync (for benchmarks-only)

 

OS:

macOS 10.13.6

 

 

Hardware setup:  

This 2012 Mac mini has a single 10Gbps Thunderbolt port.  An Apple Thunderbolt 2 cable and Apple Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter were used to connect the Mac mini to the eGPU.  Apple lists these items as Thunderbolt 2 (20Gbps).  But they’re also backwards compatible with original Thunderbolt.  The eGPU bandwidth is limited to the Mac mini’s 10Gbps Thunderbolt speed.  

 

The AKiTiO Node eGPU has an MSI 1080 Ti Gaming X installed with the stock 5% boost overclock.  It’s 2.5 slots wide so the Node cover must be left off when the card is installed.  This card is rated at 250W but can draw up to 305W per Techpowerup.  This hasn’t been an issue for the 400W PS.  

 

 

Background: 

I just bought this ’12 Mac mini a few days ago with macOS 10.13 pre-installed.  It’s the last OS that supports Nvidia drivers.  I pulled my 1080Ti out of storage for one last Mac+Nvidia eGPU build before I upgrade.

 

 

Procedure macOS: 

This build uses kryptonite.  Starting with a backup is recommended.  

 

Goto the eGPU.io Software menu and select kryptonite, read the docs.  Check the prerequisites and the preparations before proceeding.  It’s more sophisticated to install than purge-wrangler.   But it has significant advantages with macOS security, macOS updates, and ease of use. 

 

There are 7 steps to this procedure, many have sub-steps.

 

This is a clean install of macOS 10.13.6 with all updates.  It doesn’t have Purge-Wrangler or OpenCore.  The eGPU & graphics card are supported.  

 

OpenCore volume:  There are no Time Machine snapshots.  Partition the SSD with the macOS Disk Utility. I’ve found Disk Utility to be flakey at times when adding a partition.  It helps to click “+” to add the partition, then set the size (256 MB) before selecting MS-DOS or the partition name.  If the Partition wizard won’t let you adjust the size, click Cancel and try again. 

 

To run the installer:  Hover your mouse over the right side of the line to see the Copy to Clipboard symbol (2 offset squares).  Click it!  It saves time and prevents syntax errors.  Launch Terminal and right-click Paste in the terminal window.  Enter your password.  Select the Nvidia eGPU option.

 

Restart and hold the Option key to see your available boot disks.  Highlight kryptonite and tap the Control+Enter keys to set it as the default boot drive.  This will keep your eGPU working any time you start your Mac.  After the build is complete, you can disable kryptonite on a Restart by holding the Option key, then selecting your original boot drive; typically Macintosh HD.

 

Post install.  The compatibility section starts as a review of step 1.  But Nvidia drivers are needed.  A script to install them can be copied by hovering your mouse at the right side of the line and click the Copy to Clipboard symbol.  Open a Terminal window and right-click Paste.  Enter your password.  

 

The final step is a Restart.  However, I chose Shutdown instead so that I could disconnect the HDMI cable from the mini.  Afterwards, only the eGPU monitor is connected.  Power on the Mac, log in, and you’re done!  

 

Optional:  I own a Drobo 5Dt with two TB2 ports.  If you have 2 Thunderbolt 2 cables (or 2 original Thunderbolt cables) you can daisy chain from the Mac mini to the Drobo to the eGPU (via TB2 to TB3 adapter).  

12 Mac mini 1 speedtest 512GB SSD AJA
12 Mac mini 2 speedtest Thunderbolt Drobo5Dt AJA

 

Operation:  

Some advantages of this build:

  • CPU temps are low despite the top 2.6GHz 4C i7 option.  Only Cinebench managed to generate enough heat to ramp the fan to full speed.
  • It’s quieter than my MacBook Pro; including Cinebench!
  • It takes very little space!
  • Dual internal storage bays!  SSD RAIDs?  Dual bootable SSDs? 
  • Tool-less memory upgrades!  Faster & easier than my 27” iMac!
  • No security screws or glue, easy access for upgrades & repairs!

 

Unlike my recent ’12 MBPro kryptonite build, Computer Sleep hasn’t worked reliably with this ’12 Mac mini and was disabled.  This mini supports macOS to 10.15 Catalina.  Tho it’s unlikely to be upgraded past 10.14 Mojave.  

 

The purpose of this build is to run legacy apps that have been disabled since macOS 10.15.  And to run NVDIA graphics that have been disabled since macOS 10.14.  Notice a pattern?  You pay and pay…  Apple taketh away. 

 

 

 

Benchmarks:

All results are the best of 3 runs. 

There were issues with 2 apps that I’d standardized on in previous builds.  I added benchmarks from other user eGPU builds to replace them.  

 

 

Geekbench 4 Pro:

All my past builds used the Pro version.

Benchmark

Score macOS

Intel (64-bit) SC

3704

Intel (64-bit) MC

12155

HD 4000 Metal

7437

HD 4000  OpenCL

6270

1080 Ti Metal

204422

1080 Ti OpenCL

185744

 

Unigine Valley:

I noticed a problem with these results.  I have 7+ years of past results for comparison.  Valley caps my Nvidia cards at 60fps despite macOS set to 144Hz.  My AMD & ATi cards are unaffected.  Ex, my MSI Radeon 7970 outperforms my MSI GeForce 1080 TI by 17%.  That’s absurd given the actual performance diff between them.  

 

Ungine Heaven works accurately in macOS and Windows.  Moving forward, Heaven will replace Valley in my builds.  Sorry I didn’t catch onto this sooner.  I wonder why Ungine didn’t?  Notice only 1.4fps gain from Extreme HD to Basic?  These results are seriously compromised!  

Preset

Average fps

Minimum fps

Maximum fps

Basic

60.6

27.3

89.5

Extreme

58.5

26.9

86.2

Extreme HD

59.2

24.6

87.1

 

Unigine Heaven:

My AMD, ATi, and Nvidia cards benchmark accurately making this app more useful for comparing builds in macOS & Windows.

Preset

Average fps

Minimum fps

Maximum fps

Basic

97.8

38.6

171.4

Extreme

87.7

33.8

160.5

Custom Ex HD

82.6

36.2

161.3

 

Cinebench R23: 

12 Mac mini 3 Cinebench R23

 

Octanebench 2020.2.3:

12 Mac mini 4 1080Ti eGPU Octanebench 2020.2.3

 

CUDA-Z

12 Mac mini 5 CUDA Z1
12 Mac mini 6 CUDA Z2
12 Mac mini 7 CUDA Z3

 

Tomb Raider: 

This app doesn’t work in macOS 10.13.  But the sequel “Rise of the Tomb Raider” does.  TR will be removed from future builds.  

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 

V-Sync was set to off.  Monitor refresh set to 144Hz

Display, Preset

Overall fps

Mountain fps

Syria fps

Geotherm fps

720p Low

89.63

131.23

69.95

64.82

720p Medium

76.37

106.08

64.19

57.03

720p High

74.41

102.68

62.51

56.30

720p Very High

71.34

101.20

58.83

52.13

1080p Low

81.80

109.04

68.60

65.77

1080p Medium

68.95

87.68

60.23

57.57

1080p High

67.02

84.42

58.19

57.07

1080p Very High

64.02

83.68

54.67

52.30

1440p Low

72.14

88.28

61.38

65.05

1440p Medium

59.72

71.46

50.75

55.50

1440p High

57.17

67.80

48.24

54.02

1440p Very High

54.30

66.99

46.05

48.53

 

Luxmark v3.1:

12 Mac mini 8 Luxball 1080Ti
12 Mac mini 9 Luxball HD4000

 

CL!ng benchmarks:

12 Mac mini 10 HD 4000 MTL CL!ng
12 Mac mini 11 MSI 1080Ti MTL CL!ng

 

Quake 3 Mac disc (v1.36 xcsv hi-res 12/21/18):

Setting

1080 Ti eGPU

Intel 4000 HD

1080p

393.9 fps

67.2 fps

1024x576

386.0 fps

93.4 fps

 

Doom 3 Mac App Store (no recent patches):

Setting

1080 Ti eGPU

Intel 4000 HD

1080p Ultra

115.5 fps

n/a

1024x576 Ultra

157.3 fps

76.7 fps

1024x576 Medium

158.1 fps

73.5 fps

1024x576 Low

156.9 fps

72.1 fps

 

Diablo 2 / Lords of Destruction Mac/Win discs (Blizzard updates):

The game appears to cap frames at 25.  It starts at 50 fps then drops.

 

1080 Ti eGPU

Intel 4000 HD

800x600 all gfx options

25 fps / skip 25

25 fps / skip 25

 

  

Miscellaneous items:

Legacy apps [EDIT]:  Rosetta 2 would be more helpful if it supported legacy apps.  Some of my legacy apps have been updated.  Some have been poorly updated with missing features.  Others will never be updated.  I sincerely wish Apple would take all of these items into account and PLEASE update Rosetta 2.

 

 

Conclusion:  

I truly miss using my MSI 1080Ti in macOS!  It’s one sweet eGPU!  I’d hoped Apple & NVIDIA would work out driver support.  But now that AMD drivers are missing from M1 Macs, future eGPU support seems iffy.  Unless Apple is planning to release its own eGPUs??  If so, at least we wouldn’t have to worry that corporate bickering will disable our expensive hardware.

 

This 2012 Mac mini seems like the ideal Mac for running legacy apps.  And it does so with a quiet fan, compact size, upgradeable & repairable components, and plenty of connectivity!  It sounds like a cliche: “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”  But in this case it’s legit!

 

2012 Mac Mini 2.6GHz 4C i7, HD Graphics 4000 + MSI 7970 & 1080Ti eGPU
2009 Mac Pro 5,1 6-core Xeon 3.46GHz + PC Red Dragon Vega 56

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX Vega 56 @ 10Gbps-TB1>TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10.14.6 [build link]  


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