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

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cnon297
(@cnon297)
Trusted Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Computer: 

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

 

eGPU:

AKiTiO Node + PowerColor Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2, 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, 144Hz, 4ms, Display Port 1.2, HDMI 1.4, G-Sync (benchmarks-only)

 

OS:

macOS 10.14.6 (vs macOS 10.13.6)

 

 

Hardware setup:  

This 2012 Mac mini has a single 10Gbps Thunderbolt port.  The TB3 eGPU bandwidth is limited to the Mac mini’s slower TB1 speed.  

 

The AKiTiO Node eGPU has an PowerColor Vega 56 installed with a 2% factory overclock. This card is rated at 210W and within the Node’s stock 400W PS.  

 

 

Background: 

This build is a followup to my previous 1080Ti build with the same 2012 Mac mini.  Installing a Vega 56 allowed me to upgrade to macOS 10.14 Mojave with improved graphics drivers.  It’s also a chance to compare the Vega 56 driver improvement between 10.13 and 10.14.  

 

 

Procedure macOS: 

This build uses kryptonite.  Goto the eGPU.io Software menu and select kryptonite, read the docs before proceeding.  A backup is strongly recommended.

 

I’d already installed kryptonite on this Mac mini in the previous 1080Ti build.   But the Nvidia Web drivers & CUDA software need to be uninstalled.

 

First, Uninstall the NVIDIA Web Drivers.  This is easy because Nvidia included an Uninstaller.  It’s located in the Nvidia Preference Pane / Update tab on the bottom right.  Restart afterwards.  

 

Next, Uninstall NVIDIA CUDA if present.  This is not as easy because Nvidia doesn’t include an Uninstaller.  Here’s a quick check to see if CUDA is installed on a ’12 Mac mini:  Disconnect any external Nvidia graphics card and Restart.  If CUDA is installed, you’ll always get a CUDA error after you login.  This check doesn’t work for Macs with OEM Nvidia graphics.  

 

—————————-CUDA Removal begin—————————-

There are several online guides to uninstall CUDA manually -or- to purchase a cleaner App to uninstall CUDA and other apps that don’t include an Uninstaller.  FWIW, here’s how I removed CUDA.  It’s not guaranteed to work for you.  If you didn’t perform a backup, do it now before proceeding!  Also, empty the Trash before proceeding.  It will help later.

 

An Admin account is needed:

Step 1- Goto the Finder menu on the top left and click the Go menu.  Near the bottom, click the selection for “Go to  Folder…”  A dialog box will open.

Step 2- Copy and paste the following 5 lines into the dialog box; one at a time.  Start by Copy & Paste the 1st line and tap the Return key.  Then search for any files or folders with Nvidia or Cuda in the name.  If you find any, right-click “Move to Trash”  You’ll have to type your password.  

Step 3- Repeat the process with “Go to Folder…” and the 2nd line.  “Move to Trash” any NVIDIA and Cuda files.  Repeat this for the remaining lines:

~/Library/Application Support/

~/Library/Caches/

~/Library/LaunchAgents/

~/Library/LaunchDaemons/

/Library/Frameworks/

Step 4- Right-Click the CUDA icon in the System Preferences pane if present, then “Remove.”

Step 5- Open the Trash and check that only files and folders with Nvidia or Cuda are present.  If you accidentally moved other files and folders to the Trash, Right-Click each and “Put Back.”  After you’ve verified that only Nvidia and Cuda files and folders remain, empty the trash.  Then Restart the Mac.  

—————————-CUDA Removal end—————————-

 

Run the Kryptonite Installer as before.  Use the Copy to Clipboard symbol at the right end of the script.  Open a terminal and paste, then enter your password & tap Return.  

 

At the OpenCore prompt I chose NO so that the kryptonite partition would be reformatted.  Then choose debug=NO and NVIDIA=NO.  Review your choices and run. 

 

Set the default Boot disk:  Restart & hold the Option key.  Highlight kryptonite and tap Control+Return.  There’s a brief pause at the next screen.  You can click Shutdown here or wait for the login screen and click Shutdown.  The shutdown is to disconnect the HDMI monitor from the Mac mini.  The eGPU monitor is the sole display for this build. 

 

Power on the Mac mini and wait for the login screen.  Login and you’re done!

 

 

Operation:  

The advantages of this build are nearly the same as the previous 1080 Ti build:

  • CPU temps are low despite the 2.6GHz 4C i7 option.  Only the Cinebench Multi-Core test generated enough heat to ramp the fan to full speed.  
  • It’s quieter than my MacBook Pro!  It’s not silent tho, just quieter than the MacBooks I’ve used at work & home.
  • It takes very little space!
  • Dual internal SATA3 storage bays!!
  • Tool-less memory upgrades!  Faster & easier upgrades than my 27” iMac!
  • No security screws or glue, easy access for upgrades & repairs!
  • Lastly, the Vega 56 eGPU allowed me to upgrade to macOS 10.14 with improved graphics drivers.  This wasn’t possible with the previous 1080 Ti eGPU.

 

This mini supports macOS to 10.15 Catalina.  Tho there’s not much benefit aside from Radeon 5700 support IMO.  

 

The purpose of this build is to run apps that were disabled by macOS 10.15. and Rosetta 2.  And in some cases, to use previous versions where the updated apps were missing features of the originals!  Like the 1080 Ti build, this 10.14 Vega 56 build succeeds!

 

 

Benchmarks:

All results are the best of 3 runs.  Power was cycled off and on between settings.

hs = macOS 10.13 Vega 56 eGPU, m = macOS 10.14 Vega 56 eGPU

 

Geekbench 4 Pro v4.4.4:

Benchmark

Score macOS

Intel (64-bit) SC

3680-hs, 3725-m

Intel (64-bit) MC

12211-hs, 12522-m

HD 4000 Metal

7434-hs, 7571-m

HD 4000  OpenCL

6249-hs, 6312-m

Vega 56 Metal

150044-hs, 118195-m  *1

Vega 56 OpenCL

138801-hs, 126644-m  *1

*1  These were the only reduced performances for the Vega 56 in 10.14.

 

Unigine Heaven v4.0:

Preset

Average fps

Minimum fps

Maximum fps

Basic

113.2-hs, 115.9-m

41.1-hs, 41.4-m

215.7-hs, 220.2-m

Extreme

60.0-hs, 62.8-m

35.5-hs, 36.9-m

112.7-hs, 119.6-m

Custom Ex HD

49.9-hs, 52.8-m

32.5-hs, 33.9-m

93.7-hs, 96.4-m

 

Cinebench R23 v23.200:

No measurable difference between macOS versions, within error margin.

Multicore

Single Core

Ratio

3507-m

697-m

5.04x-m

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider v1.04:

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

Display, Preset

Overall fps

Mountain fps

Syria fps

Geotherm fps

720p Low

95.06-hs, 97.79-m

148.89-hs, 152.92-m

69.29-hs, 72.63-m

63.07-hs, 64.01-m

720p Medium

82.12-hs, 85.07-m

124.21-hs, 130.51-m

63.59-hs, 65.95-m

55.71-hs, 55.81-m

720p High

80.23-hs, 84.61-m

120.30-hs, 127.99-m

62.49-hs, 65.76-m

55.17-hs, 57.16-m

720p Very High

76.31-hs, 80.72-m

116.08-hs, 123.94-m

59.82-hs, 63.42-m

50.47-hs, 52.15-m

1080p Low

86.89-hs, 90.79-m

124.57-hs, 130.18-m

69.56-hs, 73.84-m

63.86-hs, 65.73-m

1080p Medium

74.62-hs, 78.28-m

103.29-hs, 109.74-m

63.23-hs, 66.84-m

55.54-hs, 56.42-m

1080p High

72.75-hs, 76.41-m

98.92-hs, 104.4-m

62.39-hs, 65.97-m

55.31-hs, 57.15-m

1080p Very High

68.44-hs, 72.14-m

95.17-hs, 100.29-m

57.81-hs, 62.30-m

50.65-hs, 52.25-m

1440p Low

76.30-hs, 79.50-m

98.04-hs, 103.47-m

65.54-hs, 67.38-m

63.59-hs, 65.68-m

1440p Medium

63.32-hs, 67.11-m

80.00-hs, 85.61-m

54.04-hs, 56.68-m

54.37-hs, 57.32-m

1440p High

61.18-hs, 64.28-m

77.20-hs, 81.06-m

51.24-hs, 54.21-m

53.45-hs, 55.88-m

1440p Very High

56.36-hs, 59.70-m

73.60-hs, 77.10-m

47.01-hs, 50.31-m

46.91-hs, 50.14-m

 

Luxmark v3.1:

Scene

Vega 56 eGPU

Intel HD 4000

Luxball HDR

22409-hs, 26819-m

855-hs, 855-m

 

CL!ng benchmarks v1.11:

Vega 56 eGPU Gflops

Intel HD 4000 Gflops

1714.13-hs, 1602.35-m

116.54-hs, 116.42-m

 

Quake 3 Mac disc v1.36:

Setting

Vega 56 eGPU fps

Intel HD 4000 fps

1080p

457.0-hs, 446.8-m

67.2-hs, 52.2-m  *2

1024x576

470.3-hs, 451.0-m

93.4-hs, 49.9-m. *2

*2 The HD4000 lost significant performance from 10.13 to 10.14.  

 

Doom 3 Mac App Store v1.3.1.1304: 

Setting

Vega 56 eGPU fps

Intel HD 4000 fps

1080p Ultra

156.8-hs, 153.0-m

n/a

1024x576 Ultra

156.7-hs, 155.4-m

76.7-hs, 65.7-m

1024x576 Medium

157.5-hs, 155.3-m

73.5-hs, 64.5-m

1024x576 Low

156.8-hs, 155.2-m

72.1-hs, 80.9-m

 

Diablo 2 / Lords of Destruction, Mac/Win discs  V1.14B:

This game appears to cap frame rates at 25 fps.  So there’s no performance difference between the 3 GPUs tested:  Vega 56, 1080Ti & HD4000.  It’s still a lot of fun tho!  

 

Vega 56 eGPU fps

Intel HD 4000 fps

800x600 all gfx options

25 fps / skip 25

25 fps / skip 25

 

 

Miscellaneous items:

Vega 56:  I originally bought this Vega 56 to upgrade my ’09 Mac Pro from 10.13 to 10.14.  At 10.14 there was a noticeable improvement in graphics performance!  And it’s the same for this Mac mini + Vega 56 build at 10.14. The gain is as much as 19.7%; tho closer to 5.5% on average. 

 

Dual SSDs:  After this build, I upgraded the ’12 mini internal storage with a 2nd SSD.  The lower bay SSD is setup with macOS 10.14 and a Vega 56 eGPU.  The upper bay SSD is set for macOS 10.13 and a 1080 Ti eGPU.  I only own 1 eGPU enclosure tho so I have to swap graphics cards before restarting.  Regardless, both eGPU setups work perfectly 😉 

 

 

 

Conclusion:  

This 2012 Mac mini+Vega 56 eGPU build is ideal for running legacy apps.  It’s also quiet, compact, upgradeable & repairable with plenty of connectivity!  The faster Vega 56 drivers in macOS 10.14 are the icing on the cake!  

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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