2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15....
 
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2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7  

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

I picked up a Mac Mini Late 2012 off ebay since I had no hosts for some old TB1 peripherals I have and it was the cheapest way to get a TB1 port (somewhat surprisingly). It came with 4GB of RAM and a 1TB spinner drive. I had a Crucial MX500 SSD and 16GB of RAM left over from the dead T430s. Of course, since it has Thunderbolt, it must be eGPU'd, so my Sapphire Nitro RX480 was pulled out of the box it was languishing in.

I took apart one of my Atto Thunderlink units (since my RX480 wouldn't fit into one) and pulled out the PCB. The old AKiTiO Node Pro power supply was also dusted off to power up the setup. It has one 6-pin and two 6+2-pin connectors. I used the 6-pin connector to feed power to the Thunderlink PCB via a barrel plug adapter I made a long time ago and one of 6+2 power plugs provided power to the RX480.

Setup
PowerCable

Not pretty, but my current desk space is extremely limited, and extremely messy. I'll need to figure out some way to mount the video card and power supply later, obviously.

I installed Kryptonite on a spare USB drive I had and booted it with the Thunderbolt cable disconnected, logged into Catalina 10.15.7 and then plugged in the eGPU. Kryptonite did its magic and the eGPU was immediately picked up by the OS.

 

SysInfo
MacMini
Graphics
Thunderbolt

1) Hotplug works.

2) I tested safe removal of the eGPU - Also working perfectly.

3) Booting with the sole monitor connected to the eGPU also works.

Want to output 4K@60Hz out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


Jkeychen Liew, cnon297, mac_editor and 2 people liked
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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@yukikaze, Very nice to see this project coming together! I love parts-bin aspect of this build. Many fun cars are done this way and they always have a special quality about them.

I would stay on Catalina rather than the newest macOS. As @mac_editor advised, the patchers to install non-supported macOS tend to cause complications later down the road.

 

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@itsage, yeah, I'll stick with Catalina until it is EOL and by then OCLP will mature further, and maybe we'll have a bit more experience with such setups. I have much less tinkering time nowdays, so I'd like to avoid an unnecessary mess now that I have a working setup Smile

 

Want to output 4K@60Hz out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 5 years ago
 

Okay, the project continues in order to craft a stand for the GPU and power supply. The budget remains shoestring and we're going into the parts bin again here.

I did order one of these so I'd have something to mount the SFX PSU to, but the rest of the stuff is going to be from around the house. I found a decent looking plank of wood from some old packaging in the shed and decided that I am going to mod the Thunderlink into a stand.

Reminder, the Atto Thunderlink looks like this when we begin (pics from my RX550 build with one of these):

image
image

Step one, remove external shell and the Thunderbolt to PCIe PCB and measure. We're not going to use the shell, just the internal cage:

Before1
Before2

Step two, hacksaw, Dremel and a big-ass metal file. I got three of these boxes, so one can be turned into something else:

Post1
Post2

I considered some custom holes to lower the mounting point of the video card closer to the base, but decided against it since this way the connectors align nicely with the existing holes and the L-shaped bracket also adds reinforcement to the stand.

Step three, some spare standoffs from Raspberry Pi projects make for a fine video card mounting mechanism:

Post3
Post4

 Sits a bit high up, but overall pretty nice.

Once the PSU backplate arrives I am going to use another piece of wood on the back of the Thunderlink unit to serve as the base for it. The PSU will "hover" on the back of the unit as a result. Overall, this is going to end up being a pretty compact TB1 eGPU unit for my Mac mini.

I should have some varnish that I can coat the wooden parts with when I am done. I think I'll keep the writing on the wood to maintain the industrial look.

This post was modified 4 weeks ago

Want to output 4K@60Hz out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@yukikaze, This is coming together very nicely! I always prefer the open look for eGPU. Nice to get rid of the tiny fan too.

 

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external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 14" Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio [11th,4C,H] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (WD_Black D50) + Win11 [build link]  


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@itsage - This is a pretty fun little machine. I coupled it with a 29" LG Ultrawide (2560x1080) and it is quite fun to use. Much, much slower than my Tiger Lake laptop (unsurprisingly), but enjoyable as a different experience.

Want to output 4K@60Hz out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

Okay, and now we've reached the final form (until I decide to varnish or paint the wood, that is).

Three screws hold the rear wood plate in place to the Thunderlink shell - There are three existing holes there which align perfectly.

The Silverstone ATX-to-SFX bracket is held to that same piece of wood with four more screws and the SFX PSU is attached to the bracket as it would be in a real case:

rear

The cable management is a bit tricky:

empty rear

But it looks good from the other side:

assembled front

And, finally, the RX480 is installed back in and the setup is complete!

final1
final2

 

Want to output 4K@60Hz out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


itsage liked
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itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@yukikaze, I love this "artisan" eGPU build! 3D printing can suck it. Why waste more when repurposing existing products will do.

 

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube | Instagram
 
external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 14" Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio [11th,4C,H] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (WD_Black D50) + Win11 [build link]  


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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@itsage, I don't have a 3D printer anyway Smile

 

Want to output 4K@60Hz out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
Give your Node Pro a second Thunderbolt3 controller for reliable peripherals by re-using a TB3 dock (~50$).

"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."

 
2012 Mac Mini [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 480 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (Atto Thunderlink) + macOS 10.15.7 [build link]  


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joevt
(@joevt)
Noble Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@yukikaze,

couple ideas:

1) Remove the wood divider between the power supply and the Thunderbolt enclosure and bolt the power supply plate to the Thunderbolt enclosure. Requires some subtracting from the power supply plate.

2) Remove the standoff tower and bolt an L shaped piece of metal to the top of the Thunderbolt enclosure (with some washers for spacing) to hold the GPU.

Both options require more holes in the Thunderbolt enclosure.

assembledfront modified

 

 

Mac mini (2018), Mac Pro (Early 2008), GA-Z170X-Gaming 7, Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 8GB GDDR5, Radeon Pro W5700, Sonnet Echo Express III-D, Trebleet Thunderbolt 3 to NVMe M.2 case


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