2012 15" MacBook Pro (GT650M) [3rd,4C,Q] + RX Vega 56 @ 10Gbps-TB1>TB3 (AKiTiO N...
 
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2012 15" MacBook Pro (GT650M) [3rd,4C,Q] + RX Vega 56 @ 10Gbps-TB1>TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10.15.7  

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

 

Computer: 

2012 CTO MacBook Pro, 2.7GHz 4-Core i7-3820QM, High-res antiglare display, HD Graphics 4000, GT 650M, Thunderbolt, 16GB RAM, 2TB SSD

 

eGPU:

AKiTiO Node + PowerColor Red Dragon RX Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2 VRAM, 2M Apple TB1/2 cable, and Apple TB3 to TB1/2 adapter.

 

Monitor:

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

 

OS:

macOS 10.15.7

 

 

Hardware setup:  

This 2012 CTO 15” MacBook Pro was the top model and the last one Apple sold that supported owner upgrades.  An owners manual describing how to upgrade memory and storage was provided.  All fasteners are Phillips screws for easy access to the internals including the no-glue battery.  This model has a Thunderbolt (10Gbps) port.  An Apple TB3 to TB1/2 adapter and 2 meter Apple TB1/2 cable were used to connect to the AKiTiO Node TB3 eGPU. 

 

The AKiTiO Node TB3 eGPU has a PowerColor Red Dragon RX Vega 56.  It’s a 2-slot card with an oversized cooler, 3 fans and 2% factory overclock.  It’s rated 210W vs the Node PS 400W.  Aside from a moderately loud PS fan, this Node has worked flawlessly with several graphics cards (AMD & NVIDIA) since I bought it new in 2017.  

 

 

Background: 

This eGPU had been used with my 2018 i3 Mac mini until recently when the soldered-in SSD failed.  Coincidentally I’d upgraded my 2012 MacBook Pro to macOS 10.15 Catalina around the same time.  So it seemed like a great opportunity for a build and to put my eGPU to good use. 

 

 

Procedure macOS: 

This build uses kryptonite which supersedes the older purge-wrangler shell scripts.  If you’ve used purge, be sure to uninstall before proceeding.  The 2 methods can’t be used alongside each other.

 

Start with a backup.  I didn’t loose any data, but just in case.

 

Next, goto the eGPU.io Software menu and select kryptonite. It describes the features and benefits and has a link to the github and wiki pages with installation instructions.  Check all pre-requisites before proceeding.  There are 7 steps as of this writing; some have sub-steps  But they’re clear and easy to follow (IMO).

 

During the installation, the script guides you through your eGPU setup including the eGPU graphics card, TI82 chip support, on-board graphics, etc.  Once up and running the eGPU monitor displays your macOS desktop.  

 

Be sure to followup with the “Post-Install” wiki page!  Until this point, my MBPro’s built-in High-res display was disabled.  The solution was to enter the mux script in the post-install section that enables the integrated Intel graphics, then reboot.  Afterwards both displays were active and the build was complete!  If you regularly switch between the on-board graphics and eGPU, this command may have to be repeated.  Tho only if you want the built-in display active.

12MBPro 1 eGPU kryp displays
12MBPro 2 eGPU kryp mux displays

IMO the standout feature of kryptonite is how easy it is to switch between eGPU and the on-board graphics.  Just reboot, hold the Option key and select your boot drive!  Boot from kryptonite to enable the eGPU, boot from your original drive (usually Macintosh HD) to revert to on-board graphics.  Since I use external displays in macOS and kryptonite, I swap the monitor / Thunderbolt cables at Option-Boot as shown:

12MBPro 3 monitor cables

 

 

Operation:  

The following items may not apply to other models of MacBook Pro:

 

Previously I’d run MacBooks in Clamshell mode with an external monitor when at a desk.  The MBPro slides under a shelf or sits in a stand.  However, with this build there was significant CPU thermal throttling in Clamshell mode.  To minimize this I leave the MBPro display open -or- reboot to the on-board graphics to use Clamshell mode.

 

The on-board Apple-NVIDIA GT 650M prevents this particular model MBPro to wake from Computer sleep in kryptonite.  If I don’t disable Computer Sleep in the Energy pref pane, the MBPro will have to be power cycled to recover.  I leave an eyeTV HDTV tuner connected to this notebook, so enabling computer sleep is preferred.  However, the ease of rebooting back to the onboard graphics helps to minimize this.  

 

 

Benchmarks:

Each result was the highest of 3 runs. 

The GT 650M results are with the 1080p monitor connected to the MBPro TB1 (mini-DP) port.  The eGPU was disconnect & kryptonite disabled.  

 

 

Geekbench 4:

Benchmark

Score macOS

Intel (64-bit) SC

3813

Intel (64-bit) MC

12394

HD 4000 Metal

7530

HD 4000 OpenCL

6517

GT 650M Metal

18274

GT 650M OpenCL

n/a

Vega 56 Metal

119438

Vega 56 OpenCL

133257

 

 

Unigine Valley:

n = GT 650m, v = Vega 56 eGPU & kryptonite

Preset

Average fps

Minimum fps

Maximum fps

Basic

32.5n / 70.5v

18.6n / 7.7v

59.0n / 101.7v

Extreme

12.6n / 63.9v

7.7n / 26.0v

23.0n / 95.7v

Extreme HD

7.2n / 53.3v

3.6n / 25.6v

15.1n / 92.4v

 

 

Tomb Raider: 

n = GT 650m, v = Vega 56 eGPU & kryptonite

V-Sync was set to off.  Monitor refresh set to 120Hz.

Display, Preset

Average fps

Minimum fps

Maximum fps

720p Low

73.1n / 238.1v

57.7n / 168.3v

96.0n / 270.0v

720p Normal

48.0n / 212.8v

36.4n / 143.4v

62.6n / 247.0v

720p High

214.7v

90.0v

248.5v

1080p Low

41.9n / 204.9v

31.7n / 141.2v

51.9n / 235.1v

1080p Normal

193.1v

132.4v

222.7v

1080p High

192.2v

138.9v

225.1v

1080p Ultimate

79.5v

63.7v

96.5v

 

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider: 

This app won’t even start with the onboard graphics! 

All results are with kryptonite and the Node+Vega 56 eGPU.

V-Sync was set to off.  Monitor refresh set to 120Hz.

Display, Preset

Overall fps

Mountain fps

Syria fps

Geotherm fps

720p Low

87.64

128.28

68.63

63.32

720p Medium

75.80

108.74

612.17

54.63

720p High

74.17

105.74

61.86

53.17

1080p Low

78.50

108.47

65.06

60.00

1080p Medium

68.63

92.33

58.89

53.22

1080p High

67.37

87.84

57.46

55.33

 

 

CL!ng bencmarks:

12MBPro 4 CL!ng 4000HD
12MBPro 5 CL!ng GT 650M
12MBPro 6 CL!ng V56 eGPU

 

 

Miscellaneous: 

TB1 bandwidth:  The Vega 56 is usually a solid 1440p card.  But connected to a 10Gbps TB1 Mac, 1080p or lower works best.  Tho some apps appear less affected by the 10Gbps bandwidth.  Ex Tomb Raider 1080p high >190fps

 

Fan noise:  The 2012 4C i7 dual fans gets loud under load with the eGPU attached.  In contrast, my previous 2018 Mac mini 4C i3 single fan seldom spun up with or without the eGPU attached.  And when it did, fan noise was far lower than any MacBook I’ve owned! (9+ between work & home).  

 

 

 

Conclusion:  

I’ve used this eGPU with several Macs and graphics cards over the years.  While I’m satisfied with the 2012 MBPro eGPU performance, my ’18 Mac mini seemed like the ideal Mac eGPU platform (except for the soldered-in SSD).  You get faster CPUs, more connectivity than modern MacBooks, full 40Gbps TB3 bandwidth, lower fan noise, and it’s the last Mac that can still boot macOS 10.14 to run legacy apps.  It can also upgrade to the latest macOS Monterey!  But if you need mobility and an eGPU, the advantage goes back to the MacBooks for macOS.  

 

 

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

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


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@cnon297, you should use neither purge-nvda nor purge-wrangler alongside kryptonite. You should have disabled your dGPU via kryptonite itself (in your case I think you did, but the mux did not switch to iGPU). You can still fix it by following the post-install section of the wiki. By using the purge- scripts, you've already invalidated all advantages you would have gained with kryptonite.

 

"Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed." — Seneca

Author: kryptonitepurge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
Launching Apps on Specific (e)GPUs on macOS

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [build link]  


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

@mac_editor, [UPDATE]  I updated my kryptonite build to include the iGPU mux script from the Post-Install wiki page and to clarify purge script use.  My sincere thanks!!

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

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


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