2014 Mac Mini [4th,2C,U] + RX Vega 56 @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10....
 
Notifications
Clear all

2014 Mac Mini [4th,2C,U] + RX Vega 56 @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10.14.6  

 of  2
  RSS

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

 

Computer: 

2014 CTO Mac mini 3.0GHz 2-Core i7-4578U, HD Graphics 5100, Thunderbolt 2, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD

 

eGPU:

AKiTiO Node + PowerColor Red Dragon RX Vega 56 with 8GB HBM2 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

 

OS:

macOS 10.14.6

 

 

Hardware setup:  

This 2014 CTO Mac mini has a 2-core i7, 16GB LPDDR3 fixed memory and dual upgradable storage.  The primary storage is a proprietary Apple-Samsung 512GB PCIe 2.0 x 2 lane blade SSD.  The secondary storage supports 2.5” SATA3 drives.  Apple discourages upgrades by using security screws in this mini.  However, kits are available from OWC and iFixit with the tools and parts needed for upgrades and repairs.  This model has two Thunderbolt 2 ports (20Gbps).  An Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter and 2 meter Apple TB2 cable were used to connect to the TB3 eGPU. 

 

The AKiTiO Node TB3 eGPU has a PowerColor Red Dragon RX Vega 56.  I’ve recently used this same eGPU configuration with two other builds; it’s fast and reliable.

 

 

Background: 

The purpose of this build is to find a legacy Mac that doesn’t take much space & can run my fav 32bit apps; including eyeTV iOS server; which is broken in the 64bit version.

 

 

Procedure macOS: 

This build uses purge-wrangler only because it was faster to setup than kryptonite.  I plan to upgrade later.

 

Always start with a backup just in case.

 

Next, goto the eGPU.io Software menu and select purge-wrangler.  Read the docs 1st.  This mini was easy to setup in part because it has no discrete GPU.  You have to reboot into the Restore menu (Cmd+R) to disable SIP via terminal (csrutil disable) before you can run the script.  You may also have to turn off FileVault in the System Preferences / Security & Privacy menu.

 

During installation, the script automatically selected all needed options for this Mac mini.  My previous builds required more interaction so this was an unexpected benefit!  Afterwards, reboot and you’re done.  I can’t emphasize enough how quickly and easily this build was competed!

 

Full disclosure: Other than disabling SIP, I did the install remotely from my Mac Pro.  The mini had no monitor attached except the eGPU monitor.

 

 

Operation:  

There are several advantages vs my previous build (’12 MBPro):

  • Computer sleep works great!
  • CPU temps are much lower (per MacFansControl)
  • It’s significantly quieter especially under load!
  • It takes up much less space!!
  • Thunderbolt 2 (tho it’s not always faster than TB1)
  • Upgradable storage (my ’18 mini fixed storage failed)
  • The main storage is reasonably fast (720MB/s write, 751MB/s read)

 

I suspect 750MB/s may be the limit of the ’14 mini PCIe2.0.x 2 lane bus based on NVMe SSD benchmarks in my ’09 Mac Pro.  But that’s still a major boost over a SATA3 SSD and an excellent benefit of this model.  

 

On the downside, the i7 is only 2 cores.  It’s mostly slower than my older 4-core ‘12 MBPro TB1 eGPU.   This is apparent when you compare the results below between both builds.  Both use the identical eGPU setup.

2014 Mac mini 500GB blade SSD aja

 

 

Benchmarks:

Each result was the highest of 3 runs. 

 

Geekbench 4:

Benchmark

Score macOS

Intel (64-bit) SC

4019

Intel (64-bit) MC

7740

Iris 5100 Metal

17492

Iris 5100  OpenCL

20322

Vega 56 Metal

129997

Vega 56 OpenCL

137593

 

 

Unigine Valley:

Preset

Average fps

Minimum fps

Maximum fps

Basic

74.2

30.0

104.9

Extreme

63.5

29.7

96.2

Extreme HD

52.7

27.0

88.5

 

 

Tomb Raider: 

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

Display, Preset

Average fps

Minimum fps

Maximum fps

1080p Low

203.2

140.9

238.6

1080p Normal

188.7

122.5

220.0

1080p High

188.7

117.1

216.0

1080p Ultimate

86.1

73.4

104.3

 

 

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

67.49

109.71

47.10

42.77

720p Medium

64.27

106.93

43.49

39.41

720p High

61.99

103.09

40.76

39.03

1080p Low

71.04

114.36

49.52

46.28

1080p Medium

63.48

103.20

44.11

40.46

1080p High

60.88

96.76

43.63

39.79

 

 

CL!ng benchmarks:

14Macmini Iris5100 CL!ng Metal
14Macmini Vega56 eGPU CL!ng Metal

 

 

 

Miscellaneous: 

TB2 bandwidth:  Performance has been mostly slower on this ’14 mini build vs my previous ’12 MBPro build..  I suspect the 2-core i7 and 4MB L3 cache may be part of the reason (’12 TB1 MBPro has 4-core i7 & 8MB L3 cache).  I tested this by re-running ROTTR benchmarks on my ’12 MBPro build with the macOS Activity monitor open on the 15” display.  ROTTR used up to 685% CPU.  But the newer ’14 mini’s 2-core CPU can provide up to 400% CPU (100% per thread).  There may be other factors.  But recent games appear to benefit more from the extra CPU cores even with the slower TB1 connection to the eGPU.  At least that’s been the case with the last 2 builds. YMMV

 

Fan noise:  Like my ’18 i3 Mac mini before, this ’14 mini is relatively quiet.  It rarely spins up the fan and the CPU runs fairly cool.  Temps occasionally rise to 90C but are mostly well below 70C even in benchmarks with the fan idling around 1900rpm.  And when the fan does spin up, it’s much quieter than any MacBook I’ve owned!  

 

 

 

Conclusion:  

For casual home and light productivity use, this ’14 Mac mini + Vega 56 is a nicer build than my previous 2012 15” MacBook Pro + Vega 56.  It’s compact and quiet with more connectivity.  However, if you need the processing power of the extra CPU cores, look elsewhere.  It’s too bad 2014 was a 2-core year for the mini.  With TB2 and PCIe storage, this model would’ve been ideal with a 4-core CPU IMO.  

 

 

This topic was modified 1 month ago

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]  


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

@cnon297, Thank you for sharing this build! I'm always curious about the 2014 Mac mini with the PCIe connection for storage. Have you looked into that option to add an eGPU through the use of ADT-Link R43SG M.2 adapter?

 

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]  


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

@itsage, I actually bought an NVMe adapter for the ’14 mini PCIe slot.  I’d planned to migrate the 1TB EX950 NVMe SSD from my Mac Pro.  But an eGPU would’ve been more fun.  Especially since the ’14 mini has a secondary 2.5” storage bay for an internal boot drive.

 

There may be a couple of bottlenecks tho.  The ’14 mini has a PCIe 2.0 x 2 lane slot compared to PCIe 3.0 x 2 lanes or 4 lanes of other computers.  Also the CPUs are 2-core only for the ’14 minis.  That seemed to hold it back vs my ’4-core TB1 builds.

 

Sadly, I no longer own that ’14 Mac mini.  And I never got a chance to test my 1TB NVMe SSD and adapter.  If I still had it I’d definitely do an NVMe eGPU build just for fun!  Maybe someone else will pick up on this and do that build instead?

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]  


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

@cnon297, PCIe 2.0 x2 might not be worth the hassle over Thunderbolt.

 

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]  


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

@itsage, I agree.  That’s a shame too.  Physically, it’s an ideal setup. It has dual internal storage with easy access to the NMVe SSD.  

 

I found this on Amazon.  It’s a different adapter than I bought.  But the Blade SSD was mounted in the same place.  If only the Blade slot were PCIe 3.0 x 4 instead.  You’d need a 4C CPU also to make the most of it.

 

NVMe adapter 2014 Mac mini

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]  


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

@itsage, except there are benchmarks that show PCIe 3.0 x1 (slightly less than PCIe 2.0 x2) performs slightly better than Thunderbolt 3.
  https://egpu.io/forums/thunderbolt-enclosures/a-call-for-measurements-isolating-the-thunderbolt-effect/paged/17/#post-14987

That was from more than four years ago. Maybe the benchmarks need updating. Or maybe it doesn't apply to a 2014 Mac mini.

You can force Thunderbolt 2 speed with a USB-C (non Thunderbolt) cable.

You can force Thunderbolt 1 speed by cutting one of the data lines (maybe do that with a USB-C male/female breakout adapter).

 

 

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


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

@joevt, I was doing those tests with a fairly capable PC desktop at the time. 2014 Mac mini with a dual core might not do as well. I'm building a PC desktop with PCIe 4.0 through both x16 slot and NVMe M.2 slot [build link]. My plan is to run tests with an ADT-Link R43SG 4.0 as well as Thunderbolt 4 port and different land widths on the dGPU slot. I ordered a 50cm version of the M.2 adapter but received 25cm version so there's some delay.

 

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]  


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

@itsage, @joevt, I've tested a Vega56 eGPU on a 2014 2-core TB2 Mac mini and a 2012 4-core i7 TB1 Mac mini.  Despite the faster TB2 connection, the 2014 Mac mini is nearly always surpassed by the older 2012 TB1 Mac mini.  And the older '12 mini is often 25% faster or more.

If I still had the 2014 Mac mini I'd do an NVMe build anyway.  I'd bet there'd be some performance gain compared to the TB2 bus.  But I doubt it would catch up to the 2012 4C model judging from the results of both builds.

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]  


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

@cnon297, Soldered RAM and weak CPU was really the death knell for the 2014 Mac mini imo. I enjoyed my 2011 Mac mini a lot when I first got into eGPU [build link 1] [build link 2].

 

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]  


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

@itsage, so that’s what happened to your AKiTiO Node 😉  Those are 2 seriously awesome builds BTW!!  And a nice bit of nostalgia!  My 1st build build was in 2017; tho never posted.  

 

It was a 2015 15” TB2 MBPro (CTO all options) with an ASUS 980Ti and this same AKiTiO Node.  I’d just bought a MSI 1080Ti to replace the 980Ti in my ’09 Mac Pro.  I found egpu.io & decided to keep the 980Ti for a TB2 build.  That’s before I knew the benefit of an PCIe 3.0x4 NVMe build!!  If I’d known, I’d never have traded that ’15 MBPro on a new ’19 MBPro.  

 

Re: ’14 Mac mini.  Maybe the soldered-in RAM was a bit of foreshadowing.  If my ’18 Mac mini SSD hadn’t failed out of warranty, I might be more forgiving of the soldered-it-all mentality.  Now I think it makes about as much sense as welding tires & brakes on a car!  Except you can read an odometer, see wear-bars on tires, and brake wear indicators.  Buying a used computer with a soldered-in SSD is a crap-shoot IMO.  There’s no way to tell if it was used for browsing, editing video, or generating bit coin.  Which is why my failed ’18 Mac mini was replaced with a ’12 Mac mini!  I can’t see myself buying an M1 Mac anytime soon; if ever.  

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]  


itsage liked
ReplyQuote
 of  2