2016 15" MacBook Pro (RP460) [6th,4C,H] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) ...

2016 15" MacBook Pro (RP460) [6th,4C,H] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10.14 [shikhirarora]  


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Joined: 2 years ago

First, I'd like to point anyone to this post I made a bit over a year ago as it contains a lot of the vital information/pictures for the base build.


System specs -

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2016 Touchbar), 1TB PCIE Drive, RP460 GPU

eGPU hardware -

- Akitio Node (modded; see below)
- AMD Vega 64 
Silverstone 800W SFX-L Titanium PSU
Noctua-NF-P12 Cooling Fan
Alphacool Eiswolf AIO 120 GPX Pro (Vega) Watercool
- Various MOLEX 12V adapters (these 3-pin adapters,  this awesome adapter)

I'll put the pics in the end. 


Installation steps:

So, I've been running that build (Vega56 with a Akitio Node) since that time with no issues whatsoever, but recently the prices of Vega's have gone down and as many of you probably know, they were going for $399 for the reference model (Sapphire brand, same as my 56) -- so I said why not? I know that the Vega 64 is power hungry, and gets hot and clocks down, so I decided, both for the "challenge"  😛 and just for the benefits, to watercool it. But, I didn't feel like buying a larger enclosure. After all, in my original build I had picked the Silverstone 800W SFX-L Titanium PSU -- which, I will say has given me not a single issue since I purchased it on Amazon. It was a bit overkill for the 56, but I always like to futureproof things, so I bit the bullet. The 800W supply (as noted in my original post) is not SFX, but SFX-L, which - in terms that matter here - simply means the fan is larger. Now some operate this PSU/the 700W version of it without a fan, but I left it there. It never really runs anyway with this watercool setup. I refer you to the original album  https://imgur.com/a/q69Y2  to see some pictures of the build before watercooling. That was just a mod with the PSU upgrade, and a switch to the great Noctua NF-P12 fan, which I still use now.

So enough preamble; I'm not going to go through the entire build setup of how to take a Vega 64 reference unit and watercool it because there's plenty of guides and the instructions with the actual watercooling setup are very thorough. It also doesn't have much to do with eGPU's (the actual removal of the GPU card and attachment to the watercooling setup), but I'll briefly describe it.

So, I went with the  Alphacool Eiswolf 120 GPX Pro (I was able to get the last in-stock unit for the Vega from FrozenCPU). I picked this over waterblocks because it's an AIO (all-in-one) solution, and 120 because - well, 120 is all you need and also the only thing that will fit in the Node without heavy modifications (which I didn't care to do, again, what's the fun in that  🙂 ) So, the Eiswolf comes witb everything preassembled. You just need to follow the instructions which are very detailed and have a careful antistatic mat, etc. which I already have. It probably would take someone completely new at it an hour or two to carefully remove the GPU as it involves taking out several screws, carefully removing the backplate and GPU, and cutting a lot of different sized foam pads for all the GPU VRM's (voltage controlled modules; basically power MOSFETs which get hot during usage) -- there's a lot of these, but again the instructions make it fairly simple. It took me less than an hour. 

Once that was done, the fun part began. Again, the Eiswolf is all in one, so I only needed a few changes to make it work. First, I purchased these 3-pin adapters (you only need one of these) purely for the three-pin connector that you need to power the Eiswolf. That's all it takes for the watercooling power; 12V to the Eiswolf via. a 3-pin connection, so this adapter was a clean way to do it. I also switched/got this awesome adapter which I can't recommend enough for the two-fan setup. The Eiswolf comes with a 120mm radiator/two 120mm fans, using a classic push-pull configuration to efficiently cool the radiator.

Now, you don't actually have to use two of the fans - you can just use one attached to the radiator and it will work just fine - you will just have a less performant cooling system. However, it's easier and quieter -- but I decided to use two. Now at this point I should say I did very little modification to the physical chassis of the Node. That was sort of my goal to begin with, however, the only mod I had to really do is remove the front panel, and, although it looks a bit strange, I mounted the Noctua 120mm fan I had already on the outside of the case, which is right in front of the radiator with some washers to hold them.  Then I used one of the 120mm Eiswolf fans on the other side attached directly to the radiator. So, in essence this is the same thing as what it done by default, except there's the tiny separation of the panel (pictures will be below) which is insignificant, as the radiator is mounted on the panel too, which has holes for a 120mm fan. Now this isn't the quietest because one of the fans is externally mounted, but in my case I don't care that much about noise -- it's not that loud anyways (Noctua make great pressure fans). The actual liquid cooling system is kink-free wiring, and that two 12pin splitter came in handy as I simply attached each fan to one of the inputs. The PSU comes with a lot of adapters, so this is just running with a total of two Molex adapters (one for the 3-pin, ~4 watt @ 12V pump connector that powers the Eiswolf and another with the two splits for the two 12V fans). And the 800W Titanium SFX-L Silverstone PSU provides plenty of power.


So how does it do? I've had it running for a few days now and my primary use is on macOS, for graphics acceleration and with a 4K monitor (LG 32UD99-W), but I plan to expand as needed. I'll post definitive benchmarks soon, but the tl;dr here is that, during  full benchmark peak, the GPU never reaches over 60C, and that's at max Luxmark hard bench with a 4K monitor and other apps running multiple times (and a variety of other tests). Also, since it's watercooled, the noise is constant (just the fans) - no additional fan coming on. With normal/mid-level usage, as in using several apps with graphic acceleration and 4K monitor with Adobe Photoshop work, it never goes above 35C.  The average is closer to 30; and idle is 25-28C. But, it never goes above 60C, and that's with the clock not undervolting (since it never gets that hot it does reach the specified base clock). This GPU setup is a tight fit, which actually makes it a pretty efficient push-pull system/chamber as the copper radiator quickly gets rid of the heat. And, I just think it looks cool/was an interesting little mod as it's literally an almost unmodified basic Node chassis. So, without further babble, here's some pictures:

Hardware pictures: 

https://imgur.com/a/RpL3PJP?grid  (the first and fourth picture are the complete/closed setup, and excuse the messy wiring: it's not that bad when I finished closing it as I was careful, but it is a tight fit - and the watercool lines aren't bent in a way that they'll kink, so no worries! That's the fun though  🙄 ) 


This topic was modified 7 months ago

2016 15" MBP with Vega64 - Akitio Node - Watercooled with Eiswolf 120mm GPX Pro

itsage liked
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Joined: 3 years ago

Active Member
Joined: 2 years ago
Posted by: nando4

Thank you for your submission. Would you mind following the build template to section off the pertinent build details?


Yep, sorry about that. Hopefully that's a bit cleaner now.  🙂

This post was modified 1 year ago

2016 15" MBP with Vega64 - Akitio Node - Watercooled with Eiswolf 120mm GPX Pro

Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago

@shikhirarora Excellent build guide! I’m amazed how you made use of all the space inside the AKiTiO Node.

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