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

2016 15" MacBook Pro (RP460) [6th,4C,H] + RX Vega 64 LC @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10.14 & Win10 [P-Mac]  

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P-Mac
(@p-mac)
Trusted Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Been in the game for 3 years now, still think it's fun to mess with eGPU's because it's like having the world's biggest Thunderbolt dongle. 

IMG 1488

Essentials

  • 2016 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro
    • i7-6820HQ
    • Radeon Pro 460 dGPU
    • 1TB SSD, 100 GB Windows partition
    • rEFInd bootloader + GPU-switch-efi
  • Akitio Node
    • XFX RX Vega64 Silver, custom liquid-cooled
      • Alphacool Eiswolf GPX Pro Vega 120 expandable AIO cooler
      • Corsair ML120 Pro Red (push fan, GPU PWM-controlled via adapter)
      • Noctua NF-A12x15 Low Profile fan (pull fan)
      • OC'd via WattMan to ~1720 MHz boost clock / 1000 MHz HBM
    • Corsair SF600 SFX PSU in place of OEM PSU
    • Manual fan controller/splitter to run waterpump and pull fan via PSU
    • Red LED strip wired to Node PCB's fan header

Peripherals

  • MSI MAG341CQ 34-inch 3440x1440 100Hz FreeSync Ultrawide panel
  • Lenovo Explorer VR HMD
  • Yamaha HS7 Studio Monitors / Focusrite Scarlett 2i4
  • HyperX Alloy FPS Pro TKL mechanical keyboard, CherryMX Blues + o-rings
  • Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum
  • Apple Magic Trackpad for gestures & scrolling when editing video
  • 1TB USB-C 10Gbps external SSD (Windows games)

Build Experience

IMG 4288

Oh boy. Since I picked up an editing gig with the JayzTwoCents youtube channel, it was inevitable that I would end up watercooling something of my own, so this monstrosity is the result. It was an adventure getting the 50 billion different thicknesses and sizes of thermal pads to line up and getting even mounting pressure across the entire Vega die (luckily my die is variant1 with resin, so it makes it a bit easier and less fragile).

It's totally, utterly not cost effective, and compared to properly-sized AIO's or custom loops the cooling performance of the Eiswolf 120 is lackluster, but this solution is pretty much the maximum amount of off-the-shelf cooling I could stuff into the Akitio Node for the V64. It performs great, significantly quieter than the factory blower cooler and while temps are only slightly lower than the blower, they're enough to keep the hotspot temps in check and prevent any loss of boost clock. Still working on pushing the overclock higher though, Vega's a finicky beast.

I'll most likely move to Radeon VII in the near future once waterblocks and other fun cooling stuff become available...NZXT's making integrated pump-radiator combos that might be a potential solution to use with an EK block, or I may simply move the Eiswolf's pump/coldplate combo to a new RVII Eiswolf once it comes out (part of the reason why I went with the Eiswolf to begin with).

Unless NVIDIA and Apple play nice and we get Turing drivers for macOS...

Software and Installation

macOS: nothing fancy, plug-and-play, although still having weird issues with Safe GPU Ejection. Was messing with SoftPowerTables to run a mild overclock and fan curve modification but since lost those settings to a macOS update (since it involves editing the V64's kext). 

Windows 10: Since the RP460 doesn't play well with native AMD drivers and I have its PCI bridge disabled anyway, I am running an iGPU-enabled setup with only the OEM AMD drivers installed for the V64. This way I can update the drivers as needed and nothing is "fishy" about the setup for all Windows is concerned. 

I'm currently using rEFInd with apple-set-os enabled, along with the GPU-switch-efi EFI executable tool, made visible via a custom boot entry. To boot from macOS to Windows, I select the GPU-switch-efi tool to enable the iGPU and flip the gMux to it on the next boot, select the reboot option, then select the Windows boot entry. This step is only needed for booting Windows after having booted macOS immediately prior. Windows reboots are automatic and so updating Windows—even major revisions—is as seamless as a desktop PC, even with the eGPU attached.

In Device Manager, I only have the x16 PCIe Bridge to the RP460 disabled. No regedit tweaks or dsdt's or anything. 

Final Thoughts

Still love this setup, though I kind of miss the rough-around-the-edges charm from my old ammo can build. 

Being fortunate enough to work at a place with access to all levels of PC hardware under the sun (my work machine is an i9-9900K/2080 Ti) has allowed me a sense of perspective that I don't think I would have otherwise, and oddly enough, made me more content with my own personal setup. I still love the grab-laptop-and-go ability, having a fairly competent (and IMHO still absolutely beautiful) laptop for on-the-go work and being able to come home and dock it into this ridiculous monitor and fly some internet spaceships with friends fits my lifestyle and use cases perfectly still. In addition, having tested more hardware (and more differing performance levels of hardware) in this past year than I'd ever even seen in my life has taught me a lot about the unique and varied ways games can stress computers and their subsystems.

That being said, PC hardware is getting smaller and more power efficient...we recently reviewed a Corsair One with a watercooled 9900K and 2080Ti, and its chassis is smaller than the Akitio Nodeso we'll have to see where the eGPU market goes. I'm guessing that the high-end enthusiast market will leave it behind, but for people with ultrabooks that just want to add some midrange GPU grunt to their system to play some games at home will still be left satisfied.

This topic was modified 4 months ago

2016 15" MacBook Pro + Vega64 w/ Eiswolf GPX Pro LC
---
MAG341CQ 34" Ultrawide // Logitech G900 & HyperX Alloy FPS Pro (MX Blues) // Scarlett 2i4 + Yamaha HS7


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itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Glad to see your updated build! I sold my 2016 15" MacBook Pro almost a year ago but missed the challenge setting up in Boot Camp so I bought a used one this past week. Same specs as yours. 😀

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide


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P-Mac
(@p-mac)
Trusted Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: itsage

missed the challenge setting up in Boot Camp

Man, you crazy. lmao. I've been eyeing the 2018 MBP for a bit simply to get rid of error 12, but the lack of notable improvement with the butterfly keyboard situation has left me on the fence still. Intel just announced 9th-gen CPUs for laptops, so 2019's MBP might be interesting...especially with those rumors of a 16-inch form factor. 

Honestly, the only reason I haven't sent this laptop in for keyboard repair (yep, my G and R and option keys are part of the statistic) is because I'm too lazy to set all my software and OS's up again once I get it back, despite my full time machine backup of the macOS side of things lol.

2016 15" MacBook Pro + Vega64 w/ Eiswolf GPX Pro LC
---
MAG341CQ 34" Ultrawide // Logitech G900 & HyperX Alloy FPS Pro (MX Blues) // Scarlett 2i4 + Yamaha HS7


ReplyQuote
itsage
(@itsage)
Famed Member Admin
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Same as your fondness for the Ammo case build, there's certain satisfaction when you have to put in some effort to make it work.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide


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odin
 odin
(@odin)
Eminent Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 
Posted by: P-Mac
Posted by: itsage

missed the challenge setting up in Boot Camp

Man, you crazy. lmao. I've been eyeing the 2018 MBP for a bit simply to get rid of error 12, but the lack of notable improvement with the butterfly keyboard situation has left me on the fence still. Intel just announced 9th-gen CPUs for laptops, so 2019's MBP might be interesting...especially with those rumors of a 16-inch form factor. 

Honestly, the only reason I haven't sent this laptop in for keyboard repair (yep, my G and R and option keys are part of the statistic) is because I'm too lazy to set all my software and OS's up again once I get it back, despite my full time machine backup of the macOS side of things lol.

If Macrium Reflect works with macOS partitions you could just image the entire drive with that and restore it. I do this with my Win 10 + Linux dual boot drive and it works flawlessly with all my partition types. Unless there's something Apple does (of course there is) to make that a non-starter.

I probably wouldn't expect Apple to have anything worth upgrading to until 2020. I personally would wait one generation after these 2019 refreshes that are rumored for this year. Let them work the kinks out of the yet again new keyboards.

LG Gram 17 | Sonnet Breakaway Box 550 | Asus Strix RTX 2070 OC Edition | Win 10 Pro 1903 + Manjaro Deepin Dual Boot
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