2017 15" MacBook Pro + AMD RX Vega 64 8gb [email protected] (HW MOD Razer Core X) + macOS10.14.4
As disclaimer I would like to inform that this post is more about the possible Razer Core X modding then about software solutions. Main goal for this build was to make comfortable, silent and powerful workstation from my 15" MacBook Pro. With idea to make it work as easy plug in solution using the docks station from Henge Docks.
Main performance focus for this build is photo / video editing and 1440p gaming of World of Warcraft on full details. System is made for external display only.
BASE eGPU: Razer Core X / AMD RX VEGA 64 8gb Liquid Cooled / Seasonic Focus Plus 850 Gold / Custom CableMod Cables / 2m TB3 cable from Amazon http://bit.ly/T3Cable
eGPU MOD CASE FANS: Noctua NF-A14 PWM 140mm FAN / Noctua NF-A8 PWM 80mm FAN
VEGA 64 FAN MOD: Noctua NF-F12 PWM 120 mm FAN
DOCK: Henge Docks Vertical Dock http://bit.ly/HengeStation
PHASE 1: At first I had to compete with my choice of liquid cooled Vega 64. As base starting point I used this review https://egpu.io/razer-core-x-review-thick-juicy/ where was Nvidia card used. As I did not used combined card I wanted to switch the position of the fan compared to the one used in the review. As you can see on my pictures.
Other change from the review is that I used the basic screws to still hold the fan panel. To hold the heat dispenser I used basic two sided tape what works fine. Of course I had to remove and unplug the basic fan from Razer Core X and left it's power pins empty.
After this basic "mods" I started using the Razer Core X with Vega to know how it overall works.
PHASE 2: So after few hours of using I realised how loud the basic AMD fan and PSU is. And also the PSU in Core is not that strong to hold Vega 64 and the charging of MacBook all the time almost on 100% and don't be super loud and hot.
So the idea behind this phase was to add some more fans and change the basic AMD fan on the Vega to decrease the basic noise and completly add some ventilation and try to low the temperatures of Vega and the basic PSU.
On 5th picture you can see how the front fans looks. This mod was quite easy for just this hardcore switch of the front case. I easily removed the front panel of case using the iFixit kit. Then I used two noctua fans described in part before. One 140 and one 80 mm. I sticked them together with double sided tape and then used another double sided tape to hold them in place on the case. Fans are connected via one splicer and two prolonging cables. Everything comes from the cables that comes with Noctua fans. I used for these the Fan connector from board of Core. They works completly silently and fine.
Later I added two grills to cover them and lower the income of mess to the case. Around the fans I added some basic isolation material to even more stops mess from coming in.
After this I went and break down the Vega 64 card to change the basic fan for another Noctua 120mm fan to increase it's cooling and decrease the noise. I used this video
to know how the internals look and what I have to change. on one of my pictures you can see the internals of Vega 64. One important this is that you need to buy reduction from the basic Fan pins to the gpu header. One what is like this: http://bit.ly/FanRedu . And then I had to use one of the prolonging cables from Noctua box.
PHASE 3: As the generic PSU in Core is super loud under full load I decided to switch it for another one that will be more powerful and much more quiet. The original one sounds like a tourbine under the full load. You are super constrained by the size of PSU you can use so I ended up with Seasonic Focus Plus 850 as I did not wanted the PSU to be used more then on 60% because of the noise and heat.
In this phase I realised few things. 1) The modular PSU don't fit via the PSU holder that is the case. 2) Included cables are too long to be used in the box. 3) Positions of the button on the back of PSU where is cable connecter are positioned differently then the ones on the original PSU and so the PSU don't fit in the back of the Core and more physical mods will be needed.
As you can see on some of the photos I ended with the power cables and PSU sticking out from the case. And I already cut part of the back case of Core to be able to fit the PSU there later as visible in the photos from behind.
PHASE 4: In this ATM last phase I had to remove last parts that blocks the modular PSU I bought for this re-build. I had to remove the part of inside holder of FAN and PSU in place that blocked the cables. You can see the cut part in the photos of the hardware.
Once this is removed I could finally used the custom cables from cablemod. I have to say that you have to use the one that are for very flexible. You have not much space in there and you need them to bend very much as you can say from the photos. With these small mods I could fit the PSU with no problem and cables were long enough and don't take much space and the build looks quite clean.
As I closed the cases for the first time completly sealed again I started testing and let it work for few days to see the temperatures and performance. After few days I realized that the front FANS didn't run how they should and are underperforming even I checked the voltage from the header of board and it should be fine, it is not. So I changed the setup of FANS. Now the big 140mm FAN is connected via splitter to the GPU FAN and it runs finally at full speed when needed. Small 80mm still connected to the board and it runs much faster too. As it all the FANs are PWM enabled now the two that are connected to GPU are controlled by it and change their speed when needed that is great upgrade and I'm glad I did this change.
I did not measured any big changes in temperatures on full load but the PSU is now quieter and obviously cooler. The cooling from full 65 degrees to lower 50 or higher 40 are much faster too now.
TBC PHASE 5: 3D modeled and printed front case to completly hold FANS.
TBC PHASE 6: 3D modeled and printed inner fan holder panel to be able to hold everything with screws.
Unigine Valley Benchmark: https://imgur.com/a/1U7SPtX
Unigine Heaven Benchmark: https://imgur.com/a/6SFtJvd
WOW FPS Boralus: https://imgur.com/a/JjtW0ve
Temperatures / Noise
Thanks this moding I capped the temperatures of Vega 64 on 65 degrees under 100% long lasting load or synthetic load. In idle they are around 28-33 degrees. Also I was able to made this whole build almost silent. Thanks intelligent fan use of PSU that don't spin till 45% of use and super silent Noctua fans only thing that is mostly heard is coil noise of the Vega 64 or fans of the MacBook as I need to open it clean and repast the CPU in it. Only under full load I can hear a bit of PSU but not if I have some music or video turned on.[EDIT] AFTER SWITCH of fan power supply I noticed temperature drop on WOW on full details in 1440p from 60 to 50-55. Holding 40-80FPS in the main city of the new expansion what is one of the most power hungry places in WOW atm. The PSU is still quieter then it was before. Drop of the temperatures when not under full load is too much faster. Under settings for RAIDS / Dungeons what are bit lower and card is used for around 60% temperatures instantly drops under 45 degrees and the system get almost completly quiet.