2018 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + Radeon VII @ 32Gbps-TB3 (ASUS XG Station Pro) + Win10 1809 [goalque]
- 2 x Noctua NF-F12 PWM (0.05A)
- POWER LOGIC PLA09225B12H-3 (0.41A) 4-pin PWM cable
- Ironside wire stripper
- T5 Torx screw driver
- Electrical tape
Installation was pretty straightforward. Noctua package contains all the necessary wire splitters. Anti-vibration mounts were tight on the side holes for two 12cm fans but luckily they fit.
I found an old PWM fan laying around (probably from my disassembled Devil Box), cut wires and put them into a standard 4-pin female PWM header. No soldering needed.
As for Windows 10, it was almost plug-and-play, as long as you don't use USB-C hubs. If you do, I recommend using apple_set_os.efi to keep iGPU activated and Thunderbolt port resources more static so that the system won't freeze if you hot plug/unplug external USB-C peripherals (EDIT: freeze occurred also with apple_set_os.efi and other USB-C port). The eGPU monitor should have "Make this my main display" checked in the settings. "Extend these displays" is default, change that to "Display only on 1/2".
Hot-plugging yields the error code 12 but after system shut down and restart, everything should be working.
Time Spy v1.0
Graphics score: 7478
Graphics test 1: 50.98 FPS
Graphics test 2: 41.28 FPS
I've never liked AMD's blower style fans because they sound like jet engines. The tree 75mm fans of the Radeon VII were not much better regarding the noise. eGPU enclosures should have minimal space so that the card can breath and exhaust air efficiently. Hopefully this guide opens GPU manufacturer's eyes and some day we have cards without fans, specifically designed for smaller GPU enclosures and standard PWM connectors. The Blackmagic eGPU is a good direction but the GPU should be replaceable.
Noctua fans are not annoying even at full speed. I can adjust 2 x Noctua + 1 x InWin fans speed at 100% in MSI afterburner or keep AMD's automatic fan control. Total AMPs of Noctua + InWin is lower than 3 x 0.32APM so it should be safe. The other InWin fan is controlled by the Asus backplane temperature sensor.
thank you for this great build.
Actually the fans of the Radeon VII are really quite loud. I have an Asus XG Station Pro, too. While being a very nice enclosure it's always best to have the side open for the obvious reason, that there is not much space for air circulation when it's closed.
With your idea this problem seems to be prevented and you get very good results.
You are saying without using the USB-C it's plug'n'play in Windows. I have been told here (which was a surprise for me) that the iGPU always is switched off when booting with eGPU plugged in. (An issue I never have with my 13-inch 2015 btw).
Is your iGPU switched off or not when you boot with the eGPU plugged in?
Yes, with the default fan settings, WattMan showed up to 60C temperature peaks.
During the Division 2 benchmark, the Junction Temperature peaks were 83C-91C (two tests). 64 thermal sensors all over the GPU die according to TechPowerUp and the GPU starts throttling at 115C. It seems that 4 x 12cm fans reduces GPU temperature by ~15C in gaming. That's amazing compared to the factory fans 76C.
The iGPU switches off always and you have a distorted Windows logo on the internal screen if you don't use apple_set_os.efi.
Thank you for sharing an excellent build! I agree vendors should take notes and further improve the value proposition of an eGPU enclosure. They don't have to lower price but instead integrate cooling components for the graphics card like you showcased. Perhaps a universal heatsink that works with both GeForce and Radeon cards would be a nice component.
I have been eyeing this RAIJINTEK Morpheus Vega heatsink for my RX Vega 56 Reference cooler card. As shown in your build, the massive heatsink can draw more heat away from the GPU die, large fans mounted on either sides can move air outside more effectively and quietly. Since most current enclosures have at most clearance for 3-slot wide GPU, I don't think adding more fans on the same side as this massive heatsink would work. The takeaway is vendors can get creative with next generation enclosures to accommodate the PCB from a reference GPU.
thank you for your reply.
A comment about the USB-C Freeze issue:
I have an Asus XG Station Pro using the USB-C port permanently and the USB-C port fortunately never causes any freeze with my 15-inch 2018.
On Windows it's not always reliable that it works (especially when you unplug and replug the Station from the MBP), but it doesn't freeze the system.
On Macs it works always, but I guess this is well known.
As far as my second MacbookPro, a 13-inch 2015 is concerned: It's a similar situation, the USB-C works always on MacOSX, but not reliably on Windows 10. Actually it's quite difficult to work it in Bootcamp at all with this particular MacBookPro model.
In either macbook I never used apple_set_os.efi for different reasons:
1) With 15-inch MBP 2018 it doesn't work, this is well known.
2) With 13-inch mBP 2015 it is not needed, iGPU doesn't get switched off.
Combining those facts together, I think that your freeze-issue with the USB-C port is not correlated to anything that could be solved by apple_set_os.efi. Windows is very fragile and a clean install (or a restore of a good working system image as I do) can help solve issues that are just unsolvable.
Did you read the README at GitHub or have you ever studied firmware ACPI tables? apple_set_os.efi is not just for enabling the iGPU.
"So a little trick by faking the OS identifiction is required to make all hardware accessible."
"This checks if the system claims to be Darwin (the core of OS X). If not, it checks whether two PCIe bridges have been configured. If both are still in an unconfigured state, it cuts the PCIe link to the upstream PCIe link and then sets GP23 to 0. Looking further, GP23 turns out to be a GPIO line. Setting it to 0 appears to cut power to the Thunderbolt controller. In summary, unless your OS claims to be OS X, booting without an attached Thunderbolt device will result in the chipset being powered down so hard that it's entirely invisible to the OS."
Not sure about these new Macs but a few years ago I modified DSDT and removed all the operating system related if-statements, so that all PCIe bridges became visible on Windows.
thank you for elaboration. This is very interesting.
You are correct, I didn't read the README at GitHub. I am using a USB-Stick with your powerful software sometimes, especially to enable TB2 and nVidia on the 13-inch 2015 MBP for MacOSX. It's a great way solve those MacOSX issues, thank you very much! But I removed apple_set_os.efi from the stick, because it looks as I am a bit lucky having two MPB models that really work in Bootcamp-eGPU without any additional software.
thanks for sharing!
one question, did you use the standard PSU which is around 300w?????
how is even possible given how power hungry is the radeon vii???
With my XG I tried and even with a Vega 56 it powers down if I do heavy work or benchmark!
Are you happy with the performance? Would love to see a pic of the whole set up. Great mod, too many eGPUs are loud, large and hot...
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10
Yes, I am using the original PSU and I know that FurMark will likely result in power-down. For computation tasks and light gaming it should be ok (under 300W).
Would have to heavily modify for HDPLEX 400W AC-DC.
@eightarmedpet Happy with the performance but I don't own any higher-end Nvidia, so cannot compare performance against them.