2018 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX 580 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Saturn Pro) + macOS 11.1 & Win10 20H2 // quiet mods
The goal of this build was to create a one cable docking solution for my MacBook in MacOS which includes silent external graphics for gaming in Windows.
2018 13-inch Macbook Pro with Intel Core i5, 1 TB SSD, 16 GB RAM, Intel Iris iGPU and no dGPU
- MacOS 11.1 Big Sur
- Windows 10 Pro 20H2 (on SSD in Mantiz Saturn; installed as Windows ToGo)
- NEC MultiSync EA274WMI 1440p 60Hz Monitor
- Mantiz Saturn Pro V2
- Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX 580 OC Lite
- Samsung 870 QVO 1TB for Windows install and games connected to Saturns internal SATA port
- Audio Engine A2+ (Connected to Saturns rear USB ports)
- USB 3.0 Hub (integrated in the NEC Monitor) for Mouse and other peripherals (Connected to Saturns rear USB ports)
The supplied fans are unbearably loud for my use case.
This is why I ordered two Noctua replacements only an hour after receiving the Saturn Pro:
- Noctua NF-S12A PWM as replacement for case fan
- Noctua NF-S12A ULN as replacement for PSU fan
Changing the PSU fan will obviously void your warranty, but it is well worth it in my opinion.
My new PSU fan is 100% inaudible. However I wouldn't trust the new fan to cool the PSU at max load. My Setup draws < 300 W from the wall when gaming and I have not experienced any overheating issues.
The Noctua PMW case fan is still audible and creates a slight whooshing sound, but it is also a huge improvement compared to the stock fan.
The enclosure was still a bit too loud for my taste. Because of that I added more Noctua products.
- Nocuta NF-A12x15 PWM
- Noctua NF-FC1 fan controller
The slim 120mm fan was mounted in-between the GPU an the mesh sidepannel of the Saturn Pro to act as an intake fan.
The Noctua fan controller allows me to reduce the PWM output from the Saturn Pro proportionally. I connected this controller to one fan header on the main board and to both case fans. I set the dial on the fan controller to roughly 60%. This should result in slightly more cooling than stock, with a significant noise reduction.
I’m not sure how the Saturn Pros mainboard is supposed to receive airflow to cool the Thunderbolt controllers. This board is almost completely boxed in and I don’t see a way it could be cooled by the stock case fan. My new intake fan might be a bit better suited to cool the mainboard, but there is still no proper path for air to flow.
With this fan setup I would consider the hole unit inaudible when idle and in light workloads. My RX 580 idles at 32 °C and the integrated fans stay off during light tasks like watching YouTube Videos.
MacOS 11.1: Plug and play no reboot required
My only annoyance in MacOS is that the disconnect GPU safely option never seems to work first try. Most of the time I need to use the force disconnect option.
Is this a common problem?
Windows 10 20H2 (Windows ToGo) almost plug and play:
The following steps assume that you have Windows 10 20H2 ToGo and the Apple Bootcamp Support Software already installed on your external SSD. You can find many guides on how to do that.
- connect the Windows ToGo SSD directly to the Macbook using a USB to SATA Adapter and disconnect the Mantiz enclosure
- Boot Windows normally using the internal display by holding the alt key
- Once logged in connect the eGPU
- The eGPU will appear as VGA Display Adapter and Windows will begin to install drivers (you need an internet connection for this step!)
- After driver installation (this can take a while) Windows detects the GPU correctly as AMD RX 580 and prompts you to restart
- Leave everything connected and reboot Windows using an external Display
- After the first setup you can boot from the SSD in the Mantiz Saturn enclosure without any problems
This is the way I did it on my first try and it worked right away. It might be possible to do the setup without removing the SSD from the Mantiz enclosure, but I have not tested that.
The only real limitation of this method is that you are required to use an external display, because the internal screen is stuck on the Windows logo.
I enabled unbranded boot to avoid any burn-in issues with my screen.
Another slight issue with this setup is that the Touchbar is on continuously. I found this utility to solve that: http://dimbar.forbootcamp.org/
But I would prefer to disable the touchbar completely while in Windows. I you have any ideas how I can achieve that please send me a message.
Has anyone ever heard about burn-in issues regarding the Touchbar? If not I might just ignore this issue...
I was initially worried about getting an AMD GPU to work in Windows 10, but this was surprisingly no problem at all.
Windows ToGo seems to be a great solution. I can even boot this Windows install using parallels inside of MacOS. Gaming performance is obviously greatly reduced compared to rebooting and running on bare metal as described above.
A quick note for eGPU critics: Good Thunderbolt 3 docks like the CalDigit TS3 Plus cost almost as much as the Manitz Saturn Pro V2. This means that I got this enclosure essentially for free, because I needed a docking solution regardless. More GPU power for the pure cost of the GPU is certainly not a bad deal!
All in all I have achieved my goal of a true one cable solution which works in both Windows and MacOS. This Setup is truly the best of both worlds.
Great post, always like seeing quiet mods.
Interesting to see how much easier AMD set ups are these days with newer Windows builds.
What games are you playing? I've been tinkering with my set up and just tried PUBG (my ago to) which was fluctuating around 45-75fps which IMO is unplayable (competitive FPS) but then I'm on an older dual core 2017 MacBook Pro.
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
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@eightarmedpet, thanks for the kind response!
This far I have used my setup mainly for productivity. I have not spent a lot of hours gaming on it yet. So I can't give a final conclusion on gaming performance. My first impression compared to the internal Intel graphics was obviously very positive. (I have not used a dedicated GPU in quite a while)
Games I have shortly tested at 1440p@60Hz include:
- Battlefield 3
- Battlefield 4
- Battlefield 1
- GTA 5
- CS Go
@top_tim, Hey Tim,
I share the same base build - so except for the customizations. I wonder if you run into any MacOS issues? E.g. system crashing while you work/game, upon booting up with eGPU connected etc.?
I was facing such issues which were so severe that I almost considered selling the eGPU setup. I managed to fix some of the most severe ones, but it's still far from ideal - e.g. freezing on boot etc.
More details are here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/252546337?page=1
I was wondering if you encountered anything similar and if yes, how you fixed it.
Thank you for any advice, kind regards, Steve.