2018 15" MacBook Pro (Vega20) [8th,6C,H] + GTX 1660 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core X) + Win10 [Proto42]
A very preliminary feedback. I will add details in the coming days.
2018 MBPro TouchBar with i9, 32 GB, 1 TB SSD and Vega 20.
System uses 27" QHD display, HDMI input connected to the Mac through the Multiport AV dongle, and DPort connected to the GeForce eGPU.
The goal was to add a little bit of gaming under BootCamp, not to use eGPU for MacOS, so the choice of an NVidia GPU.
The MBPro with Vega 20 can indeed provide some gaming, but not enough for a comfortable experience. Not to speak of the fan noise (and I doubt the thermal paste will last long).
eGPU hardware (eGPU enclosure, video card, any third-party TB3 cable, any custom mods)
EVGA GeForce 1660 Ti.
Installed the GPU in the eGPU.
Hot plug after Windows Boot (TB3 ports near the screen, left or right).
Drivers installed automatically by Windows (last version of Windows).
It simply works without EFI or uninstalling the dGPU.
Using Heaven in 1080p, 8xAA, Ultra Q, Extreme Tessel.
Vega20 internal screen: 937
eGPU internal screen: 1.644
eGPU external screen: 1.728
In other words, now can get 60fps on almost any game at 1080p ultra, and some at 1440p high.
Not totally silent, but low noise (low pitch, so much better than using the MBPro alone). Gaming is better (no more CPU / GPU throttling) but it's not that night and day (benchmarks are not the real life). A more beefy GPU would help (see below).
About setup, everything seems smooth and easy, but it's far from perfect:
- plug before boot does not work at all
- in some cases, the eGPU will not be recognized 5 minutes after hot plug
- Multiport AV and eGPU seem incompatible: even if disconnecting the Multiport AV before connecting the eGPU, then the eGPU will be in error
- when there is such an error, the eGPU has to be connected to the other side of the MacBookPro (which is weird)
- drivers automatically installed are stable, but upgrading with the NVidia drivers did put the eGPU in error (had to uninstall and reinstall the Studio ones)
I wanted to add a TB3 dock and a longer cable for the eGPU to put it away (less noise), but I fear the TB3 dock will not work along with the eGPU (same as the Multiport AV).
I also wanted to upgrade to a RTX 2070 Super (the 1660Ti was a bargain to start with), but stability remains an issue, so investing more is still a question mark.
Well, I made additional tests with the Multiport AV under BootCamp, and it seems it has broken something.
I had to change the port for the eGPU (right side top to right side bottom), because on the previous one the eGPU was in error (detected but "no available drivers").
Then five boots later, the eGPU started to be in error with whatever port I'd try (of course I did not plug the Multiport AV under BootCamp whatsoever). Error 43 now. Tried the script against this error, but no luck.
So I believe I'll have to reinstall the NVidia drivers, or even BootCamp to start from a clean install. Not really user-friendly, but this is what eGPU and BootCamp are about.
@proto42, Expansion hubs running alongside eGPU in Boot Camp has always been tricky. I would recommend using DDU to remove the Nvidia drivers as well as port mappings. Once you've done that, look into a pci.sys replacement (detailed here). We've found the pci management in Windows 10 1903 18362.30 to be the most eGPU friendly so far. Maybe that would help with your situation. Attached is the good pci.sys for your convenience.
Very interesting. Thank you for sharing.
Did you try installing Intel Thunderbolt drivers? It made the difference with my external TB3 SSD
Thank you for this post. I am quite new to this topic as I'm looking to make my gaming smoother with 2018 15-inch 2,6Ghz i7 Vega 20 on BootCamp.
What I was wondering the most is that many people recommend using Nvidia but I'm thinking if buying AMD won't somehow work better with the Vega 20 already installed on the MacBook. I'm a little fresh in this topic so please be understanding.
If you were to do it again, what would you change? Or what would you recommend me? I already have okay-ish gaming experience with just the MacBook but ngl most games have graphics set to low. Would this eGPU be a game changer to me? How much is it to spend to have a decent gaming experience on this machine?
Thank you a lot for help!
that’s a set of tricky questions, but I’ll do my best to share my honest thoughts.
First, if you want to game under MacOS, then going the AMD-based eGPU is the only way to go, but the game catalogue is so tiny that I would never call it worth it. By the way, Snazzy Labs have issued a great video on what gaming on a Mac could mean. Maybe then getting an AMD-based eGPU would be interesting, but I would then wait (at least the WWDC) to get some hints.
Now if you want to game under BootCamp, which I suppose is your case, I would suggest not getting an AMD-based eGPU. It’s not because NVidia GPUs are better for the same amount of cash or not, it’s because it’s more frequently plug and play with NVidia, because of the potential conflicts between the inside dGPU (Vega 20) and the external AMD. Some people have been able to make this work under bootcamp with AMD-based eGPUs, but they don’t seem to be that numerous. To put it as simply as possible, in my case, I just had to plug things and voila, it just worked for internal and external displays.
Ok, then the real question is « is it worth it? ». In my view, no.
eGPU on BootCamp is far from being « plug and play ». It may work for one week then suddenly it will get into error. And in my case I didn’t get through after 10 hours of heavy work. I’m deeply impressed by the work of many people there, @itsage in particular (respect). But eGPU for gaming under Bootcamp remains, as of now, something for the enthusiasts (people who like to expriment and hack problems) and not for gamers who simply want to play. And frankly my eGPU is now plugged on another machine for CUDA-based development.
There is also another aspect I think you should consider: how would you define the “next level” of gaming experience.
Your MBPro (as mine) is no gaming machine. The GPU itself is not the real problem. There is too much heat and not sufficient power (only 100W to feed the CPU and GPU) for the GPU to free itself. I have tested an Intel NUC 8i7HNK which on paper has a similar CPU/GPU combo but lowered specs than my MBPro, and on the same games, it just smokes my MBPro. Better cooling and more juice available.
However I’m happily playing on my MBPro with some minor tweaks on settings (stopping turbo boost being the most critical one). Overwatch on medium settings runs at 60 fps at native 2880x1800 resolution. Apex Legends on low settings gets 60 fps at 1050p. The Witcher 3 from 30 to 60 fps on medium to high settings at 1080p. Not great but not bad.
What would then be a real gaming experience next level? Gaming on a good external display would be the first priority, because the MBPro internal display is bright, contrasted and colorful but too small and slow. If you search for a great gaming monitor, bright, colorful, contrasted, speedy, and don’t want to see “pixels” as your eyes are used to Retina displays, then it will cost you ALOT. Search for good 4k monitors with at least 120Hz of refresh rate, IPS or VA panels: they’re not cheap. And yes, I see pixels on WQHD monitors outside gaming sessions, and won’t put a huge monitor on my desk just for gaming sessions.
When you’ll be there, you’ll want to try playing 1080p at 120fps (or more), or even higher resolutions. That would be a real next level. But with an eGPU we are talking of the RTX2080 or even higher. And the whole budget with the display will be around 2k for a non plug and play system. At this cost I can easily build a gaming PC with the same monitor, some good Ryzen, and a RTX2070 Super. Similar performance, more plug and play.
This is very personal of course, but the in betweens are from my perspective not real “game changers”. Would be better than my “not great not bad” but not “great”, just “better”.
I won’t go this road now. Will wait for a potential new iMac to be announced. More expensive but so many other good things to do with such a machine. And if not coming, then I could end up with cloud gaming. GeForce Now and Shadow are not bad now.
Hope this helps.