2018 15" MacBook Pro (RP560X) [8th,6C,H] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14 & Win10 [mac_editor]
This build is essentially identical to my previous build with the exception of switching from the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350 to a Mantiz Venus MZ-02. As such, the system configuration, installation, undervolting Vega, and benchmarks would be identical for this configuration, so some aspects will not be repeated here. If you're here for my thoughts on the enclosure switch, check out the Switching Enclosures section.
- MacBook Pro 15" (2018)
- CPU: 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 (i7-8850H)
- GPU(s): Intel UHD 630, Radeon Pro 560X
- macOS 10.14.x & Windows 10
The installation process is usually straightforward if you use one of the solutions on this forum.
Native compatibility: This eGPU setup has official support and does not require any additional software-work to get working. It is also easy to connect multiple such eGPUs.
Not all applications take advantage of external GPUs. For that, one can use set-eGPU.sh or Prefer External GPU option in Mojave.
For Windows 10
The setup process is simple:
- Download a copy of AMD drivers from bootcampdrivers.com.
- Use DDU to uninstall Apple-provided drivers. It is recommended to do so in Windows Safe Mode.
- Boot back into Windows normally and install the downloaded drivers.
- Once the Radeon Pro 560X is up and running, hot-plug eGPU. It should default to Error 12.
- Once you see error 12, uninstall the Vega device from Device Manager > Displays.
- Reboot with the eGPU plugged in. All displays should be active.
- Repeat Step 5-7 for every Windows boot to ensure the internal display works. If the internal display is not required, just boot with the eGPU plugged in.
Basically, to keep the internal display active, the eGPU needs to be uninstalled from the Device Manager in a prior boot. Then the eGPU + internal display should function as long as you boot with the AMD eGPU plugged in.
The following paragraph is the mini-backstory of why I switched.
Months ago, I was on the fence about switching enclosures to reduce clutter and migrate towards a more one-wire solution. At the time, @itsage recommended the Mantiz Venus MZ-02 as an overall good bang-for-the-buck one-wire enclosure. It was then priced at around 349$ if I'm not mistaken, so for a college student, this was an expensive investment. Alongside my necessity to travel/switch homes as an international student, the investment did not feel right at the time. Fast-forward to today and I have a job lined up, some cash on hand from an internship, and while causally discussing enclosures, @eightarmedpet recommended the Venus too, and cited better-than-expected build quality. I take it as fact when @eightarmedpet says something is good quality - combined with @itsage's recommendation, I placed the order in trigger-happy fashion, now at a much nicer 279$. I excused my expense citing my 23rd birthday, which was yesterday. Yes, I played that card.
While setting up the enclosure, I experienced the following hiccups:
- I totally missed the big, black, obviously-an-SSD-bracket SSD bracket provided with the enclosure. A quick back-and-forth with @itsage and I had the SSD installed in no time.
- The screws were tight (as hell). While I'm not a hardware person, and perhaps I had somewhat sweaty hands, tight screws are never a good idea. There should be some give with these things. Anyway, it took me 10 minutes to unscrew one of the GPU bracket screws. Fun times.
Coming from a Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350 that had an upgraded Corsair SF600, I immediately gained the following advantages:
- 87W power delivery instead of 15W.
- 5 USB 3.0 ports versus none.
- 1 gigabit ethernet port versus none.
- Provision for attaching an internal SATA drive versus none.
- Less volume at 11.56 L versus 12.71 L.
- Slightly higher weight, but better look, feel, and build versus the Sonnet.
The Mantiz Venus definitely feels like a step up from enclosures I've used previously - Akitio Node, Aorus Gaming Box, and Sonnet. The USB ports have significantly reduced clutter around my MBP, edging my setup closer to a one-cable system. The anodized aluminum looks and feels premium. In use so far, the enclosure has been quiet and reliable. For me, the ability to easily access the internal components is important, and a simple pull-to-remove panel is really the way to go. This feature alone won me over. Fair to say I have an intense dislike for enclosure-opening mechanisms employed by Sonnet and especially the Node. However, after working with the Venus for a bit, it became clear that the nicely implemented one-side-only access was a double-edged sword, making it very difficult to mount larger or taller GPUs.
On to things I don't like: The existence of two types of "Intel-certified" firmwares for this enclosure (16xx and 22xx bandwidth-wise respectively). One maximizes bandwidth (H2D) while the other compromises on H2D for stable I/O performance. On my system, I am seeing H2D speeds of 14xx MB/s. On the Sonnet, I was at 26xx MB/s. Realistically, in most of my use cases and even in gaming, I may not see appreciable performance differences, but I hate the fact that I am running in "compromised bandwidth mode" when there is a possibility of a better solution. Given how troublesome it can be to update enclosure firmware on Macs, this has detracted from the overall positive experience. If I was paying the original $349/389 price, I would not have settled for this. Hopefully I can get the firmware update going soon and compare the two. For the internal SSD, I would have preferred a slide-in bay of sorts to simplify the installation procedure - but this is a nitpick at best. Finally, fitting in larger GPUs might be a challenge with the Venus due to the one-sided access to components. A Mac Pro-esque enclosure system with 360 degree access would have been brilliant - a man can dream.
At 279$ there is nothing that comes close to the features and quality of the Mantiz Venus. The only area of improvement I see is use of dual thunderbolt controllers to eliminate I/O latency over USB, and a single firmware that runs at maximum performance.
Since I've not installed the Corsair PSU (yet), I am running on a 550W Mantiz-provided PSU. Quick stress tests on both macOS and Windows went well, so I'll monitor the situation as I use the eGPU on a daily basis. In my time on the forum, I've never posted a picture of what my setup looks like, so here it is, with all the shoddy university housing desks and drawers in full glory:
Not to worry, as once I move to Seattle, there'll be much better furniture, and yet another monitor. The setup is essentially two 4K Freesync-enabled 27" LG displays connected via DisplayPort to the Vega 64. Hidden behind the displays lies an AORUS Gaming Box 1070, which I sometimes plug in for testing. For those curious about the audio gear on the left, its composed of a JDS Labs - The Element USB AMP/DAC, a trusty Sennheiser HD600, and a simple USB microphone which helps as clamshell mode disables the microphone on T2 Macs.
As a compute card, the Vega 64 more than meets my demands. For gaming, it of course falls short in newer titles at 4k60, so I play at a compromised 1440p. For games I frequent, such as FIFA and Rocket League, it is more than sufficient. Overall, this setup serves my needs well. But there is one thing: noise. Due to my GPU being a reference Vega design, it is loud to say the least. I am awaiting a higher-end Navi GPU, but if that's too far off, I might just upgrade to a custom-design 5700 XT once macOS has drivers for it, just for decreasing the noise.
Update 1: The Venus firmware version shows up as 25.1. Checking H2D speeds, I noticed I was running at 16xx MB/s which is half of expected H2D speeds. I am aware of the post that has the H2D fixed driver, but I recall it having issues with USB drives. Will inquire about newer firmware.
Update 2: Added Enclosure Impressions.
Update 3: Info about the enclosure access mechanism.
Update 4: Using Amazon's 30-day return policy, I got myself a replacement Venus unit. Sadly this also limits at 14xx MB/s. Quite amazingly, all my close friends seem to own a 2018 or newer Mac. Time for some TB3-windows-machine-owner hunting, or maybe I will take up @itsage on his very kind offer to flash the firmware by mailing in the board.
LOVELY hardware pics! I actually like the look of that desk too... my uni halls were ex navy barracks and I could touch opposite walls by standing in the middle room, I'm not even sure I had a desk... Hope you like the Mantiz? Hard to tell in your write up?
Just checked my firmware and I'm running the same as you but getting different H2D results (I may be doing not wrong as I have no real clue what I am doing).
Will add an ‘impressions’ section soon. I’m getting 14xx MB/s on my enclosure so it’s definitely lower. I’m in touch with Mantiz support and have the better firmware. Will see how things go, but I’m away from home for this weekend.
@mac_editor look forward to hearing your impressions... let me know how it goes firmware wise too, not sure if I need to update/change mine or not...
My guess would be that there won’t be any/minor gains in some titles for me since I’m using an external display - though I suspect I should see improvements in Assassin’s Creed titles. For internal display acceleration though, it might be worth updating the firmware. In your case the bandwidth seems decent, but could be higher.
Oh yeah, happy birthday too! A self bought present is often the best type, I think you made a wise decision.
Hope you had a good one too.
I am noticing now that booting with the eGPU plugged in does not disable the internal monitor - or is this just me? For reference, I'm running Windows 1903 and the latest developer beta of Catalina. I do have some USB drives connected to the Mantiz, if that makes any difference. So far, has been consistent across multiple boots. If this is indeed the case, Apple has updated 2018 MBP 15" firmware and made eGPU on bootcamp easier, or the new Windows updates (18362.295) and August bootcamp drivers have caused the change.
@mac_editor That would be a nice change if the new firmware in Catalina indeed allows iGPU/dGPU to stay activated in Boot Camp with eGPU connected. I will test on 2018 Mac mini and 2019 13″ MacBook Pro soon. Can you share the Boot ROM version for reference?
Bootrom: 1037.0.60.0.0 (iBridge: 17.16.10541.5.2,0)
The change probably only affects dGPU-based 15" MBPs after 2016, or maybe only T2 15" MBPs. But would be good to test.
Also, for Mantiz 25.1 firmware, AIDA shows Mem. Read as 2600+ MB/s (no write in trial) - with H2D I was expecting reduced bandwidth, as on macOS both D2H and H2D are 14xx. Still haven't updated yet.
quick question! when you used the bootcampdrivers.com drivers, did you get the Radeon Pro panel? or the regular Radeon panel? I have the same setup in my MZ-02 but for some reason I keep getting the Radeon Pro panel which doesn't support Wattman, and therefore no undervolting...
I get the regular Radeon panel. I recall some older releases caused the Pro panel to show up, but ideally using one of the newer releases should bring up the regular one.
Thanks! I was using the July V2 version, but perhaps using the August release I will be able to get the regular panel then.
Interesting. I recall not having issues with the July V2 version. Perhaps you should start clean with DDU and retry with August drivers.
Impressions section added.
I am noticing now that booting with the eGPU plugged in does not disable the internal monitor – or is this just me? For reference, I’m running Windows 1903 and the latest developer beta of Catalina. I do have some USB drives connected to the Mantiz, if that makes any difference. So far, has been consistent across multiple boots. If this is indeed the case, Apple has updated 2018 MBP 15″ firmware and made eGPU on bootcamp easier.
I checked with 2018 Mac mini and 2018 13″ MacBook Pro just now, booting up with eGPU connected and without any workarounds. Unfortunately the iGPU was deactivated in both Macs. They are running latest Catalina Beta as well as Win10 1903.
Seems to be as expected. It is probably reasonable to guesstimate that within the firmware (for both 13" and 15" Macs), the integrated GPU is disabled in presence of another GPU (not just discrete GPUs). Changes to this implementation would imply that my Mac should have booted into Windows with iGPU activated as well. All of this would change if Apple starts distinguishing between discrete and external GPUs for this implementation, but for now, there seems to be no significant incentive as there is no way to adjust GPU mux on Windows dynamically.
What's been improved here is that I no longer need to do the uninstall GPU before shutdown procedure in Windows to keep internal display active.
I have a 2018 15` i9 MBP and a 2080ti + Razer Core X. I recently reinstalled Bootcamp, and I had to do no extra steps for it to work with eGPU. Simply turning it on with the eGPU connected allows it to detect. The MBP screen stays frozen on the Windows loading, but when hot unplug the eGPU it comes to life. Does that mean the iGPU is not disabled or does it mean it gets enabled on the eGPU unplugging?
@mac_editor good to read you’re happy with it! I was worried you weren’t what with the firmware issues. It’s odd that I’m on the same firmware but get higher h2d? Maybe I just didn’t test enough/correctly. The elegance of a one cable solution is something I underestimated in the past and while mine is two cables due to you know what it does still reduce clutter.
Are you running macOS Catalina Dev 7?
Sorry I forgot to mention that. Nops. Mojave, latest.
The new behavior (active internal display - no stuck Windows logo or black screen) is observable for me only on the aforementioned bootrom on Catalina dev 7.
Hi @mac_editor, is there maybe a way to automatically uninstall the Radeaon Vega drivers every time you turn off the system? like a script or something?
Im currently running the exact same setup as you with 2 4k LG displays but with a radeon vega 56. Thanks in advance!
There is, but it’s not required anymore. Plus you don’t need to do this if you’re running external monitors. As of Windows 1903 (295) and macOS Catalina (firmware updates), there is no need to uninstall the GPU for internal display to function (at least on my system). I can boot with the eGPU plugged in and all 3 monitors (2 external, 1 internal) work as expected. Clamshell works too (just have to wake up the computer using external input after closing lid).
@mac_editor huh do you? If i leave my eGPU plugged in during boot, and didnt uninstall the drivers for it, then my internal stays black.
You might only see this new behavior if you also upgrade to the latest beta of macOS Catalina (which includes firmware updates) - but I’m not certain (could just be Windows). If you’re not a developer, I suggest waiting for public release of Catalina and testing Windows again.
@mac_editor, oh hahha i was already on Catalina since launch... but yeah, i should have only done it if im developer, but im too impatient
@mac_editor thanks, now im reverted to the old version of windows. But you didnt do anything special to achieve all three monitor active with no manual uninstall vega driver?
Currently running catalina and Windows OS build 18362.1
@eightarmedpet Looks like apparently updating the Mantiz firmware is not doable (per Mantiz support) on the 2018 MacBook Pro. John cited that Mac needs to have Alpine Ridge controller (2018 has Titan Ridge). However, I've successfully updated Aorus firmware on this system before (and so has @itsage on a Mac mini 2018) so I'm not sure what's the issue and why the limit here. In any case, this has detracted somewhat from the experience since the Sonnet delivered a much higher 26xx MB/s vs. Mantiz's 14xx MB/s.
@mac-editor sorry to hear that! That must be frustrating (despite the minimal impact it has in real world gaming).
There must be someone at your uni with an earlier model MacBook you could borrow to update it? You and @itsage are both US based right? Pop over and borrow his 2016?