2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX 570 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (PowerColor Mini Pro) + macOS 10.15.6 & Win10 2004 [hans-st.]
Unfortunately my Akitio Node Lite had a loose connection in the power supply which I could not repair myself. Consequently I asked my dealer for a repair but she offered me a refund. Good customer support.
My initial plan was to make my old wish come true, replacing my Mac Mini 2014 with the newest model and attach a VisionTek Thunderbolt™ 3 Mini eGFX enclosure to it.
However, during some investigations on the PowerColor Mini Pro I was not convinced if this enclosure would be the right one. At this time my decision was: No!
So, I ordered a Razer Core X which is a solid, high quality eGPU, which worked extremely well with my EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB and the new Mac Mini 2018. However, it is a bulky brick which does not really fit to the nicely designed and tiny Mac Mini.
Windows 10 1909 Build 18363.628 Bootcamp (was already installed and used):
I did two hot plug-ins first, then two boots with attached Mini Pro, finally I loaded the AMD Adrenalin driver.
MacOS Catalina 10.15.3 (was also already installed and used):
The connection oft he Mini Pro was a plug and play thing. However, when I did the first benchmarking, the eGPU was weaker than the iGPU. I have no idea why. Yet, the enclosure works as depicted in the benchmarks.
I recognized that the back fan is running all the time, even when the eGPU is idling and cold. I will use the Mini Pro without the back fan, because it seems, it is not really needed. The temperature stays around 60 C when playing CV5 or 6.
Changing the graphics card of the Mini Pro is a kind of a challenge due to the narrow space inside the case. The first thing happened to me was the pull-out of the cream-colored fan socket. Consequently, I will not change the graphics card if there is no real need.
Although it was at the first time strange to see no start-up screen, I see no urgent need to install the rEFInd boot manager or the automate-eGPU EFI. However, I will see.
Sometimes, the device manager shows an unknown device - sometimes not. Even it does not hamper operations - investigations will follow.
Further Experiences / Updates
For booting to Windows it is important that the monitor is switched to mDP right from the beginning. My system does not work if the monitor is switched to HDMI. For booting to Catalina it doesn't matter if the selection is HDMI or mDP.
The unknown device in the Windows device manager i
s permanently gone is again there. No idea why.
Black start-up screen
Today I tried to solve two issues which occur whilst booting Windows with attached eGPU:
1. Booting Windows whilst the monitor is set on HDMI (by mistake), the display shows weird green movements (Only a hard reset/reboot helps).
2. The black start-up screen whilst booting monitor set on mDP (both operating systems are affected).
I installed the modified apple_set_os.efi loader, however I did not a new installation of windows. The installation itself worked fine, however, I could not start windows with attached eGPU. Also a hot plug-in did not work. After trying for about one hour I gave up and uninstalled the loader. Everything works again as before. It seems to me that the Mac Mini 2018 is a little special in what it is accepting. In this configuration it is may be possible that the loader is not preventing the Mac Mini to switch off the HDMI port if an eGPU is attached.
The PowerColor Mini Pro is still up and running fine with Catalina 10.15.3 and yet - Windows 18363.720. Even without using the back fan.
Updated to Catalina 10.15.4 and Windows 18363.752 - system still up and running. Do not need the HDMI connection Mac Mini - monitor anymore.
Updated to Catalina 10.15.5 and Windows 2004 19041.264 - since the update to MacOS 10.15.5 I am experiencing the "famous" black screen whilst changing from Windows to MacOS. Unfortunately I cannot use the boot key option because my RX570 is directly attached to the monitor via DP to mDP cable. However, unplugging Akitio SK-2520 U3.1 SCSI Disk Device before the restart helps. I will see if I have to do this always before changing the operating system.
Another observation is that I must connect my Apple trackpad after each restart of Windows again. On the contrary my magic mouse works.
I have to start the computer without the Akitio SK-2520 U3.1 SCSI Disk Device. Then the system starts very fast and reliable. This means no peripherals - except the Mini Pro, during the boot-up.
The change from Windows to MacOS does still not work flawlessly - even without peripherals. I have to shut off the system and make a restart.
The "black screen effect" is getting worse. Even a second or third restart results in a black screen. I have to shut off the Mini Pro and attach the Mac Mini to the monitor via the HDMI cable. After loading MacOS I unplug the HDMI cable and connect the Mini Pro with the DP-mDP to the monitor. Strange. However, I am not willing to use old versions of the operating systems - so it seems I have to live with this challenge.
For a reliable boot and the change between MacOS and Windows I need again the permanent HDMI connection Mac Mini - monitor as before MacOS 10.15.4.
Since of today, again, the build does not need the HDMI connection anymore for reliable boot's. No idea what's going on.
Since the update to MacOS 10.15.5 the boots from Windows to MacOS are not reliable anymore. Without the additional (permanent) HDMI connection the build shows the famous black screen. However, with both connections to the monitor, HDMI and mDP, it works reliable.
Although not needed so far, I added a switch to the PowerColor Mini Pro to power on / off the back fan.
The high pitch sound of the back fan is still annoying. I found out that the fan itself is not running loud. It seems, the only way to get rid of the high pitch sound is to influence the air flow. So far I found two possibilities:
Although both workarounds are suppressing the high pitch sound, the second one looks more professional. However I am not sure if it is really beneficial for reducing the temperature.
To time the system runs still stabil & reliable (after updating to 10.15.6 Beta) with both OS. On the temperature side the Mini Pro is getting hot, but the back fan is still not needed. After fixing the settings of the track pad in MacOS 10.15.6 the pad works also reliable in Windows.
After update to Big Sur the permanent HDMI connection, Mini Pro to monitor, is required again for preventing the black screen.
@hans-st Thank you for sharing this "mini" build! The mini eGFX is an excellent product. I have been using one at the office with my 13-in MacBook Pro for 8 months. It has been reliable and for the most part blends right in as a normal dock. I believe the back fan is there to satisfy Thunderbolt 3 eGFX certification of needing a cooling fan for the enclosure. I never used it with my ITX RX 480 and there's no issues. Enjoy your eGPU setup!
Concerning your statement about the "mini" build - I agree absolutely, it is a nice, tiny and powerful enclosure.
I wonder why not more eGPU users are using this mobil lightweight.
The major concern is upgradability. We count on external GPU enclosure to provide us the ability to upgrade components as we see fit. Unfortunately there are not that many ITX graphics cards that would work within the physical and power constraints of this mini eGFX. For Mac users, we are further limited by Apple's decision of no Nvidia cards.