2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + Radeon VII @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core X) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [ttamnogard]
System specs (model inc screen size, CPU, iGPU, dGPU, operating system)
2018 Mac Mini – i7-8700B/UHD Graphics 630 iGPU/64GB RAM/2TB SSD
Included a SPEED mini fan stand...
eGPU hardware (eGPU enclosure, video card, any third-party TB3 cable, any custom mods)
Installation steps (what did you do to get it all going?)
This took a little bit to get running.. I started with connecting an HDMI from the mac mini to the monitor to get everything set up and downloaded. I found that the TB3 connection closest to the USB A connections worked all the time (for some reason the right 2 didn't work as well as the left 2). Running 1903 fully updated but NOT the .329 update (it's listed as optional, do not install it!) Downloaded the AMD Adrenalin August. You will NEED to have your eGPU plugged in or the driver software will NOT detect the card and will not install it... did the install but left the HDMI cable connected so I could see what I was doing... when it went to reboot, I unplugged the HDMI and let it boot up with only the eGPU connected... and windows displays... since this is supported in both OS (I am not running 10.15 as of this posting), I was able to reboot into MacOS (using the bootcamp system tray) and it works, reboot back into windows no problem...
Forthcoming, I've never used these as I am more about getting it working as a measure of success... I'll check up on how to use this stuff
Comments (eg: how has the eGPU improved your workflow or gaming)
Well, it improves everything because I can now maintain a good experience using FreeSync when in Windows. The SPEED cooling fan helps quite a bit in being able to game longer.... I would recommend capping your FPS at 240 to keep temps lower (yeah, it's cool to see 300-400 FPS on the display but your monitor can't handle it anyways). I would like to, when I can afford it, try to run a second eGPU but with an NVIDIA card (I've seen a @itsage posting trying different setups). Just need to track down a 2080 Ti to see if my FPS change or if I am hitting the TB3 bottleneck.
@ttamnogard Thank you for sharing this nice build! We’re looking forward to seeing the hardware photos. Regarding the behavior of the four Thunderbolt 3 ports, I believe all four should work with an eGPU. Detection of an active Thunderbolt connection is typically a challenge. When I first got the 2018 Mac mini I found the TB3 port #4 next to HDMI most friendly with Thunderbolt detection too. I didn’t really know why that was until I started using an USB-C monitor. The Mac mini firmware handles monitor output depending on which devices it finds during pre-boot. When the USB-C monitor was connected, I found the TB3 port next to it (shares same Thunderbolt 3 controller) always active and can be used through hot-plug. Here’s the Thunderbolt 3 Controllers and Port # arrangement in the 2018 Mac mini for reference.
@itsage for me, port 4 works 100% of the time... port 3 i have a tb3 hub which routes everything... I use one of the usb-a to power the SPEED fan. I tried connected my hub to 1 or 2 (based on your sketch) and they did not work even on reboot.... I don't know if it is my hardware (this is a refurb 2018) or just the nature of the addressing from the home page build tutorial. I played around with what was in there but nothing changed. It may also be my new'ness to this process.
The FreeSync alienware 25" supports HDMI 2 and DP 1.4. I will be curious to see what systems can handle HDMI 2.1 when it hits... 4k120... though that dell OLED is pricey but looks.... nice.
I have a line on a second Core X. I haven't tried running 2 eGPU with 2 different GPU cards. I'll check your 2018 build, I thought you were running a mixed scenario.
moved to a new spot/dedicated desk
heres it running, no led and requiring a cycle
and after it cycles the lights are on and it is working... had to do this EVERY TIME
did you want me to do a separate post for the 5700? It was a pain in the butt. The vii is still the most bad a$$. The new drivers have kept it rock solid at the .295 build
This sapphire was a trade for someone who had a bit of buyers remorse... since I'm on mac mini now, Team Green was just not part of the long term fun... so, while the 2080 is a bit old in the tooth and cost me more back in the day, the sapphire seems to be a fun test... the reference card Radeon VII still beats it time and time again...
The only issue I still have is having to rebuild the machine each and every time.... I'm sourcing a second core x to drive a second monitor (the alienware 240hz 1080p which is now second to the bad a$$ 1440p 165hz curved free sync from gigabyte).
I did run valley but I need to figure out how to screen capture the results (since my windows build is super stock)n
Look forward to seeing that.. I ignored everyones advice and bought a 5700XT, look forward to testing it against my Vega 56... Holding out for a Mini update before changing host machine.
What is interesting is that because Fan speed is controlled/recorded in the SMC... I always boot into OS X Mojave, then reboot into Boot Camp. This ensures the mini fans are on full blast by default. I also modified my Mini fan rig with a bigger 5v fan (still running off of USB power). I'm sure I could go 12v and double the fan RPM, but the antenna plate on the bottom of the mac mini will limit your ability to push air in any faster than the holes support...
I did try adding a radiator to the top... didn't help the CPU hitting throttle temps but was able to hit 4.4GHz for a bit before getting throttled down to 3.6/3.8 GHz... I just started recently started using superposition... scores are what they should be when I run custom 1440p. Rad VII is not really a 1080p card... it's why I am on the fence with the 5700 XT... do I want to FPS at 1080p or fun game at 1440p 165Hz or 4k120... 4k120 is the sweet spot I am thinking for the Rad VII and eGPU
Thoughts on the Acer XV273K? seems to be the only FreeSync 4k monitor that supports more than 60Hz
Hi, I m running windows 10 version 1909. would this work also for me ?.
I m trying to get this to work but with no luck.
so i deleted my bootcamp partition and installed a new Windows instance build 1903. It is working perfectly.! Thank you guys.
no matter what I tried, 1903 build 295 is the sweet spot. I manually patch the machine with the various KB items and security updates (like various runtime engines etc).
My machine runs perfectly as is... I keep Mojave updated (10.14.6) and windows as I said before. I ended up going with the 1440p 165htz monitor and just absolutely love it. The VII can peg the FPS in windows at 165 pretty easily with my custom settings. I can hold 100 fps on epic with a bit of playing around in Windows.
I am at a point where I either wait for the next generation of mac mini or just consider this a complete build for what it is. I have tons of RAM and HD space room... and my cooling solutions, while not perfect, are the best as it can get for now... even with fans pegged and a bigger fan. Since I would have to really play around with the enclosure, there isn't really a water solution that will work. I tried putting a massive radiator (with thermal padding) on the enclosure and saw no difference... it came down to always booting in Mac... if I want to game, set the fans to full blast and reboot... I still hit throttle on various cores (95C) but the clock speed it holds at is still way more than I need for what I do.
This set up still cost me the mobility but the trade off is what it is.
Thank you for the explanation. it really helped me get this to work.
I have some questions still : sometimes when i reboot ON macos it won’t load when the GPU is connected on boot. this happens 20% of the time or once every 5 reboots (approximately). what can be the problem ?.
Another questions is : how can i maximize the use of the GPU ?. For example , When i play Need For Speed Heat at 4K ultra settings i get 30-35 FPS while the GPU is only used at 40%. Does that mean that the TB3 cable is the bottleneck or something else is the bottleneck ?.
Finally, how can i prevent windows from updating to the 1909 build. I want to avoid a scenario where windows will update to a build that will cause the GPU to not work again ?. how do you prevent this ?.
Other than these concerns i really like the setup. Thank you for your help.
I modified it with a bigger fan (Noctua). The key is that the cut aluminum fits perfectly with the mac body. Good seal. I also added extended feet... I also run Macs Fan Control and have it manage temps... unless I am running Google Chrome, my mini already barely hits 60C... now, when I am running boot camp, I first boot into Mac and set the fans to full blast... since this is saved in a protected location, the fans stay on full when I am in Windows (it remembers what is set). Running games etc, I will throttle at 95C on a few cores even with everything on full. This is powering both a 1440p on high settings and well as a 1080p on high... There is only so much you can do with the antenna plate in the way underneath. I tried thermal padding and radiators on the outside chassis but that did nothing... I considered a custom external water cooler but again, you are only cooling the external aluminum.
The Speed cooler is interesting but my testing of airflow shows that the antenna plate and restrictive existing fan make its usefulness limited. Now, if you remove that antenna plate (so, using the hardwired ethernet) and move the old fan out of the way, I would be interested in seeing the thermal results (that may be my next experiment).
I'll add a picture to my set up once I get home tonight. Is there anything you'd like me to test for you?
No not really. It seems then it's not worth it then. I can't remove the antenna plate as I need wifi. Thank you for your detailed post. You should post a youtube video about this fan as there are limited reviews online. The seller of the fan has a couple videos but they're terrible.
I was out of the area for a bit and I did not see your question.
Regarding a failure to boot... I never have had this as the mac mini natively supports eGPU with 10.14.6 (my OS X version). I have only ever had to use the native iGPU when I was building the Boot Camp set up initially. GPU utilization is an interesting thing in Mac OS. You can, at least prior, tell OS X to "Prefer eGPU" for an application but it is ultimately up to the code of the game to tell the system what to do. It's why there is so much fun when comparing Adobe Premier to Final Cut Pro... they both utilize the system differently...
If you are looking to boot into Windows consistently, then 90% of the time you should be fine... I only got in trouble when I updated a driver for the monitor and it wasn't happy.
To stop the upgrades, Windows has the tool called gpedit (Group Policy edit). What you need to change is under Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates ->Windows Components->Windows Update
You should see a list of Settings in the right pane... you want to click on Configure Automatic Updates (a popup will appear)
In this popup (reading from top down), first click the Enabled Radio button.
Below are 2 side by side windows, the window on the right is just FYI, the window on the left is what you want to set up... in the pulldown, select 2.
Apply and ok....
Now, when you check for updates it will just notify you... you will have to download and install KB items by hand where applicable ( https://www.catalog.update.microsoft.com/Home.aspx )... it requires a bit of legwork to understand the various KB items, but you'll be good to go when it comes to things like updating virus definitions or specific component updates.
My wife tells me to not post videos because I say "um" way too much (I have posted a few videos on the sounds of various car exhausts hahahaha).
I did follow a video of a user who updated their fan (that's what I did too). I don't have any before or after but I can always run istat menu or whatever it is called to log temps of the system running as-is and then when the fans are on.
To your point:
The SPEED is not really worth it in that the mini is not built for forced air... it is designed for air to be pulled by the internal fan. Whatever Apple airflow spec they chose is the max cap. The Speed does nothing but keep the antenna plate cool which is NOT, based on my amateur testing, a heat dissipation spot. If you are really pushing to cool your internals, using the Mac Fans control (which works fine in Mac OS with or without the T2 just not in Windows without starting up in Mac, turning on the fans, then rebooting to Windows), will see your best performance... (I set her to full blast and it keeps the system right on target for 90% of usage). Also, the mini is design to push the heat to the chassis... which is also aluminum (see below). Induction cooling would require an iron plate. Treating the external case as a CPU and you are attaching the CPU cooler is another thought... (I just don't see this as a logical or reasonable approach).
Now, to think wildly outside the box:
Where things get useful for the SPEED is if you can figure out how to do lower-than-ambient cooling. The Speed is cut from Aluminum so you can't cool it specifically using induction cooling but if you can figure out how to add an iron base or platform, then you can have the SPEED blowing actually "chilled" air...
personally, if you can get the case lower than ambient temp, run the fans at full, and without getting too cold that you risk condensation.... you have something there...
More for the fun of it I would assume at that point... so of course I am going to try it. 😉