2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RTX 2070 Super @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + Win10 1903 [itsage]
Similar to the RX 5700/XT graphics cards, RTX GPUs don’t have drivers in macOS so this build is in Windows 10 Boot Camp only. Running Windows 10 1903 the 2019 13″ MacBook Pro can use both Nvidia and AMD eGPU through hot-plug without any workarounds. For loopback testing, I connected a USB-C monitor to the opposing side port to the eGPU so that they use separate PCIe connection.
Mid 2019 13″ MacBook Pro – i7-8569U/Iris Plus Graphics 655 iGPU/16GB RAM/512GB SSD
While there’s no need for any workarounds in Boot Camp, it’s important to make sure Windows fully loads prior to hot-plugging the eGPU. As soon as the RTX 2070 Super eGPU was connected, Windows would freeze for about two minutes while it detected new components and configured drivers. Audio and Network icons in the Taskbar notification area shown as disabled during this process. Trackpad and keyboard were non-functional also. Once the Thunderbolt 3 connection was established, everything resumed as normal. There was no existing drivers so RTX 2070 Super showed up as “Microsoft Basic Display adapter” in Device Manager. I proceeded to download and install the latest DCH drivers from Nvidia website.
Once completed, the installer would prompt to restart the system. Don’t click “Restart Now” button because with the eGPU connected, restarting the system into Windows would render the Intel iGPU disabled which causes a stuck Windows logo on the internal display. Close the Nvidia Installer and shut the Mac down manually then disconnect the eGPU. Boot into Windows partition without the eGPU connected to make sure iGPU and internal display are working first.
Besides testing internal display mode, I ran loopback mode by connecting an ASUS USB-C portable monitor. This same monitor was also used in external mode through the RTX2070 Super USB-C port. Here are the synthetic numbers in Luxmark, Unigine, and 3DMark.
|Internal Display||Loopback||External Monitor|
The RTX 2070 Super performed better than RX 5700 XT, especially through internal display and loopback mode. $100 or 25% higher cost may not be worth it though. Another observation that surprised me was how loud it runs at full load. While the temps were fairly nice, the GPU fans were too loud. They consistently emitted mid 60s dB on the sound meter.
Shocked my the loop back performance and the noise! Expected loopback to be much worse and noise much better.
Would be nice to see an eGPU shot out of Navi vs the new super cards...
I feel you’ve proved my 2 year worry (and subsequent quest) of how to directly drive my Ultrafine was a bit of a waste of time! Nice to be able to put that one to bed.
I hope Navi card loop back does improve, I’m still a bit worried about when/if we’ll see macOS support.
I should prob do the shootout testing I suggested myself ey? Maybe next driver drop...
@eightarmedpet My guess is the macOS team won’t include Navi drivers until after 10.15 Public release in Late September. Hopefully there are new Macs announced too.
The firmware update in Catalina also improves the 2018 Mac mini in terms of eGPU use. I tested and got confirmation of Boot Screen support through eGPU on RX 480, RX Vega, Radeon VII. I will test RX 5700 XT and R9 Fury next. Maybe Sonnet will build an enclosure that not only hosts the eGPU but also space for Mac mini and other expansion drives.
@itsage mayyybbbeeeee? That almost sounds like an educated guess 😉
I'm not so hopeful for Navi drivers - feels like Apple has double downed on Vega architecture since the MacPro comes with Vega cards (as I understand it) so they may just keep rebranding Vega chips to keep them "new".
iMac Pro is due a refresh though so lets see what Sept/Oct brings, would be great to see refreshes across the board as well as the 16inch MacBook Pro (which I will prob pass on for a desktop).
@eightarmedpet There are a lot of Mac Pro tower owners who need to upgrade but the 2019 Mac Pro is cost prohibitive. A Mac mini at $1,000 combines with a Thunderbolt 3 expansion tower at $500 sounds a lot more reasonable. RAM can be upgraded internally while the other PCIe components can go in the expansion tower. With two Thunderbolt 3 controllers, the expansion board can have two dedicated Thunderbolt 3 cables to the Mac mini. One x4 PCIe connection for eGPU and the other for NVMe, sound card, USB, etc. Perhaps you can draw something up and we’ll do an eGPU.io kickstarter project. 😀
Ha, I'm almost tempted! That would actually be insane and quite wild... the Mantiz Venus is close to that... oh god, you've got me started.. firing up photoshop!
My vision is a tempered glass front piece to look like the G4 Cube. The Mac mini will be mounted vertically to show Apple logo up right. Some paddings on top for cable routing. The compartment behind contains expansion components. The base is large enough for a 200mm intake fan that draws air into both Mac mini and expansion compartments. The top will have a vent/grille pattern to accommodate Mac mini vents and the expansion tower airflow.
Dimensions would be 360 x 210 x 210mm. Front compartment for Mac mini is 60mm deep. A metal divider separates the Mac mini and expansion compartment. This divider would have mounting hooks that match the three screws on Mac mini bottom shield. In a way you hang the Mac mini like a picture frame on the wall. Expansion compartment has about 330 x 145 x 200mm of space to accommodate different components.
Ohh thats intertesting!
I've just checked some references and done some sketches (could not resist).
I'm thinking vertical tower, Mini on top, bolt down fan/fin combo that makes contact with the top of the mini to take away more heat. Rear vents would need to be clear but plug the mini into a docking port. Remove cover from bottom and with another fan below you create an airflow container type set up.
In the bottom 2/3rds there would be a vertically mounted GPU with built in 90 degree port cables and room for 4 or maybe 6 HDDs as well as bottom mounted fans pulling air in then again fans at the top to push it out.
Size would be Mac mini footprint + 10mm ish but a vertical height of prob close on 50cm.
I'm almost thinking this is a good idea...
oh there ya go...
I think the bottom of the iMac needs to be facing outside. Replace the bottom intake cover with a better grill for better air intake. The top of the iMac can have thermal pads to transfer heat to the rest of the chassis and to protect the surface. This hides the Apple logo - I guess you can indicate to the user where they should place an Apple sticker. But this way may take less space because you don't need a gap for the air intake - unless you mean for the Mac mini to get air from the inside of your chassis? I'm thinking of having the mac Mini and the rest of the chassis having separate air intake/exhaust.
Four Thunderbolt ports = Four PCIe slots plus daisy chain Thunderbolt port. Four slots spaced two slots apart fits easily in the 200 mm width of the iMac - you can add 9mm of extra space for each. Or go with 3 slots with 3 slot spacing.
Find a Thunderbolt controller board like the Sonnet Echo Express SEL. Add a 90° adapter for the PCIe slot and a 90° adapter for the Thunderbolt card slot so that the Thunderbolt card will be under the PCIe slot like in the Sonnet Echo Express III-D. Do this four times. This could allow the slots to be spaced two slots apart (I can't find low profile 90° PCIe adapters for single slot spacing - maybe flexible cable adapters would work for that). Total height would be about 9 inches. This is wider than some computer cases but not as wide as some other computer cases. You'll need 9 inches for the Mac mini and its cable connections, anyway. The side containing the Thunderbolt cards can be used for power supply, cable routing, or whatever.
So in the end, you'll have something like two Sonnet Echo Express III-D's side by side with the Mac Mini hanging in the front (air intake facing front, cables facing down). Actually, might save 30 mm of depth if the MacMini is on the bottom with the Thunderbolt cards/power supply - air intake facing down, exhaust and cables facing back going through the Thunderbolt cards. This will depend on the power supply dimensions and location.
$200 per slot is a lot for a motherboard though.
@joevt We were thinking of a project where an eGFX vendor would take on rather than a custom build from existing products. Our community provides ideas/wishlist for this mini Mac tower enclosure. Sonnet has been offering an 1U rack enclosure for a while so they would be a good candidate.
@itsage If it's built by an eGFX vendor or frankensteined by a user is nearly the same thing. Certainly an eGFX vendor could make something more efficient (custom PCB for slot(s) and Thunderbolt controllers(s)). That extra efficiency in size might make it more compact, but size is constrained by dimensions of Mac mini and a graphics card and maybe a power supply. In other words, the extra efficiency might just mean there's more empty space.
@itsage, sorry for the dumb question, but when you say turn off the Mac 'manually', do you mean that you exit the installer and then hit the power button untill the it shuts down and then disconnect the eGPU?
@drogles Yes. The idea is to not click “Restart Now” when Radeon Installer completes. That way you have full control of when you connect the eGPU. Shut down through Windows logo then disconnect the eGPU once the system is off would be the safest approach.
@itsage, thanks for quick response. I'm fairly new to eGPU's and I have been battling for a couple of weeks, although my setup is "ideal" for running an eGPU. The thing disconnects randomly (it can be from 10 sec all the way up to 15 minutes before it disconnects)
I know that this is another build, but I have been trying basically everything, so I am starting to try other approaches aswell.
Maybe you can help? Or just guide me to a more similar setup? My hardware is as follows:
- 2019 MBP13. i7, 512gb m.2, 16gb mem
- Aorus Gaming box - Nvidia 1070
- External Samsung monitor (3440x1440)
- 2 meter CableMatters TB3 cable ( https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B7CQ83V/)
- 3 meter Displayport cable (eGPU -> monitor)
Sorry for hijacking the conversation here.
@drogles Your disconnection issues may have to do with the CableMatters 2m Thunderbolt 3 cable. I’d recommend testing the setup with the original .5m cable and see if the connection works more reliable. Using an Nvidia eGPU is much easier than Radeon cards in Boot Camp. You basically waits for Windows to fully load then hot-plug the eGPU.
@drogles You can actually test in macOS to isolate whether this is a Thunderbolt connection issue. Connect a set of USB mouse and keyboard to the Gaming Box and use it to observe whether there’s disconnect. System Information > Thunderbolt should show Gaming Box. The GTX 1070 eGPU functionality won’t work but that should not interfere with expansion port connected devices.
@itsage, as it turns out, you were right all along. I tried the short cable in MacOS, which held my ext. HDD on for like 30 mins. When I used the long cable, it wouldn’t even recognize the HDD and i could see under system information that it would connect with the gaming box for around 30 sec and then lose connection again. Thanks for the help. This could have gone on for quite some time.
This now bringes me to the next question: which 2m cable would you recommend? Or would you not recommend any 2m cable at all?
again; I cannot start to thank you enough. I was starting to lose my mind.
Good to hear we isolated the disconnection issues to the 2m cable. Unfortunately I don’t have a good recommendation for 2m cable. I’ve used AKiTiO, ASUS, and Razer without issues but people’s experience have been different. You may have to try until there’s a good one. You can also go with the Apple .8m option if that’s long enough.
I would prefer a 2m cable of some sort. Another option is to buy a long displayport cable. Do you know what the limit of a displayport cable length is?
I apologize for the 200 questions.
The lower bandwidth is due to either an external SSD (attached to Gaming Box) running concurrently or a firmware that limits throughput. You can flash the H2D firmware that allow full Thunderbolt 3 enclosure throughput which is 2,6XX/2,2XX for Nvidia cards.