I saw a youtube video from 9to5MAc showing how well a mac mini i3-8100 performed with an eGPU and wanted to try one, however, since I had hw lying around and I'm not partial to MacOS I decided to try and intel NUC instead. The latest MacMini at $749 might be a good alternative option as it already has the SSD internally and fast RAM but only 128GB drive. If you install bootcamp (only 64GB for Windows) you would need an external drive for games.
I had hardware from a previous eGPU (using a Macbook air). I had given away the Macbook Air as a present and now had some spare hw (Sonnet egfx breakaway box with Radeon RX580). I also had an unused m.2 SSD drive and 1TB HDD from a desktop build that I never used. I decided to get a small form factor NUC mini PC ($279.99) and purchased some RAM ($52.99) to create a small form factor eGPU build. Except for a small step everything was plug and play and I did some limited Black Ops 4 play @ 1080P and was averaging between 40-80 FPS. Apologies for the bad picture quality.
1. Intel NUC 8 Mainstream Kit (NUC8i3BEH) ($279.99)
- 8th Generation Intel Core i3-8109U processor
- Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
- M.2 22x42/80 slot for PCIe NVMe or SATA SSD
- 2.5" SSD/HDD bay
- Dual channel DDR4-2400 SODIMM support, 32GB max
6. XFX AMD Radeon RX 580 GTS Black Core Edition 8GB GDDR5 (ebay Pre-owned) ($139)
1. NUC came as bare bone (no RAM or HDD). Open NUC and install
- 1TB HDD
- 2 x 4GB SO DIMMs
- 256 GB m.2 Sata (Windows installed here)
2. Install Windows 10 Pro
3. Carry out Windows Updates
4. HDMI Cable from NUC to eGPU enclosure (Sonnet egfx Breakaway)
5. Plug in 6ft thunderbolt 3 cable between egfx breakaway box and NUC. Windows did ot automatically launch Thunderbolt Control Panel. I had to do that manually (type Thuderbolt in searcj bar) and then change the connection option to "always Connect"
6. Download latest Radeon drivers for Rx580 and reboot
I attached a small 20 inch monitor to the NUC to get it working and setup. I used a DVI-D cable (old monitor) form the eGPU to the second (External) monitor and then turned off the first (Internal) monitor attached to the NUC so all benchmarks are for external monitor only. If anyone wants me to supply benchmarks for both internal and external monitors let me know.