2016 13" MacBook Pro [6th, 2C,U]+ RX Vega 56 @32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.15.2 & Win10 1903 [Eparlanax]
Macbook Pro (13”, late 2016)
Processor: 2.9 GHz Intel Core i5, dual core
Memory: 8gb 2133 MHz LPDDR3
Graphics: Intel Iris 550 integrated graphics
OS: macOS Catalina (10.15.2) & Windows 10 Pro 1903 (Build 18362.535)
Enclosure: Mantiz Venus MZ-02
GPU: Sapphire Pulse Radeon RX Vega 56
Case Fan: Noctua NF-A8
SSD: SanDisk Ultra 3d NAND 500 GB Internal SSD
Monitor: Acer G257HU (25”,1440p)
- The Mantiz Venus comes with a slot for an internal 2.5” drive and an internal SATA and power cable. I installed this first, since the drive is in the back of the case and cannot be accessed after installing the GPU. Note: there were no extra screws with the case to attach the drive, so I had to unscrew 2 of the screws attaching the 2.5” mounting bracket and use them to attach the SSD to the bracket.
- The stock case fan was very loud, so I installed a Noctua fan to replace it. Unscrewing the stock fan was easy, but the stock screws for the fan did not fit the Noctua AF-A8. The screw points were also very difficult to reach. I would recommend either dismantling the side panel to reach the screws; or as another user suggested, screw the fan in from the bottom of the case using a 90 degree screwdriver.
Note 1: the motherboard has two fan headers; one operates the fan at a higher speed. The lower RPM fan header can be used to mitigate excessive noise from the case fan. I chose to use the higher RPM fan header because the Noctua fan at a higher RPM was still quieter than the stock fan at a lower RPM.
Note 2: I have the case fan in exhaust. The GPU intakes air through the grated cover then exhausts air into the case and out the sides of the card. The PSU and case fan then exhaust the air from inside of the case.
- The GPU installation was straightforward. Unscrew the back grates covering the gpu slots. Then slot the GPU into the PCIe slot, plug in the power connectors from the power supply, and re-screw the back bracket.
- Connect the video cable and TB3 cable to the bottom left TB3 port, since this has the most bandwidth on my computer. Turn on the power supply.
- Plug in the TB3 cable. It should work with no flaws using an AMD graphics card.
- There is an ethernet port on the Mantiz Venus; however, you need a driver to get it to work. This is the link to the website to download the driver.
Windows 10 setup
- Install Windows 10 through bootcamp as your normally would.
- Install the rEFInd bootloader to use apple_set_os.efi. This is necessary to prevent Windows from stalling during its boot. This bootloader works great, as I am able to customize the theme to make it look however I want. This allowed me to always choose what OS to use on startup instead of having to hold down a key during the boot process. To boot into Windows, run the apple_set_os.efi file while the eGPU is plugged in before selecting Windows.
- Install the AMD drivers and software for the GPU.
- I got error code 12 while using the AMD graphics card without any software changes. Prior to Windows 10 1903, I successfully disabled PCIe Root Port #9 (TB3 controller for right hand TB3 ports) to free up enough resources to use the eGPU. Updating to 1903 restored error code 12. I decided to try a DSDT override to make a larger memory allocation. I followed Nando’s Guide here. I used the Intel Method to generate a dsdt-modified.aml file. I referred to the pre-compiled list and compared my file to this one, using guess and check to solve the compiler errors. I did not use WinMerge for this. I also chose to use Windows test signing mode to load the dsdt-modified.aml rather than using the in memory DSDT substitution method. This successfully solved error 12 without the need for disabling any PCIe Root Ports, giving me full use of all ports.
For benchmarks, I used my laptop in clamshell mode through my external 1440p 60Hz monitor. To test the system without my eGPU, I used a TB3 to displayport cable to connect directly to the monitor, then ran the UNIGINE Heaven Benchmark with the extreme preset. To test the system with the eGPU connected, I used the TB3 cable to connect the enclosure, then a displayport cable from the enclosure to the monitor. I ran the UNIGINE Heaven Benchmark again with the extreme present. The results are here.
I only use the eGPU with an external monitor. The Mantiz Venus is the perfect docking station for me as a student, as I can connect a single cable to my computer and have access to the external monitor through the GPU, extra storage in the SSD, internet through an ethernet cable, and all of my peripherals including a mouse, keyboard, and speaker system. The enclosure provides 87 watts to charge my computer as well. I use the eGPU as a doc and to accelerate the gaming performance of my Macbook as well as the performance of certain software, including solidworks. I decided to get an eGPU because, as a student, I require the portability of a laptop. I already owned this Macbook pro and had no desire to setup two computers at my desk. I also wanted better gaming performance out of my machine. This, along with the attractiveness of a seamless setup, justified the high cost of an eGPU.
In Windows 10, there is a watermark from using Windows Test Signing Mode, which is purely a cosmetic complaint. I have not found any compatibility issues yet as a result of using Windows test signing mode.
To use the eGPU with Windows, I have to restart my computer. In macOS, even if the OS is running, I can hot plug the eGPU and have the system recognize it and turn on the external monitor. This does not work in Windows using my configuration.
Another limitation is that when I restart my computer, the rEFInd bootloader can only be used with the internal screen. That means that I cannot switch between macOS and Windows all while in clamshell mode. I have to have the laptop open to choose which OS to use.
The Mantiz Venus has 5 USB ports, two in the front and three in the back. There is some noticeable lag while using multiple high bandwidth objects. For example, while running an ArcMap project off of a flash drive plugged into the front USB connector alongside my USB mouse, the mouse cursor skips across the screen. This is to be expected, but it is disappointing nevertheless.
Not sure if this is a software issue caused by using an eGPU in Bootcamp, but Windows 10 does not automatically assign a drive letter to the SSD in the Mantiz Venus. I wrote a batch file to automatically assign it, which is a mild inconvenience.
In the future, I will try to undervolt the GPU for some performance gains and better thermal performance. This is only in Windows, and I will post an update once I complete this. I also may upgrade the PSU, since that is the loudest component while the GPU is not under load.