Late 2016 15" MacBook Pro + RX Vega [email protected] (XG Station Pro) + macOS 10.14 & W10 1803 [theitsage]  

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theitsage
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August 12, 2018 7:28 pm  

Graphics card prices are coming back to normal level in the US. This week AMD started a promotion that includes 3 upcoming games with the purchase of RX 570, 580, and Vega. My local Micro Center had an ASUS STRIX Radeon RX Vega 56 in stock for $425. It's the first non-reference cooler Vega card I've used and from early impressions, it's a lot cooler and quieter than blower style reference Vega 56. When paired with the XG Station Pro, this eGPU produces no noise at idle and light load. During heavy load, it's no louder than the Blackmagic eGPU.

 

System specs:

2016 15" MacBook Pro - i7-6700HQ/Radeon Pro 450 dGPU/HD Graphics 530 iGPU/16GB RAM/256GB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

ASUS XG Station Pro + STRIX RX Vega 56 + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable + USB-C 90˚ angle adapter

 

Display hardware:

  • One HP Z27q 27-inch IPS 5K + two DisplayPort cables + two DisplayPort to mini DisplayPort adapters
  • Two LG 27UD69P-W 27-inch IPS 4K FreeSync + two DisplayPort to mini DisplayPort cables

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

In Windows 10 1803, I followed the steps in Boot Camp eGPU setup guide. Here are the process to resolve error 12 for the AMD eGPU with my 2016 15" MacBook Pro:

  • Download Windows 10 ISO and install through Boot Camp Assistant [in macOS and Windows]
  • Complete Boot Camp driver installation then download and unpack Display Driver Uninstaller [in Windows]
  • Run DDU with Admin privileges to remove drivers for AMD, Intel, and Nvidia drivers [in Windows]
  • Download and install rEFInd then mount EFI partition to enable spoof_osx_version 10.9 [in macOS]
  • Select Windows volume then hit ENTER - do this every time you boot into Windows to keep iGPU activated [in rEFInd Boot]
  • Confirm there are two "Microsoft Basic Display Adapter" in Device Manager then install Intel graphics drivers for iGPU [in Windows]
  • Download and install 2013 Visual C++ x86 [in Windows]
  • Download 0xbb's gpu-switch and run integrated.bat to attach internal display to the iGPU [in Windows]
  • Disable PCIe Controller (x16) - 1901 in Device Manager [in Windows]
  • Connect eGPU to the right Thunderbolt 3 port closest to display hinge then hit POWER button [Computer off]
  • Select Windows volume then hit ENTER [in rEFInd Boot]
  • Verify there's a new Microsoft Basic Display Adapter then download and install Radeon Pro drivers [in Windows]

If all goes well, you should see AMD Xconnect notification and icon. Due to the dGPU being disabled you need to take caution when switching back to macOS. The default behavior in macOS is to attach the dGPU to the internal display. If you boot into macOS with dGPU disabled in Windows settings, the subsequent boot into Windows will cause the internal display to freeze at the Windows logo. I found having an external monitor connected to the eGPU would allow you to see the Desktop. Then you can either re-run integrated.bat to use eGPU with functional internal display or re-enable dGPU to use the laptop in Windows without eGPU.

The STRIX RX Vega 56 has two DisplayPort ports, two HDMI ports, and one DVI port. I connected the HP Z27q 5K monitor using the two DisplayPort connections. The two LG 4K monitors were through the HDMI connections. Here are the screen captures of AIDA, Windows display arrangement, and Radeon Pro Settings.

 

In macOS 10.14 beta it was plug-and-play. The 5K + dual 4K monitor arrangement worked very well. Here are screen captures of CL!ng, and System Information

 

 

Benchmarks:

I ran SPECviewperf off an external SSD (USB 3 gen 1) connected to the left Thunderbolt 3 port. In macOS, I ran Luxmark and Geekbench

 

Comments:

The RX Vega 56 eGPU provides the best performance value for macOS users. Given the average cost of an eGPU enclosure is $300, building an RX Vega 56 eGPU yourself is not much more than the Blackmagic Radeon Pro 580 eGPU. The performance advantage is significant. @nando4 and I had negotiated with ASUS to offer a group buy for the XG Station Pro. It will be available on Amazon (shipped worldwide) for US$299.99. We will open the sign-up topic for this 100-unit group buy tomorrow.

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Eightarmedpet
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theitsage
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November 7, 2018 2:14 pm  

No changes. Speculations in the EFI Boot Manager thread are not valid. I connected the WX 9100 + Mantiz Venus to this 2016 15" MacBook Pro [running 10.14.2 beta] and all was working fine.

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Eightarmedpet
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TPU
 TPU
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November 27, 2018 11:06 am  

Excellent write-up. So useful to see all this.

I must say this unit seems ideal for my 3.1MHz i7 15" MBP 2017. I already have a Caldigit TS3 to provide power. Realistically, I wouldn't want to be running heavy I/O on the same bus as the graphics, and USB-C cables that can carry both 40 Gbps and 85w+ PD are expensive and rare over 0.5m. I want to keep the graphics quietly hidden below the desk on a long cable, and day-to-day ports on my desk for easy access. This also can be moved between different PCs without affecting anything else.

What confuses me is how Asus say the case is only compatible on the Mac with AMD Radeon RX580/RX570 and Radeon Pro WX7100. Why do you think that is, if you were able to plug and play with ASUS STRIX Radeon RX Vega 56?
https://www.asus.com/uk/Graphics-Cards-Accessories/XG-STATION-PRO/specifications/

S0me reports also say the box is good with RX Vega 64, even without mentioning the Y connector. Is this plausible without mods?

Is this what you are using? I'm slightly confused that the 1590 clock speed in your screen grab isn't identical.
https://www.scan.co.uk/products/8gb-asus-radeon-rx-vega56-rog-strix-oc-gaming-14nm-3584-streams-1297mhz-1573-boost-800mhz-hbm2-dp-hd

Many thanks for the write-up, and also in advance for these questions!

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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theitsage
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November 27, 2018 8:02 pm  

@tpu The specs on ASUS product page is to cut down on support inquiries. Apple made a lot of changes since it first announced official support for eGPU last year. Some RX Vega 56 can work with the 330W power adapter of XG Station Pro. Some may not due to power draw. The RX Vega 64 would definitely have stability issue.

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TPU
 TPU
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November 27, 2018 8:12 pm  

Thanks. I would offer them advice that to set out the specific power available from the XG Station Pro, and the requirement of the STRIX RX Vega 56 in the product specs would be a great way of reducing support enquiries!

I've now read that the STRIX RX Vega 64 draws less than reference. But anyway, I've ordered the box, and will order the 56.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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theitsage
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November 27, 2018 8:20 pm  

XG Station Pro + STRIX RX Vega 56 is a nice setup and would likely outperform the Blackmagic eGPU Pro. You're spending a lot less too.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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yjchua
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November 27, 2018 10:19 pm  

@theitsage how did you manage to get x16 PCIe lanes for the eGPU?

Also your single precision vector and scalar results in CL!ng seems to be lower compared to my RX 570 in a Razer Core X.

Late-2016 15" rMBP (2.9/16/1TB/460)
Akitio Node + Asus Expedition RX 570 OC, 4GB


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joevt
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November 28, 2018 12:37 am  
Posted by: yjchua

@theitsage how did you manage to get x16 PCIe lanes for the eGPU?

You need to view the pci tree to understand why it says x16. It could be showing the capability of the graphics card instead of the current status or the graphics card could be connected to a bridge with x16 downstream.

Posted by: yjchua

Also your single precision vector and scalar results in CL!ng seems to be lower compared to my RX 570 in a Razer Core X.

Maybe the Vega 56 is optimized for double precision and the RX 570 is optomized for single precision?

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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Simmel42
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December 3, 2018 8:13 pm  

Quite interested in this enclosure for my new Mac Mini due to its compact nature, but am a little skittish due to the 330w power delivery. I've been searching around but haven't been able to find many real world examples of folks gaming with this combo (Vega 56 + XG Station Pro). I know @itsage has mentioned the ASUS Strix version of the Vega 56 as an option, but would be curious about the MSI version (Airboost 8G).

2018 Mac Mini (i7, 512GB, 8GB) / eGPU + Bootcamp down the road


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Benjamin Benson
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December 9, 2018 12:28 pm  

@simmel42 here you can read an a heavy load test of the MSI version https://www.geeks3d.com/20180129/msi-radeon-rx-vega-56-air-boost-8gb-oc-review/

flawlessly passed all burn-in tests with a power draw close to 300W

So yeah, close to 300W which IMHO means not a safe bet considering some peaks which might not have been measured. In case its instable sometimes, you still could use Wattman to reduce power consumption a bit. Or when available get that Y adapter.

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017), 3,1 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3, Radeon Pro 555 2048 MB, Intel HD Graphics 630 1536 MB + 8GB Asus Radeon RX Vega 56 ROG Strix OC + ???

Looking for a perfect eGPU fit. Recommendations welcome! 🙂


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Benjamin Benson
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December 9, 2018 12:29 pm  

Maybe @tpu can share some experience (gaming, heavy load) from his setup, in case the Vega 56 arrived already and made its way into the XG Station Pro 🙂

MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017), 3,1 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3, Radeon Pro 555 2048 MB, Intel HD Graphics 630 1536 MB + 8GB Asus Radeon RX Vega 56 ROG Strix OC + ???

Looking for a perfect eGPU fit. Recommendations welcome! 🙂


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TPU
 TPU
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December 9, 2018 12:41 pm  
Posted by: Benjamin Benson

Maybe @tpu can share some experience (gaming, heavy load) from his setup, in case the Vega 56 arrived already and made its way into the XG Station Pro 🙂

It hasn't arrived yet, as the enclosure is coming from the US, and the card is arranged to arrive about the same time. I'm pretty confident it'll be OK, but if I have anything to add to @itsage comments, I'll be sure to post them.

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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TPU
 TPU
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December 10, 2018 4:54 pm  

So... this thing arrived today. First impressions are:

  • It installed easily. Plug and play on Mojave 10.14.2. One system freeze within half an hour of plugging in. No issues since.
  • It is FAST. I'm not a gamer. I do video editing with FCPX. This thing steams through a demanding project in realtime. I deleted the optimised video which had been necessary with my MBP. For context this was 10 bit 6k footage recorded at 200mb/s in h.265, making 18GB of footage, and this expanded to 185GB. So I saved 185GB of scratch disk. The footage is chromakeyed with some complex graphic overlays and backgrounds, and the timeline is HD. All edits happen in realtime with no delay. On this project, the MBP on its own was basically unusable.
  • It is QUIET. It took a couple of minutes at full load before the fan even kicked in. Even then, the fan was impressively quiet.
  • My only concern is that fan speed management is a bit clunky. Even at full load, the fans would sometimes turn off for a while, presumably because the temperature had dropped enough. Fans going on and off randomly can be more annoying than a low continuous fan, and at full load, it is expected to have continuous fan. So I'd prefer the base speed to be lower.

Overall, an awesome package for not much money. Thank you @itsage for the steer. I have a feeling it may be possible to overclock it further, but I have no obvious need for more speed. However, my son may have other ideas!

Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts


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theitsage
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December 10, 2018 5:44 pm  

I'm glad to hear it's boosting your FCPX workflow. I recall the threshold for the fans to kick in is 55˚C. We'd love to see your build guide.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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