2017 13" MacBook Pro [7th,2C,U] + RX 580 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + macOS 10.13 & Win10 [breakaway] // Linux Kernel 4.15
My setup consists of a 2017 MBP 13" Retina with 512GB SSD + 16 GB RAM. I have the 3.1 Ghz Intel Core i5 (i5-7267U). I'm using the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock (which provides power + connectivity) and also a Aktio Node with the MSI RX 580. As soon as I plugged it in & booted up OSX - it works. I like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock since it means I can just 'dock' my macbook with the single cable - and it provides data, charging etc.
It's not quite perfect (sometimes when windows boots up, I get the dreaded "Error 12" - but one or two reboots later it works fine. I'm OK with this for now since I only use windows for gaming, I will be in OSX 90% of the time (which is working flawlessly).
However, I feel like the performance kinda sucks. I did a Unigine Engine benchmark and compared it against my desktop (i7 2600K + 16 GB RAM + GTX970) - the Desktop actually fared a bit better with all settings being set the same. Is that normal? Here's a photo of the results. Left side is my desktop, right side is the MBP.
Things I like
- Mac OS works out of the box
- Looking forward to getting rid of my Win desktop which I only use for games
Things I don't like
- Cost (OWC Dock + Akitio Node + AMD RX580 really adds up fast)
- Setup (I had to install a bunch of stuff that I don't trust 100% e.g rEFI etc) to get this working. Who knows what this stuff is doing to my system?
- Still not perfect after spending several hours getting it going.
- Akitio Node - this thing is unnecessarily big, plus the fans are loud as HELL. Seriously my ears are ringing. Budget some extra $$ for replacing the PSU fan and the 120mm fan at the front.
Here is a photo of the Unigine benchmark. I'm just trying to work out why the performance isn't so good.
Thank you for your build snippet. Would you like to fill out the build template to complete your writeup?
Hey. Yes, I will fill out the build template after I fix some of these annoying kinks 😉
Can you take a look at the AIDA64 bench below? The Memory Write seems somewhat slow does it not?
Edit, I am having some troubles getting the Akitio node firmware updated. It looks like I need "Thunderbolt 3 Software" for this Macbook, but I'm not finding this anywhere on the web at this time. I tried downloading the one designed for Intel NUCs (That have TB3 also) but didn't have any luck with it - the thunderbolt software installs successfully however when I try to run the firmware update for the Akitio node it says "No akitio node detected on this system", and if I go to view the system info / connected devices nothing is picked up. From what I can see, apple doesn't provide thunderbolt software for Boot Camp.
Any ideas on how I can get this firmware updated? I am thinking this will help the performance problem...
@breakaway The low Memory Read & Write in AIDA64 is an indication you might have daisy-chained the eGPU to the OWC TB3 dock - always connect the eGPU directly to the computer for best performance. To flash the TBT firmware in Boot Camp, take a look here.
Yes, the Akitio Node is dasiy chained off my OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock. The whole point of this exercise (for me) was to be able to dock my laptop with a single cable.
I plugged it direct into the laptop and benchmarked it again. FPS 45.2 (up from 41). Not statistically significant. Below is AIDA64 with the eGPU plugged "direct".
There is also virtually no change in Memory Read/Write/Copy (1411 vs 1412 for read, 1529 vs 1541 for write and 185168 vs 18,6467 for memory copy) with the Akitio Node pluged in direct either.
Do you know where I can download some compatible "Thunderbolt Software" for this thing so I can upgrade the firmware and see what's going on? Also, is there any way to see the H2D link speeds in windows?
I have tried installing "Thunderbolt 3 Sofware" from this link: https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/26486/Thunderbolt-Bus-Driver-for-Intel-NUC-Kit-NUC7i5BN-and-NUC7i7BN
It *should* be the same but it doesn't work. It clearly can't detect my devices. It does however detect thunderbolt device generation correctly. (see screenshots)
However, I am now getting further than I was before with teh AKitio Node Firmware Update utility. It shows the actual device but when I try to flash it, I get this:
Looks like my firmware is latest already and its linked up at 40 gbps so I don't need to worry.
I guess that's it - its "working" now?
@breakaway From your System Information > Thunderbolt screen captures, it looks like you are using the Thunderbolt 3 port on the right side. This is the cause of the half bandwidth. The Thunderbolt 3 controller on the right side of the 13" MacBook Pro attaches to a x2 PCIe connection. Switch to the left side and you should see higher throughput.
Ok, just ran some more benchmarks:
OWC 3 Dock plugged into the top left most port (the one closest to the back of the laptop) plus Akitio Node daisy chained thru OWC dock - Unigine Heaven 43.0 FPS (1083 Score). GPGPU benchmark read of 2686, write of 1707, copy of 185706. This is much higher than before - previously, read was 1412 and write was 1541.
I also tried with the Akitio Node plugged in directly into the laptop (top left most port - the one closest to the back of the laptop) and my OWC dock plugged into the port furthest from the back of the laptop on the left and the results are very similar - Unigine Heaven 45.1 FPS (1135 Score), GPGPU benchmark read of 2634, write of 2194, copy of 183244.
So there is definitely a difference in the memory read and memory write, but I'm not seeing significant difference in Unigine Heaven benchmark (and therefore real world performance in games) at all.
Glad you got that performance worked out. Looks like left ports are the key here. Is your RX580 working well with the latest High Sierra update?
What do you use the 580 for? Gaming? I'm looking into boosting performance in Final Cut Pro and Adobe applications in Mac OS but want to see if its worth it to spent $700 on a eGPU setup.
I use it for games mainly. I haven't tried since the new update but one thing I've noticed since the new update is rEFInd isn't coming up anymore, it goes straight into Mac OS each time. I'm not sure if this can be remedied by pressing and holding the option key or not.
As you can tell I don't use my laptop very frequently. I'm on my desktop for the most part. I can definitely say it worked fairly flawlessly in OSX though, even before the update. Windows is a different story but to put it simply, it "works".
"I'm looking into boosting performance in Final Cut Pro and Adobe applications in Mac OS but want to see if its worth it to spent $700 on a eGPU "
Only you an answer this question.