late-2018 13" MacBook Air + RX [email protected] (Zotac Amp Box Mini) + macOS 10.14.1 & W10 1803 [theitsage]  

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theitsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 2 years ago
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November 19, 2018 2:19 pm  

The 2018 MacBook Air is similar to the non-Touch Bar 13" MacBook Pro due to having only two Thunderbolt 3 ports. In the MacBook Pro, Apple attached the iSight camera to one of the PCIe Root Ports. We learned disabling this Root Port would typically resolve error 12 with an AMD eGPU in Windows Boot Camp mode. Apple changed things a bit in the 2018 MacBook Air. This PCIe Root Port now hosts the wireless card. My first attempt with an RX 580 eGPU was with the wireless Root Port disabled. That did not resolve error 12. I eventually got the RX 580 eGPU to work but it involved a few more tricks.

 

System specs:

2018 MacBook Air - i5-8210Y/UHD Graphics 617 iGPU/8GB RAM/128GB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

Zotac Amp Box Mini + HP OEM RX 580 ITX + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

As seen in the Device Manager screen capture below, I disabled PCI Express Root Port #9 - 9D18 to the wireless card. I also located the USB hub where the iSight camera is attached [under PCI Express Root Port #1 - 9D10]. The highlighted and disabled USB Composite Device is the connection to the iSight camera. With both of these disabled at boot, error 12 could finally be resolved.

I connected the RX 580 eGPU to the Thunderbolt 3 port closest to the display hinge. There are two options during boot. The first method is timed hot-plug [at Windows logo spinning circles]. The other is to use @goalque's eGPU EFI Boot Manager. I opted to allocate a 256MB FAT partition on the internal drive and install the EFI Boot Manager.

It was plug-and-play in macOS as expected. One interesting thing to note is that the Zotac AMP BOX Mini might be able to charge the 2018 MacBook Air even though its Power Delivery is only 15W. The MacBook Air came with a 30W AC Power Adapter and it doesn't consume much power doing mundane tasks.

 

Benchmarks:

I ran Luxmark with eGPU + iGPU then iGPU only to compare. Unlike my previous build with the GTX 1080 Ti, the MacBook Air was more composed running with the RX 580. It didn't struggle as much and the cooling fan was not running full speed.

Here are Unigine results ran through both Windows and macOS. I had to run windowed mode for macOS internal display because fullscreen would force a scaled resolution.

Win10 Ext Win10 Int macOS Ext macOS Int
N/A N/A

 

Comments:

The 2018 MacBook Air has a capable Thunderbolt 3 connection (4 PCIe lanes and 4GT/s OPI). Its weak point is the Y processor. If you want to pair an eGPU with it, keep this in mind and don't go for high power cards. The RX 580 is a sweet spot.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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wilson88
(@wilson88)
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Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 3
December 6, 2018 6:58 pm  

Thank you for this guide!

I'm currently working on getting a late-2018 13" MacBook Air + RX 580 (Gigabyte Gaming Box), and having some issues. (There is more information here, than in the actual build guide for my setup, but if I get it working I will contribute there!)

I have a quick question, which, if any steps did you follow from the Bootcamp eGPU setup guide? Or did you simply disable 9D18, as well as iSight under 9D10, hot-plug during the start screen and it worked?

2018 Macbook Air and RX580 Gigabyte Gaming box (not working together)


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theitsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3243
December 7, 2018 7:58 pm  

@wilson88 I saw your other post that described the steps you took. You're getting very close to a working setup. The PCIe Root Port #9 - 9D18 [wireless card] can be enabled once you have the eGPU working (XConnect notification). That way you don't have to plug in Ethernet dongle.

While Nvdia eGPU can work following a hot-plug in Windows Desktop, AMD eGPU would always encounter error 12. The AMD eGPU needs to be presence prior to the Desktop. You can do a timed hot-plug or connect it prior to boot.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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wilson88
(@wilson88)
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Joined: 2 weeks ago
Posts: 3
December 7, 2018 11:40 pm  

Thank you, @theitsage. The issue I'm having now is that I can't get over Code 12, even with everything disables and timing the hot-plug during the Windows boot loading spinner.

I tried another 10 times, and it didn't show up 3 times, and I got the code 12 error 7 times.

What driver version are you using? I've tried 3.

When you do a timed hot plug, how often does it work? 100%? I've done around... 50 attempts? Maybe more, and it has worked one time, which I have not been able to reproduce, trying around 30 times since it worked.

What else could be wrong, or could I try? Are there other things I could safely disable? Thank you!

2018 Macbook Air and RX580 Gigabyte Gaming box (not working together)


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