2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX 580 x2 @ 16Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node Duo) + macOS 10.14.1 & Win10 1803 [itsage]
In my previous build using the Breakaway Puck 560 eGPU, the 2018 Mac mini booted into Windows with no error 12 but Intel iGPU was deactivated. I wanted to test different configurations as well as keeping the iGPU activated while there’s an eGPU connected. It’s possible to do so with the use of eGPU EFI Boot Manager.
Late 2018 Mac mini – i5-8500B/UHD Graphics 630 iGPU/16GB RAM/256GB SSD
AKiTiO Node Duo + 2x Radeon RX 580s + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable
Enermax Revolution SFX 650W PSU + 2x Y splitter PCIe power adapters
The AKiTiO Node Duo comes with a 150W external power adapter. It cannot run two graphics cards. I used a 650W SFX PSU and two Y splitter PCIe power cables to run this dual eGPU setup. It was plug-and-play in macOS 10.14.1.
Windows Boot Camp needed @goalque‘s eGPU EFI Boot Manager and disabling of a few PCIe components at boot. These are the basic steps I took to get this setup going:
- Install Windows 10 ISO through Bootcamp Assistant [in macOS].
- Download and copy @goalque‘s automate-eGPU EFI to USB thumb drive [in macOS].
- Hold OPTION at boot to select EFI drive and hit Q to access automate-eGPU EFI [boot selection].
- Select View by Connection in Device Manager then locate and disable PCIe Root Port #1 – A338 and PCIe Root Port #2 – A339 [in Windows].
- Shut Mac mini down then connect eGPU to Thunderbolt 3 port closest to the HDMI port.
- Boot into Windows using automate-eGPU EFI [boot selection].
- Confirm two Microsoft Basic Display Adapters in Device Manager then install Radeon drivers [in Windows].
Most likely one of the two AMD eGPUs would work. The other one would encounter error 12. I tried booting into Windows about a dozen times but only one occasion when both were working. The Intel iGPU should remain activated. This setup procedure is beneficial for those who need monitor output from the Mac mini‘s Intel iGPU.
This dual RX 580 eGPU setup is ideal for people that use their Mac for work in macOS and occasionally game in Windows. The two AMD cards runs through x2 PCIe slots but they can scale very well in computing tasks. Here we see Luxmark scores with the Intel iGPU, single RX 580, and dual RX 580s. I tried BruceX in FCPX 10.4.3 and it took the Intel iGPU more than 90 seconds to complete. The AKiTiO Node DUO + 2x RX 580s did it in sub 20s.
Below are Unigine benchmark numbers through the LG 4K monitor (connected to eGPU’s DisplayPort).
|Intel 630 iGPU FHD||RX 580 eGPU FHD||RX 580 eGPU QHD||RX 580 eGPU 4K|
The 2x PCIe slot doesn’t cut performance in half when the monitor output is through the eGPU directly. In the case of the RX 580, its performance is very close to other pairings I ran. It’s nice to see there’s just enough room for the Mac mini on top of the Node Duo. This looks like a mini Mac Pro tower, doesn’t it? The second slot can host other cards rather than a GPU. Due to how much Apple wants for the Mac mini‘s internal storage upgrade ($200/256GB), it’s not a bad idea to add a large capacity M.2 drive inside the Node Duo.
Excellent post ! Great info.
I changed the 2nd RX 580 eGPU out for a SSD. The drive is HP EX920 NVMe 1TB mounted on an M.2 PCIe adapter. Total cost of the 1TB drive and adapter is $172. This is a significant saving when compared to $800 Apple wants for an upgrade to 1TB internal drive.
The RX 480 4GB eGPU didn’t suffer much in this dual-slot configuration. I ran FCPX BruceX to write onto the external drive and the eGPU completed this task in 32 seconds. The iGPU took more than 90 seconds for reference.
Last but not least are Unigine benchmarks through both loop-back mode via the Mac mini‘s HDMI port and directly through the eGPU.
Interesting results with loop back, which align with my brief experience of connecting a normal display to my egpu.
While the FPS “high” is a lot higher the actual average isn’t much higher. I found the loop backed FPS lower but less variable.
Edit: For typos, My typing on mobile is awful and auto correct is way too keen sometimes.
I was testing the AKiTiO Node Duo with a Dell DA-2 220W power brick and they worked together with the current RX 580 GPU + 1TB NVMe SSD configuration. I left the Mac mini asleep in Windows 10 while connected to the Node Duo this past weekend. It was able to wake up and everything resumed working.
does the duo gpu work in FCPX?
Most likely one of the two AMD eGPUs would work. The other one would encounter error 12. I tried booting into Windows about a dozen times but only one occasion when both were working.
Very well, if you have a look at Setup with 3 eGPUs, you can see that I could not get two eGPUs running at the same thunderbolt bus (macbook-site) in Bootcamp. Those are the same issues like a Dual-GPU und in this case the AKiTiO Node Duo.
Bootcamp doesn't look to support it.
Would you mind sharing the brand of the RX 580 you're using? The spec sheet states that the max width the enclosure can support is 8.66 inches. Isn't the 580 10"+ ?
@adamk77 One of RX 580s was an HP OEM card that came out of a Desktop tower. The other was from the Gigabyte RX 580 Gaming Box. They are both mini-ITX graphics cards. I don’t believe there was any retail ITX RX 580 available. You may find the Sapphire RX 570 Pulse ITX a suitable option.
@adamk77 One of RX 580s was an HP OEM card that came out of a Desktop tower. The other was from the Gigabyte RX 580 Gaming Box. They are both mini-ITX graphics cards. I don't believe there was any retail ITX RX 580 available. You may find the Sapphire RX 570 Pulse ITX a suitable option.
I love it! How is it performing? Thanks.
Great, do you get good speed on the SSD with the GPU in place?
The speed is very good for a x2 PCIe connection. Here's the speed comparison between 2018 Mac mini internal 256GB drive (left) vs. external NVMe drive (right).
Thank you. That's great.
Thanks for this post @itsage. I just purchased one from Amazon and am awaiting delivery. I was thinking of creating an 8TB soft raid using this Node Duo enclosure, two ASUS Hyper M.2 x16 Card V2, and eight Crucial MX500 1TB 3D NAND SATA M.2. Would this even work or be worth it seeing that there is a bandwidth cap? Thank you. I'm very novice with this stuff to be honest but looking for a way to get a large amount of storage that is external to my Mac Mini but still very fast. Thank you.
You can get a 1000 MB/s faster if you use a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot in a Thunderbolt PCIe expansion chassis. Choose a different Thunderbolt expansion chassis. Those with multiple slots with more than x2 lanes per slot will use a PCIe 3.0 switch that greatly adds to the price (see Sonnet Echo Express SE-III) so it may be cheaper to get two individual expansion chassis (compare with Sonnet Echo Express SE-I) (for Sonnet Thunderbolt devices - make sure you're looking at the Thunderbolt 3 version instead of Thunderbolt 2).
The ASUS Hyper M.2 x16 requires a PCIe slot that supports bifurcation in BIOS. Bifurcation is available only for some slots on some motherboards. For a PCIe expansion chassis (Thunderbolt or otherwise), if you want to connect multiple M.2 NVMe drives to a single slot, then you need a PCIe card with a PCIe 3.0 switch such as one from HighPoint, Amfeltec, or Sonnet. The PCIe switch adds greatly to the price. The cards usually have up to four M.2 slots. Amfeltec has one with six M.2 slots. The fans are noisy.
Thunderbolt has a 22 Gbps limit (2750 MB/s) so choose M.2 drives accordingly. You probably want fastest random access while sequential doesn't need to exceed 2750 MB/s.