Late 2018 Mac mini + Vega [email protected] -TB3 (Razer Core X) + macOS 10.14.x & Windows 10 (bootcamp) + VR (Vive, VivePRO) [csofranz]  

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csofranz
(@csofranz)
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January 9, 2019 8:04 pm  

Mac mini, Late 2018, 32 GB RAM, 2 TB SSD, i7 (3.2 GHz) using Mac OS and Windows 10 via BootCamp

eGPU: Razer Core X, AMD Vega 64 (ASUS STRIX OC 8GB)

Two (2) external 1980 x 1200 monitors (Samsung), Vive Pro and Vive (original) VR goggles

Note:
I originally ordered a Sonnet 650 breakaway box, but that unit arrived DOA, and after sending it back, Sonnet told me after 5 weeks of waiting that the replacement unit will be sent to me in 8 weeks. I then purchased the Razer Core X. In direct comparison (build only, the Sonnet device didn't run), the Razer wins hands down (which surprised me, as the Sonnet is much more expensive. Inserting the card is also much, much easier in the Razer, so I recommend that enclosure over Sonnet.

MacOS
Installation with macOS is straightforward. First monitor is plugged into mini's HDMI port, normal boot. Plug in the Razer to the TB3 port next to the HDMI port, and the ePGU and gfx card are immediately recognized. The second monitor is plugged into the card, and image comes up. The Vive is then plugged into the card using the DP plug (leaving two HDMI plugs for monitors). Installing SteamVR (via Steam) gave access to VR. I then could unplug the first monitor from the mini's HDMI port and plug into the card, having two monitors and a VR goggles connected.

Windows
KEY TO SUCCESSFULL INSTALLATION WAS FIRST UNPLUGGING ALL CONNECTIONS FROM THE CARD.

Unplug the eGPU, unplug all monitors/VR goggles from the card, and plug a monitor into the mini's HDMI slot.

Using the boot camp utility, I partitioned the internal ssd to 90% windows, 10% macOS (I use an external 2TB SSD via TB3 for macOS work) and then installed windows. Note that you need a free tool to make the Windows ISO disk image FAT32-compatible, or your boot camp install will fail with a very cryptic (and misleading) message. The real issue is that the file manager can't handle files > 4GB in FAT32, and the MS-provided ISO image (since the Autumn 2018 update) has a file that is larger. Copying that file will abort installation, forcing you to restore the partition with Disk Util, and then re-run boot camp after fixing the ISO image. After installing windows, make sure you are connected to the internet, that all updates have run, and that boot camp also has completed its updates

Then download AMD's newest drivers and install them

Reboot your Mac into Winows to make sure all is good. Note that we did not yet connect the eGPU

When Windows is up, connect the BARE (no monitors connected) eGPU. You'll hear some sound when Windows recognizes the card, and installs the drivers.

Wait until this is complete (it may take a few minutes)

Your main monitor (connected to the mini's HDMI slot may go dark. Ignore this. 
Now connect your second monitor to the card. A sound should play, and that monitor will come to life
You now can unplug the first monitor, and alsoplug it into the card. it should light up after a couple of seconds.

Make sure to configure your monitors in settings.

Connecting the Vive is straightforward (using the DP to miniDP cable) and Steam VR

Connecting the Vive PRO may confuse you because Windows may use the Vive as a giant first monitor, making windows seem unresponsive. All it did was extending  the monitor, pushing your existing two monitors to the side. Unplug, configure your monitors, and re-connect the Vive PRO. Steam VR will recognize it. Note that I haven't been able to run the Vive PRO (unlike the original Vive) in anything but extended mode. Since the PRO comes with a switch that allows you to turn it off, that is less of an issue.

Issues so far:
When switching OS from Mac to Windows, booting in Windows will fail if the eGPU isn't disconnected (via the menu item, no physical disco required) prior to shutdown. No idea why.
Also, Windows seems to hate having an external SSD (I have a 2TB external NVME card connected via TB3, furthest port from HDMI), so I need to disco them before starting Windows.
The mac mini disables the internal graphics card as soon as it detects the external card. This is annyoing
When in MacOS, make sure never to use the internal gpu, and make a point of unplugging it, or you will lose performance. Remember to check the 'Prefer eGPU' box in Get Info to ensure FCP et al really use the external card.

Comments
I am taken aback by how bad the macOS implementations of VR are compared to Windows. SteamVR gets roughly 30%-50% less performance on MacOS compared to Windows (boot camp, same machine). That is an insane amount of performance drop, probably attributed to SteamVR. 
Driving the Vive PRO and two HD monitors doesn't bother Vega 64 at all.
I have no idea why re-booting to MacOS or Windows fails when there is an external MacOS drive attached to the TB3 bus, or why I have to soft-disco (via the menu) the enclosure before booting into Windows. I guess cycling the enclosures power switch may have the same effect.

Note also that if you want to boot from an external drive, you'll have to disable the security setting that prevents that by booting from the internal recovery image.

Summary
In all, the mac mini, Razer Core X and Vega 64 make a great team. It's a bit rough around the edges (Apple should provide better BootCamp integration, and refrain from switching off the internal gpu in windows), but once you get it to work, it works really well. Be careful when booting to the other system.

This topic was modified 1 week ago

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


hans-st. and theitsage liked
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theitsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3401
January 10, 2019 1:43 am  

@csofranz Nice setup. To keep the iGPU activated when booting into Windows, you can try automate-eGPU EFI, apple_set_os.efi, or rEFInd.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

94 external GPU build guides


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VertigoXRP
(@vertigoxrp)
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Posts: 6
January 11, 2019 10:26 pm  

Thanks for the detailed write up!

While trying to work my way through this exact build (minus the vive stuff) could you elaborate how you managed to install AMD drivers without hooking up the razer x? The installer fails with no hardware detected.

A link to the exact driver version that you managed to install would be helpful.

Mac Mini 2018 i7 32GB DDR4 Razer Core X Sapphire Nitro+ AMD Vega 64 bootcamp win 10 & mojave


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csofranz
(@csofranz)
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Posts: 3
January 13, 2019 1:02 pm  

Truth be told, it may be that I merely downloaded the drivers but did not install them - my installation was rudely disrupted when the Sonnet 650 failed catastrophically, and I had to wait 6 weeks until I just gave up on it and purchased the Razer (the good news: I got reimbursed, so I didn't lose money on the Sonnet, just a *lot* of time). Since the enclosure itself is (mostly) transparent to Windows, changing that will not require new drivers. When I - after 6 weeks - connected the Razer and picked up the install I perhaps wrongly remembered that I installed the drivers before (not after) connecting the eGPU. 

What does help a lot is the second monitor that you can plug in while leaving the first connected to the mac's hdmi. If the second monitor comes up, you can continue the install on that.

My apologies if I misremembered - but there was a lot of drinking in December 🙂

This post was modified 6 days ago

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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VertigoXRP
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January 13, 2019 7:37 pm  

Thanks for the reply, so I managed to install the drivers and the card is recognized but gives a code 12 error (no resources available).. I don't think I missed any of the steps and my setup is literally identical.. any ideas on why it might complain about pci resources?

Mac Mini 2018 i7 32GB DDR4 Razer Core X Sapphire Nitro+ AMD Vega 64 bootcamp win 10 & mojave


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csofranz
(@csofranz)
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January 14, 2019 4:47 pm  

I've read that the dreaded 12 error (not enough memory) can come up depending upon the TB port you are connecting the enclosure with. My setup

- uses the port CLOSEST to the HDMI port
- has no other devices connected via TB

Hopefully that helps.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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(@omar_munoz)
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Joined: 4 days ago
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January 16, 2019 2:04 am  

I just purchased a Razer Core X + PowerColor Vega 64 and have hooked them up to my Mac mini, Late 2018, 32 GB RAM, 512 TB SSD, i7 (3.2 GHz). I have no issues when booting into macOS and everything looks to be working great but I keep having issues in Windows 10. I haven't seen any other builds using a LG UltraFine 5K and I was wondering if any of you know any steps to take? No matter what I tried, I kept getting error code 12.

Mac mini, Late 2018, 32 GB RAM, 2 TB SSD, i7 (3.2 GHz) + LG UltraFine 5K | Razer Core X + PowerColor Vega 64


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VertigoXRP
(@vertigoxrp)
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January 16, 2019 7:45 am  

A reddit user let me to the solution; the trick here was to completely shutdown windows (instead of restarting). Then removing the HDMI cable from the mini. Then I connected the TB3 cable from the mini to the eGPU and added the HDMI cable in between the eGPU and monitor. Booted the mini (into windows) and done.

One downside sofar is that when I use the bootcamp app in windows to boot in mac os I get a black screen. The only fix is to switch off the eGPU and connect via the mini's HDMI directly again; then hotplug the eGPU when MacOs comes alive. So this means a lot of cable switching bogus every os switch. Perhaps there's a solution to that problem as well ?

Mac Mini 2018 i7 32GB DDR4 Razer Core X Sapphire Nitro+ AMD Vega 64 bootcamp win 10 & mojave


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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Posts: 1223
January 16, 2019 8:42 am  
Posted by: Omar Munoz

I just purchased a Razer Core X + PowerColor Vega 64 and have hooked them up to my Mac mini, Late 2018, 32 GB RAM, 512 TB SSD, i7 (3.2 GHz). I have no issues when booting into macOS and everything looks to be working great but I keep having issues in Windows 10. I haven't seen any other builds using a LG UltraFine 5K and I was wondering if any of you know any steps to take? No matter what I tried, I kept getting error code 12.

I had a very similar set up for a day or two before returning the mini as it was just too much hassle with the LG 5k ultrafine. 
I got past error 12 by disabling the Ethernet port and one other which I forget (I copied a guide from itsage) bit I had issues with egpu detection - 90% of the time it just wasn’t detected, let alone error code. 
I believe using rEFInd may help with this problem but I just returned my mini as I didn’t really need it.

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + [email protected] (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070 (debating 2070 upgrade) @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + Vega 56 @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10 & macOS 10.14+

---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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(@omar_munoz)
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January 16, 2019 3:01 pm  

I’m not sure that this would work, but if I connected the eGPU and Mac mini via HDMI and then Mac mini to LG UltraFine via TB3, would that theoretically work?

Mac mini, Late 2018, 32 GB RAM, 2 TB SSD, i7 (3.2 GHz) + LG UltraFine 5K | Razer Core X + PowerColor Vega 64


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