Late 2018 Mac mini + WX [email protected] (Mantiz Venus) + Thunderbolt 3 Monitor Output + macOS 10.14.1 [theitsage]  

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theitsage
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December 7, 2018 4:07 am  

It's possible to produce Thunderbolt 3 monitor output with an add-in-card such as GC-ALPINE-RIDGE. I tested it with the AKiTiO Node Duo through its dual PCIe slots. What about single slot enclosure? The prerequisite is a second PCIe slot to power the AIC. Buying a second PCIe expansion enclosure is too expensive. I got a couple of $10 PCIe powered riser cards to test and it was a success.

 

System specs:

Late 2018 Mac mini – i5-8500B/UHD Graphics 630 iGPU/8GB RAM/256GB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

Mantiz Venus + Radeon WX 9100 + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable
HP Z27q 5K + Choetech Thunderbolt 3 to 2x DisplayPort adapter + PCIe powered riser card

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

The power supply of Mantiz Venus has a SATA power cable and a 4-pin Molex cable. I used these two cables to connect the PCIe powered riser card (through Molex plug and 6-pin power plug via SATA to PCIe adapter). It seems the riser card needs both 12V and 3.3V connectors plugged in. When I tried connecting only one of the two plugs the riser card didn't work.

I don't have a Thunderbolt 3 monitor so I used a Thundebolt 3 to dual DisplayPort adapter to verify. This mess of adapters and cables are fairly straight-forward. Two DisplayPort signals went from the WX 9100 eGPU to the AIC to produce Thunderbolt 3 monitor output. Then the Thunderbolt 3 adapter splits into two DisplayPorts for the HP Z27q monitor. It took a while for the monitor to initiate and come on using this method. I believe a native Thunderbolt 3 monitor such as LG UltraFine 5K wouldn't take as long.

The two PCIe powered riser cards I bought were PCE164P-N06 VER 008S and PCE164P-N08 VER 009S. Only the PCE164P-N08 VER 009S worked in this test. They both came from the same seller on Amazon and have good build quality. There's foam padding on the bottom of the card. It's small enough to be mounted inside the Mantiz Venus and most other eGPU enclosures.

 

Benchmarks:

I ran Unigine Valley and Heaven through the internal display and external monitor to check the performance difference.

Internal Display External Monitor

 

Comments:

If you need an eGPU with Thunderbolt 3 monitor output, the Blackmagic eGPU is not the only choice. The component cost is about $60 for the GC-ALPINE-RIDGE and PCIe powered riser adapter.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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Eightarmedpet
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Eightarmedpet
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December 7, 2018 3:07 pm  

Just ordered a Mac mini as I felt I wanted more CPU performance and I'm getting worried I'm cooking my MacBook Pro gaming in Windows. I'll do some hunting myself but is there a way to power those riser cards other than in the Mantiz (A modular PSU would work too I assume but that feels overkill).

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+

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LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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mac_editor
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December 7, 2018 3:44 pm  
Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Just ordered a Mac mini as I felt I wanted more CPU performance and I'm getting worried I'm cooking my MacBook Pro gaming in Windows. I'll do some hunting myself but is there a way to power those riser cards other than in the Mantiz (A modular PSU would work too I assume but that feels overkill).

What config. did you go for?

purge-wrangler.shpurge-nvda.shset-eGPU.sh
----
Troubleshooting eGPUs on macOS
Command Line Swiss Knife
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Multiple Build Guides


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theitsage
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December 7, 2018 3:55 pm  

@eightarmedpet Sorry if my Mac mini builds seem to target your wallet.  😀

I got an i3 base configuration Mac mini yesterday for more testing and comparison. In the US, Best Buy is really aggressive with their Apple product pricing.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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Eightarmedpet
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December 7, 2018 4:11 pm  

@itsage the problem is I have very little will power and with an education discount it's almost like getting it for free (not at all, but, errrr... a couple of quid off). I don't even want to think about the hammering your wallet must take with all your set ups (any pics of EVERYTHING anywhere?).

@mac_editor I went for i7, 16GB ram and 500GB SSD in the end, not sure I really wanted to try and upgrade the ram myself as it looks easy to damage parts and I'm not always the most delicate.

Fingers crossed set up will be as simple as your guides...

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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theitsage
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December 7, 2018 4:21 pm  

I have gotten the i5 Mac mini to a point where I can swap eGPU without encountering error 12. The two PCIe roots left disabled permanently are Controller x16 - 1901 [10G Ethernet] and Port #2 - A339 [1G Ethernet]. Combined with @goalque's EFI Boot Manager, the iGPU stays activated for internal display mode. Once in a while the eGPU would not be detected. I would unplug then hot-plug to get detection. A quick restart and all should work.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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Eightarmedpet
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December 7, 2018 4:50 pm  

@itsage amazing, thanks for the info and those screen shots... I dont use Ethernet so will do exactly the same - I assume there were some issues if you didn't disable them? Are you booting with it plugged in? That would be my ideal situation, never having to unplug and being able to switch OS super easily. And I'm right in thinking the Bootcamp drivers have actually been updated so you can "reboot into macOS" because on my Macbook it can't (due to not being able to read my AFPS volume). 

Hoping for 25% higher frames in games with the stronger CPU and extra cores... (going on videos I have been watching thats within the realms of possibility).

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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joevt
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December 9, 2018 1:38 pm  
Posted by: theitsage

The power supply of Mantiz Venus has a SATA power cable and a 4-pin Molex cable. I used these two cables to connect the PCIe powered riser card (through Molex plug and 6-pin power plug via SATA to PCIe adapter). It seems the riser card needs both 12V and 3.3V. When I tried connecting only one of the two plugs the riser card didn't work.

None of those plugs have 3.3 volt. Yellow is 12V. Red is 5V (probably not used either). SATA has an orange wire for 3.3 volt but your riser's SATA to 6-pin adapter doesn't include an orange wire because PCIe power only uses 12V.

Posted by: theitsage

Then the Thunderbolt 3 adapter splits into two DisplayPorts for the HP Z27q monitor. It took a while for the monitor to initiate and come on using this method. I believe a native Thunderbolt 3 monitor such as LG UltraFine 5K wouldn't take as long.

The Dell UP2715K is also slow to power on, or wake from sleep. It takes about 5 seconds. These are the first 5K displays and therefore have the same slowness.

Posted by: theitsage

The two PCIe powered riser cards I bought were PCE164P-N06 VER 008S and PCE164P-N08 VER 009S. Only the PCE164P-N08 VER 009S worked in this test.

It is strange how some risers work and some do not. One riser I tried didn't work but now it does? Maybe a power quality issue or there's some unknown property that changed. In your test, it only worked when you connected two power cables when only one is supposed to be used and in fact there should be no detectable difference...

Posted by: theitsage

They both came from the same seller on Amazon and have good build quality. There's foam padding on the bottom of the card. It's small enough to be mounted inside the Mantiz Venus and most other eGPU enclosures.

A smaller option is an M.2 to PCIe adapter. I tested one successfully with a GC-ALPINE RIDGE. It didn't work with a GC-TITAN RIDGE.
Discussion here: #135

If you can't fit a GC-ALPINE RIDGE inside the eGPU then there are external enclosures. The IT-GO ADP-099-31 works well with either GC-ALPINE RIDGE or GC-TITAN RIDGE or both, is compact, and allows using two cards. It's more expensive than a riser by itself, but not as expensive as another Thunderbolt PCIe enclosure.

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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Eightarmedpet
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theitsage
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December 10, 2018 9:31 pm  

@joevt3 Thank you for the correction on the power connection. I thought one of the two plugs was needed as well but the Thunderbolt output never worked so I tried plugging in both. I'm aware of the slow initiation of the dual-DisplayPort 5K monitor. The delay when going through this method to produce Thunderbolt 3 monitor output is closer to 30 seconds. Once it works, reconnecting and wake-from-sleep is normal ~5s.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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joevt
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December 11, 2018 6:47 am  

I tried powering the Thunderbolt 3 add-in cards with an unconnected R42SL but of course that didn't work since they get 3.3V from the M.2 slot (not connected).

The M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter has a 1084-33 regulator that converts 5V to 3.3V.

x16 risers may have something similar to convert 12V to 3.3V. My x16 riser has a LM1084IS-3.3 which appears to convert 5V to 3.3V like the M.2 to PCIe x4 adapter. Your riser with AME1084 DCDT-3 probably converts 12V since it has a 6 pin connector which don't have 5V (but you said it doesn't work unless both the molex and 6-pin are connected, so maybe it needs 5V from the molex but then the 6-pin wouldn't be needed and it wouldn't work by itself which doesn't make sense).

Here's a size comparison of the 3 risers. From bottom to top: the M.2 adapter, my x16 riser, the IT-GO two slot riser, and an example half length PCIe card that shows how a card would connect to the riser.

To the left of the x16 riser is the backside of the front plate of the IT-GO enclosure showing that the IT-GO is narrower than the x16 riser even though it has two slots. The slot spacing is less than the standard 20.32 mm (0.8 inches) but most single slot cards will fit anyway. The IT-GO is longer than the x16 riser but all that extra length is under the PCIe card. All this means is that the IT-GO enclosure is as small as you can get for an x16 riser.

There's a post showing the size difference between the GC-TITAN RIDGE and the GC-ALPINE RIDGE which you can compare to the example half length PCIe card. The post also shows how two cards fit in the two slots of the IT-GO.

So an enclosure to accommodate an x4 card that is quarter length (not a standard PCIe length) could be made if there was such a thing as an x4 riser or if you use the M.2 to PCIe x4 riser. The depth of the enclosure would be 70 mm less than the 175 mm of the IT-GO.

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 13, 2018 2:41 pm  

@joevt3 Thank you for sharing these different solutions. I hope eGPU vendors take note and provide a more integrated solution in their next generation enclosure.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

86 external GPU build guides


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