late-2018 13" MacBook Air + GTX [email protected] (ASUS XG Station Pro) + W10 1803 [theitsage]
Black Friday sales started early this year. MicroCenter discounts $200 off the new MacBook Air. The base configuration is $999. This is $300 less than the cheapest MacBook Pro (2017 non-Touch bar). Is it a good deal for eGPU use? Let's find out.
2018 MacBook Air - i5-8210Y/UHD Graphics 617 iGPU/8GB RAM/128GB SSD
ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS Strix GTX 1080 Ti + 1.5m Thunderbolt 3 cable
The good news is Nvidia eGPU was plug-and-play. I could hot-plug and hot-unplug without BSOD. The GTX 1080 Ti eGPU worked without error 12 because this system has Large Memory allocation in Boot Camp. No PCIe component was disabled. To use the internal display I made sure not to connect the Nvidia eGPU at boot so that the Intel UHD 617 iGPU stay activated. AMD eGPU won't likely be this easy.
The bad news is the combination of cooling system and weak Y processor in this MacBook Air robs significant performance from the GTX 1080 Ti. It's also the noisest Mac laptop (when pushed hard) in recent memory. I installed Intel Thunderbolt Software [22.214.171.1240] to check the controller and NVM version. It's a Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller as expected.
Here are Unigine results ran through the iGPU, eGPU internal display, and eGPU external monitor.
|UHD Graphics 617 iGPU||GTX 1080 Ti eGPU Internal Display||GTX 1080 Ti eGPU External Monitor
Prior to running benchmarks I set the computer in High Performance mode and changed the Intel Graphics settings to Maximum Performance. All that didn't amount to much. You can compare the results above to the 2018 13" MacBook Pro and 2018 15" MacBook Pro. In my opinion the 2018 MacBook Air is not a good candidate for eGPU gaming. It's running louder than both the enclosure and graphics card combined. Performance loss is much greater than the 13" MacBook Pro.
Can you run 3Dmark by any chance ? Yes I thought that too and the temperature as well. Great price though, I was expecting that, the tb3 feature but on MacBook 12 size, so the portability could adjust all the weakness.
Soon I will add my system & eGPU details or a build link to this my signature to give context to my posts
The footprint of the new MacBook Air is identical to the 13" MacBook Pro. The issue of the Air's cooling system is that it doesn't have the side cutouts like the Pro. All air exchange occurs in the gap of the display hinges. I will run 3Dmark in the coming days and update the original post.