late-2018 13" MacBook Air + GTX [email protected] (ASUS XG Station Pro) + W10 1803 [theitsage]  

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theitsage
(@itsage)
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Nov 18, 2018 2:57 am  

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.

 

System specs:

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

 

eGPU hardware:

ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS Strix GTX 1080 Ti + 1.5m Thunderbolt 3 cable

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

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 [17.4.76.300] to check the controller and NVM version. It's a Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller as expected.

 

Benchmarks:

AIDA64 and HWiNFO64 showed the 2018 MacBook Air has a 4 lane PCI connection to its two Thunderbolt 3 ports. OPI was set to 4GT/s.

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

 

Comments:

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.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

94 external GPU build guides


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Joikansai
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Nov 18, 2018 3:34 am  

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.

Razer Blade 15 2018, i7 8750H 16gb ddr4 2666mhz 1tb 970Evo
Razer Blade Stealth 12,5 2016 i7 7500U 8gb ddr3 1866mhz 500gb 970Evo
MacBook Pro 13 mid 2012 i5 3210M 12gb ddr3 1600mhz 500GB HDD
Razer Core V2 rtx 2070 Black 2040mhz Boost clock
Previous setting: rtx 2080ti Asus Turbo, rtx 2080 xc gaming, rtx 2080 Fe, Zotac Mini 1080ti, Evga 1080 FTW2 gaming.
Dual Monitor Predator XB241YU 165Hz 1440p, LG l24UD58 60Hz 4K
Portable Monitor Magedok 1440p HDR 60Hz usbA/C monitor


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theitsage
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Nov 18, 2018 3:46 am  

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.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

94 external GPU build guides


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danielm
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Dec 29, 2018 8:30 am  

@theitsage, as you say the 1080Ti is too much for a MBA, would you say I'm better off with a Vega 56 or even a RX580 to pair with a R.Core X and a 2018 MBA?

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


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Joikansai
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Dec 29, 2018 9:25 am  
Posted by: danielm

@theitsage, as you say the 1080Ti is too much for a MBA, would you say I'm better off with a Vega 56 or even a RX580 to pair with a R.Core X and a 2018 MBA?

@Danielm The cpu performance from cinebench is similar with 7500U on my stealth v2, you’ll get slightly better around gtx 1060 laptop when I’m not wrong. Not worth the price, unless you get super super cheap. It’s not a huge difference with pairing with 1070 or 1070ti.

Razer Blade 15 2018, i7 8750H 16gb ddr4 2666mhz 1tb 970Evo
Razer Blade Stealth 12,5 2016 i7 7500U 8gb ddr3 1866mhz 500gb 970Evo
MacBook Pro 13 mid 2012 i5 3210M 12gb ddr3 1600mhz 500GB HDD
Razer Core V2 rtx 2070 Black 2040mhz Boost clock
Previous setting: rtx 2080ti Asus Turbo, rtx 2080 xc gaming, rtx 2080 Fe, Zotac Mini 1080ti, Evga 1080 FTW2 gaming.
Dual Monitor Predator XB241YU 165Hz 1440p, LG l24UD58 60Hz 4K
Portable Monitor Magedok 1440p HDR 60Hz usbA/C monitor


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danielm
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Dec 29, 2018 11:54 am  

I believe my MBA’s CPU is much slower than the 7500U. I still prefer an AMD for the dual OS X and Win10 support. Would you go for Vega 56 or RX580?

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


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Joikansai
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Dec 29, 2018 1:00 pm  

Yes you’re right  it’s around 100 point lower on cinebench multi cpu score, 280vs380 according notebookcheck. Vega 56 is around 1070ti right, cost on some deals for €350, rx580 around €200 for 1060 performance, I think 50% or more performance boost worth extra price, I would go with Vega 56. There’s also bandwidth and bottleneck that has to be counted so maybe vega 56 is better and you can get 1070 or better performance depends your setting. For €700 including enclosure it’s worth to get for a lot performance improvement imo.

Razer Blade 15 2018, i7 8750H 16gb ddr4 2666mhz 1tb 970Evo
Razer Blade Stealth 12,5 2016 i7 7500U 8gb ddr3 1866mhz 500gb 970Evo
MacBook Pro 13 mid 2012 i5 3210M 12gb ddr3 1600mhz 500GB HDD
Razer Core V2 rtx 2070 Black 2040mhz Boost clock
Previous setting: rtx 2080ti Asus Turbo, rtx 2080 xc gaming, rtx 2080 Fe, Zotac Mini 1080ti, Evga 1080 FTW2 gaming.
Dual Monitor Predator XB241YU 165Hz 1440p, LG l24UD58 60Hz 4K
Portable Monitor Magedok 1440p HDR 60Hz usbA/C monitor


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Jisoo
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Feb 8, 2019 11:48 am  

May I ask what you mean by “this system has Large Memory allocation in Boot Camp”?

Is it the 1080Ti or your egpu? I did not know a graphic card can decide how much memory allocation it will take.

I struggled so much with Vega 56 and sold the graphic card resulting in losing a lot of money. I will happily go with nvidia if it is what it must take.

I also have a MacBook Air 2018. Do you think whether RTX 2060 would work without the error code 12 on our device? 

Fyi, I will be using Sonnet Breakaway Box 550.

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


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Eightarmedpet
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theitsage
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Mar 29, 2019 12:45 pm  

@eightarmedpet I only used the Mantiz Venus and AKiTiO Node Duo to connect TB3 AIC. It has more to do with powering the AIC than fitting the card inside. The Mantiz enclosure already has spare SATA, Molex, and PCIe power cables. The Node Duo needs a proper PSU to run powerful GPU anyways so connecting the AIC was no problem.

There's definitely room inside the ASUS XG Station Pro. You would need a PCIe Y-splitter to provide one extra 6-pin PCIe connector for TB3 AIC. I will find time and give that a try.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

94 external GPU build guides


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Eightarmedpet
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OliverB
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Mar 29, 2019 3:10 pm  

@eightarmedpet, one in a not so far future my second Asus XG Station will return and be for sale. If you wonder about the time: Ask Asus Support!

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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