late-2012 Mac Mini + [email protected] (Sonnet Breakawy 350 via TB3->TB2 adapter) + macOS 10.14.1 [LongEz]  

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LongEz
(@longez)
Active Member
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 13
November 16, 2018 12:14 am  

Faster But Does Not Fly

I love my Late 2012 maxed out Mac Mini, but I also love flying X-Plane11. 
I hoped an eGPU could lift my Mac Mini to a "minimum flyable" condition;  not quite.

System specs (model inc screen size, CPU, iGPU, dGPU, operating system)

    Mac Mini 6,2 (Late 2012)

  • 2.6GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 ( 4 core, 8 threads - turbo boost to 3.6GHz )
  • Intel HD Graphics 4000 1536 MB (Internal)
  • 16 GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • 1TB Fusion Drive
  • OS X 10.14.1  Mohave

    Displays (4k only with eGPU)

  • LG  25UM58-P 2560 x 1080p  21:9  25" Ultrawide 111dpi 
  • Dell P2415Q  3840x2160 16:9 24” Ultra HD 4K Monitor 185dpi

 

    eGPU (<- Apple TB3/TB2 Adapter <- TB2 cable -> Mac TB1 port)

Hardware pictures: (Connection Diagram)

Installation steps (what did you do to get it all going?)

1 - Read the macOS eGPU Troubleshooting Guide

2 - Disable system integrity protection
3 - Download and install purge-wrangler

    • select option 1: enable AMD GPUs
    • (enable legacy AMD GPUs?  no - this is only for unsupported AMD eGPUs)
    • Enable Ti82?:  N  (Sonnet Breakaway has Ti83 controller)
    • reboot system

4 - First time

  1. Attach generic HDMI cable to Mac Mini and HDMI monitor.
  2. Boot the Mini as normal.
  3. Turn off the Sonnet Breakaway power switch.
  4. Cable up the external monitor to the Sapphire Pulse card outlet. Displayport and HDMI both work.
  5. Attach TB3 - TB2 adapter to TB3 Sonnet box input, TB2 cable to adapter, and TB2 cable to Mac Mini TB1 port.
  6. Turn on Sonnet Breakaway power.
  7. Two seconds later, message that eGPU detected and logout required will appear on the first monitor.
  8. Log out and log in as requested.
  9. External monitor will come to life as second display. Can confirm in the System Report under “About this Mac” that eGPU is AMD RX 580.
  10. Using System Preferences, change display resolutions and screen arrangement to desired settings. The External display should be the primary screen by dragging the Menu Bar to the external monitor,


Benchmarks 

Comments 

After looking at others' Late 2012 Mac Mini build guides, I had expected about 5x to 10x improvement in graphic benchmarks, and it turned out better - 5x to 18x, so I was hopeful for the benchmark that would measure success or failure for this project - X-Plane11.

I created a "stock" x-plane11 folder - x-plane11.26r2.stock/  and ran the three suggested FPS benchmarks  (using the command with fps_test= 1, 2, or 3):

open -a /Users/me/X-Plane11.26r2.stock/X-Plane.app --args --fps_test=1 --load_smo=Output/replays/test_flight_c4.fdr --pref:_is_ful_ALL=1 --pref:_x_res_full_ALL=1280 --pref:_y_res_full_ALL=720 --pref:_bpp_full_ALL=32

The results did not look that promising.  Since we had a nasty cold front passing through, I decided to fly a "scud runner" flight from Patrick AFB to Fort Lauderdale Executive with my usual "minimum" flying configuration connected to the IVAO (International Virtual Aviation Org):

(Vis:min, TexQ:high, AA:1x, Obj:low, Ref:min, draw parked, 2d panel windowed FOV:60)
(Real weather along the route from IVAO, map, window  unchanged, coordinator visible, display data graph)

As I took off, I was getting pretty excited - I was seeing very flyable frame rates between 20 and 50 fps:

The frame rate stayed great for the hour flight.

BUT !!! as I turned final to land, things slowed down.  It was smooth and "flyable" but not real-time. 

After landing, I debriefed with the wife, and placed my order for a new Mac Mini with the 3.2GHz six-core Core i7.  (Wife can't understand my Apple addiction - I accept it. )

The eGPU and RX580 is a keeper all the same - I am sure it will "soar" with the new TB3 bandwidth channel to the eGPU, faster processor, and faster memory.

 

 

 

2018 Mac Mini, Radeon RX 580 8GB in Sonnet Breakaway Box 350, LG 25” 21:9 and Dell P2415Q 4K monitors (both on eGPU)


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 1575
November 16, 2018 12:39 am  

@longez A very entertaining read 🙂

There's so little difference between the integrated and eGPU in X-Plane, quite surprising. Have you tried the Prefer External GPU toggle (Right click -> Get Info on X-Plane.app while eGPU connected)?

You can also see GPU activity in Activity Monitor > CMD+4.

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


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LongEz
(@longez)
Active Member
Joined: 7 months ago
Posts: 13
November 16, 2018 3:19 am  
Posted by: mac_editor

@longez A very entertaining read 🙂

There's so little difference between the integrated and eGPU in X-Plane, quite surprising. Have you tried the Prefer External GPU toggle (Right click -> Get Info on X-Plane.app while eGPU connected)?

You can also see GPU activity in Activity Monitor > CMD+4.

I reran fps_test 3 with prefer_ext_GPU set.  A bit better but weird load= value.

fps_test=3 with preferExtGPU:

FRAMERATE TEST: time=148.8, frames=1862, fps=12.52

GPU LOAD: time=148.8, wait=7.9, load=5.3%

RX 580 w/o prefer_ext_GPU, fps_test=3 (request 1920x1080 but shows as full screen 2560x1080)

FRAMERATE TEST: time=157.6, frames=1843, fps=11.70

GPU LOAD: time=157.6, wait=118.9, load=75.4%

Then I flew a circuit in "stormy" conditions with the prefer_ext_gpu.  Talk about a "toss your cookies flight".  The GPU was at max for the entire flight, but the frame rate was only unsatisfactory on final approach, and for the hold after the landing.  Total CPU usage is never very high.  I think X-Plane does not use multi-cores well. 

One last thing to verify please:  To the question Enable Ti82?:  I responded N/No  thinking that the Sonnet Breakaway has Ti83 controller, not Ti82.  Correct?

2018 Mac Mini, Radeon RX 580 8GB in Sonnet Breakaway Box 350, LG 25” 21:9 and Dell P2415Q 4K monitors (both on eGPU)


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 1575
November 16, 2018 5:14 am  

@longez Yes very few enclosures are Ti82. Any choice you make there won’t impact already supported boxes.

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


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 1099

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JSidewell
(@jsidewell)
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Joined: 3 weeks ago
Posts: 2
November 16, 2018 3:44 pm  

Thanks for such a clear write up, I especially liked the connection diagram, as I have a mac mini late 2012 identical to yours (6,2) with the same processor and RAM. 

I myself am looking at the same Sapphire Pulse RX580 card, but in the Razer Core X enclosure.

I noted from your connection diagram, that you used Display Port cabling as opposed to HDMI - I am looking at buying an LG ultra wide 29inch (LG 29WK500) and using HDMI to connect to this and using the 21:9 resolution 2560 x 1080.

I only want to use a SINGLE monitor, (the Ultrawide mentioned above) but with HDMI going form the RX580 to the LG [the LG only takes HDMI]. My main purpose will be video editing in Final Cut Pro 10.4.

Does anyone know:
(a) will my choice of HDMI cabling from the RX580 to the LG adversely affect frame rate/render speeds / editing speed in FCPx ?
(b) will only using a SINGLE monitor connected to the RX580, does this give the RX580 more "headroom" to do faster rendering (FCPx)/editing(FCPx)/framerates , since the gpu is being put under less load (compared to dual monitor setup)

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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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