2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.1...
 
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2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [fireheadman]  

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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Hello guys,  I Stayed up a while last night going through several builds and details....  I feel like I am ready to take the plunge.  UPDATE:  The Plunge has been taken, lots of knowledge learned...more still to learn.   My rig is alive!   

Brief History:

I currently have a  Mid 2011 Mac Mini using 3x ASUS VG248 LED monitors (NVidia 3D Vision capable).  Previously, I used these monitors with an ASUS Strix GTX 970 OC 4Gb card and Windows 10 for playing Ubisoft Division (which turned out to be flop of a game!).  I pieced gaming computer out (sold case and video card) and rebuilt it as my home NAS (FreeNas).

I ended up purchasing a StarTech USB2.0 to DVI adapter so that I could use all 3 monitors on the Mac Mini.   This seems to work, but it has severe limitations.  

After searching the Internet a little, I came across this site and was blown away with the implementations and projects that you guys have built/created.  Needless to say, I am very interested in building an eGPU set for my system.  @itsage has inspired me with his builds, which will be very similar to what I want.

 

I started this thread to get some feedback/recommendations/comments...etc  to possibly avoid any pitfalls and unnecessary money spent.

 

Here are my Implementation plans & shopping list:

 

...My thoughts are, I will be upgrading the Mac Mini possibly next year (if Apple releases a rumored new model of Mac Mini).  This would hopefully have TB3 ports onboard that would direct connect to the Akitito Node.  USB-c/TB3 should be around for a couple/few years since they fairly new.  I'm not a hardcore gamer, so fine with buying an older model card, by then the current model cards will have depreciated to my price range.  If Apple releases a new Mac Mini, then everything will be upgraded!

 

It's built, just in a refining/tuning stage now

 

Windows 10 - Installed (Bootcamp) / Trials & Tribulations

I wasn't aware I was heading down a path nobody else has taken... I guess I'm the first on the forum to put Windows/Bootcamp on a second drive for a MacMini.   So here we go:

 

  • Grabbed an old Apple 128GB SSD I had laying around, it isn't a high-end by any means, but still faster than a spindled drive.
    • UPDATE:  Decided to part out my Envy Beats Touchsmart 14" laptop and took the mSata drive out (LiteOn 512GB SSD), it's much quicker than the Apple SSD.  
    • Bought an enclosure for it: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MS6669V  This will allow me to slap it in the Mac Mini as a Sata drive.  I might loose a little performance doing this, but oh well...  its more storage space.  (After install Win10, Rise of Tomb Raider and Ghost Recon Wildlands, I had 5GB remaining on the 128GB drive)
  • Fresh install of Windows 10 Pro, Steam, Ubisoft, Razer Surround Pro/Synapse, Mumble, GeForce Experience and some other small things
    • Run1 of Windows updates (required reboot - wait until bootcamp drivers finish)
  • Bootcamp drivers installed 
    • Had an issue with Realtek audio driver not wanting to complete...bootcamp installer hung.   Workaround is to NAV to the driver folder and manually install it, then kill the hung process via taskmgr and it will continue the bootcamp driver install. 
  • Powered off system, plugged in thunderbolt (kept HDMI plugged in)
  • Powered back on, Windows saw a new video device
  • Downloaded nvidia drivers, installed them... not the new device is recognized. (rebooted again)
    • Unplugged HDMI when system was on way down for reboot
    • Win10 boots up, it now it's working on 3 monitors
  • Configured Nvidia Control panel to be spanned to 5760×1080 @144hz.  (reboot again)
      • It works and keeps config.
  • Now the "wrench in the plan part"
    • Run2 of Windows updates finally completes, believe it was version 1607, which is a large update (reboots itself)
      • UPDATE  (5/10/17):  This update needs to happen first for thunderbolt to behave correctly, I was unable to get the system to recognized/boot with thunderbolt connected until all updates were performed. (5/10/17)
    • This is the part I hate about windows.... "Preparing to reboot"  Takes about 10 min to process the update
      • Which usually means its gonna do the same thing on boot up too  "Configuring the system junk"
    • Well now NONE of my monitor that are plugged into the eGPU work... I thought maybe windows was updating, so I let it sit for 15min.... and I still had nothing!
  • Perform HARD POWER OFF, unplug thunderbolt, plug HDMI back in, Power on.
    • I'm back to video working... I have a "Restoring latest version of windows" happening
    • Before I pull my hair out, I try one last thing and download/install Intel Thunderbolt drivers and reboot (poweroff might be a better thing to do at this point) https://downloadcenter.intel.com/download/23742/Thunderbolt-Intel-Thunderbolt-driver
    • As soon as the screen went black on the reboot, I quickly plugged my thunderbolt cable in  (HDMI still plugged in)
    • All screens lit back up and I have it working again.   (unplugged HDMI afterwards)
    • @Nando recommended the Thunderbolt3 drivers, which are more recent and I assume cover backwards support for TB1/2 too, but I didn't catch the mention quick enough, so this could be tried for someone else.    I'm in the state of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!)
      • UPDATE  (5/10/17):   Well I broke it on accident when swapping out the new SSD, so I went ahead and installed the Thunderbolt 3 Nuc drivers (latest ones available - Thunderbolt-16.2.55.275), they work GREAT!
    • So, in all... I have all my monitors working, they are spanned and I have a nice gaming system for my needs.

I'll post some more pics below for GPU-Z and the setup.

 

DAILY DRIVER: ⚡cMP 2010 (ⓄⓈ:DualBoot macOS 10.13.6/Windows 2016 (1803)) | ⒸⓅⓊ:3.47GHz Xeon X5690 (x12 core)
ⓇⒶⓂ:64GB 1333MHz DDR3 | ⓈⓈⒹ:1TB SSD (LiteON 512 -x4 - RAID1) w/Marvell Raid Controller | ⒼⓅⓊ: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition
⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming

 
2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [build link]  


C rus, nando4, goalque and 2 people liked
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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@fireheadman your plan sounds good. Newer versions of macOS present more challenges when building eGPU with an AMD Radeon card. For your 3 external display setup, I would recommend an Nvidia GTX card.

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2020 13" MacBook Pro [10th,4C,G] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AORUS Gaming Box) + Win10 2004 [build link]  


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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

thank you for the advice...  hence the purpose of this thread before I actually buy my parts.

I will shift my focus back to a GTX card.

 

On another another note, I keep starring at your RX470 build that you mounted on the back of your monitor.  Mostly because it is unique in style and shows very well.

I am using an ErgoTech triple mount stand and throwing around the idea of what that would look like if I used a single mount to attach a eGPU setup below my monitors....

DAILY DRIVER: ⚡cMP 2010 (ⓄⓈ:DualBoot macOS 10.13.6/Windows 2016 (1803)) | ⒸⓅⓊ:3.47GHz Xeon X5690 (x12 core)
ⓇⒶⓂ:64GB 1333MHz DDR3 | ⓈⓈⒹ:1TB SSD (LiteON 512 -x4 - RAID1) w/Marvell Raid Controller | ⒼⓅⓊ: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition
⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming

 
2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [build link]  


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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

found this on sale  (EVGA GTX 1060SC) -  https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814487267  

Now I need to make up my mind on a single unit (Akitito Node) or have a slim unit (Akitito Thunder3) + Mac Mini.

DAILY DRIVER: ⚡cMP 2010 (ⓄⓈ:DualBoot macOS 10.13.6/Windows 2016 (1803)) | ⒸⓅⓊ:3.47GHz Xeon X5690 (x12 core)
ⓇⒶⓂ:64GB 1333MHz DDR3 | ⓈⓈⒹ:1TB SSD (LiteON 512 -x4 - RAID1) w/Marvell Raid Controller | ⒼⓅⓊ: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition
⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming

 
2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [build link]  


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enjoy
(@enjoy)
Reputable Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

EVGA GTX 1060SC 6GB feat. Thunder3 or Thunder2 is the best eGPU for now IMO, small, slim and with great power for gaming. 

mini-eGPU thread is for you - mini eGPU

you can rebuild my eGPU - AKiTiO Thunder2 + EVGA GTX 1060 6GB SC Gaming (macOS Sierra 10.12.4 and Windows 10)

or you can rebuild Akitio Thunder3 feat. EVGA GeForce GTX 1060 SC 6GB from - @dsaul & @noler

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Later 2013) 3.2GHz Quad Core Intel i7-4750HQ / 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3 / 256GB SSD + 1TB
mini eGPUPCI Express vs. ThunderboltMac CAN gameGaming Laptops vs. MacBook Pro with eGPU

 
2012 13" MacBook Air [3rd,2C,U] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.12 [build link]  


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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

yeah I was drooling over a couple of those builds, very nice setups indeed!

I read up on a handful of reviews for the 3Gb vs 6Gb 1060.  The 6G obviously is gonna do everything over the 3Gb, however the 3Gb didn't suffer that much on 1440p gaming unless the game was CPU intensive.   For the remainder of this year plus some of next year I will be sporting my Dual Core i5, so the 6Gb would be overkill and bottlenecked by my CPU.   

 

My plans are to upgrade the Mac Mini, which by that time I am certain there will be something far superior to the 1060 SC 6Gb model.   For now I will be taking the minor hit.

BTW:   What do you guys do with your eGPUs when it comes time to upgrade?   Do you piece out/replace parts of them or just sell the entire unit and start over?

 

 

One other question....  In regards to using a Thunder3 enclosure, have you seen/heard of anyone being successful going TB2 to TB3 on Mac side of the house?  The implementation guide shows nobody taking this route (although, this might be due to my HDW being slightly aged)

DAILY DRIVER: ⚡cMP 2010 (ⓄⓈ:DualBoot macOS 10.13.6/Windows 2016 (1803)) | ⒸⓅⓊ:3.47GHz Xeon X5690 (x12 core)
ⓇⒶⓂ:64GB 1333MHz DDR3 | ⓈⓈⒹ:1TB SSD (LiteON 512 -x4 - RAID1) w/Marvell Raid Controller | ⒼⓅⓊ: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition
⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming

 
2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [build link]  


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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

updated my first thread with a shopping list....  I had a concern with thunderbolt adapters having issues between the various operating systems.  Think the safe play will be keeping everything on this setup TB2.

DAILY DRIVER: ⚡cMP 2010 (ⓄⓈ:DualBoot macOS 10.13.6/Windows 2016 (1803)) | ⒸⓅⓊ:3.47GHz Xeon X5690 (x12 core)
ⓇⒶⓂ:64GB 1333MHz DDR3 | ⓈⓈⒹ:1TB SSD (LiteON 512 -x4 - RAID1) w/Marvell Raid Controller | ⒼⓅⓊ: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition
⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming

 
2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [build link]  


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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Who can I PM to get this thread moved to the Implementations Section?

DAILY DRIVER: ⚡cMP 2010 (ⓄⓈ:DualBoot macOS 10.13.6/Windows 2016 (1803)) | ⒸⓅⓊ:3.47GHz Xeon X5690 (x12 core)
ⓇⒶⓂ:64GB 1333MHz DDR3 | ⓈⓈⒹ:1TB SSD (LiteON 512 -x4 - RAID1) w/Marvell Raid Controller | ⒼⓅⓊ: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition
⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming

 
2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [build link]  


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nando4
(@nando4)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 
Posted by: fireheadman

 

Who can I PM to get this thread moved to the Implementations Section?

   

Sure. If this thread becomes an Implementation Guide it can be moved there and added to the table.

eGPU Setup 1.35    •    eGPU Port Bandwidth Reference Table

 
2015 15" Dell Precision 7510 (Q M1000M) [6th,4C,H] + GTX 1080 Ti @32Gbps-M2 (ADT-Link R43SG) + Win10 1803 [build link]  


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fireheadman
(@fireheadman)
Trusted Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Thanks.

I should be assembling this hopefully tonight if the Thunder2 case arrives and hopefully getting some benchmarks and additional pictures.  I sent @itsage a PM several days ago, it may be buried in his inbox.

DAILY DRIVER: ⚡cMP 2010 (ⓄⓈ:DualBoot macOS 10.13.6/Windows 2016 (1803)) | ⒸⓅⓊ:3.47GHz Xeon X5690 (x12 core)
ⓇⒶⓂ:64GB 1333MHz DDR3 | ⓈⓈⒹ:1TB SSD (LiteON 512 -x4 - RAID1) w/Marvell Raid Controller | ⒼⓅⓊ: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI 11GB Founders Edition
⚡ Previous was MacMini 2011 w/AKiTiO Thunder2 | ⒼⓅⓊ:EVGA GTX 1060 3GB SC Gaming

 
2011 Mac Mini [2nd,2C,M] + GTX 1060 @ 10Gbps-TB1 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 & Win10 [build link]  


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