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2015 15" MacBook Pro [4th,4C,H] + RX Vega 64 @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (Razer Core X) + ...
 

2015 15" MacBook Pro [4th,4C,H] + RX Vega 64 @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (Razer Core X) + macOS 10.14.2 & Win10 [rolleiflex]  

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rolleiflex
(@rolleiflex)
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

Hope this helps. This was my experience setting up a Vega 64 for my mid-2015 15 inch Macbook pro with Razer Core X. tl;dr: It... just worked.

System

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) (MacBookPro11,5)
• CPU: Intel i7-4870HQ (8) @ 2.50GHz, quad-core
• GPU: AMD Radeon R9 M370X, Intel Iris Pro
• Mac OS 10.14 Mojave

eGPU + Enclosure

Razer Core X
Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter
• Apple Thunderbolt 2 cable (2m)
• SAPPHIRE Radeon RX Vega 64 DirectX 12 21275-03-20G 8GB 2048-Bit HBM2 PCI Express 3.0 CrossFireX Support Video Card   

Mac Installation (Mac OS 10.14 Mojave)

1) Install Purge-wrangler, go through the enable AMD flow. This will enable Thunderbolt 2 bus to be used for eGPU. It will ask if you want to enable legacy AMD cards. Say no. It will then ask if you want to enable Ti82 enclosures. Say no.
2) Stick the thunderbolt cable in. It just works.

Windows Installation (Windows 10)

1) Reboot system while the Thunderbolt 2 is plugged in.
2) It just works! No error 12, no finagling needed, nothing. I just booted into my boot camp installation and it worked.

I already had the AMD drivers for my own internal dGPU, so maybe that helped? The AMD taskbar utility just started to show the Vega 64 as the GPU, and that was it.

Magic. 🙂

Benchmark with Unigine Heaven at Extreme: https://imgur.com/a/eUDvSHj

Comments

• I'm pleasantly surprised at how easy this was. I literally stuck the TB2 cable and it works. I was preparing for a major uphill battle.

• I have not tried hot swapping in Windows, but hot swap on Mac OS works. Here's the system report for the graphics: https://imgur.com/a/Yr8iReK

• I actually got this card for about $400, and my use case is likely mainly going to be machine learning. I know NVIDIA cards are better for it, but I can probably run Ubuntu on this machine and use AMDs ROCm TensorFlow: https://rocm.github.io/dl.html

• I also play some minimal amount of games: Overwatch mainly. I had been playing Fallout also, a while ago. Without the eGPU, I had actually manually changed the config files of Overwatch to drop graphics and resolution to lower levels than the game allows from settings, to make it playable. I was playing on something like 900x640, with a 30fps cap.

• After the eGPU, Overwatch runs at Ultra, at full resolution of my monitor, pinned to the refresh rate (capped to 60-70fps fixed). Holy molly.

• I also tried running Tomb Raider (2013) as a graphics test. Everything maxed out at full HD, the 'benchmark' gave 85 fps minimum and 135fps average.

• For $400, it's a steal. Fan ramp-up and ramp-down runs fine as well, the GPU and enclosure is silent when idling. I'm currently using it on Mac OS desktop and I can't hear it under the desk.

• I expect the enclosure to outlive both the GPU in it and the laptop it's connected to. It's a long term investment for future laptops I might buy and future GPUs I might add. The next laptop I buy won't need the TB3>TB2 adapter, but even as of now, it doesn't feel like anything is bottlenecking. Maybe I didn't push it hard enough yet.

• The highest temperature I saw was on Unigine Heaven benchmark, and it was about 71C. It never went above that. In other parts of the benchmark, it hovered around 62C.

• The laptop no longer spins up its fans while gaming, on Overwatch or Tomb Raider.

This topic was modified 4 months ago

Mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15 with Radeon M370X dGPU
Radeon Vega 64 eGPU via Thunderbolt 2


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jerry Kansai
(@joi_kansai)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Dgpu inside that would be off that make more cooling room inside. I don’t use my MacBook Pro for egpu setting yet since it’s old Tb port, but on my laptop with dgpu, temperature improvement is also huge. Mostly 20 degrees on cpu, of course some demanding titles are less. And using egpu setting, system noise on gaming is like day and night difference.
Here are comparison using dgpu and egpu on long gaming session playing AC Odyssey plus Shadow of the Tomb Raider which demands cpu and gpu a lot, GPU temperature is mostly on 60ish sometimes but rarely to 70ish.

36C80C04 C530 442E B2CB 94EE6ECEAF16
3FB4333B 6075 4C8F BC16 AE8A112F99A7

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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rolleiflex
(@rolleiflex)
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

Yup, it makes a *major* difference in CPU temperature, the system overall is much less stressed now. To me this is the home monitor, so I’m using eGPU thunderbolt cable as my monitor cable - whenever I come home, I plug it in and that’s it. No fuss.

The only thing that’s a little annoying is that the Thunderbolt signal only gets sent after you log into the system, so, to be able to connect, you have to lift up the lid, type in the password and then the display will start to work. I see why this is the case (thunderbolt is a raw, privileged signal with direct CPU / RAM access unlike display signal, so the computer doesn’t want to mount a thunderbolt device before the user is authorised), so I can live with that.

Mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15 with Radeon M370X dGPU
Radeon Vega 64 eGPU via Thunderbolt 2


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(@arni_lochner)
New Member
Joined: 5 months ago
 

Thanks for this post. It's really helped me and a friend. We have the EXACT same setup as you, right down to the specced up MBP Mid 2015. We're looking to buy the Razer Core X + Sapphire Nitro Vega 64 as well.

I just have a few questions:

1) Does the Thunderbolt 2 adapter bottleneck the performance at all? i.e. do you expect to see big improvements when using a Thunderbolt 3 (one of the new MBP's)?
2) I've heard the card is loud. Is this true or does the enclosure keep it sufficiently cool enough to keep it quiet?
3) I've got a Samsung 34" Ultrawide Freesync Monitor. Do you foresee any problems with using the Freesync feature going through an eGPU?
4) I think the required PSU for the Vega 64 is 750W. But the Razer Core has a 500W PSU. I assume it's ok to power the GPU as it's not powering anything else but the GPU?
5) We would mainly be playing CS:GO. You wouldn't happen to have any performance benchmarks for this game would you?
6) They've just announced new MBP's yesterday. You thinking of upgrading? Or you going to wait until next year? Not sure whether to hang onto our (specced up) Mid-2015's as they still do a very good job.

Sorry for all the questions! Hope you can help. Thanks again.

This post was modified 5 months ago

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


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rolleiflex
(@rolleiflex)
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

1) Does the Thunderbolt 2 adapter bottleneck the performance at all? i.e. do you expect to see big improvements when using a Thunderbolt 3 (one of the new MBP 's)?

Theoretically speaking, yes, in practice, I haven't had performance problems. The issues I had was more in the vein of, when you update the OS, the patch is gone, and you have to re-apply. And other things: it makes it quite hard to disconnect the eGPU and take your laptop out, it's not like USB eject. You have to actually wait for all apps that use the eGPU too quit. Which is, basically all apps on OS X, and some apps fail to quit properly for eGPU eject, since it's still a very rare situation. In Windows you can't even eject, you have to restart. That makes it incredibly inconvenient to grab your laptop and go. So you'd have to maintain to cables, one that goes into your monitor without eGPU for the times you just need a display for work, and one that goes through eGPU where you sit down for gaming. It sounds like it's a small thing but in the end the combined experience was death by a thousand cuts. None of this is specific to Thunderbolt 2 BTW except the patch. 

But maybe the reason Apple disabled Thunderbolt 2 from eGPU is because of this experience issue? I don't know. 

2) I've heard the card is loud. Is this true or does the enclosure keep it sufficiently cool enough to keep it quiet?

The enclosure has so much venting it's basically open air. Don't worry about that. 

3) I've got a Samsung 34" Ultrawide Freesync Monitor. Do you foresee any problems with using the Freesync feature going through an eGPU?

No idea, I don't have a freesync monitor. I don't have any reason to believe it would or would not work. 

4) I think the required PSU for the Vega 64 is 750W. But the Razer Core has a 500W PSU. I assume it's ok to power the GPU as it's not powering anything else but the GPU?

750W PSU recommended for Vega is for the whole system. Razer Core has 500W PSU *only for your graphics card*. In other words Core X could probably feed 1.5 or 2 Vega 64s under full load if it had two slots. Don't worry about that. 

5) We would mainly be playing CS:GO. You wouldn't happen to have any performance benchmarks for this game would you?

Nope, but I did play the game, I had some frame latency issues in it, inexplicably. As in, I'd get super high FPS most of the time, but sometimes it just kind of choked for 300-400ms. I haven't had it in any other games. This might be somewhat related to Thunderbolt 2 bottleneck since the higher the FPS gets, the more bandwidth it uses, and CS:GO being an old game, it gets very high FPS rates. 

6) They've just announced new MBP 's yesterday. You thinking of upgrading? Or you going to wait until next year? Not sure whether to hang onto our (specced up) Mid-2015's as they still do a very good job.

No I am not. I'll be waiting for the next generation OLED 16 inch one, coming in 2020. Hopefully it will lack a touch bar and will have actual USB A ports.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2019/05/23/apple-macbook-pro-16-inch-samsung-oled-display-new-leak-rumor/#40c390663d50

If they don't I'm expecting to keep this one indefinitely by replacing the motherboard inside as needed. Like yours, mine is also maxed out as well.  You have no reason to upgrade, the processors inside the current latest gen macbook pros are only about 15% faster than top of the line 2015 except the 8 core one, and that one is going to be so thermally constrained that it can probably work at peak performance for about 10-15 seconds until it gets temperature throttled. 

In the end, I ended up building an AMD Ryzen 7 PC and used the Vega card as its main graphics card. I'm running Mac OS on it. It was too much of a hassle to deal with, but not because of anything Thunderbolt 2. It's just that eGPUs are still internal hardware that definitely don't like being 'removed' from a live system. In the end if you're OK with some fiddling it works beautifully, but the reason I have a Mac is that I don't want to do that, having spent two decades doing the fiddling on PC platforms. 

 

 

This post was modified 5 months ago

Mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15 with Radeon M370X dGPU
Radeon Vega 64 eGPU via Thunderbolt 2


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(@arni_lochner)
New Member
Joined: 5 months ago
 

Thanks for your response. I think I’ve read enough to take the leap. “Ejecting” the eGPU isn’t an issue. The laptop stays on my desktop 99% of the time bar the odd meeting. And I would likely just shut it down and then pull the cable out at that point. Hope that would be ok, and that the Mac knows to fall back on the onboard GPU?

I’m not totally reassured from what you said about the performance of CSGO. But my friend who has the same spec is using the crappy on board Radeon, so I imagine that a bottlenecked Vega 64 would still be better than what he’s got. He gets max FPS of about 50. 

I have a separate PC but it’s quite old and running a GTX 760 and a Dual Core i3. It runs CSGO fine but I’m hoping the eGPU runs better especially as I’ll be able to take advantage of my monitor’s Freesync feature which apparently gives a massive performance boost. 

If nothing else, at least we’ll be future proofed for the new Macs. Thanks again for your help.

This post was modified 5 months ago

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


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rolleiflex
(@rolleiflex)
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

> Hope that would be ok, and that the Mac knows to fall back on the onboard GPU?

Heads up I had some issues with that. It might have been my display or something else in my system but one of the more annoying things in the thing was that I would properly eject the GPU and then take my laptop, and then open the laptop up and the internal laptop screen wouldn't come online. The best way to get things to work was that I would fully shut the system down on the eGPU, remove the GPU and boot back up. That way it generally worked, but only if you boot to Mac OS. If you try to boot into Boot Camp Windows install, you needed to boot back into OS X, shut it down again, and then boot into boot camp or something like that. 

It also glitched in weird ways as you can guess from above but I'm not sure how much this thing is specific to Thunderbolt 2 hack and how much of it is just general eGPU flakiness. I imagined it would be like connecting a display and it would get things working in a couple seconds after a connection and it'd go on normally from there. It's not like that all. When you eject, the whole thing behaves more like you just tried to lob a limb off someone without anaesthesia. So long as you keep the thing plugged and don't remove it everything is fine. When you start to use it as more like an extension of the external monitor you have and plug in and out daily (my work computer is also my personal computer) then that gets sketchy. 

I still do think eGPUs are a good value considering they can convert your portable machine to a full blown powerhouse, and the parts used are future proof, Razer Core X is Thunderbolt 3 so you can use it in pretty much any computer you might have from now on, and whatever GPU you get is also usable in any other PC as well. So even if I'm not using the setup any more, I'm still using all the parts, so it wasn't a loss for me. I'll probably wait until I get a natively supported Thunderbolt 3 laptop before trying again, though. 

In short, best of luck, the combination definitely works as long as you don't plug and unplug too often, but even if you do, Vega 64 is still a very good GPU, Core X is still a great (if not the best) enclosure you can buy, and the interface is a standard that's going to be around for a while, so whatever you buy will still be useful for the next computer you have. You might want to consider sticking the Vega 64 into your PC and getting the best CPU you can get to replace that i3 though, that might be less headache inducing. Can't deny eGPU is cooler than that though. 

This post was modified 5 months ago

Mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15 with Radeon M370X dGPU
Radeon Vega 64 eGPU via Thunderbolt 2


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Piperx10
(@piperx10)
Active Member
Joined: 2 months ago
 

Hi, I have the exact same setup. I only have a problem with error 12 in bootcamp. Is your setup still working fine with no problems?? and did u install the amd drivers from official website or from bootcampdrivers.com? I guess you are using an external monitor and your internal display is not showing anything right?

Mid 2015 15-inch Macbook Pro, Razer Core X, Sapphire Vega 64 Nitro+


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rolleiflex
(@rolleiflex)
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

@piperx10

Yeah, that was the issue that got me to stop this — boot camp is weird, but so long as you keep using the external display and egpu it is fine. I used the official amd drivers.

The issue for me was that having this setup essentially made my boot camp unable to be used *without* an egpu, so I wasn't able to boot into boot camp while on the go, just when I have egpu + display. 

I think if you plan accordingly, you can convert your boot camp to the old non-egpu driver and then that would work, but I don't think it's possible to have a boot camp that works with both egpu and non-egpu seamlessly. Since I've got my bootcamp to egpu then removed my egpu setup (I'm using my card in an actual PC I built now), my bootcamp crashes on boot. I can only use it through virtualbox as a virtual machine on the Mac. 

Mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15 with Radeon M370X dGPU
Radeon Vega 64 eGPU via Thunderbolt 2


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Piperx10
(@piperx10)
Active Member
Joined: 2 months ago
 

@rolleiflex

Sad to hear this 🙁  . Thanks for the reply though, i'll look for some other ways to overcome this.

Mid 2015 15-inch Macbook Pro, Razer Core X, Sapphire Vega 64 Nitro+


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rolleiflex
(@rolleiflex)
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

@piperx10

Yes, I thought if eGPU didn't work, it would not work because I had a thunderbolt 2 instead of 3, which is unsupported. Instead, what happened is that it did work, and it did work fine — it's just that the idea of what is essentially an internal component (GPU) being detachable is foreign to operating systems. When Windows grabs hold of an eGPU, it just thinks it's a GPU, it doesn't really understand that it will be removed in the future, and that it can't expect it to be present in all boots from that point on. 

In the end, egpu worked fine and it did what it should, it was just too inconvenient. If you want your laptop stationary, yes, then that does make sense, but then you can probably just get a regular PC or Mac for a much cheaper price, with much better thermals (i.e. fan not growling at you all the time) and with higher RAM.

I think eGPUs are great for making old style trash can Mac Pros live longer since their GPUs are super old but processors are good. For Macbook Pros, it removes a bottleneck, but you're still bottlenecked by other things like thermals, and you lose a big part of what makes a laptop a laptop, portability. (Though you only use your boot camp at home, you're fine). For iMacs, the fact that you have to re-route the video signal into the embedded display takes 30% performance hit, which, with the performance hit of the egpu setup, probably brings your new GPU to the level of the old one inside your iMac. For the new Mac Pros, you can just stick the card in and you're good. 

In short, good idea in theory, but OSes really don't seem to like their internal components torn off while they're live. 

Mid-2015 MacBook Pro 15 with Radeon M370X dGPU
Radeon Vega 64 eGPU via Thunderbolt 2


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