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Mid 2018 13" MacBook Pro + RX Vega [email protected] (Sapphire Gearbox) + macOS 10.4.2 & W10 1803 [theitsage]  

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theitsage
(@itsage)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 3680
December 11, 2018 5:33 pm  

Following the Sapphire Gearbox unboxing, I'm testing this eGFX with different systems in macOS and Windows for a full review. This eGPU enclosure is more compact than it looks in photos. It uses the exact same 500W fATX power supply as the Razer Core V2. This means two tiny 40mm cooling fans producing high pitch noise. The length is also limited so reference-cooler GPUs are recommended.

 

System specs:

2018 13" QC MacBook Pro - i5-8259U/Iris Plus Graphics 655 iGPU/8GB RAM/512GB SSD

 

eGPU hardware:

Sapphire Gearbox + Radeon RX Vega 56 + .5m Thunderbolt 3 cable

 

Hardware pictures:

 

Installation steps:

All components in this build have native eGPU support in macOS so it was plug-and-play. One thing I learned is the H2D issue with the Sapphire GearBox firmware. I've been trying to reach Sapphire to inquire about firmware updates. 

In Windows Boot Camp, I disabled the PCIe x1 Root Port #3 - 9DBA that connects to the Wireless card. Combined with @goalque's automate-eGPU EFI I could use the RX Vega 56 eGPU with XConnect for internal display acceleration. Below are the step by step process:

  • Boot into Recovery mode to disable SIP through Terminal. Open Startup Security Utility to set Secure Boot to No Security and External Boot to Allow booting from external media [in Option Boot]
  • Download Windows 10 ISO and install through Boot Camp Assistant [in macOS and Windows]
  • Complete Boot Camp driver installation then open Device Manager to disable PCI Express Root Port #3 - 9DB4 (to wireless card) [in Windows]
  • Download and copy automate-eGPU EFI onto an external USB FAT drive [in macOS]
  • Connect eGPU to the left Thunderbolt 3 port closest to display hinge then hit POWER button [Computer off]
  • Select to boot EFI volume then hit [q] and choose Windows [in Boot Selector]
  • Wait for Windows to complete booting and open Device Manager to verify there's a second Display Adapter. [in Windows]
  • Proceed to download and install latest Radeon drivers then restart. [in Windows]

If all goes well, you should see AMD XConnect notification and icon. The AMD eGPU can actually work on either side Thunderbolt 3 ports. I found using the left TB3 port closest to the display hinge works most reliable. Here are screen captures of AIDA and HWiNFO.

 

Benchmarks:

I ran Unigine and 3DMark benchmarks through internal display and external monitor.

eGPU Internal FHD eGPU External FHD eGPU External QHD eGPU External 4K

 

Comments:

More choices for compact and affordable eGPU enclosures is a good thing. This Sapphire Gearbox is a less attractive Razer Core V2 but you're paying half the price. With the savings you can replace the 40mm PSU fans with quieter options. If you feel adventurous, you can paint the outer shell with a nice color.

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