2018 Mac mini ITX Tower - Phanteks Evolv Shift X
Apple will release the 2019 Mac Pro on Tuesday, December 10th. For many of us, $5,999 base price is a non-starter. I had this plan to build a Mac tower myself using these components:
- 2018 Mac mini [i5-8500B, 32GB RAM, 256GB SSD]
- Phanteks Shift Evolv X ITX computer case
- FSP 550W SFX power supply
- Mantiz Venus TB3 mainboard + daughterboard
- AMD Radeon RX 5700 graphics card
- Wavelink UTE02 NVMe M.2 TB3 enclosure
- SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB NVMe drive
- 1x 200mm cooling fan
- 2x 140mm cooling fans
- Other miscellaneous cables and accessories
The idea is to insert the Mac mini inside the CPU + Motherboard compartment of the ITX case. As seen below it’s almost a perfect fit. The Phanteks Evolv Shift X was designed to have a separate compartment for the GPU which connects to the motherboard through a PCIe extension cable. This works to my advantage because I could simply route the PCIe extension cable to the eGPU board.
I/O orientation is at the top of the ITX tower. It allows easy access and cable management. The bottom compartment is where the PSU and cooling components reside. I will find a spot for the Thunderbolt 3 mainboard in this space. The R9 Fury X would exhaust hot air through the bottom where its radiator and cooling fan mounted to the case frame. There are space to mount two 140mm cooling fans vertically. I would need a USB fan controller to run them in order to cool the Mac mini better. This is what the final product would look like.
— Truong Nguyen (@theitsage) December 9, 2019
@itsage Thanks for sharing!
It'd be cool to see you include a quad nvme pcie Expansion card in this case. Something like the ASUS Hyper PCIe 3.0 X4 Expansion Card Supports 4 NVMe.
I'm not sure about the compatibility of this exact card but there's gotta be something out there that would work similarly. Would pair nicely with the R43SG-TB3.
Maybe a bit overkill but epic nonetheless.
@itsage Nice find. Would you be using some USB to PWM adapters as below?
It seems like an elegant option would to have your fans controlled by SW if possible... Unless this is just for a case fan
Really nice idea!
I guess we will see quite a few of this kind of setup like yours - there is a kickstarter with a modular design as well.
Present: 2012 Mac mini + PowerColor RX 56 Vega Nano @10Gbps-TB1 +
PowerColor eGFX Mini 180F via TB3->TB2 adapter + macOS Mojave
Great thread, I was wondering if someone will make this concept into a reality and now seeing such things made me quite excited.
@itsage can you put the Mac mini without its enclosure? So the cpu temps will definitely go down. Also, do you think that it can be put into a real sff case like Dan a4 sfx or loque ghost S1?
that Kickstarter projects looks nice also but way expensive.
@omardesu Thank you for sharing this link. I will check them out. During my test fitment of the Mantiz Venus, I realized the cooling fans could run off the fan connectors of the TB3 mainboard. If that doesn’t work well the dedicated fan controller would definitely help.
@ondert The Mac mini internal could definitely be run without the case but I like the way it sits inside with the Apple logo visible through tempered glass. I removed the plastic bottom cover, and will test different airflow arrangements. One of the option is to use a 200mm cooling fan, placed right by the bottom of the Mac mini.
CPU temp related PWM fan control should be possible to be done with my Glory Blow Hole concept I have described here a while ago: https://egpu.io/forums/gpu-monitor-peripherals/mac-mini-2018-thermal-solutions-thread/paged/2/#post-49475
The solutions runs stable at my Mac Mini since more than a year. Later (in the thread) I have posted the whole documentationen and source codes for Mac and ESP. With this you can control the fans wireless with a cheap ESP8266 over WiFI. What you will need is to change/convert from 5V to 12V and use a PWM hub (I think Phanteks has one too). Haven't tried this yet, but would be a more elegant way to be done compared to an external PWM controller without connection to the Mac.
If you need to boot your Mac mini in Windows too, I could write a small Windows Service too. Would not take more than an hour.
One thing I would suggest is to remove the plastic thing at the bottom of the Mac mini. In your Phanteks this should be no problem because the bottom is on the back and not visible. You can even think about placing another fan behind the mac mini so that it gets an improved air flow if it fits.
@megaseppl Thank you for the resources and different fan control options. I have been making measurements to see whether placing a 200mmx30mm fan between the Mac mini and GPU would work. I may have to use a different GPU so that I can place another 140mm at the base of the ITX case for air intake. That way all exhaust air comes out through the top.
This is starting to turn into something very similar to the Animaionic... at a fraction of the cost.
Parts arrived last night and I finally got everything up and running. In the end I decided to turn the Mac mini the other way so that I could install a 200mm cooling fan directly in front of the metal bottom shield. There are also two 140mm intake fans drawing air from the base of the Phanteks Evolv Shift X. The coolest thing is probably the fact that Mantiz Venus Thunderbolt 3 mainboard has 2 PWM 4-pin connectors for me to plug these fans directly without any adapters.
I’m posting on this very Mac mini ITX eGPU build. Take a look at CineBench R20 and Intel Power Gadget screen cap. I ran it for a dozen times and took the screen capture during the end of 10th run. Mac mini internal fan was going hard and the case cooling fans fed it plenty of airflow. The Evolv Shift X bottom compartment is occupied with my old iPod Nano inside an rubber case, called iBuddy. He is saying Hello World!
I ran CL!ng and Blackmagic Disk Speed Test at the same time to see throughput of both Thunderbolt 3 devices. Interestingly the TB3 NVMe drive can steal bandwidth from the TB3 eGPU even though they are connected to dedicated TB3 controllers.
More photos and details of this build coming soon.
This is crackers good on so many levels....
Nice build, and nice touch with the iPod there :p
Did you considering mounting the Mac mini components without its case? Would likely drive down the temperatures for the CPU, making it superb for higher-end 6-core Minis that throttle.
I’ve been putting the final touches on this build today. I decided to run the 2x 140mm fans off the USB-to-dual 4-Pin PWM adapter so that I control them better if needed. The i5-8500b is now idling at low 40 Celsius degrees. The cooling system helps the CPU runs at max turbo frequency, 4.10 GHz for nearly 30 seconds. This was never possible for this long with stock cooling. Given the results so far I don’t think the Mac mini‘s components need to be running without the case.
The TUL Thunderbolt 3 mainboard fits perfectly in the space next to RX 5700 GPU. Expansion I/O daughter board faces the top, same orientation as GPU ports, and Mac mini ports. I applied electrical tape to the bottom of the TB3 mainboard to make sure it’s not shorted out. There’s no mounting screws on the 200mm fan because the fan frame actually fits in the exact opening space of the motherboard + CPU compartment. RGB is an option on this fan but I left it off for now. 😀
Cable management is good inside the Phanteks Evolv Shift X. I ran the Mac mini power cable through the rear panel. Thunderbolt 3 port on Mantiz Venus mainboard is very close to Mac mini rear ports so the .5m TB3 cable was more than long enough.
Here’s a couple photos of whole setup running. I needed the ASUS USB-C portable monitor atm because recent firmware changes with macOS 10.15.2 really mess up boot option on the 2018 Mac mini. RX 5700 eGPU powered the LG HDR 5K 34″ UltraWide monitor through DisplayPort cable.
Awesome idea! Congratulations
MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD
my awesome Radeon VII eGPU
my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64