144hz Display Issues  

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kingmetal
(@kingmetal)
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Joined: 9 months ago
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March 20, 2018 4:19 pm  

I'm running an Akitio Node Pro with an Asus Strix RX480 8G and a Cable Matters 6.6ft 40Gbps cable ( https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01H5QF2TK/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apap_HNr1lzn4x8zoo)

My setup has been shockingly problem free so far. I use this setup on a 2017 touchbar MacBook Pro running macOS 10.13.3 and an HP Spectre 13" (8th gen Intel) running the latest stable Windows 10 Pro updates. 

Recently I purchased a Nixeus EDG27 144hz 1440p Freesync monitor. The monitor worked great at first in Windows, but I noticed that in DOOM I would get occasional graphical glitches. Sort of as if the monitor briefly lost connection for a moment. The screen wouldn't go fully dark or anything, just kind of blink, and I could sometime briefly see graphic corruption as it blinked back to normal. 

After further testing, in macOS the screen would glitch like this fairly regularly just browsing the OS. I'd say about once every 10 minutes or so. I couldn't force the display to do this.

Lowering the refresh rate in macOS to 120hz seems to totally cure the issue.

On macOS the internal display is on, while on Windows I disable the internal display by telling Windows to "only display on second display". 

If I plug in my VR headset along side my Nixeus monitor in Windows, I'm able to get Windows to "glitch" at the desktop at 144hz, which is cured by dropping the refresh rate down to 120hz just like macOS. 

I usually don't plug any peripherals into the Node Pro, although I do plug the headset into the second thunderbolt 3 port with an adapter (surprisingly, it works!). 

All this leads me to believe this is a bandwidth issue, which is honestly fine, but I'm looking for some confirmation from y'all. I see mention of 144hz 1440p monitors but I can't tell if people have issues with them or not with an eGPU. 

I have more testing to do!

Lastly, apparently Freesync has some issues on some monitors, so initially I thought this might be the problem, but as far as I know Freesync is not supported in macOS. I also reached out to Nixeus support and they were extremely helpful, but ultimately suspect what I suspect: bandwidth.

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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theitsage
(@itsage)
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March 20, 2018 4:39 pm  

Which cable are you using to connect the eGPU to the Nixeus EDG27 monitor?

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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Joined: 2 years ago
Posts: 831
March 20, 2018 5:07 pm  

This is a cable quality issue, not an eGPU issue. I've had the same kind of problems with my [email protected] monitor until I got a decent cable and if you google around you'll see a lot of people having that kind of issue. You should use a high quality cable to ensure it can maintain the high bitrate required for [email protected] The cables that come with monitors are often crappy, to boot. Look for one on Amazon which has reviews where people state that the cable works at [email protected], like this one.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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kingmetal
(@kingmetal)
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Joined: 9 months ago
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March 20, 2018 5:08 pm  

That would've been a great thing to include in my original post, lol. I'm currently using this cable:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078HVDMW2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I've also tried the cable that shipped with the Nixeus, and a Displayport cable I had lying around that I was previously using to drive a 4k @ 60hz display with no issues. I'm happy to try a more reputable cable, that's part of the reason I'm asking in this forum. If I'm just chasing the known limits of the system, so be it, but I'll happily keep trying to fix it if 1440p @ 144hz is a normal thing for eGPUs. 

EDIT: Just saw the reply. Apologies for not quoting, but Firefox refuses to render parts of this forum and Safari doesn't seem much better. @Yukikaze thanks for the cable recommendation, I'll happily purchase that and try it. 

So I take it that 144hz @ 1440p is totally doable?

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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theitsage
(@itsage)
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March 20, 2018 5:20 pm  

@kingmetal This may possibly be a macOS issue. I have the Samsung CHG90 which is a FreeSync 2 144Hz monitor. It does not always run at 144Hz in macOS. Same hardware would run at native resolution @ 144Hz no issue in Bootcamp.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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Yukikaze
(@yukikaze)
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March 20, 2018 5:20 pm  

Setting the refresh rate to 144Hz is definitely doable. Achieving that in games takes some serious grunt, however, but that is not your question here.

My eGPU Zoo - Link to my Implementations.
Want to output [email protected] out of an old system on the cheap? Read here.
"Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done, and why. Then do it."- Robert A. Heinlein, "Time Enough for Love."


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
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March 20, 2018 7:04 pm  

@kingmetal perhaps fiddling with the following may help on macOS - just try it for fun:

  • Turn off "Displays have separate spaces" in Mission Control settings
  • Disable internal display using DisableMonitor or SwitchResX

 

Usually these settings have affected general performance on external displays connected to eGPUs on macs - so they might be worth a try. Although can't say for sure how things are on the newer models with High Sierra, these settings have definitely helped on previous versions of macOS and older models. Regarding 1440 at 144Hz - it should definitely be possible with DP. I am running 2 displays at 4k60 each and they work fabulously on macOS and Windows. I presume that is comparable bandwidth load per port? Too lazy to do the math. But note that I'm on a Thunderbolt 2 mac. I am using a 480/580 as well, though the 4GB model. Cables have definitely caused me problems with refresh rates in the past, and following @Yukikaze's suggestions could perhaps solve your problem.

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


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kingmetal
(@kingmetal)
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March 20, 2018 8:11 pm  

Thanks @mac_editor for those tips. I'll try all that and see if things improve.

@theitsage, good to know. I know that macOS is kind early days for eGPU "out of the box", so if I hadn't experienced the issue on Windows as well I would've written it off as teething problems.

@Yukikaze thanks for confirming that my setup SHOULD work properly, that means investing time/money into testing / swapping components isn't going to be fruitless! I ordered the cable you suggested and will start there.

After the cable swap and playing with some of the settings @mac_editor suggested, if I'm still having issues I'm going to starting working with the display vendor. I'll update this thread with any useful information I find. 120hz is absolutely fine for me while I experiment, so I'm certainly not in a bad situation - I'm honestly thrilled that this works AT ALL.

Final question: most TB3 implementations split lanes across both ports, correct? I'm currently using a USB3 hub with quite a few devices on a separate port from my eGPU. Some basic experimentation with reducing the number of devices didn't seem to accomplish anything but it might be another thing to look at. Both devices have 4 lanes available. Device list:

1. Macally gigabit ethernet adapter
2. Logitech Unifying receiver (for MX Master mouse)
3. Logitech G403 receiver (for a Logitech G403. This device has a high polling rate, currently set to 500hz)
4. MOTU Ultralite AVB USB2 audio interface (48khz @ 24bit, device set to export only two inputs and two ouputs)
5. Logitech keyboard
6. Microsoft Wireless Adapter (for Xbox One controller).

It sure is lot of RF!

I've also tried moving these devices to the USB3 port on my Spectre and a port on the opposite side of the Macbook but didn't notice a difference. Since nobody has mentioned it yet, it sounds like it may not be worth pursuing until some of the basics have been covered (OS settings / cabling).

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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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
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March 20, 2018 8:19 pm  

@kingmetal I would say you should be fine with those peripherals. As far as I recall on the new MBPs, there are two thunderbolt controllers, one on each side per 2 ports. 1 eGPU -> 1 TB controller is the mapping. So technically, this makes it seem like using the opposite side (from eGPU connection) for your peripherals would be better - perhaps by an infinitesimally small amount. Of course, this is just conjecture on my part and should be taken with a grain of salt. Many others here know much better.

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


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kingmetal
(@kingmetal)
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March 20, 2018 8:58 pm  

thanks @mac_editor, that's the way I understood it! I'll keep it in mind as I test.

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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kingmetal
(@kingmetal)
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Posts: 12
March 22, 2018 4:24 am  

Update: My Accell Displayport cable showed up and it didn't resolve my issue, unfortunately. I did notice some things now that I've had some time to play with the setup:

1. In Windows, the issue occurs in some games (DOOM mostly) @ 144hz infrequently, however the issue occurs with MUCH greater frequency when my Windows Mixed Reality headset is plugged in (but "sleeping" so it is not receiving a video signal).
2. When the Windows Mixed Reality headset is plugged in, the Windows desktop exhibits the issue but does not seem to occur if the headset is fully unplugged.
3. Plugged the USB3 connector that powers the VR headset into either the TB3 port of the Node Pro or the USB3 port on the left side of the laptop doesn't appear to change anything
4. Tried changing the TB3 cable to the cable that came with the Node Pro, no change
5. With the headset plugged in,  there is no drop in 3D performance (tested with 3DMark)
6. I've noticed the flickering is YELLOW in Windows. It looks different macOS, it's almost like the display loses connection briefly, but it's decidedly yellow in Windows!
7. Because the display flashes yellow, I tried turning off Night Light in Windows. No effect.

So TLDR; issue still exists. I was having some driver issues with my MOTU audio interface so I unplugged it, but that also didn't change the situation at all. Game performance, even with the issue, seems unaffected.

My VR headset does 1440x1440 @ 90hz, which is quite a bit, but when it is "sleeping" the display is inactive as far as I know. It's really odd that the VR headset exacerbates the problem and it's the only thing that's leading me to believe that MAYBE this is not a monitor hardware issue and has something to do with the eGPU setup. I'm also wondering if macOS and Windows have SEPARATE issues, the VR headset has never been plugged into the Mac.

Due to a number of sales, I ended up getting a lot of this hardware at once, so some of this process is sorting out what changed when.

It may take me a while, but I should be able to hook my old desktop and see if I can reproduce the problem, which should at least tell me if it's the monitor or not - although I can't believe the monitor would be sensitive to whether another display is plugged in. And of course, since the issue isn't super consistent, the VR headset could absolutely be a red herring.

Luckily, 120hz is plenty fine so while I test I'm not dead in the water. This is an odd one for sure!

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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