iMac 21,5-inch 4K, what gear should I buy?
 
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iMac 21,5-inch 4K, what gear should I buy?  

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AleMonti
(@alemonti)
New Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

Hello, newbie here.

I've read through the Beginner's External Graphics Card Setup Guide for Mac as well as a few online articles but there's not a lot of build information about my system.

I'm running a Late 2015 21,5-inch 4K iMac equipped with an i7-5775R and 16GB of 1867MHz DDR3 ram on OS X 10.15.7 (if it proves to be worth I'll upgrade to Big Sur). I have no external monitor.

The plan is to use a TB3 box paired with a TB3 to TB2 adapter so that if I ever upgrade my computer I can still use it in the future, but I have no idea which card to choose.

I usually do editing work with Premiere/Photoshop, CAD on a VM, and sometimes play games. I don't need a super-powerful GPU, but something that will pair well with my system and improve general overall graphics performance.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks!

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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Mini i5
(@mini-i5)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@alemonti

Your VM software might not utilize an external graphics card.

For natively run apps, maybe try out a returnable RX 5500 XT or RX 580 for a week to gauge the performance benefit looping back to the internal display.  You’ll want an 8GB card. 

Or you might wait 2-3 months and try out the upcoming RX 6700 XT

 

2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX Vega 56 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway 650) + macOS 11.1 & Win10 [build link]  

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Nick Kay
(@nick_kay)
Eminent Member
Joined: 8 months ago
 

@mini-i5, Just curious but what makes you think the RX 6700 XT will have Mac drivers?

 

2018 i7 Mac Mini | Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550 | XFX 5700 XT 8GB


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Mini i5
(@mini-i5)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@nick_kay

In advance of upcoming drivers, Otoy (with helpful Apple engineers) has included RDNA 2 support in the latest Beta version of their pro level Octane X renderer for Mac OS Big Sur. 

The midrange and entry level RDNA 2 lineup will be rep’d in 2021. 

Price to performance ratio should be good for the 6700 XT.  

 

2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX Vega 56 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway 650) + macOS 11.1 & Win10 [build link]  

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Nick Kay
(@nick_kay)
Eminent Member
Joined: 8 months ago
 

@mini-i5, Support for the entire lineup of available consumer cards or support for one model that will be sold by Apple exclusively for the Mac Pro tower?

 

2018 i7 Mac Mini | Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550 | XFX 5700 XT 8GB


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Mini i5
(@mini-i5)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@nick_kay

The lineup. Same as with the current 5000 series.

 

2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX Vega 56 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway 650) + macOS 11.1 & Win10 [build link]  

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Nick Kay
(@nick_kay)
Eminent Member
Joined: 8 months ago
 

@mini-i5, The total RDNA lineup is supported because Apple still uses those AMD chips in their current products that they sell and will have to support for years 

I just find it really really odd that Big Sur has no trace of the RDNA2 drivers considering the timing of both launches 🤷‍♂️

 

2018 i7 Mac Mini | Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550 | XFX 5700 XT 8GB


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Mini i5
(@mini-i5)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@nick_kay

The Apple Playbook reads this way: Launch new OS first. Add Driver support for the latest and greatest AMD GPU's in the weeks to follow. 

Looking back at some points in the (Little Navi) RDNA timeline:

Apple launches Catalina 10.15.0 on October 7, 2019 without drivers for RDNA 5000 series cards. 

Apple adds RDNA 5000 series drivers a few weeks later in version 10.15.1 (released on October 29, 2019).

I set up my RX 5700 XT eGPU by November 24, 2019.

https://egpu.io/forums/mac-setup/power-color-axrx-5700-xt-8gbd6-3dh-and-powercolor-gaming-station-with-mac-mini-2018-on-catalina/

Apple intro's the 16" MBP with 5300m and 5500m dGPU options on November 13, 2019.

Apple gets around to offering the Radeon Pro W5700X in the Mac Pro the following Spring - April 15, 2020. 

Months later, Apple adds Radeon Pro 5300, 5500, 5700, 5700XT dGPU options to the iMac - August 4, 2020.

 

 

2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX Vega 56 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway 650) + macOS 11.1 & Win10 [build link]  

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AleMonti
(@alemonti)
New Member
Joined: 3 years ago
 

@mini-i5

I was browsing around for the parts and found a good deal on the RX 5700 XT. Do you think it would be worthwhile and work well with my system? Or perhaps I will be bottlenecked by the older processor and therefore it would be a better choice going with the cheaper alternatives you previously listed?

Thank you!

 

 

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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Mini i5
(@mini-i5)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@alemonti

The RX 5700 XT performs well running native apps on an external display.

I don’t run VMs but I’ve seen comments that some VM software can’t make use of an eGPU.

Also looping back to the iMac internal display takes away some percentage of the performance gain. 

That’s why I suggest a try out period, so you can determine the actual benefit. 

 

2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX Vega 56 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway 650) + macOS 11.1 & Win10 [build link]  

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