Mac mini 2012 + Sonnet B350 + Radeon 480: streaming video issues, slow Steam downloads, & GUI lag
Hello eGPU forums!
Just wanted to tell a little tale of my experience with getting this setup up and running.
As is to be expected, performance with my RX-480 (which is recognized as an R9 XXX) in gaming is vastly improved. It's not as good as the same card used on my Windows PC (but there are many factors in that go into that) but literally generations better in terms of performance. I'm running some benchmarks now & I can post those later, but I've come to discover a few oddities with the system.
- The first of these, and most annoying, is that when I'm streaming video from any online source I use (YouTube, Facebook, Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Netflix) I have terrible performance. I've made any and all changes to my wifi & down as much troubleshooting as I can think up. The only thing that appears to make a difference is when the eGPU is connected. I can stream 4K YouTube vids without an issue without the eGPU (I have a sustained 100Mbps connection, YouTube states only 20Mbps sustained is needed). When the eGPU is connected I can barely run at 240p.
- Adding to this: I can stream the same video on YouTube on my Apple TV 4K and my Mac mini w/ eGPU and the Mac mini will perform exceptionally poorly, while the Apple TV runs just fine. My Apple TV is also physically further away from my router. This alone has convinced me that the eGPU is the culprit.
I'm not sure if these next two points are related to the eGPU but I suspect they are as, again, the issues disappear with the eGPU disconnected
- Steam downloads incredibly slowly. I mean on the order of 80Kbps, sometimes but usually hovering about 1Mbps.
- Sometimes when clicking on an object with the UI there is a .5-1 second delay before the screen appears to refresh & load whatever it is I'm using. This is in Safari, iMovie, icons on the desktop, Pages, Libre Office, and even inside of games (games that have a UI, like Civilization). Since I can't readily play games with any degree of satisfaction without the eGPU and can't be certain that slow UI responses aren't just the result of the lack of graphics hardware, I can't definitively say the slow UI in games is a result of the eGPU (I added that last part to simply state that I've noticed it). This doesn't happen very frequently but after using my Mac heavily over the weekend with my eGPU it seems to be frequent enough to make me suspicious.
- Lastly (and this isn't a UI-lag problem), the Unigine Valley benchmark crashes when I run the benchmark test. The benchmark runs absolutely fine so long as I'm running the valley scene without scores. But within a few seconds of loading the benchmark test my whole system will crash & restart; be this launching from the Valley menu or manually launching "Benchmark" once the valley scene is running.
I'm not running the 10.13.4 beta, just the full release of 10.13.3. Given the recent notice of the removal of Thunerbolt & Thunderbolt 2 support in the 10.13.4 beta I've begun to suspect that these types of performance issues are what drove Apple to remove this feature (I worked for Apple for several years as a corporate employee for their Austin, Texas office; not Apple retail). I don't know this of course, but given an inside knowledge of the thought processes that go into some of their designs I also can't rule it out.
Just some things to think about for anyone curious. Now, should I return this eGPU enclosure is the question... 🙁