Mac mini 2018 boot problems - both Mac OS and Windows
 
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Mac mini 2018 boot problems - both Mac OS and Windows  

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MacBowtie
(@macbowtie)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 months ago
 

Hi,

I realize this is two different subjects, but I thought that maybe they're related – hence this "two in one" post.

My setup is:

  • 2018 MacMini – Mojave on external SSD; original Catalina system on internal HD (though I only use Mojave)
    19" screen attached via USB-C
  • Aikitio Node Pro – AMD 580
    27" screen attached via DisplayPort

 

Screenshot of my drives in Disk Utility:

Screenshot 2020 05 05 at 13.26.10

 

 

Problem #1:

With the eGPU disconnected, the MacMini boots fine from the external hard-drive. As soon as I'm logged in, I attach the eGPU and everything works just fine: gaming, DaVinci Resolve, etc... all good.
When I reboot WITH the eGPU connected, the boot process takes a very long time, and at some point the eGPU's fans start spinning at full speed. I can't get to the login screen and need to shut down the Mac. (The same thing happens if I boot without the 19" screen connected to USB-C). Sometimes, the eGPU fans spin briefly and then the Mac turns itself off.

I've read about the problems with MacOS updates whilst an eGPU is attached. I might have had the eGPU connected when updating to 10.14.5 – but today I updated to 10.14.6 without eGPU attached.

 

Problem #2:

I want to use Windows 10 on another external hard-drive, so I tried twice, following these setup guides:

The youtube video uses VirtualBox to install Windows 10 straight onto an external hard-drive, with an “Enable EFI” option (Minute 10:50 in the video).

Both options didn’t work (eGPU was disconnected). In both cases I ended up with an “EFI” boot drive that shows in the Startup Manager, but the MacMini would switch to Mac OS / recovery mode. And there, the Windows drive doesn't appear in the list. (I can select the Windows drive as a startup-drive from within MacOS Mojave though).
Here’s the weird thing: I can succesfully connect the Windows/EFI boot drive to my 2011 MacBook Pro, and also my 2012 MacMini – and Windows starts up perfectly. If anything, I would have thought it should be the other way round… I mean 2012 and older Macs usually want BIOS, not EFI, right? 
I also tried to daisychain the Windows drive to my Aikitio Node, but that didn't help.

I also noticed quite a few times that when I press the Option key during startup I can not always get to the Startup-Manager – even when the eGPU is disconnected. It's very intermittent:

a) external Mac SSD attached --> press Option key --> no Startup-Manager --> black screen, no Apple logo

b) external Win SSD attached --> press Option key --> Startup-Manager --> select "EFI" drive -->  Apple logo --> recovery mode

Which makes me wonder: Did I do something wrong when I first installed Mojave on my external drive?
When I first got the MacMini, the first thing I did is install Mojave on the external SSD. I vaguely remember this being not as straight-forward as I thought it would be because of file system problems, but it's been a while so can't remember exactly. I think used Carbon Copy Cloner to mirror an existing Mojave install onto my new drive. Here's the 

 

I know things would be a lot easier if I were to use the internal drive. But for various reasons, I don't like the idea of having my OS / Software / emails etc on an internal drive that can not be replaced/removed. (A friend of mine once had his MBP with soldered-on drive die on him whilst on a job. Not fun.) I mean I do use the internal drive – but only for non-essential files / temporary workfiles / Photoshop scratch-disk etc...

It'd be great if someone here could point me in the right direction.

Many thanks!!

 

2018 MacMini i7 / Mac OS Mojave / 4k iiyama screen


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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@macbowtie, The Option Boot screen not appearing consistently is something I've observed as well. Use the Startup Disk in System Preferences to bless the main boot volume so that Boot Option screen can appear.

Your 2018 Mac mini has 512GB so I would say to make use of it to minimize the headache of resource management when you pair it with an eGPU. You can either use the external SSD for Time Machine backup or assign it to be your User Directory if you're concerned about data loss. Same approach can be implemented for Windows Boot Camp too. Give Windows 100GB for example to contain the OS system files then install all games on the external SSD.

 

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX 5600 XT @ 32Gbps-TB3 (VisionTek mini eGFX) + macOS 11 & Win10 2004 [build link]  


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MacBowtie
(@macbowtie)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 months ago
 

@itsage, I hear you. And I have to admit I've been tempted at times. But for software compatibility reasons, I need to run Mojave – though I also need Catalina from time to time... it really is a tricky one, and far from ideal. Even more so that the internal drive with Catalina is now "magically" split into two drives... been using Macs for 2 decades now, but Catalina is doing my head in. Maybe I'm too oldschool for that. In my world, 1 drive should have 1 name (unless partitioned), and 1 place with files.

I might swap things around (Catalina external, Mojave internal), though I seem to remember that it's not very straightforward to downgrade an OS. (If you happen to know more about that, as well as user folders on external hard drives: Do you have some links?

 

2018 MacMini i7 / Mac OS Mojave / 4k iiyama screen


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MacBowtie
(@macbowtie)
Eminent Member
Joined: 12 months ago
 

@itsage I gave up & followed your advice. My internal drive now has Mojave installed, but the user folder is on the external 1TB SSD. Next step: install Windows/Bootcamp. (I created a separate "admin" account, so that I can remove the external hard-drive with the user folder as otherwise bootcamp setup won't work).

Maybe of interest to @mac_editor too:
After moving Mojave from the external to the internal drive, I noticed a change of startup-behaviour with my screens, which I thought would be worthwhile to share with you:

  • With Mojave on the EXTERNAL hard drive, I always had my 19" screen attached via USB-C. Upon startup, the screen would show the Apple logo and login. After login, I then connect the eGPU with 27" screen attached via DisplayPort.
  • With Mojave on the INTERNAL hard drive, and screen connected via USB-C, the Apple logo and login didn't show up. The only way to boot & login was to connect my 27" screen via the Mac Mini's HDMI port.
  • However (and this is the interesting part):
    After I installed the latest Mojave security update (the one from end of March), I could boot and login again with the screen attached to USB-C. (That screen was attached to USB-C during the system update – don't know if this has anything to do with it).

Cumbersome little machine, that MacMini. (And I still can't boot with the eGPU attached – I always have to wait until after login before I add the eGPU).

 

2018 MacMini i7 / Mac OS Mojave / 4k iiyama screen


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hans-st.
(@hans-st)
Trusted Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@macbowtie

I followed this thread with interest, because I have similar challenges.

However, the bloody Mac Mini is not more cumbersome then other Macs! 😉 

Cheers

 

Now:    2018 Mac Mini (8th,6C,B) + RX 570 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (PowerColor Mini Pro) + macOS 10.15.4 & Win10 1909
Before: 2014 Mac Mini (4th,2C,U) + GTX 1050 Ti @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (AKiTiO Node Lite) + Win10

 
2014 Mac Mini [4th,2C,U] + GTX 1050 Ti @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (PowerColor Mini Pro) + Win10 1803 [build link]  


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itsage
(@itsage)
Illustrious Member Admin
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@macbowtie, Good to hear you're making progress with your Mac mini + eGPU build in macOS. I'm not 100% sure about different issues with this Mac when an eGPU is cold plugged anymore. I have been able to boot into macOS with an eGPU through many macOS build numbers. The iGPU-connected monitor is through USB-C (ASUS MB16AC). The eGPU also has a connected monitor through DisplayPort.

The Boot Screen don't always appear on the iGPU connection but I can usually get it back by blessing the macOS boot volume through System Preferences > Startup Disk. The one feature that keeps breaking following macOS system updates is Boot Screen on the eGPU-connection. That has not worked since the first 10.15.1 build of Catalina for me.

 

external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX 5600 XT @ 32Gbps-TB3 (VisionTek mini eGFX) + macOS 11 & Win10 2004 [build link]  


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corb555
(@corb555)
Active Member
Joined: 3 months ago
 

For Problem #1, I had a Mojave Mac mini and it wouldn't boot with EGpu attached.  I upgraded to Catalina and everything seems to work fine so far except Sleep, which causes the system to hang.  Of course, Catalina is a major upgrade so you may have other application issues.

2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RP W5700 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Node Titan) + macOS 10.15.4 [build link]  

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