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MBP Mid 2015 (M370X) + Asus XG Station Pro + Asus Vega 56 STRIX (macOS 10.13.4 &...
 

MBP Mid 2015 (M370X) + Asus XG Station Pro + Asus Vega 56 STRIX (macOS 10.13.4 & Windows 10)  

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Halbertus
(@halbertus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Recently I decided to give eGPU another go. I have been following the discussions for quite some time and feel excited about the rising support and the great effort  users of this community add up.

I am thinking of a new build consisting of:

  • MBP Mid 2015 (M370X) ( Thunderbolt 2) | Mac Pro 2013 D300 (Thunderbolt 2)
  • ASUS XG Station Pro
  • ASUS ROG-STRIX-RXVEGA56-O8G-GAMING
  • Apple Thunderbolt 2/3 Adapter
  • Apple Thunderbolt 2 Cable
  • Dell UP 2715K (external monitor)

Software requirements:
macOS: PurgeWrangler to enable Thunderbolt 2 for eGPU
macOS: Change sleep mode, try avoiding hibernation to prevent computer from crash

What do you think? Would this work in macOS and Windows (Bootcamp)?

Why I chose these parts:

Computers: I think the MacBook Pro (2015) is still the best MacBook you can get. I can not get used to the new keyboards and I really do not like the Touch Bar on the newer models. The only area where I feel missing out on new capabilities is with GPU. Also I do own a Mac Pro 6,1 which still is a great computer in my mind. Often people complain about its limited abilities to upgrade components. I feel this is only partly true. I have upgraded SSD, RAM and CPU already and plan to do so in the near future. The only component I feel stuck with is the pair of old D300s that are unfortunately not upgradeable.
All in all this means I will stick to my "old" computers for some time, which both offer only TB2 unfortunately.

Operating Systems: I have 10+ years of experience using macOS. I really like to use its features in graphic/UI design and am used to a very specific bundle of software that I can not get on Windows. On the other hand it seems macOS development has not been a high priority for Apple in the recent time. Important features are clearly lacking behind. Metal 2 is still not capable enough, VR and DirectX driven games/applications offer a lot more performance when running in windows environment, than in macOS. (Most of the times there is not even a proper macOS equivalent)

Enclosures: I care for a quiet setup a lot. The XG Station Pro is designed for low noise with its standard cooling profile. While it is possible to change fan speeds when using the software provided by ASUS you can not apply any changes in macOS (as there is no application available from ASUS). With the Gigabyte RX580 Gaming Box I was getting constant noise from its PSU fans, which bugged me a lot. A low noise default profile is a very important argument for my scenario. Also I have only very limited space on my desktop, so physical dimensions also matter. This narrows down my choice quite considerably. Bonus: The TB3 chip on the XG Station Pro should be able to work in conjunction with any future TB3 equipped computer I might get.

Graphics card: I am going with AMD because of the native driver support by macOS. As the new iMac Pro ist running on Vega cards I am hoping for continued/improved support in applications. The compute power of the Vega 56 should translate to considerable performance gains (even when slowed down a little by the throughput of TB2). The ASUS STRIX variant is advertised as completely silent (fans turning off) when there is no load on its compute units. As I spend 80% of my time running macOS I would rather use a GPU that does not rely on kind of niche market driver support.

I have had a few eGPU setups before:
MBP Mid 2015 + Gigabyte Gaming Box RX 580: Worked fine in macOS, but saw very little performance gains (compared to Mac Pro). Constant noise from the built in fans and the PSU. Could not get it recognized properly in Windows 10
Mac Pro 6,1 + Gigabyte Gaming Box RX 580: same as above
MBP Mid 2015 + Bizon Box (Akitio Thunder 2) + EVGA GTX 980: Did not work reliable at the time. (2016) I dit not see huge performance gains in macOS desktop and ran into a lot of issues because of limited quality of the Nvidia macOS drivers. In MST mode (required by my monitor) there is a bug with the cursor not being displayed correctly. This has been reported over 2 years ago. Still no change. Although the EVGA GTX980 had great potential in Bootcamp and was very quiet (fans not even spinning up in 2D)

UPDATE:
I was able to set up the eGPU on macOS connected to my Mac Pro 2013 and MBP Mid 2015. Both systems are seeing heavy performance gains, although the MacBook suffers from crashing when not being used. I tried disabling Hibernation using the provided option in purge-wrangler script. This does unfortunately not fix the issue for me.
On Mac Pro 2013 the eGPU works very stable, wake from sleep and vnc remote access work perfectly fine.
The great thing about XG Station Pro and the ASUS VEGA 56 is that when not under load both components remain completely silent. Although this is quite expensive this setup is close to perfect for now.
While bit pricy The XG Station pro is a very solid, high quality enclosure by function, design and material.

xg enclosure
desktop
valley external
systemprofiler
luxmark
geekbench
about

MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015 w/ AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Mac Pro 2013 D300 + ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS ROG VEGA 56
[email protected] Dell UP2715K


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Noble Member Moderator
Joined: 2 years ago
 

So right about macOS development (in your OS section). I really wanna see Apple do better there. 

Anyway, since you’ve already gotten the 580 to work, you should be fine with a Vega on macOS. Windows, you may encounter error 12 (or some other), but that’s well-documented as well. 

I’m surprised to hear that you didn’t see major performance gains with a 580, at least over the 370X. What were you using for measure (game, benchmark, etc.)?

purge-wrangler.shpurge-nvda.shset-eGPU.shautomate-eGPU EFI Installer
2018 MacBook Pro 15" RP560X + Vega 64 [Sonnet Breakaway 350 -> 600W]


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Halbertus
(@halbertus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Thanks for the feedback, in the  part concerning performance gains I was referring to a comparison with the Mac Pro and it's dual D300 I also own.
In synthetic benchmarks, like Geekbench I got about 30% more performance, but in real world usage e.g. playback performance in Premiere Pro and UI Performance of InDesign with heavy files have been worse than the D300s.

When comparing graphics performance I was getting a lot better FPS when running Unigine Heaven/Valley or Rise of the Tomb Raider with D300 only on Windows 10, than when running same applications on macOS with RX 580. Unfortunately I was not able to boot into Windows 10 for comparison, when the RX 580 was connected.

In short: I could gain the same performance of  investing in the RX 580, if only switching to Bootcamp for graphically intense work/entertainment.

MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015 w/ AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Mac Pro 2013 D300 + ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS ROG VEGA 56
[email protected] Dell UP2715K


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Halbertus
(@halbertus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Updated first Post with pictures and my first impressions.
No luck with Windows as of yet.

MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015 w/ AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Mac Pro 2013 D300 + ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS ROG VEGA 56
[email protected] Dell UP2715K


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pytrys
(@pytrys)
New Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

Hi,

I have at home both Gigabyte Gaming Box RX580 and ASUS XG Station + ASUS RX580. I have tested both for our Apple magazine with borrowed MacBook Pro 13" 2017, base model, Core i5 2,3 GHz, 8 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD.

My own computer is MacBook Pro 15" 2015 Core i7 2,5 GHz, 16 GB RAM and 512 SSD. I was thinking about buying all stuff necessary (adapters and cables) to test it out with an eGPU.

My primary focus (surprise) is gaming, because my main section in the magazine is gaming and programming.

Will I see some gains with MBP15 2015 + eGPU against combo MBP13 2017 + eGPU?

I know there will be some extra toying and maintaining, but currently I think the game performance is limited by Core i5 CPU of MacBook 13" and I hope that Core i7 Quad (although older architecture) can actually mean some FPS gains in games like Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Currently I had these results, which I consider not bad for a base model MacBook Pro 13:

macOS 10.13.5, Rise of the Tomb Raider 1920x0180, High preset, SSAA 4x - avg fps around 40

So I wonder if a new combo gets it even better...

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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Locky28
(@locky28)
Eminent Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

Good post @Halbertus thank you. All of your justifications for parts are pretty much in line with my own so I'm glad to hear you're happy with it!

A couple of questions:

  1. ASUS advertise one benefit of having a STRIX card in the XGS Pro is that you can connect the enclosures two fans to the Fan Connect header on the card, do you know if you were able to do this with your setup? I understand the XGS fans are managed pretty well already but I thought this sounded like a cool feature.
  2. Are you able to disable the lights on the Card/XGS? As I understand this can only be done in Windows only software.
  3. Any thoughts on updating firmware? Updater tools again look to be Windows only.

late-2016 13" Macbook Pro Non-TouchBar + RX580 [email protected] (ASUS XG Station Pro) + macOS 10.13.5
Dell U2715H - Samsung T5 External SSD 500GB


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Halbertus
(@halbertus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Hi Locky28, thanks for your feedback!

1. Where did you read that advertisement? I don't think that you are supposed to connect the enclosures fans of the xg station pro to the fan headers of the graphics card. There is a 0db mode for the enclosure and also for the STRIX GPU, meaning you will have zero noise when in 2D environment. I can not see how one could improve on this. I mean, if there is load on the gnu it will produce heat nd I prefer my eGPU to run it's fans when it's physically necessary.
You do not need to set any custom fan profile in order to achieve a silent setup for work. silent mode is enabled in default firmware.
2. To change colour /disable the lights on graphics card and enclosure you need to run ASUS AURA software on windows. While you can change colour and lightning patterns - which will be saved even when witching back to macOS or powering off the device, it will not save when you disable the LED completely. In this case it will light up default mode next time you boot.
3. You are right, so far updating firmbare  works in windows only. I do not have any need to update though, everything works fine, my firmware is: 29,1

MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015 w/ AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Mac Pro 2013 D300 + ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS ROG VEGA 56
[email protected] Dell UP2715K


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Halbertus
(@halbertus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: pytrys

Hi,

I have at home both Gigabyte Gaming Box RX580 and ASUS XG Station + ASUS RX580. I have tested both for our Apple magazine with borrowed MacBook Pro 13" 2017, base model, Core i5 2,3 GHz, 8 GB RAM and 128 GB SSD.

My own computer is MacBook Pro 15" 2015 Core i7 2,5 GHz, 16 GB RAM and 512 SSD. I was thinking about buying all stuff necessary (adapters and cables) to test it out with an eGPU.

My primary focus (surprise) is gaming, because my main section in the magazine is gaming and programming.

Will I see some gains with MBP15 2015 + eGPU against combo MBP13 2017 + eGPU?

I know there will be some extra toying and maintaining, but currently I think the game performance is limited by Core i5 CPU of MacBook 13" and I hope that Core i7 Quad (although older architecture) can actually mean some FPS gains in games like Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Currently I had these results, which I consider not bad for a base model MacBook Pro 13:

macOS 10.13.5, Rise of the Tomb Raider 1920x0180, High preset, SSAA 4x - avg fps around 40

So I wonder if a new combo gets it even better...

This is difficult to judge. While you will get double the cores and noticeably more CPU power with the i7 MBP you will loose bandwidth on your eGPU graphics cards going from TB3 to TB2.
I guess it depends on how cpu intense your game is.
From my experience most games will not benefit a lot from more CPU power, GPU is more important.

Why not try for your self an report? 🙂  Running purge-wrangler script is really easy! You can have it up an running in minutes.

Concerning Rise of the Tomb Raider I am getting great performance, no stutters on macOS @ 2560x1440 on high settings.
You can get even better when running windows in bootcamp. smooth  3840*2160 is definately  possible.

MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015 w/ AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Mac Pro 2013 D300 + ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS ROG VEGA 56
[email protected] Dell UP2715K


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pytrys
(@pytrys)
New Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

So I did and bought these Adapters (Thunderbolt 3 -> Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt cable). 

Works nice! Performace is good (but very similar to MBP 13" 2017 base mode, just slightly better). However it is not only about the FPS. MBP 13" 2017 Core i5 CPU was busy 90 % when playing Rise of the Tomb Raider meanwhile MBP 15" 2015 Core i7 is most of the time "relaxing" at 20-25 %. And this is huge difference.

But based on this, I have decided to contact my ASUS PR manager and will buy this enclosure (as I am happy to have journalist discount).

I haven't found out how to add pictures so at least here is my Tweet with the photo ... https://twitter.com/petrskuta/status/1007704295461064705

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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Locky28
(@locky28)
Eminent Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

The fans are standard four-pin models, so they can also be plugged directly into Strix cards with FanConnect headers. While fan speeds are normally dictated by a thermal diode on the XG Station Pro’s circuit board, FanConnect lets them react directly to the GPU temperature for more responsive cooling.

http://edgeup.asus.com/2018/introducing-xg-station-pro-thunderbolt-3-external-graphics-dock-turns-professional/

late-2016 13" Macbook Pro Non-TouchBar + RX580 [email protected] (ASUS XG Station Pro) + macOS 10.13.5
Dell U2715H - Samsung T5 External SSD 500GB


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Locky28
(@locky28)
Eminent Member
Joined: 1 year ago
 

This edit window won't let me add text outside of the blockquote :/

That's the link above. I agree that the thermal management in the enclosure sounds great, I just thought this was a cool feature!

My XG Station has arrived in Aus so should be here in the next couple of days for me to test out for myself   😮

late-2016 13" Macbook Pro Non-TouchBar + RX580 [email protected] (ASUS XG Station Pro) + macOS 10.13.5
Dell U2715H - Samsung T5 External SSD 500GB


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Halbertus
(@halbertus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 
Posted by: Locky28

The fans are standard four-pin models, so they can also be plugged directly into Strix cards with FanConnect headers. While fan speeds are normally dictated by a thermal diode on the XG Station Pro’s circuit board, FanConnect lets them react directly to the GPU temperature for more responsive cooling.

http://edgeup.asus.com/2018/introducing-xg-station-pro-thunderbolt-3-external-graphics-dock-turns-professional/

That sounds quite interesting! Please report back you findings. I am still very happy with my XG Station, hope you will enjoy it too!

Quick report on windows compatibility:
Today I have updated purge-wrangler script from 3.0.2 to 3.1.0 on my MacBook Mid 2015, booted into windows, eGPU was not recognized. Than I updated windows, had to reboot and surprisingly my external monitor connected to the Vega 56 in XG Station lighted up!
I played a few minutes of Rise of the Tomb Raider in 5120*2880, restarted several times while constantly being connected to lower thunderbolt 2 port. It seems to work kind of reliably now! Screen was always showing up.

Will try same procedure on Mac Pro next.

MacBook Pro 15" Mid 2015 w/ AMD Radeon R9 M370X
Mac Pro 2013 D300 + ASUS XG Station Pro + ASUS ROG VEGA 56
[email protected] Dell UP2715K


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Whitesnake
(@whitesnake)
Active Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

Hey Locky, how is your Asus setup doing?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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Macbain80
(@macbain80)
New Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

Yes, any update? This is EXACTLY the combo I'm looking at having...

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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cjay22
(@cjay22)
New Member
Joined: 9 months ago
 

I, too, am considering the Asus XG Station Pro + Radeon Vega 56 and would love to hear an update

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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