Purchasing new eGPU Setup for Mac
Just looking for some advice. I am a Mac user, currently 15" 2018 MBP running Catalina (10.15.2). Due to some extra untaxed income this year, I need to spend a little before 12/31, and decided maybe an eGPU setup would be a nice upgrade, but I don't have a lot of time to do research, so figured this was a great place to start.
My initial thought is:
- Enclosure: Razer Core X Chroma
- Monitor: Dell 38" LEDMonitor (U3818DW) or the LG 34'' UltraWide 5K2K (34WK95U-W)
- Video Card: Undecided
I currently have the LG Ultrafine 5K monitor, but from what I can tell, I would only be able to use the BlackMagic eGPU seamlessly, as it looks to be the only one that has two Thunderbolt (passthrough) ports. The thought of purchasing an eGPU that was un-upgradable down the road is a little crazy though, so I would rather get a different monitor if that is the case. I also wouldn't mind a larger screen, as I often have a lot of desktops / windows / VMs running (via Parallels).
I also liked the thought of the LG 34" 5K2K UltraWide, especially with HDR support, I guess this one comes down to personal preference. But if anyone who has used both of these monitors has any feedback, I would love to hear it.
Next up is video card. As it stands, I guess I want to go with the most bang for the buck at the higher end, that is natively supported by macOS Catalina. So that means AMD obviously, but this part gets a little confusing. I don't need to worry about bootcamp, I run Windows, but always through Parallels, although if Parallels can use the eGPU setup, all the better.
I guess my main questions are:
- Do my assumptions make sense above, am I choosing correctly?
- Of the two monitors or feel free to suggest an alternative, but these two seem to make the most sense. But again, I'm used to spending weeks / or a month to make decisions like this, so turning to the experts for advice.
- Is buying a monitor without HDR crazy in almost 2020?
- Video Card... what would be the best option? This is mostly for macOS gaming, Steam, etc.
Thanks for any feedback / help!
1. I have a Razer X having seen the Chroma am not sure I would spend the extra money for 4 USB 3.1 Cards a C to A 3.1 Hub is relatively cheap and I no longer have many USB A ports
2. Definitely buy a displayport or HDMI monitor as otherwise there won't be any acceleration from the Razer. Get a Display HDR monitor if you are into gaming the new 500 standard I reckon is sufficient. So I would not buy the Dell, LG with HDR 600 seems interesting
3. I have a Vega 64. Whatever card you use to drive the external display you just have to make sure is compatible with apple specifications and the enclosure. In catalina there is also support for the 5700 XT series of which the anniversary edition has faster benchmark than the vega 64 but then is all marginal
I enjoy using my PowerColor AXRX 5700 XT 8GBD6-3DH card inside the PowerColor Gaming Station enclosure. It’s a very quiet combo, even when the graphics card is working at 100% of its capacity.
How much do you need to spend?
If you can get away with it, go for the Radeon Pro WX 9100. It's very expensive, but it would be the most powerful AMD card you could throw in there if I'm not mistaken.
If not, go with the Vega 64.
And I would highly recommend installing Windows via Boot Camp. If you're gonna be doing gaming, macOS is going to disappoint you pretty quickly.
I would say $2000 - $2200 total for the setup at most. The LG 5K2K is about $1200 or so, and the enclosure is $300-$400, so that leaves around $500$ - $600 for the graphics card.
You recommend the Vega 64 over the 5700 RT?
Ok, so the WX 9100 is definitely out then.
I only have a Vega 64, so I can't speak to the performance of the other cards. That being said, it seems like the 5700 XT or the Radeon VII would make the most sense and it'll just come down to what your budget permits.
@danseals LG 34” UltraWide 5K2K (34WK95U-W) is $879 at MicroCenter which you can price-match with Best Buy. I got one during Black Friday and it’s a great monitor. The rest of your budget could be spent on Razer Core X Chroma and Radeon W5700 which has USB-C monitor output.
Thanks for the Microcenter tip, I'll definitely be getting them to price match at Best Buy. I decided to go with the PowerColor Red Devil Radeon RX 5700XT.
I now have an issue where directly connected to the monitor, things seem to work correctly, but running through the eGPU, I have some troubles. Maybe this is a normal issue? Here are some quick screenshots:
Directly connected to UltraWide 5K2K (34WK95U-W)
Looking at how to add an image to the forum... I might be crazy, but I can't seem to figure out how to add an image to my post.
Essentially, when directly connected to the monitor via TB3, it reports in About this Mac -> Displays "LG HDR 5K Display 34-inch (5120 x 2160) Radeon Pro 560X 4GB graphics" and I get native support in Display Preferences to select Scaled, and I can choose "Looks like 3360 x 1417" and text looks great.
When connected through the Razer X Chroma, it reports in About this Mac -> Displays "LG HDR 5K Display 34-inch (3440 x 1440) Radeon RX 5700 XT 8 GB graphics" and I only have "Default for display" or Scaled, and have to choose options that make the text look terrible. So something is obviously wrong here, I am just not sure what it is.
What port(s) are you using on your 5700 XT? I'm running into an issue with DP3 on Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT 8GB in eGPU on macOS that basically forced the system to reboot. Swapping to other ports resolved the issue 100%. DP1, DP2, and HDMI all work fine and in combination. Maybe worth at least swapping ports around as an experiment.
Ok, turns out I had to do the custom plist mentioned on another post to get things working. Quick answer (from this post) for anyone that may stumble here:
- Boot into recovery mode
- Disable SIP
- Enable system files to be written
- Add custom Plist file for 34WK95U-W
- Boot into recovery mode (Optional)
- Enable SIP (Optional)
Works great now! Currently (3840 x 1620) in HIDPI 60 Hz on macOS Catalina 10.15.2.
For some clarity for others, you can copy the exact configuration linked here without the need to add the resolutions you desire. It automatically adds a good selection.
For me, I did not realise that I could run the monitor at 3840x1620. This option is not available using a Macbook 13" 2018 with the Intel Iris Plus 655. This is most likely as the integrated graphics can barely run it at the resolution it defaults to, which is 3360x1417 (bizarre resolution!).
I feel slight buyers remorse not getting the Radeon IIV as I could have grabbed one for about $680 USD but couldn't justify the extra expense. I may change my mind over the next couple of days trying to get this thing to play games in Bootcamp!