[QUESTION] eGPU vs dGPU MacBook Pro Setup
 
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MBAir10
(@mbair10)
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Hey there,

I am planning to upgrade my current laptop (MacBook Air, Late 2010) to a new MacBook Pro (13" or 15" Mid 2017) and hope to receive your valuable feedback to figure out the best performing solution using only the internal display and Win 10 (besides macOS (High) Sierra).

The two setups I am considering are the following (both with SSD 512GB, 16GB Ram):

  • Macbook Pro 15" - i7 2,9 GHz Quad‑Core with dGPU RP 560 (approx. 3.000€)
  • Macbook Pro 13" - i5 3,3 GHz Dual‑Core with TB3 eGPU RX 580 or GTX 1060 eGPU in Sonnet Case (approx. 2550€ + 300€ + 350€ = 3.200€)

Which setup do you think will perform better? Is the TB3 eGPU in the MBP 13" outperforming the internal PCIe dGPU in the MBP 15"? Does the Quad-Core in the 15" model as well as the internal dGPU compensate for the performance loss I would have because I seek to run the eGPU solely on the internal display?

I am very confident to get the eGPU running (since you guys provide the best eGPU tutorials in the world), however, from your experience, would you rather suggest to run a 'hassle free' dGPU than the possibly higher performing eGPU?

Looking forward to your responses! 


* * * Summary * * *

  • The overall (gaming) performance of the MBP 15" with dGPU RP 560 turns out to be significantly lower than the MBP 13" with eGPU RX 580/GTX 1060.
  • The superior multi-core performance of the Quad-Core of the MBP 15" will likely not compensate for the weaker graphic performance.
    In support of this, benchmarks suggest that the Dual-Core of the MBP 13" is satisfactorily utilized by modern games due to it's high single-core speeds.
  • For the choice of the eGPU card, the RX 580 should be preferred over the GTX 1060, if the goal also is to enhance performance in native macOS (High) Sierra. In addition, the AMD XConnect divers provide superior support and ease of use.  The GTX 1060 likely performs slightly better in windows (up to 15%) and might be cheaper, depending on model and availability.
  • Using a eGPU setup only with an internal display results in a 12% drop in performance under TB3 and does not hinder the setup at all.

 

* * *  Conclusion * * *

  • Overall, the MBP 13" eGPU setup is the better choice.

 

* * * Alternative solution * * * 

  • It has been suggested to buy a MBP 15" dGPU setup now and upgrade it down the line with an eGPU as this would be the ideal combination of internal (CPU) and external (GPU) performance. The MBP 15" also features the direct throughput of TB3 to the CPU via a single 4x PCIe lane.

 

* * * Remarks * * *

  • It is possible, that we will see new MBP 13" models later this year with the new Intel 8th Gen Quad-Core CPUs (4C  / 4T  or 4C / 8T). Details of these Coffee Lake CPUs will be announced later in August (21st). If Apple will adopt them within this year (as DELL, Lenovo, Acer reportedly do) is unclear. 
  • If we would see a MBP 13" Quad-Core model, it would pretty much eliminate the urge to use an MBP 15" because of multi-core performance (CPU bottlenecks).

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


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mac_editor
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I believe you will have more compute (openCL) + graphics performance on the 13" + eGPU RX 580 in a head to head comparison. On the other hand, the 15" model is an exceptional machine for its TB3-CPU implementation and 4 cores can really keep up with the eGPU to squeeze out maximum performance. So you could consider the 15" and add external graphics later if you feel you need more performance. If given a choice, I would personally choose purchasing the 15" but that's just me since I love them CPU cores ;p.

Also worth noting that eGPU 1060 is currently not possible on High Sierra.

Also, do wait for some of the other eGPU.io members' insightful thoughts on this before deciding.

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Eightarmedpet
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I made the same choices a few weeks back and went for the easiest possible set up - so 13inch MBP, Thunder3, 1050 (1060 on order) and Windows 10 only. I could get it working in 10.12.6 but it won't work in 10.13 so am not bothering.

I only use it to game and it powers the internal perfectly. It was plug and play for me, Windows even installed the correct drivers without prompting.

While I don't mind tinkering (have a Hackintosh) I didn't want to have to deal with the seemingly random issues that can come with the 15inch MBPS, I've heard of plug and play set ups and others that struggle through loads of issues, even when hardware is near identical.

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

I made the same choices a few weeks back and went for the easiest possible set up - so 13inch MBP, Thunder3, 1050 (1060 on order) and Windows 10 only. I could get it working in 10.12.6 but it won't work in 10.13 so am not bothering.

I only use it to game and it powers the internal perfectly. It was plug and play for me, Windows even installed the correct drivers without prompting.

While I don't mind tinkering (have a Hackintosh) I didn't want to have to deal with the seemingly random issues that can come with the 15inch MBPS, I've heard of plug and play set ups and others that struggle through loads of issues, even when hardware is near identical.

Looks like you (will) have pretty much the same setup that I am considering (MBP13"/Win10/1050 or 1060).

Do you mind sharing Unigine Heaven benchmarks on extreme settings running on the internal display?

How is the gaming performance? Can I expect to run for instance PUBG on 60FPS with some decent settings : ) ?

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


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maxwell87
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One thing for sure: the RP 560 will not run PUBG smoothly on decent settings at 60 fps...

https://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-Pro-560-GPU-Benchmarks-and-Specs.226608.0.html

I get 20-30 fps in PUBG with my GTX 960M dGPU (the RP 560 is slightly faster)... 

2015 15" Clevo N150RD + [email protected] (EXP GDC 9.0b) + Win10


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MBAir10
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Posted by: mac_editor

I believe you will have more compute (openCL) + graphics performance on the 13" + eGPU RX 580 in a head to head comparison.

 Okay. I would be better off with the eGPU for graphics performance but sacrifice the compute power of the quad core.

Posted by: mac_editor

On the other hand, the 15" model is an exceptional machine for its TB3-CPU implementation and 4 cores can really keep up with the eGPU to squeeze out maximum performance. So you could consider the 15" and add external graphics later if you feel you need more performance.

 In addition, the MBP 15" comes with a larger screen and larger battery while adding only about 0.4 kg in weight, which is amazing.

Posted by: mac_editor

If given a choice, I would personally choose purchasing the 15" but that's just me since I love them CPU cores ;p.

If only the MBP 13" could pack the power of a Quad-Core and maybe add the same TB3 to CPU lane as in the MBP 15". 

Actually, this is what might happen with the next Late 2017 / Early 2018 refresh, since the new 8th gen i5-8250U, which would suit the MBP 13", were recently spotted with 4C / 8T.

Link: https://www.notebookcheck.net/More-notebooks-sporting-Intel-8th-generation-CPUs-spotted-through-benchmark-listings.235784.0.html

Posted by: mac_editor

Also worth noting that eGPU 1060 is currently not possible on High Sierra.

 Good point. Do you expect the 1060 to be supported in the future? I mean, I would mostly run the eGPU with Win10 for its superior gaming performance but a (another) dream would be to just run games in Sierra : ).

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


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MBAir10
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Posted by: maxwell87

One thing for sure: the RP 560 will not run PUBG smoothly on decent settings at 60 fps...

https://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-Pro-560-GPU-Benchmarks-and-Specs.226608.0.html

I get 20-30 fps in PUBG with my GTX 960M dGPU (the RP 560 is slightly faster)... 

That's an important point you make and a major drawback for the dGPU setup. 

You run an amazing setup yourself with a 1060 connected over a M2 connection (great job there :D), so could you share how PUBG does perform on your eGPU setup?

 

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


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Eightarmedpet
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Hey buddy, sure thing. Might need to hunt out a tutorial on how to do em but happy to help. Never really done benchmarks before.

I have PUBG too, so will give it a bash this week just for you. I recently played DayZ and it ran an absolute dream.

That 8th Gen 4c chip sounds outrageous... wonder if single core performance will suffer though? Most games prefer single high cores over multiple lower clocked cores as far as I know (another factor in my decision).

 

Where are you based? I might be selling my 1050 once my 1060 arrives as I set it up as a bit of an MVP (bought it second hand) before spending serious money...

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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maxwell87
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You run an amazing setup yourself with a 1060 connected over a M2 connection (great job there :D), so could you share how PUBG does perform on your eGPU setup?

I run it very smoothly around 60 fps on high settings with shadows on very low 

2015 15" Clevo N150RD + [email protected] (EXP GDC 9.0b) + Win10


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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Hey buddy, sure thing. Might need to hunt out a tutorial on how to do em but happy to help. Never really done benchmarks before.

I have PUBG too, so will give it a bash this week just for you. I recently played DayZ and it ran an absolute dream.

Thanks, man! I am looking forward to your reply. 

Posted by: Eightarmedpet

That 8th Gen 4c chip sounds outrageous... wonder if single core performance will suffer though? Most games prefer single high cores over multiple lower clocked cores as far as I know (another factor in my decision).

 

 You're right. They might will throttle the cores because of thermal as well as battery performance. Also I can imagine that Apple will hold off to adopt 4C/8T for the MBP 13" just to preserve the gap to the more powerful 15". And even if they would adopt them, they might tax the Quad-Core because they can.

Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Where are you based? I might be selling my 1050 once my 1060 arrives as I set it up as a bit of an MVP (bought it second hand) before spending serious money...

 I live in the northern part of Europe. If I were you, I would try to sell the 1050 now whilst cards are extremely overpriced in all channels due to mining, and buy again when the market cools off in a month or two... 

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


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itsage
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I wish Apple had offered a 15" non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro with iGPU only ($1,999). That would be the best Thunderbolt 3 host for eGPU users.

Of the two setups you're considering, I'd go with the 13" + eGPU. My reason is due to your desire to run internal display in Windows 10. The iGPU-only Macs are much easier to set up and more reliable to maintain a functional eGPU.

external graphics card builds
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MBAir10
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Posted by: maxwell87

You run an amazing setup yourself with a 1060 connected over a M2 connection (great job there :D), so could you share how PUBG does perform on your eGPU setup?

I run it very smoothly around 60 fps on high settings with shadows on very low 

Sounds great. Thanks for the quick reply!

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


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Eightarmedpet
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All very good points you made in that reply! I wonder if Apple will finally roll out that new battery tech that didn't make the final test for the initial redesign. But yeah... hopefully my 1060 arrives this week and I'll put it all together and see how she fires, will play some PUBG just for you.

For what its worth, I love my 13 MBP, friends have the larger ones but I much prefer the smaller form factor and I'm not 100% convinced the extra power is needed in my use case - UI Design in Sketch, some CC, light editing work and gaming (with eGPU in Windows).

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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maxwell87
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Posted by: itsage

I wish Apple had offered a 15" non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro with iGPU only ($1,999). That would be the best Thunderbolt 3 host for eGPU users.

Of the two setups you're considering, I'd go with the 13" + eGPU. My reason is due to your desire to run internal display in Windows 10. The iGPU-only Macs are much easier to set up and more reliable to maintain a functional eGPU.

yes! Absolutely... My fav. setup would be a simple but yet powerful laptop (i7, 16GB RAM, SSD) with no dGPU and a monster eGPU... 

2015 15" Clevo N150RD + [email protected] (EXP GDC 9.0b) + Win10


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MBAir10
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Posted by: maxwell87
Posted by: itsage

I wish Apple had offered a 15" non-Touch Bar MacBook Pro with iGPU only ($1,999). That would be the best Thunderbolt 3 host for eGPU users.

Of the two setups you're considering, I'd go with the 13" + eGPU. My reason is due to your desire to run internal display in Windows 10. The iGPU-only Macs are much easier to set up and more reliable to maintain a functional eGPU.

yes! Absolutely... My fav. setup would be a simple but yet powerful laptop (i7, 16GB RAM, SSD) with no dGPU and a monster eGPU... 

Imagine how much of everyone's budget would be freed, if there was a MBP 15" with no dGPU and no TouchBar... I would easily go for a 1080 or 1080 TI in that case.

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


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mac_editor
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Posted by: MBAir10
Imagine how much of everyone's budget would be freed, if there was a MBP 15" with no dGPU and no TouchBar... I would easily go for a 1080 or 1080 TI in that case.

Imagine Apple offering that alongside an eGPU kit as a bundle == heaven.

purge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
2018 MacBook Pro 15" RP560X + RX 5700 XT (Mantiz Venus)

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro


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Eightarmedpet
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Posted by: mac_editor
Posted by: MBAir10
Imagine how much of everyone's budget would be freed, if there was a MBP 15" with no dGPU and no TouchBar... I would easily go for a 1080 or 1080 TI in that case.

Imagine Apple offering that alongside an eGPU kit as a bundle == heaven.

 

Oh stop it you...

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

All very good points you made in that reply! I wonder if Apple will finally roll out that new battery tech that didn't make the final test for the initial redesign. But yeah... hopefully my 1060 arrives this week and I'll put it all together and see how she fires, will play some PUBG just for you.

For what its worth, I love my 13 MBP, friends have the larger ones but I much prefer the smaller form factor and I'm not 100% convinced the extra power is needed in my use case - UI Design in Sketch, some CC, light editing work and gaming (with eGPU in Windows).

You have already helped be a lot. I think, I will definitely need to go with the MBP 13" with eGPU setup to realize the gaming performance.

And, as you stated, the great mobility and a sexy form factor of the 13" will help me get over the shortcomings in multi-core compute power when comparing it to the 15" beast.

I am looking forward to read your PUBG benchmarks from when your 1060 has arrived!

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mac_editor
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Posted by: MBAir10
 Good point. Do you expect the 1060 to be supported in the future? I mean, I would mostly run the eGPU with Win10 for its superior gaming performance but a (another) dream would be to just run games in Sierra : ).

Really depends, but not any time soon I don't think. There are two factors:

  • Apple is still working on AMD eGPUs and full compatibility is scheduled for Spring 2018. Can't say they can take on NVIDIA as well.
  • NVIDIA's foray into eGPUs is recent... AMD is currently an optimal choice and I presume easier to work with since they already has experience with eGPUs (XConnect) and Apple supports loads of AMD chips in their kexts.

Might want to stick to Windows for gaming.

purge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
2018 MacBook Pro 15" RP560X + RX 5700 XT (Mantiz Venus)

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro


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Eightarmedpet
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Just gave a few games a go... with the 1050.

GTA V - High @1920x1200 around 60 FPS

Fallout 4 - Medium - High " " 

PUBG Medium/Low @1920x1200 20-40 FPS (it did hit higher but stayed near 30 most the time).

EDIT: Oh totally forgot, my pal plays PUBG on his 15 and gets about the same... actually when he showed me it was even worse, 9-18 FPS @1080 but he claimed it was double that on his home network opposed to the crap work network.

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Just gave a few games a go... with the 1050.

GTA V - High @1920x1200 around 60 FPS

Fallout 4 - Medium - High " " 

PUBG Medium/Low @1920x1200 20-40 FPS (it did hit higher but stayed near 30 most the time).

That's really decent performance wise. Thanks for running all the games. I've also subscribed to your guide. Curious to read if you post updates!

Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Oh totally forgot, my pal plays PUBG on his 15 and gets about the same... actually when he showed me it was even worse, 9-18 FPS @1080 but he claimed it was double that on his home network opposed to the crap work network.

Very interesting, indeed!

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Eightarmedpet
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Yeah I was impressed! Well, apart from PUBG. Both cpu and gpu were jazzed at 100% so not sure how upgrading to the 1060 will effect things. Will keep ya posted though! 

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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MBAir10
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Thank you for all the helpful suggestions. I have summarized the information in my initial post.

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


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Eightarmedpet
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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Going to test games on my TV this weekend too btw, if that is of any interest.

I wouldn't dare to ask for that but I love that you mention it. So I'm very excited to read more from your tests!

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Eightarmedpet
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Ask away buddy, it's no biggie, looking like a wet weekend and the misses is away so I won't have much else to do...

 

Not the biggest Library but if you have any requests... (TV is 4k so will test 1/4 scale 1080).

Screen Shot 2017 08 09 at 16.50.11

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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Eightarmedpet
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Managed to set things up last night... hit 60fps (just) in PUBG on Low... on medium it was only about 40. Both @1080.

578080 screenshots 20170809183302 1

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Ask away buddy, it's no biggie, looking like a wet weekend and the misses is away so I won't have much else to do...

 

Not the biggest Library but if you have any requests... (TV is 4k so will test 1/4 scale 1080).

Screen Shot 2017 08 09 at 16.50.11

That is an impressive library of games! 

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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Managed to set things up last night... hit 60fps (just) in PUBG on Low... on medium it was only about 40. Both @1080.

578080 screenshots 20170809183302 1

That's pretty decent, I suppose. PUBG in general seems not to be optimized very well.

And you've got these results on the GTX 1050 and the internal display?

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Eightarmedpet
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Ha, cheers. The performance was notably worse on the internal. Half the fps roughly, with spikes. I'd class it as not worth playing on 1050 and internal. Performance was roughly the same in GTA V. 1060 should be here this weekend then I'll order an Ultrafine and see where I end up. Worth noting - GTA V was running off an old style USB external 

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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MBAir10
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Ha, cheers. The performance was notably worse on the internal. Half the fps roughly, with spikes. I'd class it as not worth playing on 1050 and internal. Performance was roughly the same in GTA V. 1060 should be here this weekend then I'll order an Ultrafine and see where I end up. Worth noting - GTA V was running off an old style USB external 

Why would you buy an Ultrafine when you already have a 4k TV? 😀

Are you running bootcamp and PUBG on the internal drive?

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mac_editor
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Ha, cheers. The performance was notably worse on the internal. Half the fps roughly, with spikes. I'd class it as not worth playing on 1050 and internal. Performance was roughly the same in GTA V. 1060 should be here this weekend then I'll order an Ultrafine and see where I end up. Worth noting - GTA V was running off an old style USB external 

You've got one heck of a collection of games! Could you please test Tom Clancy's The Division?

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Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
2018 MacBook Pro 15" RP560X + RX 5700 XT (Mantiz Venus)

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro


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Eightarmedpet
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Cheers! Will test the division over the weekend. Bootcamp is on a partition it's just the games that are on the external. The TV is in the living room, the LG would be for the study!

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar
GTX1060 + AKiTiO Thunder3 + Win10
GTX1070 + Sonnet Breakaway Box + Win10
GTX1070 + Razer Core V1 + Win10
Vega 56 + Razer Core V1 + macOS + Win10
Vega 56 + Mantiz Venus + macOS + W10

---

LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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fiddy
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PUBG on a 15" screen, regardless of resolution/fps is brutal. There is so much to see. If you spent over 3K, why not spend a few hundred more for a monitor? 

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Eightarmedpet
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mac_editor
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Posted by: Eightarmedpet

Cheers! Will test the division over the weekend. Bootcamp is on a partition it's just the games that are on the external. The TV is in the living room, the LG would be for the study!

Many thanks. Look forward to the results.

purge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
2018 MacBook Pro 15" RP560X + RX 5700 XT (Mantiz Venus)

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro


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