eGPU for video processing on a laptop – Does it make sense?
 
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eGPU for video processing on a laptop – Does it make sense?  

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kotlos
(@kotlos)
Trusted Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I needed a portable solution that could also serve as my video editing station so I had to decide if a quad core with a dGPU is that important in my workflow. I did a small test with proxy generation in FCPX across MBP 15", MBP 13" & MB 12". It was with 3 XAVC-S 4K files with a total of 10min duration, located on an external USB3 hard drive:

MBP 15" 2.7 455 2016        ~ 3.5 min
MBP 13" 3.3 2016              ~ 4.5 min
MB 12" m7 2016               ~ 15.5 min

I knew the 12" throttled but after the test I realized how much it can affect performance. I was very impressed with the performance of the 13", it was much closer to the 15” than expected for a supposedly CPU heavy task.  The 13” would be a problem for Resolve though because it lacks a dGPU, but the eGPU solution looked promising so I got an AKiTiO Node to try with my GTX titan x & the MBP 13" 3.3 2016. Installation was a breeze thanks to this community. I tried 3 NLEs with my typical workflow plus two standard tests for Resolve (Candle) and FCPX (BruceX):

 

Davinci Resolve

Resolve

Resolve does most of its processing on the GPU. CPU is only used for encoding/decoding and for general UI control. Since davinci resolve relies heavily on the GPU, an eGPU easily gets you to high end desktop performance. It can outperform most “latest” MacPro configurations if you look at the candle test which reflects well the general performance of Resolve.

 

Premiere Pro

Premiere

With eGPU & accelerated effects, you will see great performance improvements (~10x with the Titan X Smile ). Unfortunately encoding/decoding & stabilization depend only on CPU so you will not see a difference there. For the stabilization results I extrapolated from the 5% of the task, so while it could be faster than 2 hours it is still dog slow.

 

FCPX

FCPX

Even though FCPX is very well optimized for the mac hardware, you can still observe significant improvements when using an eGPU. eGPU acceleration for stabilization works even without an external monitor but BruceX (or general rendering) works only when an external monitor is used. There are plenty reports that show FCPX is optimized for OpenCL but currently there is no way to make AMD GPUs work with the latest macs & thunderbold 3 (2017/04/20 It seems there is a way, check mac section). If you are on an older mac or have a TB2 solution then I believe this does not affect you, and with an AMD card you will have even better results.

 

Conclusions

 

1.    An eGPU solution makes sense with any of the three NLEs (if you are mostly editing on a desk) with either a PC or Mac and a thunderbold port.

2.     Premiere is the only program that requires fast CPUs in addition to a single discrete GPU, so plan for at least a quad core for optimal overall performance.

 

3.     Resolve really sings with the eGPU solution. It’s really a no-brainer for laptop users.

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

itsage, Zach and Yukikaze liked
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imcalledandy
(@imcalledandy)
Estimable Member
Joined: 5 years ago
 

This is great. Thanks for sharing. Those specs for Resolve are as you say, "a no-brainer".

Having seen this and your success, I only wish I could have got my Titan X working before I sold it. No matter what I tried it just did not want to work with my eGPU setup - but my 980Tis work great!

2013 Mac Pro (FP D700 x2) [3rd,8C,E] + GTX 980 Ti x2 @ 16Gbps-TB2 (AKiTiO Thunder2) + macOS 10.13.1 [build link]  

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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I have tested FCP on both an external 980 Ti and my current AMD RX 480 in a Node with a TB2 Mac. The performance gap is indeed obvious, with the AMD being comfortably faster.

Author: kryptonitepurge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance

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

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [build link]  


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goalque
(@goalque)
Noble Member Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@mac_editor:

This hack may even double your RX 480 OpenCL performance:
https://egpu.io/forums/mac-setup/enable-baffin-cus-sh-script/

Works still great on macOS 10.12.4. Do it at your own risk.

automate-eGPU EFIapple_set_os.efi

Mid 2015 15-inch MacBook Pro eGPU Master Thread

 
2018 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + Radeon VII @ 32Gbps-TB3 (ASUS XG Station Pro) + Win10 1809 [build link]  


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psy-ninja
(@psy-ninja)
New Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I bought an Akitio Node 3 and an RX480 8gb for this very reason, but I'm not seeing any improvements in resolve. Was there anything you changed in the settings to get this working? 

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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kotlos
(@kotlos)
Trusted Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

I didn't have to do anything really, I just run the install script and restarted the computer. With resolve I didn't even need to have an external monitor attached. 

In resolve preferences, can you see the GPU ? If yes, did you check if the GPU is used at all? If yes, could it be because Resolve prefers CUDA? 

 

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 4 years ago
 
Posted by: goalque

 

@mac_editor:

This hack may even double your RX 480 OpenCL performance:
https://egpu.io/forums/mac-setup/enable-baffin-cus-sh-script/

Works still great on macOS 10.12.4. Do it at your own risk.

   

I actually did that from the start 😉 and totally forgot to mention that in my guide. I did update the same with this information a while ago though.

Author: kryptonitepurge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance

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

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [build link]  


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raybanner
(@raybanner)
Eminent Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

Sorry foe being a bit offtopic here.

I thought the 750m makes trouble getting an eGPU running? I am thinking to get the Akitio Node + RX580 for my late 2013 macbook pro with a 750m dGPU using a TB3 to TB2 adapter. Just for FCPX. I want smooth 4k editing with some color effects im realtime, hope this is possible or am I asking for too much?

Thank you.

MacBook Pro 15" from 2018
RX Vega 64 in Razer Core X with Corsair SF600 PSU


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 4 years ago
 

@raybanner: That is indeed the case, but setups with AMD GPUs work better than NVIDIA counterparts. See this guide for details:  https://egpu.io/forums/builds/mid-2014-macbook-pro-w-750m-rx-480-akitio-node-on-macos-win-10/

 

Of note is the fact that while running Final Cut Pro, the internal GPU is given preference and additional load overflows over to the external GPU. For instance, the eGPU is used in full while exporting projects, but not while scrubbing the timeline. I don't know how it works - but I'm not sure if this guarantees smooth editing on 4k. I'll probably have to try this out. 

 

If I am recalling correctly, I believe I did read on this forum that users have experienced much better 4k performance using AMD - so I think that must be the case.

Author: kryptonitepurge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance

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

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [build link]  


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raybanner
(@raybanner)
Eminent Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

Thank you for the answer. I cant believe to give my macbook some fresh poeer juice. I feel like a young kid getting his first computer 😊

 

I love this community!

MacBook Pro 15" from 2018
RX Vega 64 in Razer Core X with Corsair SF600 PSU


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