[REVIEW] Akitio Node Pro vs. the Mantiz Venus  

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matthewmchang
(@matthewmchang)
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Joined: 12 months  ago
Posts: 14
February 8, 2018 12:31 pm  

Hey guys,
This is basically my review/overview of the Akitio Node Pro, and comparing it to the Mantiz Venus. Like many of you, I was really intrigued when I saw the Akitio Node Pro. I had just bought a Mantiz Venus, but the Akitio Node Pro looked super exciting. So, I bought it. (kinda anticlimactic there haha).
But first, let me tell you about my current setup. I own a 2017 MacBook Pro w/TB 13", and an AMD Vega 64 Air Cooled. Originally, all this went into my Silver Mantiz Venus. My entire eGPU setup is really only used for two purposes: 1. Single-plug docking solution, and 2. Final Cut Pro X. 

Okay. Now that I've got that out of the way, lets focus on the star of the show, the Akitio Node Pro. The moment I unboxed, it, I instantly noticed how light it was. Very similar in weight and size to the Mantiz Venus. The Akitio Node Pro is definitely a bit taller, but the Mantiz Venus is wider. 

Now, I really care deeply about the build quality of products. The Akitio Node Pro was clearly superior in build quality to the Mantiz Venus. The Mantiz Venus uses aluminum, and the finish of the surface is nice. However, the edges are really rough, making it look like an unfinished product. The Akitio Node Pro, on the other hand has really good build quality, from the smooth surfaces, to the well cut and equally smooth edges. If only judging aesthetically, the Akitio Node Pro wins, without a doubt.

The back of the Akitio Node Pro vs. the Mantiz Venus. The Akitio Node Pro has flush screws, and ports that are seated well. The Mantiz Venus has small screws that are not flush, and overall looks much messier.

Inside each enclosure, paints a similar story. The Mantiz Venus uses "ketchup and mustard" power cables, with the board unshielded. The Akitio Node Pro, on the other hand, is incredible. Not only does it use mostly black cables, all of the boards and circuits are all shielded and protected.  I find it strange that the Mantiz Venus left all of the circuitry is exposed. Yes, that is a PICE port inside the enclosure, and the Motherboard would be similarly exposed in a PC build. But, it is still an eGPU product that a company is shipping. Installing shields and protective metal plates is smart, and it prevents people from easily damaging their eGPU enclosure. I hope every enclosure shipped from other companies do this. 

Installing the graphics card is super easy on both systems, but the Akitio Node Pro is just a tad bit easier. You first slide off the top cover, and then you have access to the inside of the enclosure. With every screw needed to install a graphics card being a thumb screw, it is way too easy to swap out a GPU. On the Mantiz Venus, its really easy to just pop off the side, but you will need a screwdriver, and the side opening to install a graphics card is a bit harder than a top-down method. I also prefer the way the Akitio Node Pro has its cover installed, the permanently attached thumb screws feel more secure than a side cover that you can pop off.

One of the most polarizing issue with these two enclosures is the fact they have different ports. The Mantiz Venus has 5 USB 3 ports, a SATA port, an Ethernet Port, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. The Akitio Node has two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and a Display Port. Both have better ports than the Sonnet Breakaway eGFX, and with more ports than the Akitio Node Pro, it would seem like the Mantiz Venus would be better positioned. Many people would choose this very factor to purchase the Mantiz Venus over other competitors. But as I bought my MacBook Pro, I switched all of my accessories to USB-C, so the second Thunderbolt 3 port on the Akitio Node Pro is perfect for me. The second Thunderbolt 3 port works for daisy-chaining, including the 5K LG UltraFine display. But I would just stick to USB peripherals (I use a hub), so you don't gobble up too much of the Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth.

Using the Akitio Node Pro, I still get the same great performance from my AMD Vega 64. Not really a need to benchmark, as there are way better and more sophisticated ones out there, and I could never compete with that. 

In conclusion, I really like the Akitio Node Pro. More than the Mantiz Venus. If you are a Mac user, and you care about design and build quality, I would 100% recommend the Akitio Node Pro. It's cheaper, and it looks way better (in my opinion). I know this is not technically an Intel certified "eGFX", but it works flawlessly with Mac and an AMD GPU. The Mantiz Venus is still a nice enclosure, but with the Akitio Node Pro being better in my eyes, and cheaper, picking the Akitio Node Pro a no brainer.

Please let me know if you have any questions, or if there's anything you want me to test.

***Notes***
-The fan runs All. The. Time. Its a 3 pin, so there is no PWM. I switched the fan to a 80mm Noctua Fan I had lying around. I ordered a 92mm fan that fits the Akitio Node Pro, but its still shipping.
-The handle is super useful. (Really, I use it all the time!)
-Everything other than the thumb screws uses Hex screws. (It's like Akitio giving me the middle finger. Why are you using Hex screws Akitio???).
-The power supply isn't really that loud, as many reviews say. (Edit: When the GPU is under high load, the power supply fan turns up a bit. It's not really fan noise, more of a whine. Not enough to really notice it, especially with the main case fan and the GPU being louder.)


bluetech, ikir, Flint Ironstag and 2 people liked
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Flint Ironstag
(@flint-ironstag)
Estimable Member
Joined: 2 years  ago
Posts: 166
February 9, 2018 5:05 am  

Nice writeup - thank you.  I'll emphasize again that eGFX / eGPU is a marketing limitation, folks.  Here is a sensible PCIe chassis (obviously designed to house GPUs) with a better feature set than than official eGPU enclosures, at a better price.  Competition and deviance from Intel's marketing strategy is a damn. good thing.

You already answered the main question: ain't that loud (but how loud is it at load?)  Also I can't believe they missed the boat on a temp sensitive / variable speed fan.  Really looking forward to your sound impressions. Ha!

MP 6,1 | 4c | d700
MP 6,1 | 6c | d500


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Zorn_
(@zorn_)
Eminent Member
Joined: 11 months  ago
Posts: 25
February 9, 2018 9:14 pm  

It's a nice comparison, but for me it's important to have a SATA port. I really like having the ability to have a backup 2.5" drive plugged in without having to rely on external drives dangling around all the time.

2017 MacBook Pro 15"
Mantiz Venus
Powercolor Vega 64


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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Joined: 2 years  ago
Posts: 1022
February 13, 2018 9:03 pm  

Hold on... you’ve daisy chained an LG 5K display?! We’re you able to accelerate the display in MacOS and windows? I’d love some more info on how it all worked if possible...

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + [email protected] (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070 (debating 2070 upgrade) @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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matthewmchang
(@matthewmchang)
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Joined: 12 months  ago
Posts: 14
February 14, 2018 2:23 am  

@eightarmedpet, from what I can see, you can't externally accelerate the UltraFine 5K monitor. It runs off the internal graphics in your Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pro. 

The only way you could possible accelerate it with an eGPU is if you use a converter (which I dont even think exists) that can transmit HDMI or DisplayPort from your Graphics Card to the Thunderbolt 3 input of the UltraFine 5K. Otherwise, you're shit out of luck. ):


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capibara
(@capibara)
New Member
Joined: 5 months  ago
Posts: 1
June 11, 2018 7:41 am  

Hi, I have a question.

I own exactly same noteboot - MBP 13 - 2017 without touch bar. And here is the thing - apple really limits processors which you can plug into that without the touch bar, so I had to go with low voltage one. I do a lot of work in excel, and even though its just excel - low voltage processor make performance of excel really sluggish, its slow at times, lags when I press hot keys etc.

So I started to think about egpu - I would REALLY REALLY appreaciate if you could tell me, if there is any difference in performance of microsoft office applications, like powerpoint, excel etc using egpu and without egpu. Or is it only for appliaction which can directly utilize graphic cards performance like games etc. Many thanks!!! Your input is really appreciated!!!

Your faithfully, Capybara!


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
Noble Member
Joined: 2 years  ago
Posts: 1022
June 11, 2018 10:40 am  

The Node Pro has 2 x USB C/TB3 ports and the OP mentions Daisy chaining AND using FCP X (which has dubious eGPU support) which is why I asked the question...

@matthewmchang can you confirm you are powering the 5K through Daisy chaining?

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + [email protected] (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070 (debating 2070 upgrade) @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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mrjbn
(@mrjbn)
New Member
Joined: 1 year  ago
Posts: 3
June 12, 2018 1:26 pm  

Here's to hoping Akitio will come out with a version with at least 87w power delivery for the 15" MBP. Thanks for the great review!


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