2018 Mac Mini for eGPU  

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expensivefruit
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November 8, 2018 11:50 am  

Thermal throttling could be a dealbreaker for me. One of the reasons I've been leaning towards the Mac Mini and not a new MacBook pro is because of the thermal throttling issues on the mini. Maybe there's a firmware bug and Apple will eventually fix it in an update?

Whatever the case, I found a video here of some guy who built a base with a fan to cool his old Mac Mini and reported 30-40 C drop in temperature. It's a bit of a workaround solution, but if it does the job, why not? 


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DanHC
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November 8, 2018 12:13 pm  

@joevt

You are my hero, it removes all doubts. I have now decided to grab my mac mini now.

One question? Do you think the two USB 3.0 port at the right has anything to do with the TB controller? Or are they wired to another PCI-Bus?


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joevt
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November 8, 2018 1:30 pm  
Posted by: DanHC

Do you think the two USB 3.0 port at the right has anything to do with the TB controller? Or are they wired to another PCI-Bus?

The two USB 3.0 ports (which include two USB 2.0 ports) belong to the PCH USB 3.1 xHCI Host Controller - the same one that controls the four USB 2.0 ports of the Thunderbolt ports. Otherwise they are unrelated to the TB controller. Each Titan Ridge Controller has a USB 3.1 xHCI Host Controller built in that controls the two USB 3.1 gen 2 ports of their two Thunderbolt ports (four total USB 3.1 gen 2/Thunderbolt ports).


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johnjkle
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November 8, 2018 2:45 pm  
Posted by: anethema

Like try a prime95 small fft load. Instant throttle? What about realbench? And ya undervolting and manual fan control would be awesome to see.

@anethema - I should be able to try Prime95 out later today, once I'm done with work and I'll post results then.

@joi_kansai - I kept CAM running last night, averages did seem to hover in the mid-70s most of the time, but still hitting 80s for some sections. The 95+ spikes always happen during loading sections it seems. Though I'm comfortable building my own PCs, it seems like the Mini is a hassle to take apart (classic Apple...) so I don't think I'd go as far as re-pasting - at this point at least.

I'm going to try under volting with Intel's XTU later tonight (haven't really used Throttlestop much but I can try that out at some point too) and see if that helps at all. I still think there's room for improvement on the software side of things, fans really don't seem to go crazy at all, nor does the top of the Mini feel way too hot after load but it's still a bit early to tell. I certainly agree that it's not a good idea to be running the system at sustained 80C+ regularly.


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PSiggy
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November 8, 2018 3:10 pm  

@johnjkle - thank you very much for sharing all the info. One question I'd like to ask... what happens when you boot into macOS while your monitor is connected to eGPU with GTX1080? I know that NVIDIA drivers are not (officially) supported, but do you get at least output to monitor? I'm seriously thinking about getting mac mini for work, however I'd like to use bootcamp for games as well. And for that I could use my GTX1080. Thank you.


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November 8, 2018 3:14 pm  

Awesome can't wait to see what you find. Your results will determine whether I go mini and egpu or just get a mini itx case and go windows that way.


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johnjkle
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November 8, 2018 3:19 pm  

@psiggy - when I boot into Mac OS with my eGPU on, I get no signal at all to the monitor connected to it. Looking at System Info, Mac OS "sees" my Razer Core X connected, but does not see the Nvidia card at all, I'm guessing there are simply no drivers/support for it.

The way I have things set up now is:

- Mac Mini HDMI directly to my monitor's HDMI input, switch to this when booting Mac OS.

- eGPU/1080 Displayport connected to the same monitor's Displayport, switch to this when booting back into Windows (or after sign in - signal up to that point goes to the built in HDMI instead).

Thankfully, the AW3418 (and most DELL monitors AFAIK) allow you to set two buttons to "quick" toggles, so switching back and forth between HDMI and Displayport is quite painless in this setup.


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wimpzilla
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November 8, 2018 3:59 pm  

I just went to an Apple store, dropped my hand on the mac mini 2018, it was doing nothing and the case was already warm, dissipating the heat.

The demo product was not running anything aside the screen and price tag info from this morning i suppose.

So usually when a product is warm doing nothing, even if build with low noise output in mind, it is not a good sign.

Good luck with cpu/vrm thermals and or low TDP lock.

Edit Note: The thrash can version of the macbook was even worst, already hot doing literally nothing.

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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theitsage
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November 8, 2018 4:09 pm  

@wimpzilla That's my concern about the Mac mini too. I tore it down last night if you'd like to take a closer look at the cooling system bits.

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wimpzilla
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November 8, 2018 4:21 pm  

Thanks you a lot for the tear down, i already leveraged it.

As always i would like the logic board, the cpu seems to get a somehow decent 6 phases vrm and the ram a 1 phases vrm power delivery.
Not sure tho how many of these 6 phases are really dedicated to the cpu cores, some must be used to power the iGPU and some need to power the I/O system agent.

The heatskink does not seems appropriate for the job, when cooling high cores count cpu is needed.

Also the cpu get soaked by the vrm heat, the vrm are not actively cooled but still i liked the pcb design, it pay at least some attention to provide the vrm some passive pcb cooling.

Just be sure to ask Apple to set the TDP in a way that even with lower performances output, it should be consistent.

Like avoid to get the cpu constantly hitting the max TDP, often cpu clocks jumping back and forth bring some lag, especially when gaming.

The only test i would suggest is to remove the bottom cap if heating too much, when computing intensive workloads.

Check if it help a bit the case airflow and general case thermals, but it will not help keeping the dust out of the case.

The airflow intake come from the bottom of the case and exit from the back of the unit, passing through the cpu fins stack.

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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expensivefruit
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November 8, 2018 5:20 pm  

Re the CPU thermal throttling issue, assuming there are no software/firmware solutions, what do you guys think of using some kind of external cooling unit, such as this?

It's a laptop cooling pad but could presumably be used for something like a mini as well - it's basically a fan built into a metal grill, which presumably acts as another heat sink. All you'd have to do is pop the lid open of the mac mini and place it on it.  I realise it's not ideal or elegant, but it's a small compromise I'm willing to make if it works. Thoughts? 

 


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wimpzilla
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November 8, 2018 5:32 pm  

It's a good idea, i mean anything that help airflow intake from the bottom would help the whole case thermals design.

The heatsink, vrm and cpu capabilities are limited, so anything that will help airflow intake with also help overall performances.

One can try to place it vertically when doing some benchs with the bottom cover on, check if it output better result than leaving it bottom face down.

Rinse and repeat without the bottom cover and you get the answer.

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
E=Mc²


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Parker85
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November 8, 2018 11:45 pm  

Hoping we can steer the conversation back to the discussion of the Thunderbolt 3 controllers and the hypothetical use of an egpu with Thunderbolt displays such as the LG ultrafine.

It seems like it's been confirmed that there are multiple thunderbolt controllers in the new mac mini, does this mean that one can use an egpu in the setup discussed earlier: thunderbolt 3 connected to the egpu, and then another thunderbolt 3 from the mac mini to the lg ultrafine?

Perhaps I misunderstood the previous discussion, but do we have any more clarity if this setup is possible without performance loss (because of the multiple thunderbolt controllers)?

Any clarity on this would be great. 


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johnjkle
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November 9, 2018 12:13 am  

@anethema - it's not good news on the thermal throttling unfortunately. The Prime95 small FFTs test results in insta-throttling, temps average around the mid 80s (up from 50s idling) and hit 90s often enough.

Intel XTU doesn't really support the 8700B, it can't be under volted by it (I should have considered that, it's not a K series CPU) and currently I haven't been able  to get ThrottleStop to run at all (complains about missing DLLs, I'll need to troubleshoot it since I haven't used it before).

 

Finally, SpeedFan is also not usable, since it doesn't detect a single system fan and offers no control over them...

 

I'm going to try out @wimpzilla's idea of keeping the Mini on its' side for some time, so it can vent air better and see what kind of effect that may have but if I had to guess, without additional cooling, I think that'll only make a few degrees difference at best.


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expensivefruit
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November 9, 2018 12:25 am  

@johnjkle looks like we might need some makeshift solution, such as an external fan/cooling pad? Perhaps it's pertinent we start a separate thread for this issue as well. Very disappointing though given the unit has shown so much promise in terms of setting it up with an eGPU.


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johnjkle
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November 9, 2018 12:31 am  

@expensivefruit - I think a separate thread might make sense for those interested, better than cluttering up this thread IMO.

Yeah, some external cooling would probably help though I don't think I'd go down that path personally, the Mini's form factor/clean lines are a big part of its' charm for me :).

FWIW, I didn't get the Mini with gaming in mind, I already had the eGPU and needed a new Mac primarily. Though it certainly would have been a dream setup to have everything working well (and gaming is smooth from my early testing but things get hot), I'm fine with using a separate ITX desktop as my gaming rig. However, I'll keep testing things and answering any questions I can for others like @anethema that are trying to make a purchasing decision based on the Mini's gaming performance in Windows.

 

There's also still hope that Apple may address this via a firmware update, just like the MBP update. We'll have to wait and see I guess.


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theitsage
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November 9, 2018 1:03 am  

Thermal management is a concern on the 2018 Mac mini for sure. Here's my i5 Mac mini running Prime95 for less than 10 minutes.

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expensivefruit
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November 9, 2018 1:31 am  

So it looks like you guys are not alone - there are users on this reddit thread also documenting thermal throttling issues when running certain tests. I was going to start a separate thread on this issue but it is not immediately apparent which forum section I should start it in. Could anyone please advise?


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switchjump
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November 9, 2018 3:15 am  

Running a Mac Mini + Razer Core X + Vega 56
Here is my openCL.

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/compute/3184849


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johnjkle
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November 9, 2018 3:23 am  

Tried one last thing for tonight - just to get an idea of "real life" use again vs a benchmark like Prime95: played through around 90 minutes of the Division tonight, the Mini was raised standing on its' side the entire time to see if that improves airflow at all.

Seems like it had no real impact TBH, temps still hovered at mid 80s mostly, more or less the same as my last few tests, with the Mini sitting on my desk "normally". It also seems that the CPU is at 4.2Ghz on average in game, with around a 50% utilization on the first core.  

 


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DanHC
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November 9, 2018 4:06 am  
Posted by: johnjkle

Tried one last thing for tonight - just to get an idea of "real life" use again vs a benchmark like Prime95: played through around 90 minutes of the Division tonight, the Mini was raised standing on its' side the entire time to see if that improves airflow at all.

Seems like it had no real impact TBH, temps still hovered at mid 80s mostly, more or less the same as my last few tests, with the Mini sitting on my desk "normally". It also seems that the CPU is at 4.2Ghz on average in game, with around a 50% utilization on the first core.  

 

I think that's a good sign, in the consideration that you did the gaming without eGPU right? So the graphic is on the iGPU - UHD 630, which is packaged with the CPU and share the same cooling. When the iGPU is disabled or not in use, there is less heat to be cooled by the same cooling.

Intel UHD Graphics 630 has a TDP of 15W, making it around 23% of the TDP of the i7 8700B chip, which has a 65W TDP.


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James
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November 9, 2018 6:08 am  
Posted by: DanHC
Posted by: johnjkle

Tried one last thing for tonight - just to get an idea of "real life" use again vs a benchmark like Prime95: played through around 90 minutes of the Division tonight, the Mini was raised standing on its' side the entire time to see if that improves airflow at all.

Seems like it had no real impact TBH, temps still hovered at mid 80s mostly, more or less the same as my last few tests, with the Mini sitting on my desk "normally". It also seems that the CPU is at 4.2Ghz on average in game, with around a 50% utilization on the first core.  

 

I think that's a good sign, in the consideration that you did the gaming without eGPU right? So the graphic is on the iGPU - UHD 630, which is packaged with the CPU and share the same cooling. When the iGPU is disabled or not in use, there is less heat to be cooled by the same cooling.

Intel UHD Graphics 630 has a TDP of 15W, making it around 23% of the TDP of the i7 8700B chip, which has a 65W TDP.

That’s a good point, hopefully can be retested with the eGPU connected. Would be interested to see the cpu temps then


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bluetech
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November 9, 2018 7:07 am  

Hello eGPU-Forum,
the Mac mini Cpu throttle a little bit down, when he got warm.
Yesterday I run geekbench4 after hours of normal using without games,
and got a Multi-Core-Score 23.176 with the i7-8700B .

This morning after idling the Mac mini I got 24.329

This is only. 4.7% throttling and I think, these are good results.
As student now I have to save up money 😳 for an eGPU-Setup next Year. 😉

Best regards,

Bluetech


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bluetech
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November 9, 2018 8:26 am  
Posted by: switchjump

Running a Mac Mini + Razer Core X + Vega 56
Here is my openCL.

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/compute/3184849

Very nice!

A Mac-and-eGPU-Newbie-Question:

How much .sh's  are needed to get it running at 10.14.1?


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wimpzilla
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November 9, 2018 8:57 am  

@johnjkle

Thanks you for the testing, i would have hoped that letting some more air in would help the cooling capabilities.
Can you try also without the bottom cover, if you get the chance?
Also you are right, if there is no other active cooling that would push some fresh air to the other part of the case, where the vrm, ram, psu are located, there would not be so much improvement. The air intake come from the bottom being forced directly through the cpu heatsink by the blower and exiting from the rear.
Since there is almost no airflow on the part of the pcb where the ram and vrm are placed, the logic broad end up heating more than it should.

Thats's why @expensivefruit got a nice idea, with the laptop cooling unit blowing air inside the whole case would maybe improve thermals as whole.
I was hoping that applying better thermal paste and leaving the bottom cover off would at least improve a bit the cpu T°.

Also note that for how cpu works, you maybe noticed no change in t°, because the cpu would have boosted higher clocks, providing better performances.
That's why i advised to ask Apple a decent TDP that allow the cpu to run without being bound by the t° too much, due to the form factor and cooling.

 

This is the possible vrm configuration, i found it quite strange, not sure if correct.
Tho the cpu cores recieve only 3 phases or at max 4 phases, powered by 3/4 SIC621 60A power stages.
The ram and one of the VCCSA/IO power delivery seems to be different than the one used for the main cpu.
I did not checked closely the pcb and components that drive this vrm, but on overall one can't expect asking too much from it.

The cpu and system are powerful enough to deliver good performances even being quite limited, the real feat is to find the right thermal balance to get it work flawlessly when using it as eGPU solution.

Edit: Provided better vrm pictures, i did not noticed the other 2 power stages, used i suppose for the TBT/USB power delivery.

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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idontbyte
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November 9, 2018 10:07 am  
Posted by: johnjkle

Tried one last thing for tonight - just to get an idea of "real life" use again vs a benchmark like Prime95: played through around 90 minutes of the Division tonight, the Mini was raised standing on its' side the entire time to see if that improves airflow at all.

Seems like it had no real impact TBH, temps still hovered at mid 80s mostly, more or less the same as my last few tests, with the Mini sitting on my desk "normally". It also seems that the CPU is at 4.2Ghz on average in game, with around a 50% utilization on the first core.  

 

I should imagine that the machine is hitting the temperature target and putting on it's side or blowing cold air in will only result in a lower fan speed and thus same temperatures.


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wimpzilla
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November 9, 2018 12:59 pm  

You are right, usually it's what it happen.
But usually one does not hit the 100° TJMAX of the cpu.
With 100° on the cpu and surrounding i would hope the fan is spinning at it's max value.

I would not care about noise knowing my logic board is being toasted and let blow the fan at 100% in this case.
If the overall implementation can't take it up, a simple TDP adjust is needed to suit the cooling and avoid the cpu hitting TJMAX or TDP.
A cpu should never go over 80/85° full load, otherwise it will toast itself, the surrounding pcb components and the pcb.

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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johnjkle
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November 9, 2018 2:26 pm  
Posted by: DanHC

 

I think that's a good sign, in the consideration that you did the gaming without eGPU right? So the graphic is on the iGPU - UHD 630, which is packaged with the CPU and share the same cooling. When the iGPU is disabled or not in use, there is less heat to be cooled by the same cooling.

Intel UHD Graphics 630 has a TDP of 15W, making it around 23% of the TDP of the i7 8700B chip, which has a 65W TDP.

@danhc@jdstephens - all my testing is with the eGPU connected. If you look back at my first post in this thread, the Intel 630 no longer even shows up in Windows at all, when I have the eGPU connected, the only GFX present and enabled is the GTX 1080 (in fact, the 630 vanishes from Device Manager and is not even listed as an Unknown Device).

@wimpzilla - yeah, I'll try with the lid off over the weekend and on its' side, don't have any extra fans/desktop fans to try active cooling externally right now. The temps hit averages of ~ 85C so the CPU stays around that mark most of the time, while hitting 90s momentarily too. Doesn't seem like re-pasting does much either, as I can see from @itsage's detailed tear down, he already re-pasted with quality paste too and still sees throttling on his i5.

The only thing that still seems off to me is that I'm pretty sure the CPU fan is not at full blast during these gaming sessions (or even Prime95) - I've noticed it audibly spin up louder during things like driver installations for example. But I still don't have a way to control or even monitor the fan speed, neither SpeedFan, nor CAM "see" the fans at all.


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Ztun
 Ztun
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November 9, 2018 2:47 pm  

@Eric.van.  Hope you have better luck than I have so far.  My Radeon card is currently not working in bootcamp.  Below is my setup:

i7, 16GB RAM
Razer Core X
Radeon RX Vega 56
LG 27ud88 monitor

I am connected to my monitor via thunderbolt (far left, next to HDMI) and have a thunderbolt to the Razer Core X (far right, next to ethernet port).  Windows recognized the egpu when I connected after setup and installed drivers.  It displays as RX Vega 56 but states error 12.  I attempted to disable a couple of PCI express controllers to free up resources but it did not work.  Controllers 1901 and 1905.


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theitsage
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November 9, 2018 2:52 pm  

@ztun Here's something you can try. Turn off the Mac mini and connect the LG 27UD88 monitor directly to the RX Vega 56 eGPU (either through DisplayPort or HDMI). Make sure the Thunderbolt 3 connection between Mac mini and eGPU is through TB3 closest to HDMI port on the Mac mini. Power the computer on and wait to see whether Windows desktop shows up on the LG monitor.

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wimpzilla
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November 9, 2018 3:08 pm  

johnjkle

Thanks you for the test.

If it stay around 85° during real daily task it's somehow fine.
My only concern as shown, is when one get the max out it, like when benching with prime or rendering very hard with the cpu.
So if intensive and general daily usage the t° hover around 85°, it's not optimal but acceptable if the cpu keep decent clocks over all cores.

Trying to get some fan control and helping the airflow just put you in a good position, if using the rig maxed out or during long heavy loads.
I mean it depend the usage case, but if interested about heavy loads, trying to get a good compromise between t°/noise/perf would be the best imo.
This is still a small form factor machine powered by a quite strong 6 cores cpu, the heat output could be significant depending the TDP.

I mean only few simple small changed would have increased drastically the thermal design in my opinion.
Thinking a bit about, i would have maybe copied what have been done with the BlackMagic cooling.
I would have made the bottom maybe a couple of mm higher, to be able to fit a low rpm 12/14cm slim fan blowing into the whole case, with a cleanable dust filter.
Then i would have used the same blower assembly but paid a bit more attention increasing the heatsink surface area on top of the heatpipes, with an aluminium plate covering the vrm.
Something like what the BlackMagic propose on top of the pcb, keeping heat away from the vrm.

I would have added a low diffused white led ring around the bottom fan assembly, shining a very diffused light under the case.
That would have given a rather pro and distinguished look to the device.

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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idontbyte
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November 9, 2018 3:27 pm  
Posted by: wimpzilla

You are right, usually it's what it happen.
But usually one does not hit the 100° TJMAX of the cpu.
With 100° on the cpu and surrounding i would hope the fan is spinning at it's max value.

I would not care about noise knowing my logic board is being toasted and let blow the fan at 100% in this case.
If the overall implementation can't take it up, a simple TDP adjust is needed to suit the cooling and avoid the cpu hitting TJMAX or TDP.
A cpu should never go over 80/85° full load, otherwise it will toast itself, the surrounding pcb components and the pcb.

All the Mac I have had have hit their TJ Max frequently at high load but none have had heat damage... 
Sitting at around 80-85 won't damage the CPU or board I think in this case.


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LatestDays
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November 9, 2018 3:27 pm  

Are people getting throttling/extreme temperatures experiencing them mostly in Windows under bootcamp, or are they happening in MacOS too?


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November 9, 2018 3:29 pm  

Actually considering the circle on the bottom is only a press fit, a neat part to model would be a 3D printed circle that press  fit in and has a mount for like a 120mm fan.

Kind of like this:

The 120mm fan would screw into those holes and the legs keep it off the table. The round part coming towards the viewer would fit into the mini's provision for its circle base. This is like a mockup I made in like a minute, it would obviously look a lot nicer in the end. Provision maybe for a filter etc.

But you get the idea. It would get a lot of air into that case.


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wimpzilla
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November 9, 2018 3:34 pm  

I simply give what the good practices are, then it's up to the user to decide how dispose of it's own stuff.
And in this case it's true the heat will not damage directly and on short term the components.
From an engineering side as said above, the pcb layout was designed with this in mind.
Aside the loose vrm layout to allow better pcb passive cooling, you will notice that there are no active components direcly around the cpu.
All the capacitors and t° sensitive components are placed around the cpu within a safe zone distance.
Nevertheless having high general t° is not optimal component life wise, that's all.

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johnjkle
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November 9, 2018 3:52 pm  

I'll have to see if I can get ThrottleStop working (it simply wouldn't install, missing DLLs, etc) and check if that works with the 8700B since XTU does not support it. Since the CPU performance is pretty great anyway (I mean during a Division run, it barely hits 50% on 1 core) and I mostly need GFX performance @ 3440*1440, not CPU, the other idea would be to try to restrict the CPU turbo ramping to 4Ghz+. Sure, I'd be missing out on performance, but if it helps everything run cooler, I'd be happy enough with that for now - since the CPU is more than capable for my uses.


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