Catalina Mac Mini (Late 2018) + LG Ultrafine 5K. Which eGPU? Please help out a very confused noob
The idea is to boost the Mini's graphics capabilities but also play some games in a Windows 10 VM using Parallels 15 (which state they support eGPUs).
So, how does this typically work?
You have a computer that is connected to an eGPU using Thunderbolt and then the display is plugged into the enclosure's graphics cards output over DVI/DP/HDMI? In other words, is the eGPU's Thunderbolt connection to the computer a one-way street or can it "send back" display data back to the host that could pass it over to the display connected to the computer's other TB port?
In my case, can I plug the enclosure into Mac Mini's one TB port with the monitor connected to the other (there two TB controllers as I understand each with two ports).
If this is the only way then I guess I am stuck with my TB-only Ultrafine because I haven't heard of any graphics cards that would have a Thunderbolt port, unless there's some adaptor that can "convert" HDMI/DP -> TB. The display also has a camera (nice to keep) and speakers (can lose).
Hope the above makes some sense, sorry if I am asking the obvious.
Any help much appreciated
I know you can accelerate the internal display of a MacBook with an eGPU so yes, the TB3 cable is bi-directionnal.
I am less convinced you can use a VM like Parallels to do any serious gaming. You better do a Bootcamp installation. There are plenty of builds in this site.
@jangoloti_1, Thanks for the input! Gotta read up on that.
So, this should in theory work like that:
Headless eGPU <> Mac Mini > LG Ultrafine 5K
Anyone got this working like that?
I also just found out that the official Apple solution is the Blackmagic eGPU/eGPU pro. This has two TB ports so you can hook up the LG Ultrafine directly to the box. It is obviously very pricey, bulky and simply not available over here. But this got me thinking. If there is an enclosure that has room for two graphics cards, could I maybe use the extra slot for a PCIe -> TB3 card, thus adding the extra Thunderbolt port? Or do I have that already in the Mac Mini and it should work as described above?
PS I wonder if there is enough capacity in the Thunderbolt 3 protocol to send the data to the card and back to the computer without halving performance...
Answers from Sonnet pre-sales support:
The LG only has a single TB3 input so I can’t plug that into your Box as there is only one TB port.
So, will this work:eGFX <—> Mac Mini TB Port 1Mac Mini TB Port 2 —> LG Ultrafine 5KIf this setup is possible at all, I realize there will be a performance hit as the data would be going in both directions to/from the Box.I also understand there are two TB3 controllers inside the Mini with two ports each so the display and the Box must be connected to the ports on two different controllers.
Yes, you are correct.
Q2. Will the monitor being connected directly to the Mini retain all of its existing capabilities (webcam, speakers, ability to adjust settings from the Apple Preferences, etc) with the Box connected to the Mini’s other TB3 port as well?
Yes, performance should not be affected when using the configuration mentioned above (dedicated controller per device)
Q3. If the above is possible will I be able to run Win 10 in Bootcamp?
Q4. I can only use AMD Cards, and not NVidia in this configuration, correct?
Yes, this is correct.
Hey @muscovite, I had the same set up as you for about a week, but have used the 5K with an egpu for a couple of years now.
If you have the second gen 5K you will be able to connect it to a GPU directly using the right cable... how long have you owned this monitor and any idea if you have gen 1 or gen 2?
I have gen 1 so I can't connect directly to any ogpu except the Blackmagic one which I'm not 100% sold on.
I ran an egpu in "loopback" mode for ages and the performance loss wasn't that bad. I'd recommend getting an Nvidia card as they are easier to set up in Bootcamp.
I can dive into more details if you want, but long and the short of it....
- Instal Windows via bootcamp (not using parallels).
- Buy RTX 2060S and egpu enclosure
- Accept you will only ever be able to use the egpu in windows to play games
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
Needless to say, veeeeery frustrated thus far.
You may be right about that forget MacOS and just get an Nvidia for Bootcamp Windows gaming... The problem with this solution in times of quarantine is that I have too much time on my hands and wanted to sort through tons of family movies (some in 4K so an egpu working in MacOS might be helpful to this Mac Mini), and I have an opportunity to tinker with stuff, however frustrating that may have been
Thanks for the tip again! Stay safe!