Setup and TB3 cable questions from newcomer
I have recently bought Gigabyte RX 580 8GB Gaming Box. I'm planning to use it with Intel Skull Canyon and later with new Mac Mini. My setup would be best if I could use 2m cable. From what I gather I should look for 40Gbps active cable and it seems there are three similarly priced options:
- Cable Matters,
I have a few questions though and would be glad if somebody more experienced answered them:
- Is 2m 40Gbps active cable good option at all? I've read somewhere that some of them drop connection from time to time. Will such cable really work as well as 50cm bundled one?
- Which cable brand is the best? I've read posts from people saying their CalDigit cables fried twice. Reviews on Amazon on all three options I mentioned are pretty low (3/5 stars) although there's a lot of reviews from people using them as USB cables and being surprised about USB 2.0 speeds (which is normal for active TB3 cable).
- I've read somewhere that I might need to update firmware on my eGPU due to H2D? What is it all about? Gigabyte lists three firmware versions for my eGPU: https://www.gigabyte.com/Graphics-Card/GV-RX580IXEB-8GD#support-dl-firmware and there seems to be two variants: H2D and regular. There's some talk that non-H2D is more balanced? What is it all about?
- Is there anything critical I should know about my setup? I plan to plug eGPU to Skull Canyon (later new Mac Mini) and then two 1080p displays to eGPU via DisplayPort. Will this setup work in pre-boot (aka. will I be able to see BIOS)?
Thanks for any tips. I'll be sure to post updates when all the gear finally arrives and I test everything.
No real issues with it though here are my observations: on the Dell XPS, I put the laptop to sleep and usually turn on the eGPU after I've brought the laptop out of sleep mode. Occasionally, the eGPU is not detected, unplugging and replugging it solves this right away (though very rarely, I might have to do this twice).
With the Mac Mini, things work quite differently. I have to boot with the eGPU connected and powered on (my internal GFX card on the Mac "vanishes" in Windows with the eGPU connected), so my work flow is: turn on the eGPU first, power on the Mini, it boots into Windows just fine. This works every single time so far (I've only had the Mac for 2 days now :P) and I have never had to replug or mess with the eGPU in this setup. I think "hot plugging" it with a system that's already running, as in the XPS's case, tends to be a bit more unreliable.
So FWIW, I think the Cable Matters cable works great (and no performance issues with the extra length - the 0.5m that comes with the eGPU is ridiculously short).
As to #4, on the Mac Mini, you will definitely not see anything during pre-boot, you only get a signal once booted into Windows (or Mac OS I guess but since I have an Nvidia GPU, I can't use my eGPU with Mac OS so fall back to the internal GFX). No idea if the same happens on the XPS since I always connect the eGPU later on in the process though.
Thanks for the tip and advice! Regarding cable - is it not loose? I've read a few people saying Cable Matters one is quite loose and even touching it might disconnect it. How is it for you @johnjkle?
@merode - it's not loose at all, perfectly fine on both the XPS and the Mac, I don't see how it could ever accidentally come loose in my case, I need to grip it when disconnecting it (the connector itself is pretty long so easy to grab it without damaging the cable).
I'd like just to tune in as I have received my GPU and cable and finally tested them. If anybody has similar question, here are the answers (all from Windows side of things):
- I have bought Cable Matters 2m active TB3 cable. I have not encountered any dropped connections. It seems to work just as good as 50cm bundled cable.
- I can't vouch for different brands but Cable Matters seems very good. Build quality is fine and plug is not loose as some Amazon reviews make you believe. I can confirm TB3 connector gets warm but it is not hot. I believe most of <3 star reviews are people who thought this is USB 3.0 cable and were surprised because TB3 active cables can work only as USB 2.0 cables (these people should have bough different and cheaper cable).
- There are two firmwares for this Gaming Box. Regular one cuts GPU bandwidth in half to make sure USB hub works correctly and without stutter. The other firmware branded H2D grants full bandwidth to GPU and de facto kills hub (or at least makes it unusable). If you buy this device for GPU, go for H2D. If you need hub then you've got to consider options. Flashing firmware is pretty simple.
- eGPU doesn't work in pre-boot! If you have integrated chip it might be worth leaving it connected to display if you need to access BIOS. eGPU starts automatically at Windows login screen (doesn't matter if you wake or turn on your PC). It automatically turns itself off when system goes to sleep or is shut down. For whatever reason PSU fan doesn't turn itself off when devices goes to standby. There's firmware to fix that but it doesn't seem to work for me.