New Mac Mini plus Nvidia eGPU viable Workstation?


#21

Well, the Mac mini doesn’t have a GPU at all.

And to add it would mean adding multiple eGPU enclosures each with their own additional power supply. So while it might manage heat, it would suck for additional power draw.

On top of that, they ship with Mojave installed, which doesn’t support nVidia. :frowning:


#22

Exactly my point. Making it viable for CPU rendering (albeit not the most economical solution), but not so much for GPU


#23

I didn’t say they wouldn’t arrive only that they wouldn’t arrive soon. :wink:

NVIDIA has been pretty evasive about it IMO. Instead of flat-out saying “we’ll continue to provide beta / web drivers for 10.14 but it will be 2019 before they’re ready,” (or something like that), they’re saying things like “we’re working on it but Apple controls all the drivers” (implication being that it’s Apple’s fault there are no web drivers, which is untrue). Apple only sanctions drivers for those GPUs that are sold / were sold originally with a given Mac.

Every driver for every other card has always been purely NVIDIA sanctioned and unofficial. So that’s why I said there’s no sign we’ll get any 10.14 drivers soon. That and if you look at how often they were releasing updated drivers for 10.12 and 10.13 in recently months, clearly something is different now. They’re just not saying what it is. To me the evasiveness suggests they’re having problems or otherwise not giving it priority right now. Otherwise they would probably say something like “we’re testing the first batch of 10.14 drivers now and will be available via the usual means in the near future.”


#24

Worth noting that OTOY are porting Octane to run on Metal which is good news for AMD card users. No messy system hacks.

Also worth noting that the Mac Mini only has 8 PCIe lanes (4 lanes on each of the 2 thunderbolt controllers) which is kind of limiting if you want to run more than one eGPU. The CPU supports 16 lanes but 8 are reserved for the 10gb ethernet port should you configure it that way.

I’m really tempted by the top end Mini but i’m waiting for the next Mac Pro instead. I’d assume it will offer CPU’s with a higher number of PCIe lanes. Hopefully by then we’ll also be seeing affordable eGPU boxes that run more than one card.


#25

Argh, so frustrating to hear about the mini having 4 thunderbolt 3 ports and only 8 lanes for them all to split because of the reservation for the ethernet. I’m sure people using the mini for servers are happy. My sis is about to order the basic model for her illustration work, I’m still eyeballing them for team render slaves and/or as a back up Mac.

I’ve got a Vega 64 and a Razer Core X eGPU enclosure arriving tomorrow - took advantage of some Black Friday/cyber Monday deals. I have high hopes on Octane coming to metal (eventually) and the Mac but I will use ProRender for my basic work and see how it goes.

If this affordable Vega 64 makes doing my basic work faster, then it might be fine for my use. It’s time to admit I’m not making LotR in my home office and just focus on the fundamentals for a while. :wink:


#26

I’d be interested in knowing how you get on with the Vega and ProRender - keep us posted.


#27

I don’t want to derail the thread, so I’ll type some of notes here and perhaps create new threads for my experiments with ProRender times and Hardware Open GL using an external monitor) rendering for Mac people to learn from my purchase.

I got the Razer Core X eGPU enclosure. It only works on Mac OS High Sierra 10.13.4 or higher, so I had to update from Sierra. That was a 2 hours down the drain, but it all works now.

The Razor Core X is exceedingly well built and packaged. I talked to a few other eGPU owners and they said the Sonnet GPU is quieter, but Razer was $100 cheaper for a 650 watt unit and was so well constructed I’m happy with it. It was a pleasure to install. My power supply bracket inside was a bit bent, but it affects nothing from what I can tell. It comes with two 8 pin power connectors, which the Vega 64 required. The eGPU gets noticeably loud when under full load. That would be the case if I had two of these in a PC tower, too. But this eGPU isn’t crammed in with my CPU, which heats up quite a bit while “compiling shaders” and “updating scene.”

Mac mini users looking to save $100 for eGPU enclosure vs Sonnet 650 can’t go wrong. No weird lights or anything. Just a smooth black metal box with rounded curves and a nice locking handle to slide the whole tray out. It will charge over TB3 for laptop users.

My only complaint is the laughably short TB3 cable it came with. It’s like 6 or 8 inches long!

If you use supported AMD hardware, it really just shows as an item similar to an internal disk at the top of the Mac menu bar in the finder. Neat.

The ProRender speed up was pretty significant vs my RX 580 GPU, but the thing that cripples it was the “compiling shaders” and “updating scene” portion. Once it actually started rendering, I was getting great looking global illumination renders from the C4d example scenes in 1 min - unheard of for my 7700k iMac. But sometimes the scene prep was 30-45 seconds before I saw anything in the picture viewer. 45 seconds of scene prep with 1 minute to render? I hope that isn’t the case with animation!

I have heard from the Cineversity and the R20 new feature videos that PreRender only needs to compile shaders once. But I feel like I would see that message when using ProRender in the preview and then the offline renders almost no matter what.

I had prorender crash on me 3 times while I was tweaking stuff - probably when I switched on Apple Metal support in the Pro Render c4d prefs (metal is supposed to be 10-20% faster, right?). Once I made a simple scene with no shaders, a sphere, ground plane, light, and physical sky and it got stuck on “compiling shaders” for 1:30 before I forced it to quit.

Performance in the IPR/ProRender viewport was still choppy - creating a light and moving it would result in very stuttery performance. I thought once or twice it crashed when I just created a new IPR light and something needed to compute before ProRender would resolve it - I could see the controls for it in the ProRender viewport, but it didn’t show the actual light for another 10-20 seconds.

ProRender is still noisy in complex scenes, but for my work (small vids for social media and ads) it might be a chance to use global illumination for really short animations if I keep it simple. In simple scenes it resolves much more quickly now.

I’m optimistic about getting to learn ProRender, but my lofty expectations have been brought back to reality. I’m still pleased with my purchase but I imagined something wicked fast. Probably because I see the Octane IPR/Redshift in tutorials all the time.

Waiting on Otoy to get Octane on Metal, while hopefully we see some more ProRender updates. There are features in ProRender in the other plugins that haven’t made it to C4d yet, like the denoisier. Here’s hoping for an update in the new year before R21 is out.


#28

Just to join in, I’ve recently switched to Mac, got the new 2018 MacBook Pro with 32gb ram and i7 6 cores to replace my PC at the same specs, older i7 though. Octane is my bread and butter, so I use that with 3 Akitio nodes and in them I’ve put 3 Titan X’s. It’s working flawlessly and I’ve got an octanebench of 470 which is more than when I had them on my PC. I use the 4th thunderbolt 3 port to connect the OWC dock and through that a 4K display @ 60hz which is driven by the Radeon inside the MacBook leaving the titans just for render, 5 external drives and 5 midi devices and even more peripherals… all that with one cable! I find that setup awesome because: The cards have much more space and air so they don’t throttle, are super easy to upgrade, add, switch or carry, and very modular. I can connect all the rest with just one cable when I’m at home and take the MacBook and none or 3 cards (or more) on the road. Also great for music (as a side note). In my office I use a water cooled pc with 7x 1080’s which I will turn to a slave node soon and leave it at that. Just waiting for the new Mac pros in 2019 …
After so many years in windows it’s time to say goodbye. It’s been nice and win7 was the last good one, it was a downhill after that. Win10 is not even an option because for some reason they eat up 30% of your gpu ram on all your cards no matter what!. Those who use octane know what i’m talking about. They also suck for music production with random latency and crackling issues which remain unresolved although many here might not care or ever notice that. Win7 were great, but are now dated and the new adobe applications won’t update to the latest versions on them., they need win10.
So time for the Mac , in a very promising and very modular egpu future. Just don’t update to Mojave yet because nvidia doesn’t support it, still waiting for web drivers.

Sorry for the long post, I hope you find it helpful and encouraging!

Konstantinos D


#29

The T2, Security chip might make downgrading the OS difficult. For people not aware, T2 in the iMac Pro complicates 3rd party repair, and it stores cryptographic keys required to boot.


#30

Hi Konstatntimos,

Sound interesting. I would like to add an TB3 eGPU with Nvidia card to my iMac Pro to use Octane and was wondering what script You use to support it in OSX. I have not upgraded to Mojave fortunately. Is there an golden route to succes?

Thanks!

odo


#31

I would first try fr34k’s eGpu.sh which is fully automated, if that doesn’t work I would go for Purge Wrangler, all the available infos and scripts are on egpu.io (upright corner)
Also have a look at this guide Nvidia egpu on Macs

Best of luck,

Konstantinos D


#32

Wow, 3 external nVidia eGPUs. I only have two TB3 ports on my iMac, so I’m holding out hope that Octane comes to AMD not he Mac, so I can run one internal and two external GPUs.

Good to hear about moving the heat out of the case does good things.


#33

TB periferal can be daisy chained, don’t know about eGPU enclosure though.


#34

Many thanks Konstantinos!

Cheers, odo


#35

i also run an akitio node with a 1080ti on my mbp, thought about adding another one (or 2), good to know that seems to work well with the owc dock… but aren’t 3 of them very noisy all together?


#36

They are fine, much less that what it used to be on my PC where they were all crammed together.

Konstantinos D


#37

Has anybody got or seen any single core Cinebench results for the i7 version of the 2018 Mini?

I’ve seen a few on the multi core, and I wondered how much thermal throttling affects the single core speeds.


#38

Probably it won’t affect single thread at all, to reach thermal limits you should maximize CPU usage.


#39

By the way daisy chaining egpus does work, l’m waiting for another 3 1080ti’s to add for a total of 6 egpus, although I feel 8 would be the max on this MacBook, could be wrong, maybe even more…l’ll post results when they arrive!

Konstantinos D


#40

wow… keep me posted!