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No issue up to now, everything is stable, easy and cheap setup. However, Nvidia Optimus isn't working with latest Nvidia drivers. Hardware: - Mac mini Late 2012 (MD387LL/A) / Macbook Pro Retina Late 2013 (ME293LL/A) - Akitio Thunder2 - Zotac GTX1050Ti - Samsung T3 Portable SSD - 250GB (for Windows To Go) - DC 12V/12.5A from Aliexpress Setup: - Install Windows 10 as Windows To Go with Rufus; - Install Bootcamp; - Reboot to Windows with Akitio connected and install latest Nvidia Driver; System Start: - Connect External SSD with Windows To Go to your Mac; - Power up and hold down ALT keyboard; - Connect Akitio and wait 2-4 minutes; - Choose Windows from boot menu; sorry guys, I can't attach files here, every times it gives me an error. I uploaded images and benchmarks to my google drive here
Gosmond posted a topic in Implementation Guides - AppleTL;DR: 2012 Mac Mini w/ GTX970 in AkitioTB2 setup installed smoothly & continues to work reliably. ~300% OpenGL performance increase over built-in Intel graphics. Thanks to all who came before me, especially [goalque] with the fantastic "automate eGPU" script. ------ UPDATE 2016-11-06 Setup continues to work flawlessly under OS X 10.11.6. eGPU and monitors are recognized shortly after system power-on 100% of the time. Sleep / wake works fine. Same reliability as built-in graphics, just a lot faster. NOTE, after some security updates were applied (through the App Store updater,) it was necessary to connect a display to the HDMI port, then re-run the 0.9.9 version of automate-eGPU. (But I did not have to turn off system integrity protection again.) ------ UPDATE 2016-05-26 Setup continues to work flawlessly under OS X 10.11.5. GPU / monitors are recognized shortly after system boot-up 100% of the time. Sleep / wake works fine. Same reliability as built-in graphics, just a lot faster. ------------ Setup Specs & Parts **See firmware revisions & other details in footnotes at bottom of this post. Pre-existing hardware/software CPU: late-2012 Mac Mini, Core i7/2.6Ghz (macmini6,2) / 16GB RAM / 500GB Samsung EVO 850 SSD (internal SATAIII bus) OS: OS X 10.11.4 "El Capitan." (Setup initially done & tested under Mac OS X 10.10.5 "Yosemite") Displays: 2 x DELL U2412M, 1920 x 1200 each panel = 3840 x 1200 total pixels. Each display connected via a DVI cable directly to eGPU card. Other peripherals: (2) USB 3. drive docks (for SATA drives) from different makers. Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 (USB3). (3) printers of various kinds. All-in-one USB card reader. New eGPU hardware (all purchased through Amazon) eGPU: ZOTAC-brand GeForce GTX 970 [hereafter called "GTX970"] basic edition (2 fans,) part #ZT-90101-10P eGPU enclosure: Akitio Thunder2 [hereafter called "Akitio"] as described elsewhere on these forums. part #T2PC-TIA-AKTU eGPU external power supply (hereafter called "PSU") : EVGA "Supernova" 550G2 (550 watts), ATX-style power supply, part #220-G2-0550-Y1 eGPU cabling: good-quality GPU-card power cabling came included with the EVGA 550 G2 PSU above. I also ordered a custom-made 4-pin to 5.5/2.5mm barrel adapter to run the Akitio off the PSU, ~$20 on eBay, and a pair of low-profile, "right-handed" 6 pin cables also from eBay. Total cost ~$700 w/ tax & ship. New Software driver (free download) NVIDIA Web Driver CURRENT: 346.03.06f01 Past Versions: 346.02.03f05 (Originally tested driver, worked fine with OS X 10.10.5 and 10.11.3) eGPU hardware setup, driver install, testing Unpacking Notes 3 product cartons shipped in 1 Amazon delivery box. No damage to boxes. Did note a very major rattling sound, metal-on-metal, in the Akitio box. Turned out to be a blank slot cover plate and screw, completely loose & knocking about inside Akitio unit itself (!). With bare circuit boards exposed inside I feared there might be damage but the Akitio unit works normally so far, no worries there. The EVGA 550-watt PSU comes with a full complement of high quality ATX-spec power cables, and also includes a handy & professional-looking tester block to make "the paper clip test" a no-brainer. But it turns out that on the 24-pin wiring harness itself there must be a bad ground, because the included tester block did not work (!). After a call to EVGA tech support (24/7, American english speaking, highly competent,) they had me do an actual paper-clip test and we verified that the issue was just a bad ground in the wiring harness, no problem with the PSU itself. So I am using a paper clip for now. See more about the paperclip below. The Enclosure (Akitio Thunder2) I read elsewhere that this particular ZOTAC GTX970 card (part #ZT-90101-10P) fits inside the Akitio enclosure "without modifications," i.e. completely inside the Akitio, without having to permanently bend open the rear metal flap of the Akitio box. This is a bit misleading for 2 main reasons: 1) In order to get the card to fit at all, even with the Akitio case cover removed, you have to remove both the case fan on the Akitio box, and the metal fan shroud from the GPU card. (These are reversible changes, i.e. you just unscrew the parts.) 2) In order to have the card fit completely inside a closed Akitio case, custom low-clearance GPU-card power connectors (ATX --> 6-pin PCI power) are required. This has been discussed in other posts. 3) Even with the proper low-clearance connectors, if you close the Akitio case completely you must use a fan on the outside of the Akitio to draw air through the box for cooling. In mild climates and with mild usage (i.e. 3d cad modelling where the GPU usage is light) this might be adequate. For continuous / hard use, e.g. 3D gaming, I am sure that the other mods I've seen that involve cutting large air-flow openings in the side and/or top of the Akitio case would be required. But as far as just testing the basic setup with the Akitio case top not installed, this you can do without any permanent modifications. (This was important to me because I wanted the option to return some or all of the parts if things weren't working.) You will definitely need a screw driver and 30 minutes or so. I had to un-mount the rear case fan on the Akitio Thunder2 to get the GTX970 card to fit inside, and remove the fan shroud on the GTX970 card itself. The Power Supply I purposely over-sized the PSU: I wanted it to operate quietly, have a long life, feed the GTX970 all the power it needs, and have headroom for future upgrade to a higher-wattage card. This model also has a 7-year warranty. I have a barrel-connector adapter cable on order from eBay so that I can power the Akitio box off this PSU too, tidying up cabling and eliminating any possibility of ground loop current. Here's a photo of "the paperclip solution" I am currently using to get the PSU to activate and supply power. I took off the tape that is usually on it to keep the paperclip from slipping out. Note that the "TOP" of the connector in the photo is the part with the clip on it. (Be sure to get the orientation correct.) The Power Connections Current setup has everything powered from the PSU: (2) low-profile PCI 6-pin cables for the GPU, and (1) 4-pin molex-to-barrel adapter for the Akitio. When I first tested the setup I did not have a 4-pin-molex-to-barrel adapter, so at that time I just used the provided 60W power brick for the Akitio, and I had no problems with that. (But YMMV, watch out for ground-loop issues when running w/ separate power supplies.) The GTX970 Card As mentioned above I had to remove 4 screws to lift off the metal fan shroud on the GTX970. A completely reversible change in case the card needed to be returned, or if I want to re-sell the card later when I upgrade. The card slotted neatly into the case with some care, it sits square, plumb, and level with the cover off. (Haven't tried putting the Akitio cover on yet.) Data / Video Connections Thunderbolt cable from Akitio to Mac Mini's Thunderbolt-1 (10 Gbps) port. 2 DVI cables from the 2 displays to the 2 DVI ports on the GTX970 card. Software / Driver Install The Akitio box & GTX970 were fully powered up & connected at time of driver install. Downloaded most-recent version of "automate eGPU.sh", ran it in auto mode. Took about 2 or 3 minutes to complete. No errors or warnings occurred. Rebooted, displays came right up without any issue. No problems. Thanks again to [goalque] for making this so easy. Benchmarks: I made no special effort to optimize, i.e. I had my full load of normal apps running in the background, i.e. Mail, Firefox, Safari, Filemaker Pro. Nothing extremely CPU or GPU-intensive, all apps basically idle during benchmarks. Cinebench R15 OpenGL: Before (internal Intel HD4000 graphics): ~19 FPS After (external GTX970 card): ~57 FPS Speedup: about 300% Unigine Valley 1.0: Preset: "Extreme HD" (all settings maxed, 1920 x 1080 full screen): Score 1898, 45.4 FPS avg, 19.6 min, 84.7 max Preset: "Basic" (1280 x 720, windowed, medium quality): Score 2084, 49.8 FPS avg, 23.7 min, 61.7 max Cuda-Z 0.10.251 64-bit (note: requires install of free Mac OS X CUDA driver from Nvidia) Operational Notes (will update in future months) Reliability - Under all conditions & OS's, from 10.10.5 Yosemite through current 10.11.4 El Capitan, I not had any stability, GPU-related crashing, or pixelation/screen-glitch issues. Stress-tested by running Unigine Valley + CUDA-Z in the background for an hour continuously. Noise - GTX970 card: No coil whine. With a bare card the fans are barely audible from 3 feet away in a quiet room (~38 dB(A) background in the room,) with no cover on the Akitio box. Noise - Akitio box: The case fan that comes with the Akitio box is lower-quality Sunon model which has a quiet but noticeable hum. I will be replacing this with a high-quality fan at some point. Noise - PSU: Dead silent so far, fan does not even turn on due to low power draw / cool ambient temps. [Comment: This is a very good-quality power supply.] Note: These noise figures are with ~55ºF / 90% rel. humidity in winter. Will update these noise remarks in summer when it is ~90ºF ambient / ~40% RH. Heat - GTX970: Copper heatsink tubes stay at ambient temperature when card is idle. Under stress-testing running BOTH Unigine Valley at Ultra settings AND CUDA-Z in "stress test" mode, I estimate the heatsink tubes at ~140ºF by touch. But even under heaviest continuous load the GTX970 fans never spun up past idle. Will update this in future when I complete a closed-case / cover-on-the-Akitio-box setup. Heat - PSU: case is barely warm to the touch so probably ~78ºF or so. System integration: Putting the Mac to sleep works flawlessly, no delays or glitches. Once in sleep mode the GTX970 powers down completely, fans stop spinning. Akitio case also appears to sleep properly. Wake-from-sleep also works without any issues: 1 mouse click & everything fires up normally. Disconnecting & re-connecting display cables (i.e. HDMI / DVI) works fine & is auto-detected on the fly in the normal way. However, the GTX970 itself (via Thunderbolt cable) must remain connected, it is not "hot-pluggable." Note: The "built in" Mac OS X Nvidia drivers do not work with this card in an eGPU configuration. You must use the "NVIDIA Web driver." Performance Analysis TL;DR the GTX970 takes a ~15-20% performance hit when communicating over Thunderbolt 1. Subjectively the GTX970 is just plain fast, it handles Unigine Valley at "Ultra" settings (maxed out) without stutter or lag. Using my CAD software (Vectorworks 2016) with complex, hi-polygon-count models (>10K to 100K polygons) in OpenGL rendering mode is a dream. Very smooth 3D pan/zoom/rotate experience even with Vectorworks OpenGL settings maxed out & all features on. (Anti-aliasing, edges, shadows, etc.) Many other threads on this forum have exhaustively analyzed the performance impacts of various connection methods (PCIe / Thunderbolt / ExpressCard / etc,) please refer to those for in-depth discussion and test results. Closing Thoughts Thanks again to all who came before & shared their experiences & suggestions. If anyone has or is considering a similar setup & has questions or wants me to try testing a configuration feel free to ask. FAQ's: Q. I just updated from OS X 10.9.x / 10.10.x / 10.11.x to the latest revision and my card is no longer recognized?? A. Major OS updates seem to reset the System Integrity Protection flag. You need to reboot into a Recovery Partition, then open Terminal and do "csrutil disable". Then reboot and re-run the latest automate-eGPU script. Q. Can I use the provided Akitio 60-watt power brick to power the Akitio case, with a separate ATX power supply for the GPU card at the same time? A. In theory this is not optimal because there could be ground-loop current issues. But in practice I did this for over a week (waiting for a barrel connector to arrive) and I experienced no problems whatsoever. YMMV and use caution. Footnotes: -------------- Mac Mini (late-2012,) 16GB RAM Model Name: Mac mini Model Identifier: Macmini6,2 Processor Name: Intel Core i7 Processor Speed: 2.6 GHz Number of Processors: 1 Total Number of Cores: 4 L2 Cache (per Core): 256 KB L3 Cache: 6 MB Memory: 16 GB Boot ROM Version: MM61.0106.B0A SMC Version (system): 2.8f0 Serial Number (system): C07KMxxxxxx (redacted) Thunderbolt Bus (on board): Vendor Name: Apple Inc. Device Name: Mac mini UID: 0x0001000D1421FFA0 Route String: 0 Firmware Version: 23.4 Cable Firmware Version: 1.1.0 Link Controller Firmware Version: 0.12.3 AKiTiO Thunder 2 Box Vendor Name: inXtron Device Name: AKiTiO Thunder 2 Box Vendor ID: 0x41 Device ID: 0x236 Device Revision: 0x1 UID: 0x00410236155001A0 Route String: 1 Firmware Version: 24.1 Port (Upstream): Status: Device connected Link Status: 0x2 Speed: Up to 10 Gb/s x2 Current Link Width: 0x1 Cable Firmware Version: 1.1.0 Link Controller Firmware Version: 0.14.0 ZOTAC GeForce GTX 970 card Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 Type: GPU Bus: PCIe PCIe Lane Width: x4 VRAM (Total): 4095 MB Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de) Device ID: 0x13c2 Revision ID: 0x00a1 ROM Revision: VBIOS 84.04.36.00.6e ==== Kernel_2016-03-18-120144-Mac-mini.zip Kernel_Panic_2016-03-18-120144-Mac-mini.zip
HammerFET posted an article in GuidesI've been sitting on this build for a while, meaning to make a build log but its been so long I've forgotten most of it! So here's the short and sweet version! My previous build with this card was a water-cooled wall mounted windows gaming machine. This was a great rig for a former student just having started a new job with still a fair bit of time on his hands... Then things got busy, and the water beast became stagnant. Long story short, I converted to mac mostly due to requiring portability yet still wanting a powerful machine that wasn't a total door stop to carry around. So it became that a GTX 970 soon found its way on my book shelf in a nice compact case. Just for kicks, heres my old rig! Firstly, why did i drop the water-cooling? The original plan was to make a similar wall mounted eGPU. After some pondering I came to the conclusion that this particular card I owned wasn't much of an overclocker. I hadn't actually bothered unlocking the card or overclocking it a whole lot. I had planned to do it, but it had never happened. For 5 months I had used the card running on stock power and it was still maxing out games on my 2560x1080 ultra wide. I went ahead a bought the Akitio thunder 2 off a german website, delivered to the UK within two days for a very good price! I initially used a 120W 12V power brick to run the card, clearly this didn't cut it, and the card would die instantly on load. I resorted to grabbing a Dell DA2 18A power brick and things started working great! This post by dschjin inspired me to try the noctua fans with the stock heatsink. To my surprise they worked very well and I was getting great temps under load. I could even hold my previous water-cooled overclock and it would hang around 75 degrees C. I then proceeded to create a funky case cooling design, and two days of drilling later I ended up with this! It looked great! But it was an awful cooling solution... absolutely useless, wouldn't even hold stock settings before throttling... I then decided to cut out the entire side and top panel with the idea of finding a grill/mesh material to put in its place. I ended up going with a desktop wire magazine holder like this one: Here it is cut out I then cut it to size and slid it between the fans and the edge of the aluminium case. Its all very much a tight fit and required a lot of effort to close while keeping everything in place. I used some PCIe power extenders that plugged on the top of the card as two six pin power. They required trimming of the plastic and heat shrink to get the clearance: As you can see the sharp inside of the aluminium enclosure already mangled the nice new heat shrink! The fans are also just about held in place with some bits of plastic. Due to the design of the heatsink, the fans couldn't be sat flush without having to cut some metal tabs and bending things. the way it is now lets the fans sit tight between the mesh and the heatsink. Once the case is closed, nothing can move. I then added a power switch with LED (switch contacts go on the dell PSU and led goes to the existing led pins on the Akitio motherboard. chopped up 24pin ate connector is in there as a total bodge job. The wires are breaded in pairs and simply pass through the vent holes of the card. Too easy! The wires are stiff enough that it doesn't really matter anyway. Finally, here are a few of my favourite things! Electrical tape to cover up sharp edges of steel. 3M VHB tape can stick anything to anything like foam tape! Then come off like it was never there. I swear by this stuff! sharpie to coverup dings and dents Wago wire to wire clamps, these things are quicker and much more reliable than terminal blocks if you're too lazy to solder wires together. Like me! stick on foam to space out bits of floating mesh grill and make a snug fit mains powered dremel with EZ click metal cutting disk. This thing makes short work of thick aluminium. And don't forget boys and girls, always wear protection! Software woes Lets just say the hardware was the easy bit.. I started out with a bootcamp of Windows 10 and the card would just about start. It seemed very unreliable, sometimes it would work everytime, then I'd get home one day and the thing just didn't want to start.. Optimus made everything worse, though it was great when it worked. I ended up going to several installs of windows 10 and 8.1, even a UEFI rebuild.. Finally I gave in a resorted to OSX drivers. Automate GPU is fantastic and it just works. I've been very surprised how well most of my steam library works on OSX. I had a nice surprise the other day when I found out Thief was available for OSX and that sold it to me. I got rid of my windows partition and all my gaming is done in OSX now. Overall this seems to be a great solution for portable computing and still having the ability to run desktop graphics. I've been very surprised and look forward to Thunderbolt 3 where this should be natively supported! For those interested, I did manage to get a fair bit of overclocking done within windows when I had it working, here are the results: CPU temps: Card info: Over thunderbolt: running this card on a Z77 desktop motherboard with i5 3570k @ 4.2GHz gave : In OSX again: