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lukeperman

2014 Mac Mini (Iris, Late 2014) + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder2) + Win10/OSX10.11 [lukeperman]

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Finally got my Akitio set up working last week. Over three months in the planning... trying to source all the parts from Sydney Australia wasn't as easy as I thought it would be.

 

Machine

 

Apple Mac Mini (Late 2014)

i7-4578U @ 3.0hz

16GB RAM

250GB SSD

Iris 5100 Graphics

 

eGPU Hardware

 

- Akitio Thunder2 box (approx $430 AUD)

(Bought on a trip to Jakarta, Indonesia. This cost me a lot of $$, but easier than importing to Australia from the US)

- Inno3D Herculez X1 GTX 970 ($550 AUD)

(Not the cheapest card I could have got, but it was important to me to have one that fitted in the box without any modification)

-  Dell DA-2 Power supply ($50 AUD)

(Got really lucky with this one - found a GumTree ad from someone just a few miles away in Queensland selling one!)

- Power cable (approx $30 AUD)

(Props to Dschijn for helping me with the cable to fix everything together.)

 

Total - $1060 AUD! Not exactly the cheapest hobby project I ever put together... but overall I'm very very happy with the results.

 

Predominantly for use with my (Late 2014) Mac Mini in the lounge for game playing in Windows, but I was on a roll so also installed the drivers on the MacBook Pro too for fun.

 

Installation

 

Installing on the Mac Mini was somewhat easy, using the OSX script from goalque on this forum.

 

I'm running El Capitan so was unsure if the script would work at all, but it worked first try. All I had to do was boot into recovery mode first and run the 'csrutil disable' command for the script to work. I'll have to remember to go back in and re-enable it sometime.

 

Next step was to boot the Mac Mini into Windows 10. Hearing the reported issues I didn't expect it to work at all. But lo and behold, as soon as Windows fired up, it recognised the Nvidia card and prompted me to download the driver. Did that, and then rebooted and the card worked immediately. I can now flip between Mac OS or Windows partitions with ease whilst the box and card are plugged in. The only thing I noticed is both the box and card need to be 'on' before starting up the Mac Mini. Once the Mac starts up, the thunderbolt connection 'wakes' the eGPU and powers it up.

 

Here are a few beauty shots:

 

IMG_0461.thumb.jpg.8220e608aff07d4376c85

 

IMG_0467.thumb.jpg.7754ffdb265b12459ed34

 

IMG_0469.thumb.jpg.89366ee6f6e8c70ebf189

 

IMG_0869.thumb.jpg.17b38696470993f0f7818

 

At the moment the power cable connection is a little clumsy, and I have to use the card with the box open until I solve how to thread the cable out through the back. I don't want to drill any unnecessary holes, and my original plan was to remove the Akitio power plug connector from the board, solder the Akitio power cable directly to the board inside and thread the connector for the DA-2 out of the existing Akitio power plug hole. This looks to not be as straightforward as I first thought, so will probably take me a little while to figure out how best to do it.

 

Right now I remove the Akitio outer case then plug everything together each time I want to use the GPU, and then take apart when I'm done so that I'm not leaving the GPU exposed when not in use. I'm terrified that I'm going to break the cable somehow whilst doing this, so will look to find a way to wire it all up permanently soon.

 

The Akitio board also begins to run a little hot whilst powered up so I will likely end up cutting a hole in the external case at some point anyway. I have purchase a honeycomb fan grille from eBay ready for when I get around to cutting a hole in the casehttp://www.ebay.com.au/itm/161776314302?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

 

Regardless of all this, I'm well happy with the setup and now just run the eGPU with the external case removed:

 

IMG_0870.thumb.jpg.6f194e5194cc7c94831cb

 

It would be good to see how others on this forum have solved the power cable issue. I see some are threading the wires through the tiny slots in the end of the GPU card, and some have cut a hole in the front of the Akitio box. I'm really looking for the least destructive method possible :)


Results

 

I must admit the results are not as favourable as expected, but I suppose I did compromise a little on the GPU. Overall I'm still very happy with the performance I'm getting in the games I actually put it together for. These were obtained using an eGPU attached to an external Samsung HDTV and the Windows Power Plan set to 'High Performance'.

 

3dmark11.GPU=12440
3dmark13-FS.GPU=9489

 

Edited by nando4
merged 3dmark results
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@lukeperman, would you mind running 3dmark13 and 3dmark11 and linking the results?  Pls ensure your Windows Power Plan, setting it to 'High Performance' and re-run the benchmarks on an external LCD attached to the eGPU.

 

I'm curious how the Inno3D card does there. It also means I can place you in the appropriate place on the leaderboard at https://www.techinferno.com/index.php?/forums/topic/8919-implementations-hub-tb-ec-mpcie/#dx11

 

Can I ask that pics and spec details be posted of the mac Mini?

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Hey Nando.

 

No worries - thanks for the Windows tip, I'll check it out then report back. BTW the benchmarks and the screenshot above are from my Mac Mini (Late 2014) connected to a Samsung HDTV - it's not an iMac:) I corrected some of the info but no doubt you'll straighten it out if need be :D

 

I'll take some pics with the Mac Mini set up - it might take a little while though as I'm about to away for a week. Cheers.

 

Results

 

Ok, I put the power plan on 'High performance'' and re-ran the 3D Mark benchmarks and got this result:

 

GPU 12440:

http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/10994632

 

GPU 9489:

http://www.3dmark.com/fs/7718177

 

A slight bump on the previous scores...

 

I then remembered that I had set the 3D setting in the Nvidia control panel to favour quality over performance. Should I switch that to performance too? I'm now wondering what else I should tweak and optimise in my Windows installation!

 

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10 minutes ago, lukeperman said:

Results

 

Ok, I put the power plan on 'High performance'' and re-ran the 3D Mark benchmarks and got this result:

 

GPU 12440:

http://www.3dmark.com/3dm11/10994632

 

GPU 9489:

http://www.3dmark.com/fs/7718177

 

A slight bump on the previous scores...

 

I then remembered that I had set the 3D setting in the Nvidia control panel to favour quality over performance. Should I switch that to performance too? I'm now wondering what else I should tweak and optimise in my Windows installation!

 

The results are now within what I'd expect of your Mac Mini.  The somewhat misleading information is that 3dmark reports your system as having a i7-4710HQ quad-core CPU when in fact it's a dual-core i7. The Physics results (CPU) are therefore correct for a dual-core CPU.

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Additional info:

 

Now that I've played with this for a couple of weeks, I've observed that Mac OSX doesn't like it if I set the Startup Disk to be the Windows partition. It will just put the computer into a boot loop where it will continuously restart. The only way I can start in Windows is if I hold down ALT during startup and choose the Windows partition from the boot menu that appears. I was doing this 'blind' for a while, as the HDMI cable is running from the GPU to my Samsung HDTV, and for some reason the Mac doesn't display from the eGPU until the OS has loaded. But sometimes I didn't get the partition selected properly and booted into Mac OSX by accident.

 

To try and minimise this, I decided to also run another HDMI cable directly from the Mac Mini to the Samsung so that I can see what I'm doing. This created new problems, and sometimes the Mac or Windows OS wouldn't boot properly. After much playing around I have a stable setup where I can boot into either OS. The trick was to ensure the display preferences in each OS are 'extended desktops' instead of mirroring. This is what I wanted anyway as I don't want to run the same load through the integrated GPU. That would defeat the object of having the eGPU!

 

I have the HDMI cable from the Mac Mini running into the HDMI3 port on the Samsung, and set the port name to 'DVI PC' in the Samsung setting (Source > Tools > Edit name). The eGPU has a cable going directly into the HDMI port marked 'DVI' on the Samsung, and this one is set to be 'PC' in the Samsung name setting. Reason for this is that 'DVI PC' would not pick up the computer audio from the eGPU. The reason for setting the names of the HDMI ports on the Samsung is so that the Mac/Windows screens would display at the proper resolution with no overscan/underscan issues.

 

I can now boot into Mac OS or Windows every time. The eGPU is switched on before powering on the Mac. I just have to flip between HDMI3 & HDMI1 channels on the TV to see the screen output from either GPU.

 

I'm just waiting for the fan grill I ordered from eBay a while ago. Once I have this I'll start modding the case. :)

Edited by lukeperman

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Good! :D

Since it is a PC card and drivers aren't loaded before the OS, the GPU can't output a singal that early. Only flashed GPUs will work, but that isn'T really worth the hassle.

In Windows you can also disable the "monitor" that is recognized from the direct connection to the Mini. By that you will have the boot selection, but not two monitors in Windows.

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