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eGPU on a Macbook Pro

Carmina
Carmina
✭✭✭
Hey,

just wanted to share some info regarding this. I have a 15" late 2016 MBP (the one with the four USB-C connectors running TB3), I am running this on an LG 38" screen with 3840x1600. On medium settings, I got around 22fps in that scenario. I decided to go with an eGPU and give that a try. So I got me a Sonnet Puck 570. Here is what I can say so far:

1. Support is seamless, there is nothing you can do, and nothing you have to. Plug it in, and go. From what I can tell, it will replace the internal fast graphics of the MBP, so the automatic switching is still there. The TB3 cable is included with the Puck.
2. If you are using the Puck with an external monitor, the Puck has to be in between. It will accelerate the internal display if you just connect it to the MBP, but if you want an external display accelerated, you have to connect that to the Puck, not the MBP.
3. You should use HDMI. In my setup, on DisplayPort I had blackouts, meaning the monitor going black, for about two seconds, reaching from once every couple minutes to once every ten seconds. Very annoying in a fight where you need to react fast.
4. If you just use the external screen, the screen will only switch on when the graphical interface starts. It will not show the Apple logo during boot, for example.
5. The integrated fan is audible, but a lot less so than my MBP freaking out temperature-wise and trying to keep a cool head.

The all important performance question:
In my setup (and please keep in mind that I am running a pretty big resolution) I see frame rates of 40-60fps in a High setting. Which for me is a huge improvement and makes the game really playable. Apart from that, I did not notice any adverse effects.

So, if any of you guys have questions, fire away. I will try to answer everything :)

Take care,

C.
  • alterfenixeb17_ESO
    alterfenixeb17_ESO
    ✭✭✭
    Hi, sorry for necro. Nice to know that it works. Could you let us know how this worked out in a long run? I have just ordered new Mini and Vega 64 and I hope that will be an improvement over my current setup.
  • ningauble_7b14_ESO
    I've been experimenting with playing ESO with an egpu for over a year now. Originally it was with a 2016 15" MBpro, Razer core v2 and a gtx 1080. It worked well in windows but I couldn't reliably get the workarounds/hacks to work to use it in MacOS.

    I then sold the 15" and got an i7 2018 13". When I saw posts on the nvidia forums claiming that RTX series drivers were going to be available (soon) for MacOS I Sold the 1080 and bought an rtx 2080. This worked great in windows (was even hot plug/hot unplug capable), but there is a huge disconnect between Apple and Nvidia, so 6 months after Mojave's release there are no nvidia drivers and I am not holding my breath now about them arriving anytime soon, if ever.

    My latest setup I swapped out the rtx 2080 for a Radeon VII, which has native driver support in the latest MacOS 10.14.5 public beta. I can get the Radeon VII working in both Windows and MacOS.

    Performance in Windows is a little lower than the 2080, but can run ESO well at 4k around 70fps most places, with dips down into the 40's in crowded cities and very large pvp fights.

    In MacOS the Radeon VII struggles a bit at 4k, not sure how much is attributable to the beta drivers/os, and how much to the current state of the ESO moltenvk client. Fps is around 50ish with frequent dips into the 40s and occasional dips lower. All around smoothness is less than in windows, the game hitches more frequently. Kicking it down to 1440p makes it much more playable.

    All of this is with the cards in question connected directly to an external display. You can use the egpu to accelerate the internal display but there is a big performance hit because it chews up thunderbolt bandwidth routing the output back to the computer.

    Windows egpu support in boot camp is not officially supported by Apple, can require some workarounds, but is fairly easy to set up. MacOS egpu support is officially supported and works well, but the cards supported are very limited (Recent AMD only).
  • alterfenixeb17_ESO
    alterfenixeb17_ESO
    ✭✭✭
    Ok, I have just tried with the following setup:

    Mac mini 2018, Core i7, 8 GB RAM
    Razer Core X
    Gigabyte Vega 64 OC

    When started first time I was getting around 10 fps in my own villa (no players around). After restart I have managed to get stable 40 fps in Alinor and in each single combat I had. Didn't try Cyrodiil yet but looks promising. Using ultra settings with shadows set to high and QHD resolution.

    Edit: Outside of cities this goes to as far as 60 fps. I still need to change my RAM and see how does it impact performance.

    Also with those occasional performance losses this is most likely problem of the card or connection but rather game itself. It happens on internal dedicated cards too.
    Edited by alterfenixeb17_ESO on April 30, 2019 11:23AM
  • ningauble_7b14_ESO
    I've kicked down shadows to high from ultra, and pulled view distance in to 50 percent, and still not able to keep fps above 50 at 4k. Have to kick down to 1440p. Dungeons and Battlegrounds performance are particularly poor, compared to Windows with the same hardware. Hopefully more optimizations from the dev team are under way.
  • alterfenixeb17_ESO
    alterfenixeb17_ESO
    ✭✭✭
    Well compared to Windows version performance is in general worse at least since Murkmire.

    After a week of testing still easily getting 40 fps with Ultra settings, 100 view distance and HBAO enabled so it is very playable actually. Stability wise also I cannot confirm some of those reports claiming random GPU disconnects. Each time my session was 5 - 10 hours with no issue at all.
  • ningauble_7b14_ESO
    I accidentally stumbled across part of the reason why my 4k performance is so poor, even with a Radeon VII. There is something very odd about how the cpu frequency behaves in ESO, especially in situations where the game can be heavily cpu bottlenecked.

    I've been struggling to keep fps consistently above 40fps in open world areas of the game that in windows on the same hardware basically hover around 60-70fps. I've been running Activity Monitor with the gpu graph window open and Intel Power Tool to see what is going on with the CPU. Under normal circumstances, the gpu activity stays more or less maxed, and the cpu utilization bounces between 15-40 percent, which is more or less what I see in Windows. What isn't the same as windows is while I am playing the game, the cpu frequency bounces around between 2.6 and 3.7 ghz mainly staying about 3ghz on average. In Windows with ESO running, the cpu turbos to 4.1ghz (the max multicore turbo for my i7-8559u), and performance is very very close to my desktop i7-5960x overclocked to 4.3ghz.

    The other day I was backing up my bootcamp partition using winclone. Winclone utilizes about 1 cpu core/thread and maxes it out. While it is running a backup, it bumps the cpu up to 4.1ghz more or less constant. I was running ESO while doing the backup and all of a sudden my fps was much higher by about 10-15fps. As soon as winclone finished, cpu frequency and game performance dropped back to what it was doing before.

    I was able to reproduce the same behavior by running a terminal program I knew would max out one cpu thread. I opened terminal and ran:

    yes > /dev/null &

    I then ran eso, and the cpu was turboing to 4.1ghz and performance was much improved again.

    In order to stop the "yes" process when I was finished I ran:

    killall yes

    Now throughout all of this, I was also monitoring temperatures on the cpu, and it at most plateaud at 90 degrees c. Without another process causing the cpu to fully turbo up, the cpu is not power or temp throttling, but seems to be down clocking due to not being fully loaded? Is there any way the devs could make the game perform like this without having to run a secondary background process to force the cpu to turbo properly?

    Here are some screen captures to illustrate:
    Without yes > /dev/null & running
    713zpx2hoy8k.png
    b1fnd00r0txu.png


    And with yes > /dev/null & running:
    0eih60rgwhvz.png
    1vfkave0c5by.png

    12fps difference and much more consistent, smoother performance by far.

    Edited by ningauble_7b14_ESO on May 9, 2019 8:10PM
  • nCats
    nCats
    ✭✭✭
    @ningauble_7b14_ESO not the same experience with yes on i5 2017 iMac here. I really don't understand what the bottelneck is in the current configuration of the game. Like, nothing is used but everything is sloppy...
  • ningauble_7b14_ESO
    There is probably more than one issue going on here. The CPU frequency thing seems like it may be more of an Apple thing than a ZoS issue, I also submitted it to Apple via the Beta Feedback Assistant. Open World performance was much better as illustrated by my screenshots above, but I still can't find a way to get battlegrounds playable at 4k or even 1440p really, fps dips into the low 30's and the choppiness limits my ability to keep people in my reticle and react quickly. One other issue I discovered is that if vsync is on, fps gets capped at either 30 or 60, and running safari with a youtube video in the background seems to force vsync on and produce the same odd fps capping.
  • alterfenixeb17_ESO
    alterfenixeb17_ESO
    ✭✭✭
    I accidentally stumbled across part of the reason why my 4k performance is so poor, even with a Radeon VII. There is something very odd about how the cpu frequency behaves in ESO, especially in situations where the game can be heavily cpu bottlenecked.

    I've been struggling to keep fps consistently above 40fps in open world areas of the game that in windows on the same hardware basically hover around 60-70fps. I've been running Activity Monitor with the gpu graph window open and Intel Power Tool to see what is going on with the CPU. Under normal circumstances, the gpu activity stays more or less maxed, and the cpu utilization bounces between 15-40 percent, which is more or less what I see in Windows. What isn't the same as windows is while I am playing the game, the cpu frequency bounces around between 2.6 and 3.7 ghz mainly staying about 3ghz on average. In Windows with ESO running, the cpu turbos to 4.1ghz (the max multicore turbo for my i7-8559u), and performance is very very close to my desktop i7-5960x overclocked to 4.3ghz.

    The other day I was backing up my bootcamp partition using winclone. Winclone utilizes about 1 cpu core/thread and maxes it out. While it is running a backup, it bumps the cpu up to 4.1ghz more or less constant. I was running ESO while doing the backup and all of a sudden my fps was much higher by about 10-15fps. As soon as winclone finished, cpu frequency and game performance dropped back to what it was doing before.

    I was able to reproduce the same behavior by running a terminal program I knew would max out one cpu thread. I opened terminal and ran:

    yes > /dev/null &

    I then ran eso, and the cpu was turboing to 4.1ghz and performance was much improved again.

    In order to stop the "yes" process when I was finished I ran:

    killall yes

    Now throughout all of this, I was also monitoring temperatures on the cpu, and it at most plateaud at 90 degrees c. Without another process causing the cpu to fully turbo up, the cpu is not power or temp throttling, but seems to be down clocking due to not being fully loaded? Is there any way the devs could make the game perform like this without having to run a secondary background process to force the cpu to turbo properly?

    Here are some screen captures to illustrate:
    Without yes > /dev/null & running
    713zpx2hoy8k.png
    b1fnd00r0txu.png
    12fps difference and much more consistent, smoother performance by far.
    Actually those frequencies look weird in general. I have checked mine and when game is running it seems that it rarely drops below 4 Ghz. The difference is that I am using Mac Mini and not laptop. Looks like some sort of power saving enabled by system for CPU. Also temperature does not go really beyond 70 degrees.
  • Delpi
    Delpi
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    I'm thinking about buying an egpu for my mac instead of buying a new computer (It's an old MacBook, but I'm still happy with it) Which enclosure do you recommend? And is it worth for boost ESO performance?
    "I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee..."
  • Coorbin
    Coorbin
    Delpi wrote: »
    I'm thinking about buying an egpu for my mac instead of buying a new computer (It's an old MacBook, but I'm still happy with it) Which enclosure do you recommend? And is it worth for boost ESO performance?

    I have a 2018 MacBook Pro (Core i9 6-core CPU, 32 GB RAM, Vega Pro 20) and a Radeon VII eGPU in a Sonnet Breakaway Box 650. It definitely improves the performance at the same screen resolution, or otherwise it can maintain good (but possibly slower) performance at higher screen resolution.

    Basically, the screen of a MacBook Pro will render ESO at a logical resolution of 1680x1050 on a 15" Retina display (the Retina feature that advertises super high resolutions, way above 1680x1050, is basically for making text and other non-3D elements look sharper). The more pixels your GPU has to push, the lower your FPS will be.

    Usually when my eGPU is attached, I like to use much higher resolution fixed displays instead of just the laptop's built-in display. So instead of a 1680x1050 display, I have ESO on a 34" Predator X34, which has a resolution of 3440x1440 -- much higher. Although the Radeon VII is a much more capable GPU than the 2018 MBP's Vega Pro 20, the framerates are only slightly higher running on this large display.

    When playing ESO on the built-in display of the Mac with the eGPU, framerates are much, much higher -- although still not very consistent; certain scenes in ESO just seem to tank FPS no matter what operating system or hardware you have.

    Basically, the performance I get is somewhere like this:

    Low-load scenes, Vega Pro 20, internal display: 100 FPS or more
    Medium-load scenes, Vega Pro 20, internal display: 50-70 FPS
    Worst-case scenes, Vega Pro 20, internal display: 10-20 FPS

    Low-load scenes, Radeon VII, 3440x1440 external display: 100 FPS or more
    Medium-load scenes, Radeon VII, 3440x1440 external display: 50-80 FPS
    Worst-case scenes, Radeon VII, 3440x1440 external display: 10-20 FPS

    Low-load scenes, Radeon VII, internal display: 100 FPS or more
    Medium-load scenes, Radeon VII, internal display: 80-100 FPS
    Worst-case scenes, Radeon VII, internal display: 10-20 FPS

    Note, if you get a slower eGPU like an RX 580, or only have Thunderbolt 2, you probably won't get anywhere near as good results with an eGPU. These results are from Mojave and a current build of the game (Elsweyr).

    TL;DR: a high-end eGPU connected via Thunderbolt 3 40 Gbps is going to either improve your framerate at the same resolution, or give you the ability to get playable framerates with high-res external monitors. A low-end eGPU isn't really worth the money. Don't bother with Macs that only have Thunderbolt 2; to get better graphics performance from these you should just upgrade the machine to a newer model with Thunderbolt 3 or a more powerful builtin GPU (or both).
  • Delpi
    Delpi
    ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks, @Coorbin for this information. I appreciate it. :)
    "I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee..."
  • alterfenixeb17_ESO
    alterfenixeb17_ESO
    ✭✭✭
    Delpi wrote: »
    I'm thinking about buying an egpu for my mac instead of buying a new computer (It's an old MacBook, but I'm still happy with it) Which enclosure do you recommend? And is it worth for boost ESO performance?
    Using Razer Core X with Vega 64 by Gigabyte. I am playing using QHD resolution and ultra settings.

    There are actually no loading screens outside of usual when changing zone (which is rather quick). In cities such as Alinor I get around 30 fps, outside of cities it depends on how many people are around but usually it is 50 - 60 fps. In dungeons and delves it can go to sa much as 100 even.

    However if you have only Thunderbolt 2 at your disposal then keep in mind that this is rather not enough for actual eGPU with only 20 Gbps and you will unlikely get anywhere close to those results really.
    Edited by alterfenixeb17_ESO on July 9, 2019 5:08PM
  • TeamAwesomee
    TeamAwesomee
    Soul Shriven
    Is there anyone who has experience with the Blackmagic eGPU? I am considering to buy it but want to know if it really improves my game. Thanks in advance! :)
  • alterfenixeb17_ESO
    alterfenixeb17_ESO
    ✭✭✭
    Is there anyone who has experience with the Blackmagic eGPU? I am considering to buy it but want to know if it really improves my game. Thanks in advance! :)
    I was considering it but in the end I did not buy. Reason is simple: My current setup containing Vega 64 did cost about 60% price of Blackmagic Vega 56 and just a little bit more than Radeon 580. Those devices by Blackmagic are really nice and cool but this is only providing you really care this much about design itself. Otherwise there may be better options especially with Radeon VII already out there.

    Also it all depends on what hardware you currently use. if it's some internal GPU then surely this will be a huge help. If you already have discrete GPU like Radeon 560 on the other hand this may not be worth of it - not enough benefit for too high price.
  • Delpi
    Delpi
    ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have an old MacBook pro mid-2012 and I just bought an egpu combo (Razer core + AMD RX 580 + thunderbolt adapter)

    In cities like Rimnen, I only got 10-15 fps (unplayable) but with this egpu I boost it to 40 fps. I know that perhaps for you this isn't good enough, but for me, it's cheaper than buying a new computer o:) I'm so happy that I just want to share it with you.
    "I used to be an adventurer like you. Then I took an arrow in the knee..."
  • alterfenixeb17_ESO
    alterfenixeb17_ESO
    ✭✭✭
    Delpi wrote: »
    I have an old MacBook pro mid-2012 and I just bought an egpu combo (Razer core + AMD RX 580 + thunderbolt adapter)

    In cities like Rimnen, I only got 10-15 fps (unplayable) but with this egpu I boost it to 40 fps. I know that perhaps for you this isn't good enough, but for me, it's cheaper than buying a new computer o:) I'm so happy that I just want to share it with you.
    Actually considering what kind of hardware it is (Thunderbolt 1 so only 10 Gbps) I would call it a decent result really.

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