• Apple External Graphics eGPU DevKit Performance Preview (Final Cut/Xcode/Windows)

    307 views 4 days ago
    Hey guys in this video we'll be having a sneak peak on how the Apple eGPU developer kit consisting of the Sonnet breakaway box and AMD Radeon RX580 is currently performing on the High Sierra Beta.

    Unboxing: https://youtu.be/gfuFAnsTb-A
    Hardware Setup: https://youtu.be/JQA7Rad7gik
    Installing High Sierra: https://youtu.be/_5y4UWoHfVw
    Disabling SIP: https://youtu.be/Ca6ygQllm4Q
    Jonwatso's eGPU.io Post: http://bit.ly/2sL2aGc
    Purchase: http://apple.co/2sKNYNl

    Big note before we start, High Sierra is currently in Beta so hopefully support for this beat will improve as time goes on, but hopefully we'll learn something together in this preview.

    Ok so first when plug in the external GPU enclosure, you're prompted to log out and back in to utilise it. Final Cut Pro currently crashes on launch, to get around this however you'll need to disable the internal GPU.

    You can do this by disabling SIP, and modifying the files in the system folders. jonwatso from egpu.io has a nice script you can use to automatically mod the required files. You just need to first edit it with the internal GPU type of yours. Run the script, and restart your Mac for the changes to come into effect.

    After restarting your MacBook display will flicker a lot and become a burden to use, so only use this step if you're planning on using an external display. This step should be unnecessary soon as the updates to the new version of Sierra or Final Cut are released, but may still be required for less mainstream applications, as it looks like supporting the enclosure might require app specific updates.

    As you can see now, Final Cut now launches fine, so now it's time to measure the performance. Note, from my previous test I had noticed a 10% performance degradation between the current version of Sierra and the current Beta release of High Sierra, so we'll be also bearing this in mind for this performance test.

    I wanted to see if using the eGPU would speed up the rendering of projects utilising local network media. As you can see, it didn't.

    The BruceX 5k test is a project used in final cut circles to measure the rendering performance of a computer uniformly. Using the internal GPU and Sierra, my MacBook usually takes 1 minute and 30 seconds to render out this project. With the external GPU and High Sierra took 1 minute and 6 seconds. While it is 30% faster, it's...

    I saw no improvement in the performance of scrubbing and local playback of 4K.

    Transcoding the same 4k video file took 6 seconds using the internal GPU setup, where as for some reason it took 14 seconds using the eGPU.

    While exporting to "Apple Devices 4K" failed with the eGPU, exporting my test project to a master file configuration in 4K took 1 minute and 26 seconds using the internal GPU. Exporting using the external GPU took 59 seconds. Another 30% improvement, similar to the BruceX 5k test result!

    Using OpenGL on the iOS simulator was much faster than more, more so than even the speeds on the MacBook Pro 15"

    Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out how to get the eGPU working on Windows. While the Radeon card was successfully listed in device manager, nothing would come out of the HDMI output.
    I tried updating the drivers but unfortunately the Radeon installation utility couldn't detect the hardware.

    I tested Assassin's Creed hoping that maybe the game developers might better detect and utilise the eGPU perhaps for Physics co-processing or an offscreen renderer, however the game's frame rates were still too poor to be playable.

    I found myself sometimes overloading my MacBook when plugging in the eGPU, unless you plug the port in correctly every time, you might see a few sparks.

    The eGPU enclosure added an extra 20 decibels to my serene work environment, and given the shortness of the provided cable, the noise is unavoidable. Given that one of the main marketing points of this enclosure, is that it's the quietest breakaway box. I'd look elsewhere for jumping on the eGPU bandwagon just yet.

    At the moment expect to get a 30% performance bump on rendering with the eGPU kit. I'm hoping that this performance bump is only the start and when High Sierra is released, the eGPU will be performing at least 3 times faster than the internal GPU. But for me personally, the biggest deal breaker other than it's lack of support for Windows gaming, and the one thing I wasn't expecting, was the noise. While this is a quiet box in the world of eGPUs. It is still noisy, very noisy. I think it's best to just go for a Hackintosh solution or wait for the eagerly desired new Mac Pro.

    Would love to hear what you guys think.

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