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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

Razer Core Thunderbolt 3 eGPU works with 'late 2016' MacBook Pro!

Posted March 2nd, 2017 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Caveats updated on March 21st, 2017

With the help of Mikeal on eGPU.io, we were successful at getting the Razer Core eGPU box to play nicely on the 'late 2016' MacBook Pro under macOS Sierra. Let's compare it to the Node eGPX as well as the same GeForce GTX 980 Ti desktop GPU running in the x16 PCIe 2.0 slot of the 'mid 2010' Mac Pro tower.

GRAPH LEGEND
cMP>x16>980Ti - GeForce GTX 980 Ti (6GB) GPU installed in the 'mid 2010' Mac Pro tower's PCIe 2.0 x16 slot #1
rMBP>Node>980Ti - GeForce GTX 980 Ti (6GB) GPU installed in the AKiTiO Node Thunderbolt 3 eGFX Box and connected to a Thunderbolt 3 port of a 'late 2016' MacBook Pro 15-inch
rMBP>Core>980Ti - GeForce GTX 980 Ti (6GB) GPU installed in the Razer Core Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Box and connected to a Thunderbolt 3 port of a 'late 2016' MacBook Pro 15-inch
rMBP>Pro460 - The factory discrete AMD Radeon Pro 460 GPU in the 'late 2016' MacBook Pro 15-inch

The DisplayPort of the GTX 980 Ti GPU was connected by one DisplayPort cable to the Dell 5K 27" display's DisplayPort; Scaled resolution was 2560x1440.

Blender - Lets you choose either OpenCL, CUDA, or CPU to render a 3D Scene. The factory Radeon Pro 460 rendered the BMW GPU Demo scene using OpenCL. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti rendered using CUDA.
(LOWER time in seconds = FASTER)

OctaneRender
This is a "GPU only" standalone renderer that can process scenes created in Maya, ArchiCAD, Cinema 4D, etc. -- and does so in a fraction of the time it takes with a CPU based renderer. However, it only runs only on CUDA capable NVIDIA GPUs like the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. We used the DEMO version with a test scene called octane_benchmark.ocs. For our test we selected RenderTarget PT (Path Tracing).
(LOWER time in seconds = FASTER)

DaVinci Resolve - Candle project playback renders Noise Reduction Node (1NR) on-the-fly. The factory Radeon Pro 460 rendered using OpenCL. The GeForce GTX 980 Ti rendered using CUDA.
(HIGHER frames per second = FASTER)

Final Cut Pro X - Using a sample 1080p 2 minute clip, we rendered a Focus Blur effect.
(LOWER time in Seconds = FASTER)

Motion 5 - Render RAM Preview of Atmospheric 600 frame Template.
(LOWER time in Seconds = FASTER)

LuxMark 3 OpenCL - Both the factory Radeon Pro 460 inside the MacBook Pro and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti rendered using OpenCL.
(HIGHER KSamples per Second = FASTER)

Valley OpenGL Benchmark using Extreme HD Preset
(HIGHER frames per second = FASTER)

Tomb Raider OpenGL game. We ran built-in Benchmark using High preset.
(HIGHER frames per second = FASTER)

WHAT DID WE LEARN?
With one exception, both the Razer Core and AKiTiO Node eGPUs lift the 'late 2016' MacBook Pro to desktop graphics performance. The one exception was Motion where the built-in Radeon Pro 460 actually completes the render of RAM Preview faster than either eGPU.

It is exciting to see the Razer Core join our growing collection of eGPUs that work with the 'late 2016' MacBook Pro. Though designed as a companion product to the Razer Blade line of Windows laptops, from the time it first appeared we have been hoping to get it working under macOS.

CAVEATS (Updated March 21st, 2017)
The Razer Core is NOT plug and play. We almost gave up getting it to work with the MacBook Pro under Sierra until we found the implementation procedure posted by Mikeal on eGPU.io. A key added step seemed to be typing this into Terminal: nvram boot-args='test-dev-mode=1 nvda-drv=1' AFTER running the automate-eGPU.sh script. Then RESTART.

When connecting the Razer Core and powering up the MacBook Pro 2016, the Core was detected but the GPU was not. By unplugging and re-plugging the Thunderbolt 3 cable and re-running automate-eGPU.sh script in Terminal, it indicated that the GPU was now detected. Before leaving Terminal, always re-enter: nvram boot-args='test-dev-mode=1 nvda-drv=1' -- then RESTART. (If that doesn't work, try Shutdown and Power Up.)

It would be nice if it was hot plug and play. Maybe it will be some day if Apple decided to support eGPUs fully. NOTE: None of the eGPUs we have tested are 'hot plug' or 'plug and play.' However, the advantages of an eGPU with a powerful GPU make the hassle easier to endure. There is a reason it is called "Mad Science." Dr. Frankenstein, you may recall, endured a few glitches with his 'creation.'

BECAUSE YOU ASKED...
Advantages of the Razer Core over the AKiTiO Node:
1. Smaller footprint (13.38 x 4.13 x 8.6 inches versus 16.85 x 5.71 x 8.94 inches)
2. Animated LEDs (Requires Razer Blade laptop to customize colors and effects. Our Razer Core retained the 'evil breathing red' settings from last year.)
3. 500 Watt PSU versus Node's 400 Watt PSU (both charge the 2016 Mac Pro)
4. Shipping now (Node not shipping until end of March 2017)

Advantages of the AKiTiO Node over the Razer Core:
1. Costs less ($299 versus $499)
2. On/Off Switch
3. Large, Quiet Exhaust Fan (29.6 dBA) versus vent holes for GPU's fans
4. Optional 2 meter Thunderbolt 3 cable available

"DOES THE RAZER CORE REQUIRE AN EXTERNAL DISPLAY?"
It depends on the apps you run. DaVinci Resolve, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Blender, Octane Render, and PhotoZoom all detected and allowed you to choose the GTX 980 Ti without an external display connected. When the external display was absent, apps like FCPX, Photoshop, Lightroom, Tomb Raider (and other games) ignored the eGPU's GTX 980 Ti.

RELATED ARTICLES
To see other eGPU articles we posted, go to our INDEX page and search on eGPU.

Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to email me,
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WHERE TO BUY Thunderbolt 3 GPU expander boxes

Order the Razer Core direct from RazerZone.com ($499).

The AKiTiO Node eGFX Box will be shipping after March 21, 2017. Order from B&H Photo Video ($269).

Bizon Tech sells the BizonBOX 2S (works with all Thunderbolt 2 Macs). The BizonBOX 3 (designed for Thunderbolt 3 Macs) is shipping bundled with a GPU. If have your own NVIDIA GPU and want to order the empty box ($649), those are back ordered currently.

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copyright 2017 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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