Can the 2018 Mac mini with an eGPU compete with the "Big Dogs" running Pro Apps?
December 7th, 2018, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
After we published results for a 2018 Mac mini with an eGPU box, the question was raised, "Is it now on par with an upgraded Mac Pro tower or a low-end iMac Pro -- running Pro Apps?" We have an answer.
Mac mini 6-core UHD 630 = 2018 Mac mini 3.2 GHz 6-Core i7 with UHD 630 GPU
Mac mini 6-core RX 580 = 2018 Mac mini 3.2 GHz 6-Core i7 with eGPU + RX 580 GPU
Mac Pro 12-core RX 580 = 2010 Mac Pro 3.33GHz 12-core Xeon X5680, RX 580 GPU
Mac mini 6-core Vega 56 = 2018 Mac mini 3.2 GHz 6-Core i7 with eGPU + RX Vega 56 GPU
Mac Pro 12-core Vega 56 = 2010 Mac Pro 3.33GHz 12-core Xeon X5680, RX Vega 56 GPU
iMac Pro 8-core Vega 64 = 2017 iMac Pro 3.2GHz 8-core Xeon W-2140B, Pro Vega 64 GPU.
This is a looping playback of a 1080p clip (Candle project) with noise reduction added and rendering on the fly. (HIGHER frames per second = FASTER)
Using the DELIVER function, we transcoded our R3D 4K clip to ProRes 4444 XQ 4K. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
We rendered RAM Preview of the 600 frame Atmospheric sample project. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
Final Cut Pro
We used the BruceX sample project to create a ProRes 4444 XQ 5120x2700 Master File. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
We had FCPX send the BruceX project to Compressor to create a Apple Device HEVC 10-bit version. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
We took a 67x50 inch image and upscaled it by 400%. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
We transcoded a ProRes 422 1080p clip to Apple Device 1080p30 Surround H.264. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
We rendered the AE Test project. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
We exported a 3 minute R3D 5K clip to Blu-ray MP4 1080p. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
We exported 100 Sony 7952x5304 DNG images to full-size JPEG. (LOWER Time in Seconds = FASTER)
WHAT WE LEARNED
So does the 2018 Mac mini with a eGPU catch up to an upgraded Mac Pro tower? Yes and No. As you can see above, it depends what apps you run. It also depends on the degree to which the GPU is utilized by those apps.
Does the Mac mini with an eGPU catch up to the iMac Pro? In a few instances "close but no cigar."
There is obviously a cost/performance analysis to consider. True that the Mac mini starts at $799. However, when I priced the top model with 32G of memory, 2TB flash storage, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, eGPU box, RX Vega 56 GPU, LG UltraFine 5K 27-inch display, Magic Keyboard, and Magic Mouse, the price came to $5608. The comparably configured iMac Pro 8-core comes in at $5799.
You may already have some of the pieces such as display, keyboard, and mouse. That would bring the top mini's price down to $4060.
Then there's the 2010 Mac Pro tower. Over the years we have spent lots of $$$ to upgrade it. The original value of the current configuration (including Dell 5K display) is $8100. I might be able recover about half of that by selling the various subsystems on eBay and use those $$$ toward a Mac mini -- or an iMac Pro.
Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to email me,
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WHERE TO BUY the 2018 Mac mini and other APPLE products:
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You can also order the Mac mini and other Apple products from B&H Photo Video.
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Readers in United Kingdom can support us by clicking our link to Apple Store UK.
WHERE TO BUY THUNDERBOLT 3 EGPU BOXES
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Boxes are available at B&H Photo Video.
The AKiTiO Node and Node Pro are available from B&H Photo Video.
WHERE TO BUY AMD GPUS
B&H Photo has the AMD Radeon RX 580 and other AMD GPUs.
We found the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 on NewEgg. Check eBay for all models of Vegas new and used.
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copyright 2018 Rob Art Morgan
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