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Mac Upgrade path for a gamer?


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#121 ozzy

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 02:53 PM

Very nice! Which eGPU are you going to go with?

#122 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 01:05 AM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 11 June 2019 - 08:43 PM, said:

So today I finally pulled the trigger: 2018 mini with i7, 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD.
Lets us know how it does with gaming, because this is the likely exact setup I would go for!
"They're everywhere!" -And now, time for some Legend of Zelda.

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#123 mattw

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 12:29 PM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 13 June 2019 - 01:05 AM, said:

Lets us know how it does with gaming, because this is the likely exact setup I would go for!

Ditto!
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#124 Matt Diamond

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 02:04 PM

I'll keep everyone posted. Bear with me, I haven't ordered the eGPU yet-- I'm givng myself time to migrate everything, pack up the boxes, sell the old one on eBay, etc.

View Postozzy, on 12 June 2019 - 02:53 PM, said:

Very nice! Which eGPU are you going to go with?

90% certain it will be a Sonnet Breakway Box 650 and Sapphire Radeon Vega 56. Reasons:
* maximum compatibility
* Vega 64 is 10% faster than 56, but ~ twice the price.
* Sonnet 550 would be good enough for the Vega 56, but I'm getting the larger power supply so I can just upgrade the card in 2-3 years.

As always, comments welcome!
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#125 Matt Diamond

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 02:35 PM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 13 June 2019 - 01:05 AM, said:

Lets us know how it does with gaming, because this is the likely exact setup I would go for!
I will, but keep in mind that my monitor can't go above 2,560 x 1,440.

Any games in particular people want me to try?  I know Deus Ex Mankind Divided has a built-in benchmarking scene, and Rise of Tomb Raider probably does too. I'm also curious to try BL2, Bioshock, and Starcraft 2 since I had to run those with significantly reduced settings before.
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#126 ozzy

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 03:14 PM

That will be a good setup! And it's probably what I would go with for an eGPU too. It's too bad Apple/nVidia don't get along though - I just replaced my 1070 with a Vega 56. Unfortunately the PSU in my Akitio Node wasn't enough to handle the Vega 56 (it puts out 375W but I'd get random hard eGPU shut-offs every 0.5-4 hours of heavy use) so I had to replace the PSU with a Corsair that has 600W.

In terms of benchmarks, definitely do Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Rise of the Tomb Raider if you have them. Other metal games with benchmarks include both Total War: Warhammer games, Total War: Three Kingdoms, and I think 1 or 2 of the recent DIRT games. I believe Company of Heroes 2 and HITMAN are both metal now as well, but not sure if they have benchmarks. The Heaven downloadable benchmark that uses OpenGL really sucks on AMD on Mac OS X so wouldn't read too much into that.

I'd definitely be interested in your results compared to some of the ones I posted here (http://www.insidemac...topic=48783&hl=) though. My guess is the 2018 13" MBP with Vega 56 should be reasonably similar to the Mini you just got.

#127 Matt Diamond

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 07:04 PM

View Postozzy, on 13 June 2019 - 03:14 PM, said:

Other metal games with benchmarks include both Total War: Warhammer games [...]

I'd definitely be interested in your results compared to some of the ones I posted here (http://www.insidemac...topic=48783&hl=) though. My guess is the 2018 13" MBP with Vega 56 should be reasonably similar to the Mini you just got.
I own TW:Warhammer 2 so I can add that one.

I don't promise to be as complete and scientific with my tests as you were, but I'll try to replicate a few of your settings for comparison.
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#128 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:33 PM

You can get Vega 64's for cheap these days if you look for a sale. For example here in Canada the Vega 64 Nitro+ (best version of the Vega 64) is on sale for $500 CAD ($375 USD) which isn't much more then what the Vega 56's are selling for (Maybe like 15% more then blower model Vega 56 cards)
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#129 Matt Diamond

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Posted 14 June 2019 - 06:41 AM

View PostSneaky Snake, on 13 June 2019 - 10:33 PM, said:

You can get Vega 64's for cheap these days if you look for a sale. For example here in Canada the Vega 64 Nitro+ (best version of the Vega 64) is on sale for $500 CAD ($375 USD) which isn't much more then what the Vega 56's are selling for (Maybe like 15% more then blower model Vega 56 cards)
Good advice for other people to keep in mind. It's too late for me. :-)
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#130 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 14 June 2019 - 12:00 PM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 13 June 2019 - 02:35 PM, said:

I will, but keep in mind that my monitor can't go above 2,560 x 1,440.

Any games in particular people want me to try?  I know Deus Ex Mankind Divided has a built-in benchmarking scene, and Rise of Tomb Raider probably does too. I'm also curious to try BL2, Bioshock, and Starcraft 2 since I had to run those with significantly reduced settings before.
Any taxing modern AAA game really. I am curious how well the Mac Mini stands up to prolonged gaming, especially from high end games. And what it can achieve.
"They're everywhere!" -And now, time for some Legend of Zelda.

iMac 2011, quad 3,4Ghz i7, 1TB Samsung EVO 840, 8GB RAM, 2GB Radeon 6970m. + 2016 Macbook m3 + iPad 2 64GB + iPhone 4S 64GB + Girlfriend + Daughter

#131 Matt Diamond

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Posted 14 June 2019 - 01:25 PM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 14 June 2019 - 12:00 PM, said:

Any taxing modern AAA game really. I am curious how well the Mac Mini stands up to prolonged gaming, especially from high end games. And what it can achieve.
I selflessly volunteer myself for this prolonged gaming test.
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#132 Matt Diamond

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Posted Today, 08:04 AM

I have migrated to the Mini and started running benchmarks. I'll post specifics in a couple days. General impressions: as fast as I'd hoped.
  • Borderlands 2: I maxed all the settings and everything seemed fine. Much more testing needed. :-)
  • DX: Mankind Divided: runs pretty well at the max settings, but not buttery smooth. I plan to turn it down a little to even out the frame rate.
One question: I tried to boot the Mini to my old Mac Pro's boot disk (has El Capitan) and it never progressed past the initial blank screen. Are new Macs prevented from booting to old versions of Mac OS X? (I got the same behavior when I tried to boot my son's new iMac to Snow Leopard.)


Misc notes about the migration
========================
1) Thunderbolt cable that shipped with Sonnet Breakaway was a useless 2'. I'll need a much longer one before I can finalize my setup.

2) Mercury Elite Pro Quad drive enclosure: I panicked for 2 minutes because I couldn't find the thunderbolt port. (There was a sticker over it. :glare:  )
Weirdly, its fan spins at half-speed even while the computer is asleep! This offends me, but may be common - I didn't seen it mentioned in any reviews. (Some pricier enclosures have a separate off-switch for the fan. But do I want to pay an extra $150 just to get a fan switch??)

At full throttle the enclosure is a little noisier in a quiet room than I'd hoped. But the Radeon Vega 56 fans are louder, and the noise from all my components (Mini, Vega 56, drive enclosure) together is still quieter than my XBox 360.

3) Apple's otherwise excellent migration assistant had trouble with Apple Mail and Apple Music.
  • I spent hours(!) trying to get Apple Mail to accept my passwords. Turning off iCloud Keychain, rebooting, and then turning it on again seemed to help.
  • iTunes it kept saying I wasn't logged into Apple Music when I tried to play a song. Solved by deleting Apple Music's cache, then playing a song I'd never played before to make it re-check my credentials. (I suspect either one of these would have fixed it, but I did both.)

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#133 macdude22

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Posted Today, 09:01 AM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 17 June 2019 - 08:04 AM, said:

One question: I tried to boot the Mini to my old Mac Pro's boot disk (has El Capitan) and it never progressed past the initial blank screen. Are new Macs prevented from booting to old versions of Mac OS X? (I got the same behavior when I tried to boot my son's new iMac to Snow Leopard.)

All Macs will have a minimum build required. Apple used to document these publicly but no longer do. Apple used have reference builds that would work across a number of models (I am talking Classic Mac days).

The current assumption by apple is OS deployment via Recovery/Internet Recovery which will always supply a minimum supported OS to a Macintosh client.

I really love the undocumented builds like macOS Mojave 14.14.4 18E226 and 18E2035. 18E2035 was a machine specific build (2019 15" MBP) that can boot any other Mac but 18E226 can't boot a 2019 15". I still run into desktop support doofuses that will try to clone, copy, or otherwise boot an unsupported build on a new machine and will spend hours trying to make it work before escalating and I have to tell them they are a doofus and to follow documented procedures (i.e. don't do that)
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#134 Matt Diamond

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Posted Today, 10:16 AM

View Postmacdude22, on 17 June 2019 - 09:01 AM, said:

All Macs will have a minimum build required.
As suspected. Thanks for confirming!

View Postmacdude22, on 17 June 2019 - 09:01 AM, said:

I still run into desktop support doofuses that will try to clone, copy, or otherwise boot an unsupported build on a new machine and will spend hours trying to make it work

Since I'm not in Support I'm just a honorary member of that list of doofuses.
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#135 macdude22

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Posted Today, 11:55 AM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 17 June 2019 - 10:16 AM, said:

As suspected. Thanks for confirming!

Since I'm not in Support I'm just a honorary member of that list of doofuses.

I don't expect the average home user, or even prosumer hobbyist to know or care. I do expect "highly skilled IT professionals" with ample documentation to. *spoiler* they don't.
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#136 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted Today, 03:29 PM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 17 June 2019 - 08:04 AM, said:

I have migrated to the Mini and started running benchmarks. I'll post specifics in a couple days. General impressions: as fast as I'd hoped.
  • Borderlands 2: I maxed all the settings and everything seemed fine. Much more testing needed. :-)
  • DX: Mankind Divided: runs pretty well at the max settings, but not buttery smooth. I plan to turn it down a little to even out the frame rate.
BL2 running well is not surprising. I run it at almost highest settings on my 2011 iMac since it is so old. I am curious if DX:MD not running at full speed is to be expected with that card, or if it is a CPU limitation?

Quote

2) Mercury Elite Pro Quad drive enclosure: I panicked for 2 minutes because I couldn't find the thunderbolt port. (There was a sticker over it. :glare:  )
Suddenly I start to believe you aren't qualified to give us proper analyses of how games run on your machine... :P

Quote

Weirdly, its fan spins at half-speed even while the computer is asleep! This offends me, but may be common - I didn't seen it mentioned in any reviews. (Some pricier enclosures have a separate off-switch for the fan. But do I want to pay an extra $150 just to get a fan switch??)
That can't be right? That would be a complete deal breaker for me!
"They're everywhere!" -And now, time for some Legend of Zelda.

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#137 Matt Diamond

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Posted Today, 07:42 PM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 17 June 2019 - 03:29 PM, said:

That can't be right? That would be a complete deal breaker for me!
I know, right? Like an itch is slowly driving me mad. When I'm not playing a game the fan is louder than the Radeon fans. Worse, it isn't _quite_ steady - the sound gets a little louder, then softer again, like ocean waves.

I will probably cave soon and return it. There are two Akito's that have fan power switches (which they discourage people from using for more than 30 minutes at a time, unless maybe you have all SSDs?) Plus at least one of them sleeps the fan properly, according to a customer comment. People complain about fan noise for all of them, unfortunately. (Maybe designers shouldn't pack the drives in so tightly?)

Quote

I am curious if DX:MD not running at full speed is to be expected with that card, or if it is a CPU limitation?
No idea. But I'm going to post some benchmarks and comments to this thread tonight.
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