I recently bought a Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure for my new 2018 MacBook Pro and wanted to write about my experience with it thus far.
First, a little about me and why I wanted to buy an eGPU in the first place.
I like to upgrade my computers about every five years so the timing of this MacBook release worked out perfectly for me. I had a gaming desktop with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 in it and I mostly (only) play Overwatch on it. I use macOS App development and need Xcode.
My gaming desktop has all black parts in it, my desk is black, all my accessories are black; needless to say, I like things to match. Since they sadly don’t make black MacBooks my MacBook is space gray. I have a Space Gray [Henge Dock](). And now I have a Space Gray eGPU enclosure.
The eGPU Enclosure
There are plenty of Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosures available for purchase today. Apple currently recommends any of the following:
- Blackmagic eGPU3
- Sonnet Radeon RX 570 eGFX Breakaway Puck
- OWC Mercury Helios FX3
- PowerColor Devil Box
- Sapphire Gear Box
- Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350W
- Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W3
- Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W3
eGPU.io has a more extensive list with plenty of setup guides, reviews, and benchmarks.
Mantiz Venus MZ-02
Looks alone is what initially brought me to the Mantiz Venus MZ-02 by Mantiz. I bought it off of Amazon. It doesn’t make much sense to me but buying the enclosure on Amazon is cheaper than buying directly from Mantiz’s website – even though they are shipping themselves through Amazon.
Sadly, the metal on the Mantiz Venus is more brushed (lines) than the MacBook so it isn’t a complete match, but it is much closer to matching than a white or black enclosure. It isn’t too noticeable at a distance so I don’t really care since the enclosure will be on the far corner of my desk.
In my opinion the benefits of the Mantiz MZ-02 compared to more popular eGPU enclosures are:
- It provides 87W of power to the MacBook Pro 15″
- Matches MacBook Pro (offers both Silver and Space Gray options)
- 5 USB ports, 1 SATA interface, and 1 Gigabit LAN Ethernet port
- Customer support
The Mantiz MZ-02 does not come without its’ disadvantages. It does not currently draw enough power for high end graphics cards. This means it can’t run the Radeon Vega 64. If you care, it also is not one of the recommended eGPU enclosure by Apple.
Most of the negative reviews on Amazon reference a design flaw on the main board – but apparently they have been fixed and I did not have any of the issues described in the negative reviews. eGPU.io rates the Mantiz fifth overall so if you are considering buying an eGPU enclosure I strongly encourage you to research other ones. I don’t think there is a “perfect” eGPU yet – or at least I can see positives and negatives with each.
Troubleshooting and Setup
Per, Mantiz’s website they only officially support macOS 10.13.4. If you buy a MacBook now, it most likely will have a greater version so your eGPU enclosure will be DOA (officially). Thankfully, Mantiz’s unofficial support is pretty solid for macOS.
Nvidia cards are also not supported on macOS so some modifications are necessary to get the card to work on macOS. It involves disabling SIP so I have not done this and have very little desire to do so. However, Mantiz said they would do this for me via TeamViewer if I wanted. I would much rather just upgrade to an Vega 56.
Since my setup is not officially supported I was pretty bummed. I missed the caveats when I was purchasing the enclosure. Apparently, Mantiz also charges a 20%+ restocking fee on Amazon so I decided to try to make it work. I went on eGPU.io guide but nothing I found there worked. I then reached out to Mantiz via their Facebook messaging platform and they responded in around an hour (12 hour time difference). They pointed out that they had sent me a guide in an email the minute I had bought the enclosure, but I had neglected to read it. On their guide they didn’t have specific instructions for the 2018 MacBook but the instructions were similar to the 2017 version. For Boot Camp, you will have to uninstall the AMD Radeon driver that is currently on your machine using Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU)
. I did this but my eGPU was still not being recognized. Mantiz’s support decided they would TeamViewer onto my machine and do the setup for me. It turned out the problem was that I “…plug in ogpu to laptop ‘w/o PSU switch on’ too many times.” A simple power cycle and reboot with the eGPU plugged in was all I needed to do. I originally was hot plugging it in since I was getting strange boot up issues (which I read was normal with macs) before I uninstalled the original graphics driver.
To summarize the Boot Camp Setup for the 2018 MacBook Pro 15″ is:
- Ensure Windows is updated to at least 1803. Restart if necessary.
- With the eGPU not plugged in, run DDU and remove the pre-installed AMD Radeon driver. Restart.
- While the MacBook is powering on, plug in the eGPU
- Upgrade/install the graphics driver
You should update your Thunderbolt 3 firmware for the Matniz MZ-02. Although I didn’t experience this, the firmware upgrade will fix any USB lag you might have.
You will need to buy a longer Thunderbolt 3 cable. The one they provide is less than 2 feet. Thankfully Mantiz makes a 2 foot Thunderbolt 3 cable which is available on Amazon
After the eGPU was installed I experienced frame stuttering while playing Overwatch. I would get consistent 144+ fps and then drop to 80 fps and back again. This would make the game lag. This can be fixed by disabling Xbox DVR, thus ensuring your battery settings are not throttling PCI/USB. Enabling application control in Nvidia settings also helps with the lag; as well as playing with the overwatch video settings – enabling triple buffer, and enabling v sync. Disabling the integrated graphics driver might also help.
Clamshell support is not on by default in Boot Camp. You can easily enable this in the power settings.
If I had done more research about eGPU’s for MacBooks I probably would not have bought one at all. They aren’t fully supported by Apple:
macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later doesn’t support eGPUs in Windows using Boot Camp
This is very unfortunate but very typical for Apple. Their trackpad driver sucks in Windows so why wouldn’t their eGPU support?
If you want a plug and play experience with eGPU on Boot Camp – you won’t get it. A dedicated graphics card is always going to be better than eGPU but Thunderbolt 3 is getting there. I like the convenience of being able to play games on my MacBook and not having to have two different computers so overall I am very happy with my purchase.