Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

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aukleive
Posts: 17
Joined: Sat Aug 13, 2005 6:56 pm
Location: Norway

Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by aukleive » Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:39 pm

Just thought I would share this, after almost ditching this 2018 Mac mini - almost tearing my hair out in frustration.

1)
This buy was meant as a sort of backup or redundant? machine for live shows. After much googling and countless tries still It proved impossible to downgrade Osx to El Capitan (or anything else, for that matter), so I was stuck with Mojave. Not happy. My existing setup works flawlessly on a MBP 15 running El Capitan (mid 2014, i7 2,5 Ghz, using the discrete buildt in GPU - EXCEPT for the cooling fans making quite some noise. A little too much for extremely dynamic recordings or high gain condensers nearby , and I needed a clone of this exact system. Not possible, neither via Time Machine nor external (usb or thunderbolt) boot disk - OR anything else.

So I installed every single thing from scratch, while ensuring everything was 64-bit.
(File vault is off, and security settings is on low and allows booting from external media)
No WiFi and Blutooth on.
Hardwired usb-keyboard.
Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter, to Presonus Quantum. The second TB2 port on the Quantum is connected to an old Belkin TB(1) Expressdock - which again has diverse inputs from disks, midi over usb, ilok as well as a DSI Pro2 (NRPN mode via Soundtower plugin) and a Push2. No problem at all with the traffic, since the Quantum under stress just uses 2% of the available bandwidth of TB2. So all this to one MacMini TB3 (usb-c) port.

2)
Connected via HDMI to a LG 27inch 4k external screen (Apple claims support for 3 of these, I think) Ableton 10.1 was unable to do almost anything with a buffer size of 64 (44.1 kHz). I need this low latency being a percussionist/drummer playing through diverse transformative VST´s running in Live.
Using the application QuickRes to downscale to nonHiDPI resolution 1980x1080 made things better, but still seriously underperforming. Shit, I think even my old MBP 13-inch 2011 did a hell of a lot better!!

3)
Still really needing/wanting the extra horsepower from the 3,2 GHz cpu (so I could maybe use a couple of more instances of Flux Spat v3 verbs for surround and the like) I read up on, AND ordered (from Applestore), the Sonnet Breakaway Puck Radeon rx 560. The cheapest one, since I'm not a gamer and reckon´Live doesn't need so much power.

4)
Connected with a 2 metre Belkin TB3 cable, also from Applestore: Flawless plug and play with Mojave 10.14.6!

5)
Practical A/B tests:
Live 10.1. Presonus Quantum TB interface. Buffersize 64. Live´s Reported overall latency (44.1) 3,45ms. Very playable indeed!! (when it works without glitches)

A)
Using the MM´s inbuilt gpu, I could only load ONE instance of Serum (Preset: PD ArticWind [CFA], NB! Voicings reduced from 16 to 4). Even when reducing voicing down all the way to Mono!!! - would still make audio "crackle" (like it normally sounds when the buffer size is too low)...
Meaning: Unusable for tight playing, and full of disturbing digital garbage.
ONE SERUM VOICE!!
CPU-use 13-15%

B) Hooked up the Sonnet Puck.
I could now load 13 instances of the same preset, but now with 4 voices each, and No crackles!! Totally playable indeed!!
We are now talking 13 times 4 voices.
So we have sort of 52 times the "performance". In a practical sense this is true in this example. 52!
CPU-use 37 %

I did try a microphone input also, had 4 plugins on the track (FabFilter Pro Q3, Soundtoys Crystallizer, Flux Spatv3, Kush UBK 1)

Inbuilt cpu could again NOT PLAY ONE TRACK.
With the PUCK I managed 47 equal tracks!!!!! Thats 188 quite hardcore plugins!!
Wow!!
CPU-use 33%

AND:
The cooling fans on MacMini can hardly (if at all) be heard, and the same goes for the Puck.
Seriously silent so far. There is a slow fan running on the Puck, but I have only heard it make some more noise a couple of times, but only when turning on the whole system - and then silent when working with Ableton.

My 2014 MBP is no slouch, but this beats it hands down. And no noise (so far). The MBP would howl....



Final fact: There will be crackling when resizing Ableton window. So there is some issue there; cooperation Ableton/Mojave/gpu/cpu. But I normally do not resize anything when playing a live gig, so no real big problem - WITH the PUCK.

Without is a total disaster!!

NB! MM has only 8Gb´s of RAM on these tests. 32 Gb on its way by snail mail. Doesn't look needed though, as I still have about 3 Gb free when Live is running.



best
Audun K
Norway

the13thour
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:05 pm

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by the13thour » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:08 pm

wow, this is great! Thanks for sharing! I'm at the end of my rope too with my new mac mini. Glad i found this. I'm running two 1080p monitors that are not 4k. Do you think that makes a difference vs 4k? I'd rather not have to buy an external graphics card unless i have to. :/

fishmonkey
Posts: 4186
Joined: Wed Oct 24, 2007 4:50 am

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by fishmonkey » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:42 pm

i started using an eGPU with my MacBook Pro a couple of months ago. totally sold on it and wish i'd invested in one earlier!
badbrainz wrote: I'm a drummer, so I'm already at an intellectual disadvantage here

Wubzy22
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:59 am

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by Wubzy22 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 1:02 am

Hey, Thanks so much for this advice, just made a HUGE difference to my set up. Seems that a better than intel GPU is more important than you'd think, for audio work. Got the same rx560 graphic card and it's great so, thanks again, annoying audio glitches gone operating smooth as on 96khz 64 samples.
aukleive wrote:
Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:39 pm
Just thought I would share this, after almost ditching this 2018 Mac mini - almost tearing my hair out in frustration.

1)
This buy was meant as a sort of backup or redundant? machine for live shows. After much googling and countless tries still It proved impossible to downgrade Osx to El Capitan (or anything else, for that matter), so I was stuck with Mojave. Not happy. My existing setup works flawlessly on a MBP 15 running El Capitan (mid 2014, i7 2,5 Ghz, using the discrete buildt in GPU - EXCEPT for the cooling fans making quite some noise. A little too much for extremely dynamic recordings or high gain condensers nearby , and I needed a clone of this exact system. Not possible, neither via Time Machine nor external (usb or thunderbolt) boot disk - OR anything else.

So I installed every single thing from scratch, while ensuring everything was 64-bit.
(File vault is off, and security settings is on low and allows booting from external media)
No WiFi and Blutooth on.
Hardwired usb-keyboard.
Apple TB3 to TB2 adapter, to Presonus Quantum. The second TB2 port on the Quantum is connected to an old Belkin TB(1) Expressdock - which again has diverse inputs from disks, midi over usb, ilok as well as a DSI Pro2 (NRPN mode via Soundtower plugin) and a Push2. No problem at all with the traffic, since the Quantum under stress just uses 2% of the available bandwidth of TB2. So all this to one MacMini TB3 (usb-c) port.

2)
Connected via HDMI to a LG 27inch 4k external screen (Apple claims support for 3 of these, I think) Ableton 10.1 was unable to do almost anything with a buffer size of 64 (44.1 kHz). I need this low latency being a percussionist/drummer playing through diverse transformative VST´s running in Live.
Using the application QuickRes to downscale to nonHiDPI resolution 1980x1080 made things better, but still seriously underperforming. Shit, I think even my old MBP 13-inch 2011 did a hell of a lot better!!

3)
Still really needing/wanting the extra horsepower from the 3,2 GHz cpu (so I could maybe use a couple of more instances of Flux Spat v3 verbs for surround and the like) I read up on, AND ordered (from Applestore), the Sonnet Breakaway Puck Radeon rx 560. The cheapest one, since I'm not a gamer and reckon´Live doesn't need so much power.

4)
Connected with a 2 metre Belkin TB3 cable, also from Applestore: Flawless plug and play with Mojave 10.14.6!

5)
Practical A/B tests:
Live 10.1. Presonus Quantum TB interface. Buffersize 64. Live´s Reported overall latency (44.1) 3,45ms. Very playable indeed!! (when it works without glitches)

A)
Using the MM´s inbuilt gpu, I could only load ONE instance of Serum (Preset: PD ArticWind [CFA], NB! Voicings reduced from 16 to 4). Even when reducing voicing down all the way to Mono!!! - would still make audio "crackle" (like it normally sounds when the buffer size is too low)...
Meaning: Unusable for tight playing, and full of disturbing digital garbage.
ONE SERUM VOICE!!
CPU-use 13-15%

B) Hooked up the Sonnet Puck.
I could now load 13 instances of the same preset, but now with 4 voices each, and No crackles!! Totally playable indeed!!
We are now talking 13 times 4 voices.
So we have sort of 52 times the "performance". In a practical sense this is true in this example. 52!
CPU-use 37 %

I did try a microphone input also, had 4 plugins on the track (FabFilter Pro Q3, Soundtoys Crystallizer, Flux Spatv3, Kush UBK 1)

Inbuilt cpu could again NOT PLAY ONE TRACK.
With the PUCK I managed 47 equal tracks!!!!! Thats 188 quite hardcore plugins!!
Wow!!
CPU-use 33%

AND:
The cooling fans on MacMini can hardly (if at all) be heard, and the same goes for the Puck.
Seriously silent so far. There is a slow fan running on the Puck, but I have only heard it make some more noise a couple of times, but only when turning on the whole system - and then silent when working with Ableton.

My 2014 MBP is no slouch, but this beats it hands down. And no noise (so far). The MBP would howl....



Final fact: There will be crackling when resizing Ableton window. So there is some issue there; cooperation Ableton/Mojave/gpu/cpu. But I normally do not resize anything when playing a live gig, so no real big problem - WITH the PUCK.

Without is a total disaster!!

NB! MM has only 8Gb´s of RAM on these tests. 32 Gb on its way by snail mail. Doesn't look needed though, as I still have about 3 Gb free when Live is running.



best
Audun K
Norway

jonljacobi
Posts: 526
Joined: Sat Dec 30, 2017 3:36 am

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by jonljacobi » Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:31 am

I find this all kind of odd as no 2D rendering should come close to maxing out even an ancient GPU. And Live simply doesn’t do that much of it. I wonder why it does? Anyone? Memory access perhaps?

Wubzy22
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:59 am

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by Wubzy22 » Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:05 pm

Ya, I dunno.
I tried framerate change before I bought the GPU and that seemed to help slightly, so maybe something to do with that. I dunno. Definitely a lot better over here though. Using an aggregate device flawlessly so far too. Unless i power one of the interfaces down, then it crashes ableton. That's really not an actual issue though.
jonljacobi wrote:
Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:31 am
I find this all kind of odd as no 2D rendering should come close to maxing out even an ancient GPU. And Live simply doesn’t do that much of it. I wonder why it does? Anyone? Memory access perhaps?

Roca Da Burn
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 1:35 pm

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by Roca Da Burn » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:03 am

Hey @aukleive,

I just wanted to login quickly and post a f*cking serious thank you for your detailed post! :)
I am in the exact same situation right now, but with an underperforming Quad Core 2,3 I5 MacBook Pro 13" utilizing a LG27" 4K Screen.
I even was wondering if I needed to replace this machine to a desktop (windows) system with a desktop CPU (perhaps even the newest 7nm Ryzen 6 or 8 Core CPUs?).

I guess your post saved me from switching platforms / installing new etc. :)

will give the sonnet puck a spin, thank you and the others here report their great results with eGPUs...

[jur]
Site Admin
Posts: 2144
Joined: Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:04 pm
Location: Ableton

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by [jur] » Fri Apr 24, 2020 8:51 pm

Hey everyone,
please don't forget to report these issues to support@ableton.com, we still need as much info as possible from affected users.
Ableton Forum Moderator

TLW
Posts: 695
Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2018 2:37 am

Re: Mac mini 2018(i7 3,2GHz) + eGPU + low buffer performance

Post by TLW » Fri Apr 24, 2020 9:17 pm

I’d not informed support that I’ve encountered this issue, but I will.
Live 10 Suite, 2014/15 MacBook Pro 15.3” Retina i7, OS Mojave 10.14.5. RME UFX, assorted synths, guitars and stuff.

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