Crazy (arguably stupid) new rig

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by Mize, Mar 19, 2018.

  1. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    I've created a monster of sorts. Yes, it's a waste of money in large part but it's shaping up nicely.
    Essentially I wanted to rid my workspace of having multiple computers. I had a 2015 Macbook Pro 13" and my gaming rig (2600k + 2x GTX1070 in SLI that mine when I'm not gaming) sharing a BenQ 32" display which worked nicely except for having non-accelerated graphics on the MBP and the serious hassle of constantly disconnecting and reconnecting the laptop. For most people this isn't an issue, but my paraplegia makes it very difficult to reach all the connections, etc.

    So my solution was to make the gaming rig a full-time miner/file/media server, make the MBP my bed workstation (I can only handle a few hours at my desk at a time before I have to stretch out my hip flexors so I do a fair bit of work in bed where I have a reclining mattress, etc.) and install a new computer that would be my desktop workstation and gaming rig.

    Here's what I did:

    Entry-level iMac Pro (8 cores, Vega 56, 32 GB RAM) which Microcenter has for $1000 off list so $4k.
    Aikatio eGPU box + Zotac 1080Ti (open box, $785) connected to the iMac with USB-C and to the 32" BenQ monitor.

    It actually works though it's a little kludgy. To us both the Vega56 and the 1080Ti in macos I have to boot without the eGPU connected, login, log out, connect the eGPU then log back in and it works. Speeds are decent, but macos is still crap for gaming. Booting to windows 10 (which I have on an external SSD on USB-C) both cards work great so I can play a turn of Civ VI on my 1080Ti/BenQ then click back over the the iMac display and do a little CAD or writing while the AI players take their turns. If it weren't for some key apps in macos, this would be a great Windows-only rig...if rather overpriced.

    The final touches that remain are replacing my current desk with a standing desk (paraplegics need to stand in standing frames to fight bone density loss) and add articulating VESA mount arms for both the 32" display and the iMac.
     
  2. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Pretty sweet! The iMac Pro is a beautiful machine, I'd love to own one. The hardware inside it looks glorious when you strip it down... :p

    Also, I read something on an Apple news site that an upcoming MacOS patch will improve eGPU support, so maybe you won't need to do that song-and-dance routine to get both GPUs to show up at the same time.

    It's disappointing Apple isn't supporting vulcan; they've been onboard with OpenGL for like, decades practically now, only to jump to a proprietary scheme at this late stage (which is slower performing than vulcan on equivalent PC hardware...)

    What's the performance of the built-in flash drives? How long does it take that iMac to boot up?
     
  3. Pressure

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    10.13.4 beta works out of the box with eGPU.

    You can read the state of external GPU here.

    Wish we had such a great deal on the iMac Pro here in Europe.
     
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  4. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. Shutting machines down and rebooting is something I tend to avoid, but I did it just for you Grall!

    Disk benchmarks using Black Magic Disk Speed Test:
    Internal SSD (W/R in MB/s): 2965/2485
    External SSD* (W/R in MB/s): 506/514

    *This is a bootcamp drive (Samsung T5, 1TB) over Thuderbolt 3 formatted as NTFS and being accessed in macos using Paragon's commercial ($20) NTFS driver. It is rated at "up to 540 MB/s so I think macos is doing pretty well.

    So the internal SSD trounces the TB3/NTFS drive (as expected). I will eventually run a similar bench in Windows, but I'm pretty sure the TB3 drive won't score much higher based on it's "up to 540" rating. I won't bench the internal in windows as I don't have a W10 readable partition on the internal drive.

    Now for boot up...
    Time to boot to login screen: 21 seconds
    Time after entering password until fully open desktop *including* reopening apps: 27 seconds
    Apps macos had to reopen during login: Mail, Terminal, Fusion 360, Word, Messages, Firefox, Chrome, Remote Desktop, Safari, Pages, Notes, Settings, Disk Manager, Adobe Acrobat Viewer, Steam
     
  5. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    :D Thanks!

    I won't ask you to marry me tho. Don't worry... ;)

    Is that including BIOS POST, or just from when the "thermometer" loading gauge appears on screen and the OS starts booting?

    I haven't timed POST on my own X299-based box, but it's pretty damn lengthy. Coldboot especially (I hear it's because of DDR4 requires lengthy training to measure signal integrity, whatever); the OS OTOH boots in about 2-2.5 seconds or so. Enough time for the string of round blobs to spin about 1.5 turns. Win10 is pretty crazy from that standpoint; even a nearly decade-old SATA2 SSD like the Intel X-25E boots Win10 in about 3 seconds. Apple probably doesn't compete in quite the same league there... :p
     
  6. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    There's no post sound on the iMac Pro so that's from click of the power button.
     
  7. gamervivek

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    Windows 10 is pretty good with both amd and nvidia cards in the same machine. Unfortunately the aorus utility doesn't work with Vega in the machine and after waking up from sleep the fan doesn't spin up. Maybe a second monitor would help.
     
  8. Cyan

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    Crazy indeed. I wonder if something like that has ever been tested or shown.

    Can it run Crysis?
     
  9. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Vega runs so hot the Crysis ice aliens all melt! :shock:
     
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  10. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    I haven't installed Crysis in years!
    It's kinda fun to be able to bench the 1080ti then, without rebooting, the Vega 56. On rough numbers the Vega is half the speed of the 1080ti at 4k resos, though I haven't been diligent in benchmarking.

    In macos there are performance issues with the latest Nvidia drivers and egpu so I have to run older drivers. 10.13.4 beta supposedly has similar problems on the iMac Pro in spite of it improving things for many. Hoping it's debugged soon.
     
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  11. Entropy

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    What clocks does the Vega 56have when running? And can you give an estimate of noise levels under different conditions?
     
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  12. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    I'll have to check on the Vega clocks. Are you interested in macos clocks or Windows 10?
    As for noise levels I can say that, in my environment, which includes a full-tower server on the floor next to my desk, I cannot hear the iMac Pro under any circumstances. I have read that people can hear its fans when gaming, but only slightly, so they have a quieter environment. I can, however, hear the 1080Ti fans in the eGPU box that is sitting under my desk while gaming.
     
  13. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    That would depend on how hard the CPU is working... As both chips share the same heatsink there is a limited heat dissipation capacity of the system.
     
  14. Entropy

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    Thanks for your impressions, very impressed by what you say about the noise in a home environment! Apple has been keen on showing their cooling solution, which suggested it was good. Has to be, given the enclosure. Their thermal monitoring is phenomenal, but they still don’t have much in the way of independent fan speeds to tweak, so I assume they dynamically adjust clocks as well.
    Primarily interested in MacOS behaviour, that would be the default environment. Appreciated!
     
  15. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    When I get to my iMac Pro (wife's napping and my wheelchair is across the room so I can't just jump up and check it out; she earned this nap!) I'll fire up Heaven at 1440 with everything cranked and let you know where CPU and GPU clocks sit after a few minutes.
     
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  16. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    Heaven Benchmark sees the system settle in with the CPU at 3.9-4.0 GHz (and heaven using 45% cpu). I don't have a utility to read the Vega clocks (link anyone) but it stabilized at 87-89 C with a %GPU utility showing no throttling.
     
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  17. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    Lost a few hours trying, unsuccessfully, to get my Oculus Rift working with the W10 personality today. I've got one last idea, but then I'm going to relegate it to my gaming laptop... :(
     
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  18. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    Got the Oculus Rift working by disabling the Vega 56 in device manager during installation. Oculus warns my hardware isn't up to snuff, but so far so good. I'll try some non-demo games this evening.
     
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  19. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    Can you re-enable the vega afterwards and still have everything work?
     
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  20. Mize

    Mize 3dfx Fan
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    Yes!

    Haven't checked real game performance yet, but it runs and loads up demos etc. with both enabled. Doesn't seem to know it's powered by a 1080ti though!
     
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