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MacBook Pro + eGPU Alternative

by jakecc_

15
18 Comments

Details

Date Published

May 16, 2018

CPU Clock Rate

5GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

38.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

55.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.72GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

10GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

35.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

65.0° C

Description

So I initially wanted to get a new MacBook Pro (2017 15") with high specs and connect an eGPU via Thunderbolt 3 for games. I use my current MacBook for coding and messaging, but I wanted to run BootCamp and play my steam games, too. However, after looking at the price for the new MacBook and all necessary accessories (over $5k) I decided building a separate W10 gaming PC would be better.

I wanted something stylish, yet minimal, and powerful enough to run all of my games at 3440x1440 at 60FPS minimum, so I went and found the necessary things to build with in a relatively small case so I could display it on my desk without taking up half of my space. The NZXT H200i was my initial pick, but I realized the H400i would do better in terms of future upgradeability and chose it instead. However, I still chose a mini-ITX motherboard only because it had a Thunderbolt port built into it (and I figured in the far future I'll be getting a smaller, more portable, Thunderbolt-equipped MacBook, so they could connect together or at least share the same peripherals).

Let me just say cable management in this case was horrible, but only because I didn't order custom cables from CableMod or somewhere else. Most of the time spent assembling this thing was spent hiding all of the cables under the cable shroud or finding ways to run them along the built-in cable channels (which helped a LOT). However, I wouldn't get a bigger case to make cable management easier in the future; this case is the perfect size and I was able to cable manage in the end.

Setting up everything was slightly annoying, too. The case has a built-in LED strip at the top and I added on the extras along the edge in a clockwise direction (as they seemingly intended for you to do). However, after setting up a marquee pattern to fly around the case, I noticed it started on the rightsize of the top strip and flew to the left side, counter-clockwise, and then teleported over to the new strip at the top-right and went around clockwise. I ended up turning around the entire LED strip and using an extension cable to connect from the top-right of the case to the mid-left where the strip started, and now it runs along the edge of the case in one direction. Small design flaw, but I was able to fix it.

All in all, this was my first ever build, and I personally think it went very well. Hope you like it! Sorry about picture quality, using an iPhone for them.

(Note: I still haven't ordered the monitor, Samsung drive, keyboard, or headphones. I'll update this list and the reviews when I get them)

UPDATE: Added some more RGB pics and some images of the motherboard parts before going in the case. Just to clarify, the GPU was missing because it hadn't shipped yet and I was eager to mess with RGB and overclocking.

Part Reviews

CPU

I got this thing delidded from SiliconLottery and oh my GOD it's fast. Constant 5.0GHz, constant cool temperatures with my AIO cooler. Never above 55ºC.

CPU Cooler

Extremely quiet. Had some clearance issues with my RAM and had to turn it 90º, but it still looks great and works great. Let's hope it doesn't fail!

Thermal Compound

I know I applied way too much of it, but so far it's holding up great, even after re-seating the cooler like three times.

Motherboard

Nice looking mobo, all the IO you can think of, and even a Thunderbolt port! Only one usb header, so be sure to grab an internal USB hub or something, but otherwise it works great.

Memory

Beautiful RAM. Had a clearance issue with the AIO due to how tall these are, so be careful with your motherboard and cooler choices. Software is currently broken so I can't change the pattern on the LEDs from rainbow, but it fits the theme so it doesn't matter.

Storage

Oh my GOD this thing is fast, boots Windows in 5 seconds or less. FIVE!! Using it for OS and some applications, so far so good! However, the PCB is blue, not black, so if you're choosing this based on a color scheme, get something else, the picture is inaccurate.

Video Card

This thing DESTROYS every single game I throw at it in 1080p, have yet to try it in UW 1440p. Temps hit 65ºC at their highest! A fair bit of coil whine and the pump is the loudest thing in the case but I'm always listening to music so it doesn't phase me.

Case

Amazing build quality. Front IO was a bit crooked at first but I was able to snap the PCB back in place. Front panel cables were a bit long for such a small case but I made them work. Add a HUE+ extension kit to this and enjoy the RGB!

Power Supply

Cables were a bit long for my case but I'm building in a microATX case, makes sense. Absolutely silent!

Case Fan

Quietest fans ever. Doesn't seem to push truckloads of air, but they work.

Other

The amount of cables it takes to get this thing up and running is absurd: Molex, USB upstream, three USB downstream. Cable management was a chore for this thing, but at least it works!

Comments Sorted by:

TheMarkEyen 3 points 5 days ago

that RGB though

chelseapayne 2 points 5 days ago

brilliant

bootrec 1 Build 2 points 5 days ago

Looks awesome, good job. I want to say the Kraken is badly designed because of the lack of memory clearance, but what do I know. Regardless, I thought I was going to have that issue with mine but didn't. One thing I didn't realize though, this might be helpful to you, is that you can turn off the NZXT letters from the pump, showing just the ring, if you OCD about proper text orientation as I do :-)

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 days ago

Honestly I don't mind the final orientation, it matches the "G.SKILL" on the RAM sticks. And I noticed that! I have the logo set to white for now and the ring set to change with my CPU temps.

Skunkmoney 1 point 3 days ago

You can snap the front off and change the orientation. Steve Burke talks about it in one GN episode. It’s the most recent involving the kraken M22. You don’t need to remove any screws, he says the front just pops off.

ruthlessninja 2 points 5 days ago

Awesome build. I'm in the same boat as you. I have a late 2013 Retina Macbook Pro which is still awesome for work but does only bare minimum even with a 2GB GT 750M. The hackintosh alternative is good with bootcamp but portability would be sacrificed. I think I will bee this Macbook for work and build a mid-level (maybe Ryzen 2400G) for just media and gaming.

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 days ago

That's literally what I'm doing at this point. In the far future, though, I might get a newer, smaller MBP for increased portability. It's annoying to carry around a 15" laptop all day!

RIPRoyale 2 points 5 days ago

I have decided I want RGB strips in my next PC.

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 days ago

They're so worth it. I'm even able to set each to a different color so they can match up with, say, a wallpaper. I'll add a picture to show that.

Edit: Just added them after the rainbow pics

Rezzzyyyy 1 Build 2 points 5 days ago

question, why did you choose to orientate the top fans as intake vs exhaust; as I believe this would but a negative pressure situation into your case atmosphere.

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 days ago

They're oriented as exhaust (or at least they should be), as is the rear one.

Rezzzyyyy 1 Build 1 point 4 days ago

no in the pics they are set to intake through the top of the case lol

N0B@N 2 points 5 days ago

+1 for the can of Fresca lol.

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 4 days ago

I mean Fresca is good so

pabloroja 1 Build 2 points 5 days ago

Great build. I recognize an IKEA desk there, very ergonomic i.e., nice organic curves! 8)

ts2fe 2 points 5 days ago

respect for using siliconvalley

Jaychai123 2 points 5 days ago

you made the right choice

MannyPCs 1 point 3 days ago

Really sleek build and setup, +1

How is that ultrawide monitor?