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Build

MacBook Pro + eGPU Alternative

by jakecc_

19
24 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.

UPDATE 2: Added the keyboard and got some speakers instead of headphones. I'm so used to MacBook-style keyboards and I keep making typos, but I'll get used to it. Also, these speakers literally sound like surround, but there's only two!

UPDATE 3: Monitor and lightpack came in and the build is now complete. This monitor is HUGE when you sit in front of it and looks great! Overclocked to 115Hz and colors are amazing. Height adjustment allowed me to fit my HomePod under it just like I wanted!

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.

Storage

Very quick! Used as a game drive so I have no idea how fast it boots but loads everything way quicker than a 7200RPM drive.

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.

Monitor

Amazing monitor. Didn't see reviews for it on here but it was much cheaper than others so I decided to try it. Boy am I glad I did. No issues with ghosting or anything, 4-port USB hub on the back, and very premium feel. Mine even overclocked to 115Hz!

Keyboard

Very quiet, RGB is amazing, and it feels very premium. Love it!

Speakers

These things literally sound like surround sound when facing the right direction. Music with heavy bass sounds awful, but as gaming speakers, these are better than I could've imagined!

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 1 month ago

that RGB though

chelseapayne 2 points 1 month ago

brilliant

bootrec 3 Builds 2 points 1 month 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 1 month 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 Build 1 point 1 month 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 1 Build 2 points 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month ago

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

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 1 month 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 1 month 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 1 month ago

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

Rezzzyyyy 1 Build 1 point 1 month ago

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

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 24 days ago

Looked closer and realized you were right so I flipped them around, but it seemed to take air away from the GPU radiator (10 degrees higher at some times) so I ended up turning them back. Oops!

N0B@N 2 points 1 month ago

+1 for the can of Fresca lol.

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 1 month ago

I mean Fresca is good so

pabloroja 1 Build 2 points 1 month ago

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

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 24 days ago

It matches the rest of my room! Very sturdy too.

ts2fe 2 points 1 month ago

respect for using siliconvalley

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 24 days ago

So far it's held up good, I'll definitely be buying from them if possible in the future!

Jaychai123 2 points 1 month ago

you made the right choice

MannyPCs 1 point 1 month ago

Really sleek build and setup, +1

How is that ultrawide monitor?

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 24 days ago

Better than I expected for the price, haven't had any issues yet and the high refresh rate is astonishing!

MannyPCs 1 point 24 days ago

Sounds awesome! Is the colour accuracy good?

jakecc_ submitter 1 Build 1 point 24 days ago

It looks exactly like the old IPS TV I was using before this, color-wise. Very saturated and doesn't seem to shift when moving my head left and right. However, black levels do shift when moving, but I think it's just glare.