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hobick

So is the 2018 Mac Mini a viable VW machine?

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I've been following this thread on eGPU testing with the mini closely but am primarily wondering about the i7 version with benchmarks shown below (linked from the other thread) without the addition of an eGPU. 

 

image.png

 

My current machine is a late 2012 27" iMac 3.4 GHz i7 with 24GB RAM & GeForce GTX 680MX 2048 MB graphics card. I'd love to upgrade but one of the main reasons would be to get a larger screen so another 27" iMac doesn't really appeal to me. Budget is a factor too. No Mac Pro or fully decked out MacBook Pro in my future at this point. 

 

My current iMac gives me the following Cinebench scores vs the new mini:

 

GPU:  67 FPS vs 46.68 FPS for Mini

CPU single: 139 vs 104 for Mini

CPU multi: 662 vs 1219 for Mini

 

So what does this mean in the real world? Would a new mini feel like a step backwards or does VW 2019 take advantage of the multi core processor enough that it would offset the other lower scores.

 

I understand from some of Jim's previous posts that the CPU multi score means my rendering times would essentially be cut in half. And on the other end the OpenGL screen redraws and generally moving an openGL rendering around the screen would take a 25% hit or so. But what about just moving around and drawing in 2D and 3D or viewing wireframe models, or screen redraws for hidden line? How are those tasks spread across the CPU vs GPU?

 

I would hate to buy a new mini only to feel like I had stepped backward.

 

Any input welcome...especially from anyone that has made the leapt to a new mini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm interested in hearing other speak to this. We just went through an upgrade to one of two workstations where we purchased an iMac Pro (very pleased with it so far). Our other machine will need to be replaced in the next year and the Mac mini is an interesting option.

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To my knowledge Vectorworks uses the Graphics Card heavily.

A Mac Mini does not have a dedicated card and that is advisable.

For me personally a GPU score lower than what i would have now would be a 'no-go'.

A better GPU affects your daily interaction allot i think.

 

Have a look at this thread:

 

If I`m correct wireframe is done by the GPU and hidden Line by the CPU

 

Edited by Bas Vellekoop

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Integrated GPUs are normally too weak for VW or general CAD and 3D.

So Mac Mini would basically mean to add an external GPU.

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17 hours ago, hobick said:

GPU:  67 FPS vs 46.68 FPS for Mini

CPU single: 139 vs 104 for Mini

CPU multi: 662 vs 1219 for Mini

 

So what does this mean in the real world? Would a new mini feel like a step backwards or does VW 2019 take advantage of the multi core processor enough that it would offset the other lower scores.

 

 

RW Rendering would be nearly double as fast.

It is also faster for Modeling and standard CPU tasks

(that 104 CPU single is not correct, I think it was meant to be 194)

But it should be much weaker for anything that uses GPU,

like OpenGL, video encoding and such things.

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We are looking at replacing our iMacs with the new 2018 Mac mini's. We have one here run the office which is the new Mac mini with i7 6 core processor.  Additionally, we have a eGPU attached to it.  Our simple test is as follows:

 

2015 iMac 4 ghz took 19 minutes to perform a rendering

2018 Mini WITHOUT the eGPU took 10 minutes to perform the same rendering

2018 Mini WITH the eGPU to 4 minutes to perform the same rendering.

 

So far, it seems faster than our fastest 2015 iMac.  We are considering switching our entire office this direction - 8 Mini's.  Our thinking is that plenty of other companies make good quality monitors, less $$$ than Apple, and we can add a really nice Radeon RX Vega 56 Card with its box for $740 to each machine.

 

Advantages:

We can buy Nice 4K 27" monitors for $400

When its time to upgrade, keep monitors and eGPU.

Should we need to upgrade eGPU - can replace card in the box.

In future, can just upgrade MINI's as needed.

 

Initial Cost/station:

Mac mini, i7 6-core with 512 SSD, 32 gb RAM, and 10 GB ethernet port - $2,290 (with keybd & mouse)

Radeon RX Vega 56 Card in Sonnet Breakaway box - $740

2 - 4K 27" Monitors - $800 ($400 ea)

Total Cost for Station - $3,870 +/-

 

Thinking this will have a lower long term expense.

 

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Rob Glisson said:

We are looking at replacing our iMacs with the new 2018 Mac mini's. We have one here run the office which is the new Mac mini with i7 6 core processor.  Additionally, we have a eGPU attached to it.  Our simple test is as follows:

 

2015 iMac 4 ghz took 19 minutes to perform a rendering

2018 Mini WITHOUT the eGPU took 10 minutes to perform the same rendering

2018 Mini WITH the eGPU to 4 minutes to perform the same rendering.

 

So far, it seems faster than our fastest 2015 iMac.  We are considering switching our entire office this direction - 8 Mini's.  Our thinking is that plenty of other companies make good quality monitors, less $$$ than Apple, and we can add a really nice Radeon RX Vega 56 Card with its box for $740 to each machine.

 

Advantages:

We can buy Nice 4K 27" monitors for $400

When its time to upgrade, keep monitors and eGPU.

Should we need to upgrade eGPU - can replace card in the box.

In future, can just upgrade MINI's as needed.

 

Initial Cost/station:

Mac mini, i7 6-core with 512 SSD, 32 gb RAM, and 10 GB ethernet port - $2,290 (with keybd & mouse)

Radeon RX Vega 56 Card in Sonnet Breakaway box - $740

2 - 4K 27" Monitors - $800 ($400 ea)

Total Cost for Station - $3,870 +/-

 

Thinking this will have a lower long term expense.

 

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

 

 

Those are exciting results @Rob Glisson We have just two workstations and older 6 core Mac Pro and a new iMac Pro. Love the new unit as I can literally plow through work, I did not like the price(or the lack of upgradability). With another upgrade on the horizon, I like the direction your going and I would make a similar decision, and most likely will within the next year. In our situation having one computer more robust than another is very workable, I imagine this is not the case in most situations.  Keep us posted.

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17 minutes ago, Rob Glisson said:

2015 iMac 4 ghz took 19 minutes to perform a rendering

2018 Mini WITHOUT the eGPU took 10 minutes to perform the same rendering

2018 Mini WITH the eGPU to 4 minutes to perform the same rendering.

 

Just checking, those renderings weren't done with Vectorworks / Renderworks were they? The addition of the eGPU appears to have made a big difference.  

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22 hours ago, Rob Glisson said:

2015 iMac 4 ghz took 19 minutes to perform a rendering

2018 Mini WITHOUT the eGPU took 10 minutes to perform the same rendering

2018 Mini WITH the eGPU to 4 minutes to perform the same rendering.

 

I'm curious about this too. If you're talking VW final renders (non OpenGL) then the 19 min down to 10 min makes perfect sense. But I'm confused on why an eGPU would further help reduce rendering time. Thought the eGPU was mainly helping screen redraws and openGL renders? Totally confused here.

 

Rob...have you played around with the mini without the eGPU enabled? How does that feel in general navigation, rotating wireframes and openGL renders?

Edited by hobick

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Yes, all renderings were "Realistic Final Quality"

WITHOUT the eGPU, the rendering took 10 minutes

WITH the eGPU, the same rendering took 4 minutes

 

In general navigation, the eGPU was extremely fast and smooth.  We noticed no lagging of the redraw.

 

We have not tried openGL renders.  Maybe we can get a couple of minutes and try that next week.

 

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1 hour ago, Rob Glisson said:

Yes, all renderings were "Realistic Final Quality"

WITHOUT the eGPU, the rendering took 10 minutes

WITH the eGPU, the same rendering took 4 minutes

 

In general navigation, the eGPU was extremely fast and smooth.  We noticed no lagging of the redraw.

 

We have not tried openGL renders.  Maybe we can get a couple of minutes and try that next week.

 

Wow...that is impressive!

 

How about general navigation without the eGPU?

 

Unfortunately, as much as it helps, an eGPU is not in my budget at this point. Trying to figure how a mini functions in general without one. 

 

Thx

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2 hours ago, Rob Glisson said:

Yes, all renderings were "Realistic Final Quality"

WITHOUT the eGPU, the rendering took 10 minutes

WITH the eGPU, the same rendering took 4 minutes

 

This is very interesting news, by those figures adding an eGPU is like adding another 6 to 8 CPU cores.

 

I wonder if GPU rendering is limited to an eGPU, as a secondary resource? I would love to know more about how this is working from NV, and what's possible?

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On 11/29/2018 at 10:58 PM, Rob Glisson said:

We are looking at replacing our iMacs with the new 2018 Mac mini's. We have one here run the office which is the new Mac mini with i7 6 core processor.  Additionally, we have a eGPU attached to it.  Our simple test is as follows:

 

2015 iMac 4 ghz took 19 minutes to perform a rendering

2018 Mini WITHOUT the eGPU took 10 minutes to perform the same rendering

2018 Mini WITH the eGPU to 4 minutes to perform the same rendering.

 

So far, it seems faster than our fastest 2015 iMac.  We are considering switching our entire office this direction - 8 Mini's.  Our thinking is that plenty of other companies make good quality monitors, less $$$ than Apple, and we can add a really nice Radeon RX Vega 56 Card with its box for $740 to each machine.

 

Advantages:

We can buy Nice 4K 27" monitors for $400

When its time to upgrade, keep monitors and eGPU.

Should we need to upgrade eGPU - can replace card in the box.

In future, can just upgrade MINI's as needed.

 

Initial Cost/station:

Mac mini, i7 6-core with 512 SSD, 32 gb RAM, and 10 GB ethernet port - $2,290 (with keybd & mouse)

Radeon RX Vega 56 Card in Sonnet Breakaway box - $740

2 - 4K 27" Monitors - $800 ($400 ea)

Total Cost for Station - $3,870 +/-

 

Thinking this will have a lower long term expense.

 

Does anyone else have thoughts on this?

 

 

It'll certainly be interesting to compare a mac mini setup like this with the new mac pro (if and when it ever appears).

 

In principle certainly I'd settle for a somewhat lower performance in exchange for future upgrade-ability.

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On 11/29/2018 at 5:58 PM, Rob Glisson said:

2018 Mini WITHOUT the eGPU took 10 minutes to perform the same rendering

2018 Mini WITH the eGPU to 4 minutes to perform the same rendering.


These results should not be possible, and I am unable to replicate them here. What I suspect may have happened is that the machine was not entirely rebooted between these two renders and the difference would be explained by the cache not needing an update, or perhaps if the renders were done right on the design layer, you would get overlying systems taking up time that aren't actually part of the Renderworks render itself. However I'd need to know more about the test setup to confirm.

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Well, you may be correct.  We are not that 'technical'!  

 

We will re-run test tomorrow, rebooting each machine prior to test and re-post.

 

We will also send you the renders and the file ...... just so you can verify.

 

All that said, I am a big believer in things not possible!  🙂

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Rob Glisson said:

We will also send you the renders and the file ...... just so you can verify.

 


Thank you!

Trust me if this ends up being true, I'll shout it from the hilltops.

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Yes it will, that is almost identical to the model we tested primarily with here.

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Who stole our easter egg? 😢

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Just curious if there are any updates on those render times? thx

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OK, we re-ran the test using a file (which we have attached for Jims enjoyment) and we have attached the rendering.  We ran the same rendering (Renderworks Style - Realistic Exterior Final).  All the renderings look the same but we attached one so you could see the basic project. We ran multiple tests to make sure we were doing the same thing.  We restarted the computers before each rendering, here are the results we got:

 

Our Mac mini is a new 2018 - 16 GB of RAM/256 SSD/3.2 GHz Intel i7 six core.

The GPU we have is eGPU Radeon RX 580

Our best iMac is a 4 GHz Intel Core i7/32 GB RAM

 

Results:

Ran rendering on iMac - 9:35 minutes

Ran rendering on Mac mini w/o eGPU - 9:23 minutes

Ran rendering on Mac mini w/eGPU - 8:32 minutes

 

So, all renderings were about the same amount of time.  Seems Jim was correct when he said our previous results were not possible.  Nice call Jim!

 

We ran both in Model Space and Viewports - speed was basically the same but we did notice that the ViewPort option exported a smaller image size (jpeg).  The Model Space exported an image file of about 2.7 GB while the ViewPort option exported a file about 568 MB.

 

We made sure to set all renderings to 72 dpi.

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 3.21.33 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-12-06 at 4.14.58 PM.png

18069-3D_Concept_v2018.vwx

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Rob...thanks for the in depth follow up! Great to have some real data to work with. Helps inform some decision making regarding a new purchase. For what it's worth, I downloaded your file and rendered it directly in the design layer to see how my aging machine stacked up:

 

Machine: 27" 2012 iMac 3.4 GHz Intel Core i7/24 GB RAM

VW2019 on macOS Sierra

Render time: 19:07 (about 10 min were geometry and indirect lighting)

 

Multi core benchmarks put the mini at around twice as fast as my machine above which is just about what the render times indicate.

 

 

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1 hour ago, hobick said:

Rob...thanks for the in depth follow up! Great to have some real data to work with. Helps inform some decision making regarding a new purchase. For what it's worth, I downloaded your file and rendered it directly in the design layer to see how my aging machine stacked up:

 

 

 

I did the same out of curiosity. Although I'm not quite sure if it compares directly if rendering in the design layer because does it depend on the resolution of my screen?

 

Anyway my machine did it in around 6 minutes.

 

A refurbed Mac Pro (ie not the original 2009 specs)

213784993_ScreenShot2018-12-07at08_57_31.thumb.jpg.44476b93742cc983f2fcd35bc19c21bb.jpg

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Ditto - curiosity got the better of me to see how a windoze machine would compare - did it in 4:01.

Win 10, 12 core Threadripper OC'd to 3.9ghz, 32 gb ram, Samsung M.2 970 EVO SSD and GTX 1080ti

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For the DL Rendering :

 

on a Ryzen 2700X

2:52

 

on the old Trash Can

5:40

 

 

A Threadripper 2990WX could be under a minute ...

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