This indicates that the connectivity problem may be just with my individual unit. Update: Razer has acknowledged the issue, and provided me with an Ethernet driver for macOS. I installed the driver, and can confirm it now works. Razer says that it will update its support page with a driver download for Mac users. Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more videos. Razer has a lot of experience with RGB lighting and it shows. Unfortunately for Mac users, there currently exists no option to configure the lighting, so it remains on the default Spectrum Cycling pattern. Spectrum is a simple pattern that slowly cycles through each color without too much fanfare.
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Outside of those primary changes, everything else about the Razer Core X Chroma is basically the same as the original. The original Razer Core X featured a thoughtful design that allowed users to access and change out the GPU inside with minimal effort, and that remains true for the upgraded model. Razer engineered a track-based system that allows the internal chassis to slide quietly inside the external chassis without metal rubbing against metal. On the bottom of the external chassis is a large non-slip strip to keep the eGPU firmly planted on a desktop.
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This design allows users to easily remove the internal chassis and access the GPU inside with one hand. The front of the external portion of the box is still a ridged black plastic material, meaning my primary design gripe from the original model remains the same on the Razer Core X Chroma.
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This means that any Mac-compatible GPU in existence should fit comfortably inside. Instead of pairing that combination with a MacBook Pro, I connected to a MacBook Air, which was upgraded with Thunderbolt 3 support back in the fall of I opted to use an external display, the But add a second camera and everything slowed to a crawl. Toss some effects on top of that stream, add a third or fourth 4K video layer, and the chipboard chip didn't have the chops. For that kind of load, an eGPU was necessary. It also contains an 8GB Vega 56, but it adds a bunch of ports, turning it into a Thunderbolt hub.
The downside of this is all too clear. There's no upgrade path between the two units. By contrast, I can sell my Vega 56 at any time. It's a standard PC board, and given how many crypto miners are buying up GPUs, there's always a used board market. Even if I upgrade after a year or two of use, I can probably get close to half my board cost back. I'd simply be able to buy the next generation and drop it into the Helios FX enclosure.
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The only limit on the Helios FX enclosure is that it won't fit the Vega 64 cards. Those are bigger, and the Helios isn't huge. As for the Helios FX enclosure, there's not much to say. It just works. It's basically a small form factor PC case. The skin unscrews with three thumb screws at the back and lifts out and up.
If you've built a PC, you've seen this kind of case. No, it's not easy. All you do is drop the GPU card into the slot, plug in the power connectors, and close it back up. There is no doubt the enclosure is a bit of a beast. I have my Mac Mini sitting on top of it. But so far, I haven't noticed any noise coming from it, and I've produced a bunch of video. It's sounding like both the Mac Mini and the Helios enclosure are actually pretty silent.
Although my old iMac was as fully-equipped as it was possible to do back in , it was huffing and puffing a bit doing multicam 4K video. While I definitely needed the performance improvement, what I really wanted was one of the ultrawide displays. That old iMac wouldn't support the resolution for an ultrawide. I kind of think of it like an afterburner. It turbo-boosts some video processing, but not everything. So far, I've found most apps default to the eGPU if it's available.
External Graphics Card (eGPU)
Most apps Compressor is the encoding program that takes video edited in Final Cut and turns it into a file for viewing or uploading. Oddly enough, when I started to run Compressor, the eGPU stopped doing its thing and all the processing moved to the Intel I was actually convinced something was wrong with the Helios or the eGPU itself. Still, it processed on the chip.
I contacted tech support, I called around to friends who use Final Cut. Finally, I got an answer on one of the Facebook Final Cut boards.
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Apparently, Compressor uses an encoding feature built into the Intel chipset. So, as much as I would have expected the eGPU to do the heavy encoding, it's actually on the main board. Go figure. I have had the opportunity to use both the eGPU and on-board chip together. Check out this graph from when I was exporting a bunch of images and 4K video from Photos using the eGPU and running Compressor using the chip.
With a single video source, it's not bad. But once you add more video sources, multicam, and effects, it gets painful.
Mac mini and the Environment
Adding on the eGPU makes it very nice, indeed. I'm a bit weirded about why Compressor insists on using the on-board video, but that's neither the fault of the Vega 56 nor the Mercury Helios FX. That's just Apple being Apple. The Mercury Helios FX was standout in how quickly it faded into the background and just did its job. All told, if you're doing extreme pro work , the i7 Mac Mini, the Vega 56, and the Helios FX can help you get your job done -- and all together, at about two-thirds of the entry price of a base iMac Pro.
You can follow my day-to-day project updates on social media. Apple Mac Mini review: The little Mac that could.