eGPU Overview Updated May 2, 2017

eGPU

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Six eGPU stories

January 2017 - May 2017


An eGPU is primarily designed to allow smaller notebook computers to benefit from the power of a full-sized graphics card via a high speed bandwidth connection.

Modern eGPUs utilize high speed bandwidth provided by technologies like Thunderbolt 3 to provide faster access to a card’s resources.

One popular eGPU option is the Razer Core, which Razer labels as an External Graphics Dock. This eGPU is primarily designed for Razer PCs but can be used with other computers as well. For Macs, the Akitio Node is gaining in popularity, but its availability is still quite limited.

eGPU Stories May 2

AAPL: 147.51

0.93
Stock Chart

Mantiz’s Venus is an upcoming eGPU box and docking station for Thunderbolt 3-enabled laptops like the 2016 MacBook Pro. The Taiwanese-based company is working on bringing two eGPU boxes to market — the eccentric-looking Saturn, and the more subdued-looking Venus.

The friendly folks at Mantiz agreed to send over a Venus eGPU/docking station, allowing me to take it for a quick test drive when paired together with my 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro. Featuring an all-aluminum outer shell with classic Mac Pro cheese grater-inspired perforated design, the Venus is one of the more attractive eGPU solutions that I’ve seen thus far. Have a look at our hands on video walkthrough inside for more details. expand full story

eGPU Stories April 20

AAPL: 142.44

1.76
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eGPU Stories April 19

AAPL: 140.68

-0.52
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After last week’s exciting release of Nvidia’s beta Pascal drivers for Mac, I was looking forward to trying the top of the line consumer GPU with my MacBook Pro. That GPU is none other than the venerable GeForce GTX 1080 Ti — a $700 card with 11 Gbps of GDDR5X memory and a 11 GB frame buffer. Needless to say this card is one that will interest those looking to push their games to the next level.

I took the time to install my EVGA GTX 1080 Ti FE inside of my Akitio Node external GPU enclosure. After connecting the unit to my 2016 MacBook Pro via a Thunderbolt 3 cable, all it took was a simple shell script and a reboot to get the unit working with a (required in macOS) external display.

Nvidia’s drivers are still in beta, and from my hands-on time, the experience is far from perfect in macOS. That said, you can most certainly see the potential and performance differences between the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s integrated Intel Iris Graphics 550 GPU, and the beastly 1080 Ti. As expected, it’s also a lot faster than the GTX 1050 Ti that I tested last week.

If you’re looking to truly experience the power of such a card with the MacBook Pro, however, you’ll need to step into the Windows world, and run a Boot Camp installation. The GTX 1080 Ti + Windows turns the MacBook Pro into an insanely powerful and flexible gaming machine with just a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. Watch our hands-on video walkthrough as we explain. expand full story

9to5toys 

eGPU Stories April 6

AAPL: 143.66

-0.36
Stock Chart

Big news on the GPU front today for Mac users. Along with the announcement of its new ridiculously powerful Titan Xp GPU, Nvidia announced that new beta Pascal drivers are coming next week for the Mac.

This is great news for eGPU users and for those interested in building a Hackintosh. It also bodes well for the future of the upcoming modular Mac Pro. expand full story

eGPU Stories January 26

AAPL: 121.94

0.06
Stock Chart

While they’ve existed before the most recent MacBook Pro, the surge of interest in external GPUs is largely thanks to the implementation of Thunderbolt 3 in the latest Mac hardware. As we’ve shown in a previous post, an eGPU can make a significant performance difference, turning an otherwise graphically pedestrian MacBook Pro into a competent gaming machine.

In our previous tutorial, we showed you how to wield an AMD RX 480 in macOS. While that solution yielded definite benefits, it was also hindered by difficulties caused by macOS itself.

It should come as no surprise that the setup process and support with Windows is, in some ways, quite a bit better than using an eGPU with macOS. That’s not to say that you should run out and buy a Windows laptop if you want to play the latest games requiring a more powerful GPU. Instead, you can utilize a Boot Camp installation, and turn your MacBook Pro into a 1080p gaming machine.

The now-available $249 Akitio Thunder3 is much smaller than the larger Akitio Node, so it takes up a smaller footprint on your desk. The setup also lets you tap into the power of the GPU right from your MacBook Pro’s built-in display, no external display required. Watch our full walkthrough, as we showcase this simple and compact eGPU solution on video. expand full story

eGPU Stories January 18

AAPL: 119.99

-0.01
Stock Chart

The 2016 MacBook Pro has endured criticism for its lack of I/O ports, but what that it does have — two or four Thunderbolt 3 ports based on your configuration — has lots of potential. For example, it’s now possible to connect an external GPU (eGPU) box via Thunderbolt 3 and tap into the power offered by a full-sized graphics card.

In this hands-on post, we’re going to showcase how to power the 13-inch 2016 MacBook Pro with an eGPU using Sapphire’s AMD RX 480. The RX 480 is modestly-priced GPU with a decent amount of power that’s good enough for 1080p gaming. The connection is made possible by means of the Akitio Node — an external GPU box with an embedded 400W power supply, and enough room inside for a full sized card like the RX 480.

The nice folks at Akitio provided us with an early unit for testing with macOS. Unlike Akitio’s other Thunderbolt 3-enabled enclosures, the Node features the newer Texas Instruments TI83 controller and is immediately recognized in macOS. While that makes for one less hurdle to clear, there are still lots of factors to consider before taking the eGPU plunge.

As you’ll see in this post, the setup takes some effort to get right, but it’s fairly simple to get working if you follow the steps correctly. If you’re a Mac gamer or video editor, then the benefits are very apparent, especially if you’re using a MacBook Pro with an integrated Intel Iris GPU like the 13-inch 2016 model. Have a look at our full hands-on video walkthrough for our step-by-step guide through the setup process. expand full story

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