Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Alienware 15 R3

Blackmagic eGPU Review – Apple’s UltraFine Curse

eGPU Reviews, External GPU 60 Comments

Introduction

If you’re a Macintosh user who owns a Thunderbolt 3 Mac and an LG UltraFine monitor, then you’re in luck. You’ve just been prequalified for the Blackmagic eGPU. This enclosure is neither for Windows users nor eGPU enthusiasts. If you fall into either of these camps, you can stop reading now and entertain yourself with a wide selection of external GPU solutions.

Apple partnered with Blackmagic Design to build just the eGPU a Mac user never thought they’d need. For US$699 you can now connect the magic of an external Radeon Pro 580 graphics card to power the UltraFine 5K monitor.

Hardware Specifics

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Nmp Opened

Blackmagic eGPU inspired by Mac Pro trashcan

Specifications compare
Price US$
$699
PSU location-type
internal-custom
PSU max power 400W
GPU max power
150W
Power delivery (PD)
85W
USB-C controller
TI83
TB3 Controller Titan Ridge
TB3 USB-C ports 2
Size (in/mm, LxWxH) 11.59 x 6.96 x 6.96
295 x 175 x 175
Weight (kg/lb) 4.60/10.2
Updated firmware 26.3 ✔
TB3 cable length (cm) 50
Vendor page link
Implementations
link

In attempting to pay homage to the Mac Pro trashcan, the Blackmagic eGPU ends up only disrespecting the iconic design. They look like they should work together; both are nonupgradable, over-engineered, cylindrical-shaped objects. Yet Apple blocked Thunderbolt 2 Macs like the trashcan from using external graphics.

The Blackmagic eGPU is a much better match with Alienware’s current design language. Case in point is the Alienware 15 R3. The angular edges, crossing pattern covers, and honeycomb grilles are too busy to pair well with a Mac computer. Perhaps these design cues were borrowed from sports cars to imply high performance. Well, let’s open the hood and see what’s inside.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Alienware 15 R3

Better match with Alienware 15 R3

Before I could get to the core component block, I needed to remove eight hidden Torx screws from the top and bottom of the enclosure. In total there are 61 screws and 29 components holding this eGFX together. The foundation of the Blackmagic eGPU enclosure starts with a clever L-shape metal frame that serves as the mounting plate for both the Thunderbolt 3 main board and power supply as well as the rear I/O shield. The main board is where all the magic happens. It’s essentially a Thunderbolt 3 PCB that was extended to include an on-board Radeon Pro 580 graphics card. Riding piggyback on the main board is the expansion daughter board that hosts four USB 3.1 gen 1 ports. On the opposing side of the L frame, Blackmagic Design mounted a custom power supply.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Component

Blackmagic eGPU Radeon Pro 580 Component Layout

To understand the origin story of the Blackmagic eGPU, we begin in late 2016 when Apple called it quits building monitors. They announced a partnership with LG to build a new lineup of Thunderbolt 3 high-resolution monitors known as UltraFine Display. The two models are 21″ 4K and 27″ 5K. They match the panel sizes and resolution of Apple’s iMac lineup. The 21″ 4K requires a USB-C monitor input, while the 27″ 5K needs Thunderbolt 3 monitor input. That seems appropriate considering Apple went all-in with USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports for the 2016 and newer MacBook Pro.

The LG UltraFine 5K is a demanding display with a sole Thunderbolt 3 monitor input. Problems arise when you want to use this monitor in conjunction with graphics-intensive tasks. The built-in graphics cards on Thunderbolt 3 MacBook Pros are not up to speed, creating the need for a more capable external graphics solution. Herein lies Apple’s UltraFine curse. No existing graphics cards have USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 monitor output. And so the Blackmagic eGPU was born.

To solve this conundrum, Apple and Intel made a rare exception to allow dual TB3 ports on the Blackmagic eGPU. Up until the release of this eGPU, no enclosure with more than one Thunderbolt 3 port was granted eGFX certification. The existing dual Thunderbolt 3 port enclosures are PCIe expansion solutions rather than eGPU solutions. Dual Thunderbolt 3 ports are a necessity so that the eGPU can accelerate the LG UltraFine Display directly. You need one TB3 port to connect the host Mac computer and another to connect the monitor. It gets more complicated than dual TB3 ports however, so we’ll look at the main board next.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Mainboard Rear Ports

Blackmagic Egpu HDMI & Thunderbolt 3 Ports

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Gpu Thunderbolt Controller Traces

Radeon Pro 580 GPU die to Thunderbolt 3 Controller Traces

The Thunderbolt 3 main board contains two USB-C controllers [TI83]. The star of the show is the new Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controller [Intel JHL7540]. The Blackmagic eGPU is the first eGFX to implement this new controller. Its primary advantage is to allow internal routing of DisplayPort signals from the on-board GPU through this controller for Thunderbolt 3 monitor output.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Jhl7540 Dual Ti83

JHL7540 (green) and Dual TI83 (orange) Controllers

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Jhl7540 Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 Controller

Jhl7540 Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 Controller

Another benefit Titan Ridge provides over Alpine Ridge is for Thunderbolt 3 devices rather than hosts. TB3 devices with this new controller can dynamically communicate with Thunderbolt 3 as well as USB-C host computers. In a TB3 device «» TB3 host pairing, all features will be enabled, while a TB3 device «» USB-C host pairing is limited to basic functionalities. In eGFX application, Thunderbolt 3 connection has always been a prerequisite, so there’s no performance difference between Titan Ridge and Alpine Ridge. Other crucial components on the Blackmagic Design Thunderbolt 3 main board are two Texas Instrument TPS65983 USB-C controllers and the Winbond 25X20CL firmware EEPROM chipset.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Ti83 Usb C Controller

TI83 USB-C Controller

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Winbond Firmware Chipset

Winbond Firmware EEPROM Chipset

The daughter board attaches to the main board via a tiny rectangular connector. It’s anchored in place with three screws to ensure no play during removal and insertion of USB peripherals. In proximity to the daughter board receptacle are a pair of 6-pin PCIe power plugs. These plugs feed power to the main board with the majority going to the graphics card. I also spotted two USB mini-B plugs. These are hidden from outside of the enclosure. They are likely there for service purposes.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Pcie Power Mini B Expansion Connector

PCIe Power, Mini-B, and Expansion Connectors

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Usb 3 Expansion Board

USB 3.1 Expansion Board

The Radeon Pro 580 GPU itself takes up the majority of real estate on the main board. This is not the first eGFX to incorporate the GPU chip and Thunderbolt 3 controller on the same board. That distinction belongs to the Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 Graphics Dock. I spotted eight Samsung GDDR5 memory chips around the GPU die. The base clock is 1,200 MHz and memory clock is 1,693 MHz. These clock speeds are in line with AMD figures. Given the dedicated heatsink for the on-board ICs, there should not be an issue with cooling.

Blackmagic Egpu Tear Down Heatsink Mainboard

Heatsink and Radeon Pro 580 Main board

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Gpu Chip Board

Radeon Pro 580 die and components

The cooling system is elaborate. It borrows the same thermal management concept of the Mac Pro trashcan, using a heatsink with massive surface fins and a large centrifugal fan. This semi-passive heat dissipation results in quiet operation most of the time. The copper heat pipes reminiscent of spider legs draw heat away from the GPU die to a nine-layer cooling fin array. This component takes up nearly half the internal volume of the enclosure. The cooling fan is measured at 160mm and mounted on top with rubber pins. This fan accelerates the convective flow by forcing the replacement of warm air at a quicker rate.  

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Gpu Cooler Bottom

Blackmagic eGPU Radeon Pro 580 GPU Cooler

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Gpu Cooler Angle

GPU copper pipes and cooling fins

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Power Logic 160mm Cooling Fan

Power Logic 160mm Cooling Fan

Last but not least is the custom power supply. The label shows it’s a Mean Well EPP-400-12 that’s capable of a max 400W output (12V≈33.3A). The components are placed neatly with plenty of room for airflow. It’s efficient enough to run without any cooling when limited to 250W output (12V≈20.8A). The PSU provides two 6-pin PCIe cables to power the main board. It’s interesting to note that the Radeon Pro 580 is rated for 150W. Combined with 85W Power Delivery and eGFX component overhead (approximately 30W), there’s some leftover juice for a higher-performing graphics card. I would bet Apple and Blackmagic Design are gauging interest on this first offering to decide whether a custom Vega option is in order. 

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Mean Well 400w Psu

Mean Well 400W Power Supply

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Psu Label

Blackmagic eGPU PSU Label

Testings & Benchmarks

My 2016 15″ MacBook Pro is currently undergoing a warranty repair so I could not confirm 85W Power Delivery of the Blackmagic eGPU. When connecting to a 2018 13″ MacBook Pro, it pulls 60W as that’s all this laptop needs for charging. Thunderbolt tree in System Information shows firmware version 26.3. Interestingly the given birth name of this eGFX is “eGPU RX580.” This is an inconsistency found in the packaging and manual as well. Fortunately macOS identifies the eGPU correctly as “Radeon Pro 580.” In Windows, the eGPU shows up as “67DF:C0”. It seems the Blackmagic eGPU has a bit of an identity crisis.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 2013 Mac Pro Thunderbolt
2018 13 Qc Macbook Pro Blackmagic Radeon Pro 580 Power

Apple partnered with Blackmagic so it’s a given this external graphics card is macOS-certified. As long as you have a Thunderbolt 3 Mac that runs 10.13.4 and newer, it’s plug-and-play in macOS. Apple officially blocked older Thunderbolt Macs, but our community has been providing evolving solutions to extend this external graphics feature to Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 Macs. My nMP trashcan paired with the Blackmagic eGPU once I ran Mac_editor‘s Purge-Wrangler script.

Also to keep in mind is the lack of software support for eGPU. At the moment OpenGL applications require an external monitor for rendering tasks with the eGPU. Metal and OpenCL may use the eGPU for computing tasks without an external monitor. It varies greatly based on whether the developers optimize their apps to take advantage of external and multiple GPUs. Blackmagic has done a great job with its DaVinci Resolve app to make the most of eGPU. Ironically Apple’s own video editing app, Final Cut Pro X, still has second thoughts about external graphics. Mac_editor discovered a solution that forces all applications to use the eGPU in macOS.

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Nmp Tb3 Monitor Output

Blackmagic eGPU Radeon Pro 580 nMP TB3 Monitor Output

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Vs Pcie Options

Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Vs Pcie Options

I never bought into the LG UltraFine Displays and wasn’t going to drop US$1,300 on the 27″ 5K to test Thunderbolt 3 monitor output. What I did instead is an indirect DisplayPort routing via the Mantiz Titan TB3 Dock. The monitor in use was an LG 4K FreeSync 27UD69P-W. I daisy-chained the Mantiz Titan to the second Thunderbolt 3 port of the Blackmagic eGPU, then connected a DisplayPort cable to the 4K monitor. Graphics/Displays tree confirmed the Blackmagic eGPU can provide Thunderbolt 3 monitor output with the Radeon Pro 580. Resolution output was as expected at 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz.

Blackmagic Egpu Mantiz Titan Nmp Daisy Chain Tb3 Output

Daisy Chaining Mantiz Titan Dock to Blackmagic eGPU

Blackmagic Egpu Mantiz Titan Nmp Tb3 Output Graphics Displays

Thunderbolt 3 Monitor Output to DisplayPort

Looking over the product page of the Blackmagic eGPU, it’s confusing who the target market is. In terms of gaming performance, the Radeon Pro 580 is similar to the specs of an RX 480 that was released over two years ago. For as much fawning media coverage as this enclosure has garnered, I’m underwhelmed. As far as computing performance for professional applications, I highly doubt BMD’s customers are not demanding at least a Vega 56 card. If you were to get an eGPU enclosure with a PCIe slot, you can go balls to the wall with the highest-performing GPU that fits your needs and budget. In the examples below, I paired an ASUS XG Station Pro to a STRIX GTX 1080 Ti graphics card. The other setup is a Sonnet Breakaway Box 650 paired with a Radeon Pro WX 9100 graphics card.

In Windows, AMD drivers may refuse to install on this eGFX due to the graphics card not having a proper name. I got the Blackmagic eGPU working with a Razer Blade Stealth because the laptop already had Radeon drivers installed from previous Radeon eGPU testings. When I tried to update to the latest Adrenalin drivers, the installer failed because it could not identify AMD graphics hardware. BMD will likely need to work with AMD so that new drivers can detect this eGPU properly.

Blackmagic Design Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Amd Settings

Blackmagic Design Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Amd Settings

Blackmagic Design Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Windows Drivers Error

Blackmagic Design Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Windows Drivers Error

Boot Camp Windows mode may be possible with certain Macs. I have not been able to get a functional setup. When I tried pairing the Blackmagic eGPU with a 2018 13″ MacBook Pro, the external graphics card produced no display output through both the laptop’s internal display and external monitor. This was after full preparation in Windows 10 [1803] by using a Gigabyte RX 580 Gaming Box to install drivers and resolve error 12. At the moment, I’d take Apple’s and BMD’s word that they don’t support this eGPU in Boot Camp.

The expansion USB 3.1 gen 1 ports are a nice convenience to connect mouse, keyboard, and other peripherals. They share bandwidth with the external graphics card (22Gbps max). In order to get the best eGPU performance, it’s advisable to connect a high-bandwidth peripheral such as an external SSD through another port of the computer rather than via the external GPU enclosure. I connected the Blackmagic eGPU to the 2018 13″ MacBook Pro and ran CL!ng to measure the baseline bandwidth. In the second test, I attached an external solid state drive (Samsung T5) to the eGPU and ran Blackmagic Disk Speed Test concurrently with CL!ng.

Blackmagic Egpu 2018 13 In Qc Macbook Pro Cling Test

Blackmagic eGPU CL!ng without external SSD

Blackmagic Egpu 2018 13 In Qc Macbook Pro Cling Disk Speed Test

Blackmagic eGPU CL!ng with external SSD attached

RX 580 eGPU benchmarks have been done many times and we have numerous builds. I was interested to find out the performance differences between the Radeon Pro 580 [Blackmagic eGPU] versus the RX 580 [Zotac AMP Mini Box & Gigabyte Gaming Box], Vega 56 [Mantiz Venus] and GTX 1080 Ti [ASUS XG Station Pro]. RX 580 and Vega 56 results were done previously through my 2016 15″ MacBook Pro. The Blackmagic eGPU Radeon Pro 580 was benched with the Razer Blade Stealth because no other Windows computers I have would work with it. Mac in Boot Camp was almost impossible with this eGFX. The GTX 1080 Ti benchmarks were done on an Alienware 15 R3. Here are the results and retail cost of each setup.

 Blackmagic eGPU
RP580 ($700)
Zotac AMP Mini
RX580 ($500)
Gigabyte Gaming Box
RX580 ($500)
Mantiz Venus
Vega56 ($800)
XG Station Pro
1080Ti ($1,050)
Unigine Valley43.9 FPS47.5 FPS49.9 FPS70.2 FPS107.2 FPS
Unigine Heaven43.0 FPS46.0 FPS49.2 FPS74.1 FPS115.7 FPS
Tomb Raider 201373.8 FPS83.0 FPS87.8 FPS124.2 FPS178.9 FPS
Shadow of Mordor62.1 FPS70.9 FPS72.9 FPS96.5 FPS147.3 FPS
Hitman35.8 FPS67.8 FPS67.0 FPS66.3 FPS71.6 FPS
Dirt Rally48.6 FPS51.6 FPS61.0 FPS92.8 FPS109.2 FPS

Conclusion

Apple is renewing their commitment to the pros, they said. Everything will be more pro, they said. All I see is a locked-in solution that further keeps Mac users under the UltraFine curse. Apple has increasingly tightened their grip on hardware repair and upgrade options, going against the fundamental purpose of external graphics solutions and the flexibility needs of professional users.

I tore down more than a dozen eGFXs to review in the past 18 months. The Blackmagic Design unit was the most challenging and clearly not meant to be upgraded or repaired. Luck would have it that I’ve also been without my 2016 15″ MacBook Pro for more than a week for a warranty top case replacement. The culprit? A single stuck W key. What happened to thoughtful design so we don’t have to waste time and money when one small component fails?

The Blackmagic eGPU achieves its goal of providing a singular solution to the problem Apple created. US$699 is overpriced when compared to other similarly performing solutions on the market, but it’s better than no choice at all if you have an UltraFine Display. Also noteworthy is that it’s the first eGPU with the Titan Ridge controller. Ultimately a non-upgradable, outdated graphics card is a huge disappointment and will be the undoing of this eGFX. Cursing consumers and using black magic, Apple’s storyline has become a dark fairy tale.

 

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NostromoUK
Member

Great review…and a perfect summation of Apple’s poor commitment to its Pro users.

If you don’t HAVE to buy it..don’t!  

GuideOfGalaxy
Member

I think u need to take a look at my posts on the other blackmagic egpu threads.

i have got it fullly working on windows bootcamp on a macbook pro 15 inch 2016

Eightarmedpet
Member

Great review, such a shame Apple is neglecting Bootcamp. Can’t help but feel tB3 will be the way forward with all types of connectivity so this hopefully wont be the only option for LG 5K monitor acceleration…

MarkieG84
Member

If they put Vega in this it would be alright, but a non upgradable 580??? This thing is practically worthless. Incompatible with the mac pro out the box lol. It seriously should have some sort of upgradable gpu in it, even if it were proprietary

joevt
Member

Posted by: itsage Its primary advantage is allowing internal routing of DisplayPort signals from the on-board GPU through this controller for Thunderbolt 3 monitor output. It’s unknown if Alpine Ridge has this capability or not since this is the first instance of its use. For sure, one advantage the Titan Ridge in this eGPU has is an extra USB port that is used with a hub to provide 4 USB 3.0 ports. Solutions using Alpine Ridge would need a second Thunderbolt 3 controller or a separate USB controller connected with a PCIe switch or split PCIe lanes. You did not… Read more »

Eightarmedpet
Member

Posted by: GuideOfGalaxy
I think u need to take a look at my posts on the other blackmagic egpu threads.
i have got it fullly working on windows bootcamp on a macbook pro 15 inch 2016

Thats good to hear, a build guide in your signature would be great! Also, dont think you are using the LG displays are ya? Think they are still an unknown in Bootcamp… I think…

GuideOfGalaxy
Member

Posted by: Eightarmedpet Posted by: GuideOfGalaxy I think u need to take a look at my posts on the other blackmagic egpu threads. i have got it fullly working on windows bootcamp on a macbook pro 15 inch 2016 Thats good to hear, a build guide in your signature would be great! Also, dont think you are using the LG displays are ya? Think they are still an unknown in Bootcamp… I think… I use 2 monitors one LG 5k ultrafine display thunderbolt 3 and one Samsung 4k display. thunderbolt monitors in windows don’t seem to display anything, but they… Read more »

Eightarmedpet
Member

Interesting, and thanks for the reply. 
Apologies if you’ve stated elsewhere but are you using Apple-set-os script or rEFInd? Because I had the same issue when using Apple-set-os and I think someone smarter than me mentioned it could be because the script limits bandwidth.

mac_editor
Editor

More than the Blackmagic eGPU itself, I’m excited to see how other vendors respond to the design (and likely provide modular solutions) and competition.

James
Guest

Keep in mind it isn’t actually an apple product . . .

joevt
Member

Posted by: GuideOfGalaxy
thunderbolt monitors in windows don’t seem to display anything, but they send through sound, and data through the thunderbolt 3 port on the egpu.

Thunderbolt monitors should work fine in Windows, as Windows can’t know they are Thunderbolt monitors. If they don’t work then it’s a problem with setup. What is the setup? Which Thunderbolt monitor are you referring to? Are you talking about Windows on a Mac or a PC? Is there a post describing the problem?

Eightarmedpet
Member

I had my LG 5K working with a PC/Hack with TB3 mobo…

toerpe
Guest
toerpe

Dears, please help me! Is Blackmagic egpu compatible with the old 27″ thunderbolt displays? I use this display with my 2017 MacBook Pro (with Apple’s TB3 to TB2 converter) without any problems. Thx!

joevt
Member

Posted by: toerpe
Dears, please help me! Is Blackmagic egpu compatible with the old 27″ thunderbolt displays? I use this display with my 2017 MacBook Pro (with Apple’s TB3 to TB2 converter) without any problems. Thx!

That should work. A person that doesn’t have a Thunderbolt 2 display could test this with any Thunderbolt 2 device. You should be able to connect two Apple Thunderbolt 2 displays to the Blackmagic eGPU.

toerpe
Member

Thank you very much! I have ordered this eGPU and it seems works well with my 27″ Thunderbolt Display (just started to use the egpu an hour ago) 🙂

SirLothar
Member

Thanks for doing this this, although I believe you’re missing the point. Apple has always been about simplicity and design, and sometimes power.   In this case, they have devised a plug n play egpu that is amazingly quiet and manages heat extremely well.    If you want to customise and upgrade things, then you buy a PC.  Nothing has changed here. I’ve always preferred macs and every year I would upgrade to the latest one, just to eek out another 10% of graphics power, hoping one day i’d be able to play a game like Total War.  Now, finally… Read more »

mac_editor
Editor

@sirlothar Praise is due where it’s due – the eGPU is quiet – yes, but expensive, and will become seriously outdated and outmatched in price/performance (it already is in the latter). It has a select audience – silence requirement + UltraFine users, so even as an Apple user myself (willing to pay the surcharge that comes with Apple stuff), I don’t see much value in this eGPU enclosure. If nothing has changed – it should – perhaps only Apple could merge the advantage of modularity with great design and engineering – but at this time I feel their focus is skewed… Read more »

SirLothar
Member

Expensive. Definitely.  But all macs are overpriced for what you get, yet we pay extra for better design, build, and brand.  The same for this egpu.  Consider the thought and care required to make it so quiet and cool, yet still retain more than enough power.  A recent Steam report showed the most popular graphics card still being the 1060 or less, and max gaming capped at 1080p – easily achieved by the rx580 Should more apps, including their own, be supported.. of course… this is a bit strange, but I can only guess we’re not far away from them… Read more »

wimpzilla
Member

Expensive. Definitely. But all macs are overpriced for what you get, yet we pay extra for better design, build, and brand. The same for this egpu. Consider the thought and care required to make it so quiet and cool, yet still retain more than enough power. Simply NOPE! I suppose you never opened an apple product and also have no knowledge in hardware. The truth is mac are overpriced for what it deliver, a mac is simply a pc with a fancy OS bases on UNIX. The only thing that separate the mac from a pc is the OS, nothing… Read more »

cgWerks
Member

I don’t have an UltraFine, nor any anticipation of owning one. I bought it for the quiet aspect. I suppose I could home-build something custom that was as quiet (though bigger!), but I don’t want to invest the time in that right now. re: Apple and software – as disappointing as the situation is (I didn’t do proper research before buying about Bootcamp, etc.), that isn’t untypical for Apple. They often release half-baked apps and features that take years to mature. I sure hope it goes more quickly than that, but just noting it isn’t un-Apple-like. (And, hopefully we’ll one-day… Read more »

OliverB
Member

Posted by: cgWerks I don’t have an UltraFine, nor any anticipation of owning one. I bought it for the quiet aspect. I suppose I could home-build something custom that was as quiet (though bigger!), but I don’t want to invest the time in that right now. re: Apple and software – as disappointing as the situation is (I didn’t do proper research before buying about Bootcamp, etc.), that isn’t untypical for Apple. They often release half-baked apps and features that take years to mature. I sure hope it goes more quickly than that, but just noting it isn’t un-Apple-like. (And,… Read more »

cgWerks
Member

Posted by: OliverB
I don’t know what you mention the Ultrafine. I don’t have it either, I have Samsung external display.
Further: Under certain circumstances you can already hot-(un)-plug an eGPU with Bootcamp. Only a Blackmagic on a 15-inch MPB is very unlikely to do so, because it’s an AMD eGPU.

Sorry, I’m new here and didn’t understand ‘@’ mentioning or replying via the forum… so that was directed at @wimpzilla who was saying the Blackmagic eGPU was only for people who have the Ultrafine.

OliverB
Member

Posted by: cgWerks Posted by: OliverB I don’t know what you mention the Ultrafine. I don’t have it either, I have Samsung external display. Further: Under certain circumstances you can already hot-(un)-plug an eGPU with Bootcamp. Only a Blackmagic on a 15-inch MPB is very unlikely to do so, because it’s an AMD eGPU. Sorry, I’m new here and didn’t understand ‘@’ mentioning or replying via the forum… so that was directed at @wimpzilla who was saying the Blackmagic eGPU was only for people who have the Ultrafine. Na, that’s not true. If you have Ultrafine 5K then you need… Read more »

Raygun
Member

Great review. I just read the review over at Appleinsider, it seemed way to positive for what this is, another gimped Apple product. The commenter’s were praising the USB hub not realizing this takes away from the bandwidth.

Also, do people’s eGPU’s here have noise issues? My Sonnet box with a 1060 is pretty damn quiet even under full load. The fans on my xBox make the most noise in my room.

cgWerks
Member

There is nearly no noise…. than there is typical ‘laptop’ noise… and desktop gaming PC noise… and xBox/PS4 noise, etc. For me, a PS4 (probably xBox too) noise is way, way too much. I hate it even when I’m gaming with a headset on, but it wouldn’t be acceptable to me when I’m working. So, the fact that anything is more quiet than an xBox isn’t exactly comforting. 🙂

Eightarmedpet
Member

Posted by: SirLothar Expensive. Definitely.  But all macs are overpriced for what you get, yet we pay extra for better design, build, and brand.  The same for this egpu.  Consider the thought and care required to make it so quiet and cool, yet still retain more than enough power.  A recent Steam report showed the most popular graphics card still being the 1060 or less, and max gaming capped at 1080p – easily achieved by the rx580 Should more apps, including their own, be supported.. of course… this is a bit strange, but I can only guess we’re not far… Read more »

detunedradios
Member

Posted by: Eightarmedpet Posted by: SirLothar Expensive. Definitely.  But all macs are overpriced for what you get, yet we pay extra for better design, build, and brand.  The same for this egpu.  Consider the thought and care required to make it so quiet and cool, yet still retain more than enough power.  A recent Steam report showed the most popular graphics card still being the 1060 or less, and max gaming capped at 1080p – easily achieved by the rx580 Should more apps, including their own, be supported.. of course… this is a bit strange, but I can only guess… Read more »

Eightarmedpet
Member

Yes, but you are comparing Apples and Oranges. The Blackmagic eGPU is fully custom high end, bespoke and silent, the Gigabyte box is bargain basement (not that I am saying its not great).

ikir
Member

Posted by: wimpzilla Expensive. Definitely. But all macs are overpriced for what you get, yet we pay extra for better design, build, and brand. The same for this egpu. Consider the thought and care required to make it so quiet and cool, yet still retain more than enough power. Simply NOPE! The only thing that separate the mac from a pc is the OS, nothing more nothing less. No you are misleading. Macs are not like PCs, they have a lot of custom hardware, engineered by Apple (not using hardware sample and little custom), this has been one of the… Read more »

wimpzilla
Member

No you are misleading. Macs are not like PCs, they have a lot of custom hardware, engineered by Apple (not using hardware sample and little custom), No you are misleading. Macs are not like PCs, they have a lot of custom hardware, engineered by Apple (not using hardware sample and little custom),  You are wrong! You must be precise when building a sentence otherwise it is wrong! “Apple have superior manufacturing technology and capability compared to other Tech manufacturers when it come to develop and implement 3rd party partners hardware!” That’s all you can say about Apple, almost all piece… Read more »

cgWerks
Member

I’m now approaching 30 years of IT experience, and while I’m not sure what you mean by ‘laptop market cap’ and ‘mac market cap’ in this context, on-the-whole, Apple delivers something a Windows platform can’t. And, regarding laptops, when I was IT in my last Fortune-100 (nearly fortune 50) job, all the executives used Mac laptops loaded with Windows (ie: they didn’t even use Mac OSX), because of how nice the Mac hardware was. Both platforms have benefits and flaws. You’d have to determine the criteria you’re after before building a comprehensive analysis, but in my experience, when it comes… Read more »

mac_editor
Editor

Posted by: SirLothar Consider the thought and care required to make it so quiet and cool, yet still retain more than enough power.  I did consider this – it’s still not worth (to me) because enough power is subjective haha. As @itsage mentioned, the XG Station Pro is quiet as well. End of day – as consumers we have only more options – which is a positive. Not denying the engineering here at all. I fully understand your point of view – and really for the LG UltraFine, there’s no alternative. Just thinking that Apple promised a modular Mac Pro for a… Read more »

ikir
Member

Posted by: wimpzilla No you are misleading. Macs are not like PCs, they have a lot of custom hardware, engineered by Apple (not using hardware sample and little custom), No you are misleading. Macs are not like PCs, they have a lot of custom hardware, engineered by Apple (not using hardware sample and little custom),  You are wrong! You must be precise when building a sentence otherwise it is wrong! “Apple have superior manufacturing technology and capability compared to other Tech manufacturers when it come to develop and implement 3rd party partners hardware!” That’s all you can say about Apple,… Read more »

wimpzilla
Member

@ikir I’m a Lawful Neutral Tech Priest!!! I speak truth and common sense above everything else! The truth about this Apple branded eGPU is simple: it does not fully support the software provided by Mac OS, that is commonly used by every Apple user. Hence the product itself have no sense to exist in 1st place, since it is not fully incorporated into the Apple Ecosystem you praise so much!!!!! Instead spending time trying to damage control, spend some of these words asking the company you advert, Apple, to enable eGPU acceleration as default setting! Being sure that as you… Read more »

cgWerks
Member

Tech Priest, no doubt! (not sure about the neutral part) 🙂 Please don’t tell me that the product I bought makes no sense to exist, though. I’m perfectly capable of building any of the other eGPUs talked about on these forums. I’ve built servers and computers for years. I purchased the Blackmagic for a specific reason, and it’s quite valid to me. A agree with you about Apple’s (hopefully current) lack of proper software support… but as I said in another reply, that’s nothing all that new w/ Apple. They have often released half-backed software solutions when it comes to… Read more »

joevt
Member

Posted by: wimpzilla The truth about this Apple branded eGPU is simple: it does not fully support the software provided by Mac OS, that is commonly used by every Apple user. Hence the product itself have no sense to exist in 1st place, since it is not incorporated fully into the Apple Ecosystem you praise so much!!!!! All eGPUs don’t have full support in all macOS software, therefore you are saying that no eGPU should exist. Maybe I’m missing something and there’s something this eGPU can’t do that the others can? You are overstating things. Full support is not necessary.… Read more »

wimpzilla
Member

@joevt
Why not giving your own point of view, instead replying by a rhetorical question that lack of real concreteness ?
Does it seems i overstate in my previous post, it seems to me a pretty basic ground analysis, if i’m overstating things as you said, provide me insight to please!
You seems have better knowledge in the matter than i have, hence more inclined to provide a constructive answer i suppose.

ikir
Member

Posted by: wimpzilla @ikir The truth about this Apple branded eGPU is simple: it does not fully support the software provided by Mac OS, that is commonly used by every Apple user. Maybe I missed something but I don’t understand what you mean. to use an eGPU you should have an external display, anyway you can get OpenCL acceleration and Metal calculation  just plugging it, very simple. The only thing which is not automatic is OpenGL which is deprecated on macOS, but you can force an app to use eGPU even on integrated screen with right button proprierty. Some software needs… Read more »

wimpzilla
Member

@ikir You answered yourself in your post. If a company promote and design an eGPU product for it’s own ecosystem, one would expect the compatibility with existing software as the main goal. Simply because the main purpose of the eGPU enclosure itself is to provide external complex gpu acceleration to an already powerful device capable on handling complex cpu loads!! I have nothing against the other branded enclosures having limited support under Mac OS, needing further tricks to enable fully eGPU acceleration. But when the own Apple Product/Ecosystem does not work as intended, with users not having eGPU acceleration for… Read more »

cgWerks
Member

@wimpzilla – re: “But when the own Apple Product/Ecosystem does not work as intended, with users not having eGPU acceleration for their task while using branded software/product, it’s not acceptable. I can only suppose, with my limited knowledge, that companies have some agreement with each other, in this case mainly Nvidia. These agreements can last a very long period of time and are often hidden under NDA walls. IMO that’s why Apple refuse to fully support by default eGPU acceleration in all it’s product and not because of any technical or software means.” No, IMO, it’s a combination of incompetence… Read more »

ikir
Member

@wimpzilla FinalCut will be update for sure to use eGPU correctly, as even Apple is showing DaVinci Resolve on its benchmark. eGPU support in some software like FinalCut is not easy. Anyway as I said most software already works out of the box, and FinalCut si partially already using eGpu acceleration. I truly see no issue in what are you saying, the eGPU support in macOS is maturing very fast, Mojave beta have much more faster Vega drivers, ejecting eGPU is also faster. Nvidia is another thing, Apple have chosen AMD and they have their tech and commercial reason. I’m a long time Amiga user and they goes… Read more »

joevt
Member

Posted by: wimpzilla @joevt Why not giving your own point of view, instead replying by a rhetorical question that lack of real concreteness ? Does it seems i overstate in my previous post, it seems to me a pretty basic ground analysis, if i’m overstating things as you said, provide me insight to please! You seems have better knowledge in the matter than i have, hence more inclined to provide a constructive answer i suppose. I didn’t see any rhetorical questions. I am wondering why you are singling out this eGPU as being something that shouldn’t exist just because it’s not… Read more »

wimpzilla
Member

@joevt Apple is not helping anyone, Apple is a company and it is making money as main purpose of being! At least, i did not find any definition of the word helping in the dictionary citing Apple in the definition! And yes i mean Apple should not have released a half product for it’s own Ecosystem. Because it’s hurt it’s own marketing claiming that everything is compatible in it’s own ecosystem! That’s is not true since some of the software that use directly the BlackMagic eGPU is not compatible. Last thing, i don’t remember there is a rule that state… Read more »

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

I’m not sure why you call it a custom power supply, and then say it’s the Mean Well EPP-400-12. The Mean Well EPP-400-12 is an off-the-shelf component, not custom.

cgWerks
Member

Good review, though I’m reading it post-purchase. 🙂 One point I’d add (maybe stress), though, is how crazy quiet the thing is. That was more important to me than performance or features. So, in that respect, it’s kind of the only ‘kid on the block’ besides the new (yet to be released) Blackmagic eGPU Pro. I also didn’t want to spend quite that much money, yet (or wait for the release). I’m ***REALLY*** hoping I can get this thing working with Windows (Bootcamp) though, as that was at least one big reason I bought it. I didn’t realize it wasn’t… Read more »

OliverB
Member

@cgwerks, I had the Blackmagic eGPU, too and it’s really very quiet. That’s why I bought the second quietest eGPU closure, the Asus XG Station Pro, because I wanted something more powerful. Of course, the Pro Version with the Vega 56 is very interesting.
About Bootcamp: As long as you have/use a external monitor, it shouldn’t be problem. If you want/need an accelerated internal display of your macbook, that’s a completely other story. This is only possobile with a 13-inch MBP.

cgWerks
Member

@OliverB I just learned about the Asus XG Station Pro today. I hadn’t seen that one in previous research. It looks interesting, but wouldn’t it still be more noisy when the GPU fans run… or is that pretty much prevented by its cooling system? In context, even my Mac mini is a bit noisier than I’d like (and most reviews say they can’t hear it). So, I’m particularly picky in that regard. But, I’m curious what 2nd most quiet really means. It sounds like you’re happy with it, so that’s great. I’m hoping a lot more options like that pop… Read more »

OliverB
Member

Posted by: cgWerks @OliverB I just learned about the Asus XG Station Pro today. I hadn’t seen that one in previous research. It looks interesting, but wouldn’t it still be more noisy when the GPU fans run… or is that pretty much prevented by its cooling system? In context, even my Mac mini is a bit noisier than I’d like (and most reviews say they can’t hear it). So, I’m particularly picky in that regard. But, I’m curious what 2nd most quiet really means. It sounds like you’re happy with it, so that’s great. I’m hoping a lot more options… Read more »

cgWerks
Member

Posted by: OliverB 1) about the fan noise of the GPU itself: This depends a lot on the GPU, but there are some who are really quiet, you only hear them when you stress them a lot and that’s ok. 2) About the dGPU<->iGPU havoc on the internal screen: This happens only with a 15-inch MacBookPro and then typically in two scenarios: a) MacOS with nVidia eGPU b) Windows with AMD eGPU So Apple just doesn’t support officially neither nVidia eGPUs nor Bootcamp eGPUs. 3) About power: BlackMagicPro with Vega 56 is powerful enough, no question. But issue  2b) could… Read more »

wimpzilla
Member

@cgWerks Is the software compatibility situation solved? I mean, Apple own software is now accelerated by the BlackMagic eGPU by default, without any user side operation? If the answer is yes, the product have now its place for the consumers niche it is aimed to, in the Apple ecosystem. It is at least an useful product for who is interested in and have the money for! If the answer is no, it is the same bad product not fitting in the Apple ecosystem as said before, nothing changed! Simply getting any other upgradable eGPU enclosure for your Apple machine is… Read more »

cgWerks
Member

Well, it would be a big deal to me, as I’d have to put hours into trying to design/build/modify my own eGPU variant that was as quiet as I like. It would take up more of my already limited desk space. etc. Is it overpriced in comparison to what you can get spec-wise and/or upgradable-wise? Absolutely. But those weren’t my primary criteria. (If they were, I’d have bought something else.) And, again, I agree with you on Apple’s lack of proper support. But, that’s typical Apple for this kind of thing. It will probably take them a couple of years… Read more »

Guest

Okay, I’m a photographer and recently updated my 4.1 Early 2009 Mac Pro for the new Mac Mini 2018 3.2 GHz Intel Core i7 32GB RAM with a Benq SW271 4K monitor. I noticed that the video performance on the new Mac Mini is not as good as I expected, the Before/After when applying filters for example, is slow, so I believe I need a decent external eGPU to fix that. As I can see, the Blackmagic eGPU is not a good deal as it is not upgradable and it is overpriced. So, what are my other options, taking in… Read more »

OliverB
Member

Posted by: Eightarmedpet
@oliverb how was your experience with this eGPU, you dont still have it right?

@eightarmedpet
It was the first eGPU I had ever and it’s very good. It’s very silent, high quality build, good looking, very easy to install, has a lot of good working ports including a second TB3-Port. It should work even with TB3-5k Display. 
The only drawback ist that it’s not upgradable, but if you want it just for work, that’s shouldn’t be a problem.
I don’t have it anymore because it was borrowed from a colleague.

Eightarmedpet
Member

@oliverb cheers for the reply! Gotta be careful about claiming it will work for TB3 Monitors in Windows as all reports say it doesn’t and no one has done successfully, but… reading through the thread again people who got it working with normal monitors MAY have been using workarounds that I tried which also caused issues with TB3 displays due to bandwidth restrictions – this resulted in USB peripherals and sound working but not an actual picture. Going to see how busy I am over the next month or so and if I have time to grab one from the… Read more »

OliverB
Member

@eightarmedpet,
I didn’t say anything about Windows and said “should”, so there is no real claim by me;)
It I were you I would do the same, grab one, test it and return if it doesn’t work. I would also take the Vega56 version even though it’s really expensive. But I don’t expect it to lose a lot of value in the next time.