Mac not using eGPU after upgrading to Big Sur
I recently got a 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro. I updated the OS to Big Sur and noticed it's not properly utilizing my eGPU. I use Figma in my job. On my old Mac that's running Catalina, "Figma Helper (GPU)" would always show up under "AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT (Port 1)" in Activity Monitor (as long as I open/restart Figma when the eGPU is plugged in). After the update, now "Figma Helper (GPU)" would show up under both the internal graphics card (AMD Radeon Pro 5500M (Built-in)) as well as the external one in Activity Monitor. But only the internal one shows %GPU usage. The same thing happens to other apps that have a GPU helper.
I did everything in the Troubleshooting guide, but it's still not working. The only work-around I found so far is to close the laptop, reopen the applications, then they will start using the eGPU. But as soon as the apps become idle, it will go back to using the internal graphics card.
Does this happen to anyone else? Any idea how I can fix it? Thanks in advance for your help! Below is my setup:
- MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) with an external monitor
- OS: Big Sur (Version 11.2.3 (20D91))
- eGPU: AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT
- eGPU is correctly showing up in the Graphics section in About This Mac
- Enclosure: Razer Core X - Black
@furfur, From Apple:
You can configure applications to use an eGPU with one of the following methods.
Use the Prefer External GPU option
Starting with macOS Mojave 10.14, you can turn on Prefer External GPU in a specific app's Get Info panel in the Finder. This option lets the eGPU accelerate apps on any display connected to the Mac—including displays built in to iMac, iMac Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro:
- Quit the app if it's open.
- Select the app in the Finder. Most apps are in your Applications folder. If you open the app from an alias or launcher, Control-click the app's icon and choose Show Original from the pop-up menu. Then select the original app.
- Press Command-I to show the app's info window.
- Select the checkbox next to Prefer External GPU.
- Open the app to use it with the eGPU.
You won't see this option if an eGPU isn't connected, if your Mac isn't running macOS Mojave or later, or if the app self-manages its GPU selection. Some apps, such as Final Cut Pro, directly choose which graphics processors are used and will ignore the Prefer External GPU checkbox.
Set an external eGPU-connected display as the primary display
If you have an external display connected to your eGPU, you can choose it as the primary display for all apps. Since apps default to the GPU associated with the primary display, this option works with a variety of apps:
- Quit any open apps that you want the eGPU to accelerate on the primary display.
- Choose Apple menu > System Preferences. Select Displays, then select the Arrangement tab.
- Drag the white menu bar to the box that represents the display that's attached to the eGPU.
- Open the apps that you want to use with the eGPU.
If you disconnect the eGPU, your Mac defaults back to the internal graphics processors that drives the built-in display. When the eGPU is re-attached, it automatically sets the external display as the primary display.
@mini-i5, Hi there, thanks for the reply. As I mentioned in my original post, I tried all those things in the Troubleshooting guide, which includes the two tips you mentioned, but unfortunately it's still not working : (
@furfur, did you ever find a solution? I'm seeing the same issue on my Mac Mini 2018. MacOS 12.1 brought support for my AMD 6600 XT I have running is a Razer X eGPU. I have 'prefer external GPU' enabled and the GPU registers everywhere it's supposed to. I find the CPU gets pegged while the 6600 stays at 0.00% utilization.
@john_saunders, Welcome to the forum. Most Mac apps are coded for heavy CPU use.
And also - MacOS Activity Monitor kinda lies, ha ha.
Actually, it just omits useful information you're looking for.
MacOS Activity Monitor doesn't tell you that a 170MB size graphics file you open in In Design or Bluebeam or Photoshop is using well over 1GB (or more) of the 6600XT's VRAM.
So your eGPU is being utilized when working with graphic files, photos, and videos in MacOS. There's just no MacOS-included utility to show how much.
Really, you'll need to be in Windows looking at AMD's Adrenilin software metric for VRAM Usage to see how much your 6600XT is actually being used.
(Of course, a few certain specific GPU loads do register and move the needle in MacOS Activity Monitor. Games and 3D renderers like Octane X, Redshift, Blender Eevee, and AMD Radeon Pro Render, basically)
@mini-i5, thanks for the note. Yeah, I hate how there's no software on Mac for any insight into the GPU (AMD). I actually swapped over to my Windows box to make sure everything was ok still, as, on the Mac, the fans don't come on. Everything was fine on the Windows side of things, so that reinforces your comment about most apps' primary use of mainly CPU.