Will Thunderbolt eGPU work on M1 Series Macs?
 
Notifications
Clear all

[Sticky] Will Thunderbolt eGPU work on M1 Series Macs?  

 of  4
  RSS

itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
 

The short answer is No, unfortunately. Apple has had plenty of time to work on ARM64 drivers for Radeon cards, but they decided not to pursue that path. Following the announcement of new MacBook Pros, there's a macOS update 12.0.1 [21A558]. I installed it on my 2020 M1 Mac mini [unboxing & teardown]. The eGPU icon remains missing [M1 Mac discussion]. Radeon driver support is an obligation for Intel Macs only, mainly the Mac Pro.

Both Intel and AMD have becoming more direct competitors than a complimentary suppliers. We have seen Apple vertically integrating as much as they could on iDevices. Supply chain issues in the past year is another reminder for them to solidify this effort. I hate to say this, but I might have bought my last Mac computer.

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube | Instagram
 
external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 14" Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio [11th,4C,H] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (WD_Black D50) + Win11 [build link]  


ReplyQuote
mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@itsage, Extrapolating from their performance graphs (which at least have the Windows laptops they used for comparisons), the latest M1 series chips supposedly have similar performance to RTX 3080 mobile (at 100W less) at the highest end. Based on M1 GPU performance, I think the M1 Max GPU is going to top out at 55-60W. That is a trickle compared to any thing in the same performance class. Pretty impressive so far on paper. This mostly eliminates any performance advantages one may have with a desktop GPU over Thunderbolt.

For users invested in software well-written on macOS (like DaVinci) or Apple pro tools (like FCP) there is no better machine even if you Hackintosh (you simply won't get ProRes accelerator). AAA games - while away yet but perhaps this may encourage developers.

In my opinion these are good laptops (we'll see about sustained performance though) and I bought one too (16-inch M1 Max). For me, eGPU is a great way to use multiple displays (most significant), backup SSD, ethernet, and other peripherals with a single cable and I for sure will miss that - well my work laptop is still an Intel model so I won't really 'miss out' Smile

Still makes me wonder about the Mac Pro though. I guess at this point that the Mac Pro will just have detachable SoC modules to which other interfaces (PCIe, case TBT ports, etc.) just plug into. This would mean that if you want to add RAM in the future, you would need to get a new SoC module, unless the SoC module is somehow modular itself. Adding RAM shouldn't be this challenging. Will be cool to see what they cook up.

One path forward for Apple if they want to allow other GPU vendors would be to just have a DriverKit API for GPUs and others can build drivers if they want. Unlikely though as they probably don't want to deal with issues related to 3rd-party drivers.

Ultimately there might be a brave (and brilliant) soul out there who would consider reversing the macOS graphics stack and adapting Linux drivers for other GPU vendors. Although, people will actually be more interested in running Linux on these new Apple GPUs instead.

 

"Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed." — Seneca

Author: kryptonitepurge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
Launching Apps on Specific (e)GPUs on macOS

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [build link]  


artik and itsage liked
ReplyQuote
motoic
(@tsh3721)
Trusted Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 

So sad that Apple have been hell bent on killing a beloved technology that has given so many people flexibility. I want an M1 mac for developer workflows but some part of me hates giving Apple my money since every year they find new an innovative ways to make me hate them for screwing me.

2020 16" MBP w/ dGPU
Nvidia GTX 1070
Akitio Node
32" LG 32UD99-W at 4k
macOS Big Sur, Bootcamp Windows 10

 
2015 15" MacBook Pro (R9 M370X) [4th,4C,H] + GTX 1070 @ 16Gbps-TB2>TB3 (AKiTiO Node) + Win10 // PERST# delay use may apply to other MacBooks [build link]  


ReplyQuote
mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 
Posted by: @tsh3721

I want an M1 mac for developer workflows but some part of me hates giving Apple my money since every year they find new an innovative ways to make me hate them for screwing me.

Indeed. Apple is pretty ruthless when it comes to killing stuff. I guess a positive to take away from this is that I’m sure it will incite competition and perhaps expedite the move to ARM industry-wide. It’d be amazing to have such efficiency while being able to build a PC and choose the parts you need. Years away atm though.

With respect to eGPUs, imo Thunderbolt 4 just won’t cut it in that landscape. I think we need more innovation there.

"Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed." — Seneca

Author: kryptonitepurge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
Launching Apps on Specific (e)GPUs on macOS

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [build link]  


nando4 liked
ReplyQuote
wessel
(@wessel)
New Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

Hi!

I currently have a 2020 M1 Macbook Air and a gaming pc. But I want to replace my gaming pc with an eGPU. Just want to make sure it will work..

I want to buy a eGPU with an 3080 or 3090 inside, and an external ssd with Windows on it. I want to run it trough bootcamp.

Is that possible with my M1 mac? And is every game compatible through this method? I only want to use the eGPU on Windows, not on the MacOS. Just for gaming.

Thanks!

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

ReplyQuote
Mini i5
(@mini-i5)
Prominent Member
Joined: 2 years ago
 

@wessel, The M1 Macs are officially closed systems now.

They aren’t expandable via eGPUs or Bootcamp. 

 

2018 Mac Mini + AMD RX 6600 XT (Sonnet Breakaway Box 650) Monterey 12.1 pending + Windows 21H1

 
2018 Mac Mini [8th,6C,B] + RX 6600 XT @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway 650) + macOS 12.0 & Win10 21H1 [build link]  


ReplyQuote
alcas
(@alcas)
New Member
Joined: 2 months ago
 

@mac_editor, What are you suggestions on moving on from eGPUs? I still enjoy having a 1 cable setup powering 2 monitors/peripherals. Will this be possible anymore with the M1 Pro/Max?

 

To do: Create my signature with system and expected eGPU configuration information to give context to my posts. I have no builds.

.

ReplyQuote
clarketus
(@clarketus)
Eminent Member
Joined: 4 years ago
 
Posted by: @mac_editor

Ultimately there might be a brave (and brilliant) soul out there who would consider reversing the macOS graphics stack and adapting Linux drivers for other GPU vendors. Although, people will actually be more interested in running Linux on these new Apple GPUs instead.

I'm hoping this happens. My old 2012 Macbook pro seems to be continually made more flexible with new software coming out (EG: OpenCore), so I imagine as the years pass Apple ARM chips will have amateur projects that open up the hardware, especially as the performance and availability of the hardware will make it an interesting target platform.

I finally caved and bought an M1 Max yesterday, first new personal laptop since the 2012 model. The eGPU gave the 2012 model a new lease on life and has been great, but its definitely time for something new. Given the cost of graphics cards and the drop in support from Apple, getting the 32 graphics cores built into the M1 Max seemed like a reasonable tradeoff.

I will admit I am definitely not looking forward to using parallels VM and/or crossover/wine again, but it will be interesting to see how these have improved since last time I used them in 2008. Bootcamp support (even unofficial) would be great if it ever happens.

I've also highly valued reading the great discourse on this forum, and will continue to do so to see if eGPU support ever comes to Apple ARM.

Guides:
Mid 2012 15" MBP GT650M Non Retina + RX580@10Gbps-TB1 (Gigabyte Gaming Box via TB3->TB2 adapter) + macOS 10.13.4 / Win10

 
2012 15" MacBook Pro (GT650M) [3rd,4C,Q] + RX 580 @ 10Gbps-TB1>TB3 (Gigabyte Gaming Box) + macOS 10.13 & Win10 [build link]  


ReplyQuote
itsage
(@itsage)
Founder Admin
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@alcas, Any Thunderbolt/USB-C dock with at least two monitor output ports should provide this functionality. Also keep in mind the the Power Delivery of the dock so that you get sufficient charge to the laptop.

 

LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Youtube | Instagram
 
external graphics card builds
best laptops for external GPU
eGPU enclosure buyer's guide

 
2021 14" Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio [11th,4C,H] + RTX 2080 Ti @ 32Gbps-TB4 (WD_Black D50) + Win11 [build link]  


ReplyQuote
mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
Famed Member Moderator
Joined: 5 years ago
 

@alcas, I still need to research honestly. Currently I have a single TB3 cable that drives eGPU, 3 4K monitors, SSD for backups, ethernet, and other USB peripherals. Single TB4 dock can't support 3 monitors 4K60Hz afaik (@itsage please let me know if there's a way) so I'll probably have to connect one monitor directly via HDMI, and the others via DP/HDMI through dock. Not sure about SSD either. Is there a dock with 2.5" SATA slot :)?

 

"Desultory reading is delightful, but to be beneficial, our reading must be carefully directed." — Seneca

Author: kryptonitepurge-wranglertbt-flashpurge-nvdaset-eGPU
Insights Into macOS Video Editing Performance
Launching Apps on Specific (e)GPUs on macOS

Master Threads:
2014 15-inch MacBook Pro 750M
2018 15-inch MacBook Pro

 
2019 13" MacBook Pro [8th,4C,U] + RX Vega 64 @ 32Gbps-TB3 (Mantiz Venus) + macOS 10.14.6 & Win10 [build link]  


ReplyQuote
 of  4