Blackmagic eGPU Review - Apple's UltraFine Curse  

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theitsage
(@itsage)
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July 22, 2018 11:24 pm  

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 power400W
GPU max power
150W
Power delivery (PD)
85W
USB-C controller
TI83
TB3 ControllerTitan Ridge
TB3 USB-C ports2
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 firmware26.3 ✔
TB3 cable length (cm)50
Vendor pagelink
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 Mac Pro Rx 580 Gaming Box

Blackmagic Egpu + Mac Pro + Rx 580 Gaming Box



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.


Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Vs Gtx 1080 Ti

Blackmagic eGPU Radeon Pro 580 Vs ASUS XG Station Pro GTX 1080 Ti



Blackmagic Egpu Radeon Pro 580 Vs Wx 9100

Blackmagic eGPU Radeon Pro 580 Vs Sonnet Breakaway Box WX 9100


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.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

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tsakal, Username, Mathematig and 2 people liked
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NostromoUK
(@nostromouk)
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Joined: 3 months  ago
Posts: 13
July 23, 2018 3:29 am  

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!  


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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Joined: 2 years  ago
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July 23, 2018 12:05 pm  

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...

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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MarkieG84
(@markieg84)
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July 23, 2018 10:41 pm  

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


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joevt
(@joevt3)
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July 24, 2018 12:15 am  
Posted by: theitsage

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 show the USB information for the eGPU. I would like to know what USB driver is used as I believe it may be different that the one for Alpine Ridge. It could be using Apple's generic USB driver since I couldn't find the Titan Ridge device IDs in Apple's USB drivers. Apple has a separate driver for Alpine Ridge. I would like to see a test where two USB devices are connected simultaneously, one to a USB-A port, and another connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port.

Posted by: theitsage

I attached an external solid state drive (Samsung T5) to the eGPU and ran Blackmagic Disk Speed Test concurrently with CL!ng.

Did you connect this to the USB-A ports (5 Gbps USB 3.0) or the Thunderbolt 3 port (10 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 2)? The Samsung T5 is a USB 3.1 gen 2 SSD and can therefore perform better when connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port (which will probably reduce CL!ng bandwidth numbers further).

Posted by: theitsage

but it's better than no choice at all if you have an UltraFine Display.

You can connect Ultrafine displays to any Thunderbolt 3 port, but in all previous instances, the display would be powered by the computer's GPU. Only the BlackMagic eGPU has a GPU that is connected to the Thunderbolt controller's DisplayPort inputs.

There were other solutions though (but expensive). For the LG UltraFine 4K, you could use a PCIe card like the Sunix UPD2018 or Delock 89582 in a Thunderbolt 3 PCIe expansion box. For the LG UltraFine 5K, you would need a Thunderbolt 3 add-in card instead, but that would only allow video, as the OS will not enable PCIe tunneling capability of the add-in card to allow communication to the display's USB controller that is used for the USB ports, audio, camera, and brightness control.


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GuideOfGalaxy
(@guideofgalaxy)
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July 24, 2018 1:25 pm  

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


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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July 24, 2018 1:30 pm  
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...

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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mac_editor
(@mac_editor)
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July 24, 2018 3:02 pm  

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.

purge-wrangler.shpurge-nvda.shset-eGPU.sh
----
Troubleshooting eGPUs on macOS
Command Line Swiss Knife
----
Multiple Build Guides


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theitsage
(@itsage)
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July 24, 2018 3:19 pm  

Not a vendor solution but @fricorico showed a very neat build using a similar concept (trashcan design and convection cooling). I'd personally go with a non-reference cooler GPU.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

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GuideOfGalaxy
(@guideofgalaxy)
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July 25, 2018 3:34 am  
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 send through sound, and data through the thunderbolt 3 port on the egpu.


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Eightarmedpet
(@eightarmedpet)
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July 25, 2018 6:29 am  

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.

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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James
 James
(@James)
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July 27, 2018 3:00 am  

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


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theitsage
(@itsage)
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July 27, 2018 2:24 pm  

In the same way the LG Ultrafine Displays are not Apple products but rather commissioned to fill Apple's gaps. I have not seen the Ultrafine Display being used with anything but a Mac. Same goes for this Blackmagic eGPU.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

68 external GPU build guides


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joevt
(@joevt3)
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July 27, 2018 3:15 pm  
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?


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Eightarmedpet
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toerpe
 toerpe
(@toerpe)
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August 3, 2018 8:33 am  

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!


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joevt
(@joevt3)
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August 3, 2018 3:07 pm  
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.


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toerpe
(@toerpe)
New Member
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August 7, 2018 9:38 am  

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) 🙂


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SirLothar
(@sirlothar)
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August 11, 2018 9:56 am  

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 12 years later I can do it with an egpu... with one cable into the LG 5k monitor.  

No scripts, no shouting at the screen after the next “patch”stops working.  Just switch on and get on with my life.   I understand you guys love scripting and hacking; sometimes I do too, BUT in this case... this is not the purpose of the unit.

so let’s keep that in mind and show some real, deserved, support for this device.  You never know, if you do, they might just keep on investing in the egpu sector...


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mac_editor
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August 11, 2018 11:44 am  

@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 to $ in general, more than usual.

Other eGPUs using AMD cards (such as Gigabyte Gaming Box) also work without any scripts or such on the TB3 Macs. Also, even this Blackmagic eGPU doesn't just work as expected - because most useful apps (such as FCP, Adobe, etc.) don't use it at the moment - so one has to either use scripts or use the new Finder preference option (which is only available to Mojave beta users at the time of writing). These approaches are also not equivalent to apps directly addressing eGPUs using the Metal APIs, that can queue GPU tasks to multiple GPUs based on compute and bandwidth availability. If Apple is releasing an eGPU for their system, they should have at least their own software ready for it. By the time apps are updated, better eGPU options would have popped up (except maybe for UltraFine users).

purge-wrangler.shpurge-nvda.shset-eGPU.sh
----
Troubleshooting eGPUs on macOS
Command Line Swiss Knife
----
Multiple Build Guides


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Raygun
(@raygun)
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August 14, 2018 7:16 am  

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.


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theitsage
(@itsage)
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August 14, 2018 3:52 pm  

@raygun There are eGPU enclosures with very good noise and thermal management such as the Sonnet Breakaway Box and ASUS XG Station Pro. Noisy enclosures are ones with small fATX power supplies such as the Gigabyte Gaming Box.

I can't comment on others' perspective. My reviews have always based on the fundamental idea of TB3 external graphics, a chassis that provides upgradability. Apple has slowly but surely removed the ability to upgrade their hardware. This Blackmagic eGPU conforms to that mentality and its singular purpose is to interface with the UltraFine Display.

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SirLothar
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August 15, 2018 4:03 pm  

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 resolving it.

so, for me, this egpu is still the best graphics combo for the MacBook Pro.  Period


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Eightarmedpet
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August 16, 2018 6:45 am  
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 away from them resolving it.

so, for me, this egpu is still the best graphics combo for the MacBook Pro.  Period

Macs being over priced is a bit of an old fallacy. There is a difference between over priced and premium. I was open to buying a Windows laptop last round and eyed up all the high end ones, each one outshone MacBooks in one way or another but never entirely as a whole and none came anywhere near build quality wise overall design wise, those things need to be factored into cost not just GB and HZ.

Remember the Razer Core V2 + an R 580 is more money than this and its far from as quiet and is pretty bog standard design wise (although I do love the core and see it as a high end enclosure).

This is a totally bespoke offering, I think its actually a bargain.

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070@32Gbps-TB3 (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10
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detunedradios
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August 16, 2018 8:08 am  
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 we’re not far away from them resolving it.

so, for me, this egpu is still the best graphics combo for the MacBook Pro.  Period

Macs being over priced is a bit of an old fallacy. There is a difference between over priced and premium. I was open to buying a Windows laptop last round and eyed up all the high end ones, each one outshone MacBooks in one way or another but never entirely as a whole and none came anywhere near build quality wise overall design wise, those things need to be factored into cost not just GB and HZ.

Remember the Razer Core V2 + an R 580 is more money than this and its far from as quiet and is pretty bog standard design wise (although I do love the core and see it as a high end enclosure).

This is a totally bespoke offering, I think its actually a bargain.

A Sonnet Breakaway Box with an RX 580 can be had on Amazon for $469, and you can swap out the card with a newer one in a year or two with the money you saved buying that instead of this.

2016 15" MacBook Pro - 2.7GHz Core i7, Radeon Pro 460 4GB, 1TB SSD
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Eightarmedpet
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August 16, 2018 9:06 am  

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).

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + GTX1060@32Gbps-TB3 (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
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wimpzilla
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August 16, 2018 10:24 am  

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 more nothing less.

As we see bad laptop implementation from other manufacturers, apple implementation in macbook are often bad as we found in other tech product.

Hence the "you pay for extra..." is a wrong, misleading, ignorant, statement!

Not i want you to understand because you wont, without before stepping up you own knowledge.

But rather you remember that these sentence are utterly wrong and influence badly other consumers and products!

 

 

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 270X@4Gbps-mPCIe (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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ikir
 ikir
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August 16, 2018 11:18 am  
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 reason why Apple had/have the best Thunderbolt implementation, they were the market first for PCIe SSD, displayPort, Thunderbolt, retina, T2, FireWire and go on. As it is wrong that an iPhone is like a Samsung because the OLED display is manufactured by them. Design, engeneering and delivering is VALUE. You pay for this and it has a value. Then you have choice.

back on topic Blackmagic eGPU is cool, vertical design can be a nice addition to compact space but especially is silent and have TB3 output. This is custom design. This is value. It is important to you? Yes or not it depends but you can't say it is garbage.

I work in IT since 12 years, if you says Macs have the same amount of bad implementations than PCs you have really low experience in mass market and hardware support.

eGPU.it | LG 34" 4K 34UC88 curved ultrawide display
MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD --> my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64


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mac_editor
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August 16, 2018 11:52 am  
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 reason - I simply assume those same reasons could have been applied here :p

 

@wimpzilla I also don't think the sole difference between a Mac and Windows laptop is just OS (much of everything else is abstracted). Especially with the dawn of the T2 in the MBP, the difference is clear. One thing worth noting though, it's important how we define deliver. It could be design, UX, etc. and different for someone else. If you meant deliver in terms of performance - totally agree. But some, including myself, may compromise on that for the OS and design. Though we are paying more extra than ever for this haha. So my impression of Mac has dipped, to be honest. Still not far enough to switch me to PC, but definitely to consider an extra alternative machine.

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wimpzilla
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August 16, 2018 12:08 pm  

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 of hardware come from a 3rd party Tech manufacturer and need to be bought and assembled into their design!

The "custom hardware" you are referring to can be resumed in the sentence that i stated above, but that is not custom hardware.

Custom hardware would mean a cpu specifically designed by Intel to run on the OS provided by the mac and sorry to deceive you, but it is not actually the case since it's the same cpu you will find on a regular laptop!!!

Apple is subject to flaw as anyone else since using the same 3rd party hardware, plus it's own product design flaws as anyone else.

Hence to conclude, it's not because one deliver a superior manufacturing technology and capability into a product that the product is meant to be GOOD for sure!!!!!

 

Again i DO NOT want change anybody mind, i don't care!!
But i care when Apple fanboy without knowledge begin to defend what is not defensible from a scientific, virtue and common sense point of view!!!
Just stop being a fanboy and prise the products for what it is, what it delivers to consumers and prosumers that work with it!

Edit:

I work in IT since 12 years, if you says Macs have the same amount of bad implementations than PCs you have really low experience in mass market and hardware support.

To be honest with you, i would not claim had being an IT guy for 12y around so loud!
Especially if claiming that the laptop market cap was the same as the mac market cap along these years, for sure is a nice thing to heard from such expertise!
Hence not even sure you could compare the n° of flaws so lightly between the platforms, without a decent analysis!

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 270X@4Gbps-mPCIe (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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ikir
 ikir
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August 19, 2018 1:14 pm  
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, almost all piece of hardware come from a 3rd party Tech manufacturer and need to be bought and assembled into their design!

The "custom hardware" you are referring to can be resumed in the sentence that i stated above, but that is not custom hardware.

Custom hardware would mean a cpu specifically designed by Intel to run on the OS provided by the mac and sorry to deceive you, but it is not actually the case since it's the same cpu you will find on a regular laptop!!!

Apple is subject to flaw as anyone else since using the same 3rd party hardware, plus it's own product design flaws as anyone else.

Hence to conclude, it's not because one deliver a superior manufacturing technology and capability into a product that the product is meant to be GOOD for sure!!!!!

 

Again i DO NOT want change anybody mind, i don't care!!
But i care when Apple fanboy without knowledge begin to defend what is not defensible from a scientific, virtue and common sense point of view!!!
Just stop be a fanboy and prise the products for what they are, what they delivers to consumers and professionals that work with it!

Edit:

I work in IT since 12 years, if you says Macs have the same amount of bad implementations than PCs you have really low experience in mass market and hardware support.

 

To be honest with you, i would not claim had being an IT guy for 12y around so loud!
Especially if claiming that the laptop market cap was the same as the mac market cap along these years, for sure is a nice thing to heard from such expertise!
Hence not even sure you could compare the n° of flaws so lightly between the platforms, without a decent analysis!

I claim that because I work with consumers with bad PC hardware everyday. If your don’t see the quality difference you are the fanboy. Designing, prototyping is an important part for sure most hardware components needs to be bought but Apple make a very big difference: choose good partners, hardware, build an OS around it, prototype it and custom design it. Apple also create it own hardware, or give specification to manufactures, most of this is not true for others wich often go with industrial sample plus a sticker.  Apple have a lot of hardware expertise see Ax, T2, Lightpeak/Thunderbolt, FireWire and the list is very long, they has the most “industry first” of anyone else in the market. This is value.

Users like you often accuse the other being fanboy, without understanding that you are just ignoring fact. And when a non tech user like Apple it doesn’t mean it is stupid just feel the difference. In all these years a lot of Apple
haters switched and now are Apple only but before that they always cried things like yours.

Back on topic you are underestimating what a custom design mean, it is hard to create a product like Blackmagic eGPU, made it cool and silent, but give a nice power boost and add TB3 out. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it, I prefer too an upgradable eGPU too but this doesn’t mean every else is bad.

eGPU.it | LG 34" 4K 34UC88 curved ultrawide display
MacBook Pro 2018 Touch Bar i7 quad-core 2.7Ghz - 16GB RAM - 512GB PCIe SSD --> my Mantiz Venus extreme mod with Sapphire Nitro+ RX Vega 64


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wimpzilla
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August 19, 2018 4:42 pm  

@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 said, an Apple Ecosystem user get full support for it's daily drive software for real work and content creation, where all the benefit of this eGPU enclosure reside!

 

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 270X@4Gbps-mPCIe (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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joevt
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August 20, 2018 10:22 am  
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. Some support is enough.

eGPUs have benefits even without "Full incorporation into the Apple Ecosystem" therefore eGPUs should exist. It's up to the user to decide if those benefits are good enough.


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wimpzilla
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August 20, 2018 11:57 am  

@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.

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ikir
 ikir
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August 20, 2018 12:59 pm  
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 to be modernized to takes full advantage but they are the minimal part even is Final Cut is sadly in this category. I have many costumers who use eGPU to be more productive or have better performance in general, it is just plaug&Play with Radeon.
not talking about Nvidia wich is a mess, macOS drivers are a disaster and their partner are Bizon Tech lol

eGPU.it | LG 34" 4K 34UC88 curved ultrawide display
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wimpzilla
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August 20, 2018 1:45 pm  

@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 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.
I'm pretty sure it would appeal further true Mac users, that would like have useful branded Apple Products for their work, instead another eGPU enclosure!

Once again you can understand why someone like me would never be hired at Apple to build good product.
Because with all the due respect, Apple completely misunderstood and underestimated what would eGPU and mGPU bring to it's Ecosystem.
If i would have been a Product Manager at Apple, i would redesign a part of the desktop MacPro line as TBT eGPU station, delivering complex gpu acceleration to multiple Mac users!
This would be the more professional solution of the Blackmagic enclosure, composed by a workstation cpu grade, n gpu's, n TBT ports, delivering the gpu computation power needed to multiples tasks, screens, at the same time.
With 4 gpu's you can already accommodate a team of 4 or more dev's working on a same project but on different tasks, having everything shared on the same eGPU machine but at the same time flexible with each team member his own laptop.
Edit: Also worth to notice that it could be used as the middle men platform between the Apple cloud for computing and the end user as an enterprise solution!
And even if Apple would implement this smart idea, i'm pretty sure it would end up with with a good idea, bad implementation meme.

In any case, no matter how good and smart internal products/ideas are, it is unacceptable have such half software support for a such grown ecosystem as the Apple one is.

 

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 270X@4Gbps-mPCIe (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
E=Mc²


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