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Blackmagic eGPU Review - Apple's UltraFine Curse  

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ikir
 ikir
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August 20, 2018 2:03 pm  

@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 radeon path too, even Linux driver are quite up to date. Nvidia probably is not the best partner for many. Especially they were late on eGPU.
With a Radeon card, eGPU support on macOS is very simple and functional. From gaming to desktop, graphics to video, everything is running pretty great already and everything in eGPU land is very young. When i embraced this concept I was thinking of much more headache than this.

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joevt
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August 20, 2018 3:25 pm  
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 fully supported by every piece of software, when all other eGPUs have the same behavior.

Maybe you mean Apple shouldn't have helped with this eGPU until the software was improved more. This eGPU has the Blackmagic name and works with Blackmagic's software and works as well as any eGPU with that software and other software and no amount of waiting is going to make a better eGPU, therefore there's no reason to delay selling the eGPU.

Apple is improving the software in Mojave. These improvements will affect every eGPU.

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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wimpzilla
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August 21, 2018 10:01 am  

@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 the end user must replace the QA/QC for long testing purposes before the launch of a product.
The product as to be finished at launch, hence claiming it will go better with time show lack of respect toward users, that already bought the product thinking it will help further their work and integrate into their ecosystem!
Simply because if tomorrow Apple decide to drop eGPU support for X reason, the users that have bought a non finished product, that will be never finished, will be mislead!

 

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Jacob
 Jacob
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August 30, 2018 8:08 pm  

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.


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cgWerks
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December 23, 2018 11:33 pm  

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 supported by Apple (which shows one shouldn't assume). 🙁 I sure hope Apple is just lagging behind on such support, but I guess one shouldn't hold their breath. I'm glad to see some reports (in the comments) that people have gotten it working.

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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OliverB
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December 24, 2018 12:14 am  

@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.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 12:24 am  

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 see plug-n-play eGPU with Bootcamp and much more direct software support.)

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 12:27 am  

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. 🙂

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 12:47 am  

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 to software, hardware design, OS, productivity, lowering of support, etc. the Mac wins easily.

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 12:56 am  

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 applications or certain features. And, I do complain... a lot! So much so, I've been labeled a troll in a number of Apple-centric communities (because I'm not enough of a fanboy, I guess). But, I give credit where credit is due, as well (so I'm not an anti-Apple fanboy either).

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 1:05 am  

@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 along with bad management decisions. And, as I said previously, it is nothing particularly new about Apple. I don't think there is any conspiracy afoot.

But, I guess my question is... are you saying that until Apple can do it 100% correctly, there should just be no eGPUs or eGPU support? What you seem to be arguing doesn't make much sense in regard to Blackmagic vs other eGPUs. I fully agree Apple should do better in terms of software support, especially in Bootcamp. But, I don't see what this lack of support from Apple (which I agree with) has to do with the Blackmagic in particular.

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 1:28 am  

@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 up.

I don't really *need* more powerful right now, but I'll keep that in mind for the future.

And, thanks for the vote of confidence on Bootcamp... yes, I will be using an eGPU connected external monitor. As I started to research it, I got more and more concerned. But, then I started to realize, that as you say, it might be due to the complexity of laptop internal screens and GPUs. I wish Apple would officially support it, but I suppose that would mean working out all those issues first. I hope one day, it will be plug-n-play.

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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OliverB
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December 24, 2018 1:31 am  
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, hopefully we'll one-day see plug-n-play eGPU with Bootcamp and much more direct software support.)

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.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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December 24, 2018 1:48 am  
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 like that pop up.

I don't really *need* more powerful right now, but I'll keep that in mind for the future.

And, thanks for the vote of confidence on Bootcamp... yes, I will be using an eGPU connected external monitor. As I started to research it, I got more and more concerned. But, then I started to realize, that as you say, it might be due to the complexity of laptop internal screens and GPUs. I wish Apple would officially support it, but I suppose that would mean working out all those issues first. I hope one day, it will be plug-n-play.

@cgWerks,
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 be a problem if you need a good working internal display under Bootcamp. Then you should go for nVidia, which means to swallow a lot of other issues and never ever upgrade to mojave 😮

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 3:53 am  
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.

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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cgWerks
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December 24, 2018 4:05 am  
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 be a problem if you need a good working internal display under Bootcamp. Then you should go for nVidia, which means to swallow a lot of other issues and never ever upgrade to mojave 😮

re: point 1 - but, if you're gaming or using a higher-end 3D app, won't you be stressing the GPU enough to make the fans spin up? I'm not just worried about quiet at idle. What I like about the Blackmagic, is that it doesn't contain any of those annoying little fans. I suppose one could re-engineer a stock GPU w/ heatpipes and a big fan, but that would be a lot of work.

Or, does the XG Station Pro keep the GPU so cool that it only spins up at a higher than active use extreme, and only then at slower GPU fan speeds?

Yeah, I guess I was talking more about Bootcamp support. Apple's macOS support is fairly good, or as good as it will be I suppose depending on the apps used. My only macOS issue (so far) was having to turn File Vault off or do a lot of cable swapping. Apple should have some more elegant solution there.

But, I think Bootcamp is important enough, that they should do a *much* better job of supporting it too. While I wouldn't expect them to support every possible device and GPU, they should certainly have something like the Blackmagic covered.

Also, I don't use CUDA stuff, so while I think nVidia is ahead on GPUs, it isn't as dramatic a gap for me as for some.

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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OliverB
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December 24, 2018 9:31 am  
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 the BlackMagic. Of course, the BlackMagic ist the best choice for everyone who want just to use MacOSX.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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wimpzilla
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December 24, 2018 3:00 pm  

@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 the same, so no big deal if the BlackMagic eGPU would simply not exist!
Tho the same has to be said for the LG Ultrafine, at the end of the day it's more a hassle than anything else.

Also you simply missed the wagon to rant about, you are a bit late to the party!

2012 13-inch Dell Latitude E6320 + R9 [email protected] (EXP GDC 8.4) + Win10
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theitsage
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December 24, 2018 5:03 pm  

The Blackmagic eGPU is the least hassle way for Thunderbolt 3 Mac users to use an external graphics with their LG UltraFine Display. Its primary advantage is quiet operation and Thunderbolt 3 monitor output. These features come at a high premium as stated.

There are ways to produce Thunderbolt 3 monitor output with other eGPU enclosures. In my recent build using the WX 9100 + Mantiz Venus, I tested a $10 PCIe powered riser card and GC-ALPINE-RIDGE AIC for TB3 output. It worked well and the total cost for these two components were about $60. Another approach is to use a dual PCIe slot enclosure such as the AKiTiO Node Duo. This solution limits the eGPU connection to a 2 PCI lane bandwidth but provides a convenient second slot for the Thunderbolt 3 AIC to produce TB3 monitor output.

Best ultrabooks for eGPU use

eGPU enclosure buying guide

94 external GPU build guides


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cgWerks
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December 27, 2018 7:29 pm  

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 to solidify it, assuming they keep going this direction with system expansion (which I'm guessing they will).

My main reason for responding, was that it kept being said that the only reason for this product to exist was the UltraFine... which I'm saying is absolutely not the case, as I bought one, and don't have an UltraFine. I'm sure I'm not the only one, too 🙂

This post was modified 5 months ago

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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cgWerks
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December 27, 2018 7:33 pm  

Very interesting. If I didn't already have too much on my plate, it would be kind of fun to come up with a design more like the Blackmagic that was upgradable (kind of like that build you showed above). It would be taller, but putting a card in a vertical tower of some kind with big, slow fans shouldn't be all that difficult.

2018 Mac mini (i7, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD) - Blackmagic eGPU (RX580)


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(@joas_souza)
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February 14, 2019 12:56 am  

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 consideration that I'm based in UK. Any help?

Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts


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Eightarmedpet
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April 25, 2019 11:40 am  
Posted by: Joas Souza

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 consideration that I'm based in UK. Any help?

Ok, bit of a Necro, but I was going to comment anyway.

@joas_souza for your set up (non TB3 monitor) ANY other eGPU would prob work for you. The Asus XG Station Pro is a nice enclosure which would match your Mac mini quite well, you could chuck in either a 580 or Vega (or hopefully the upcoming Navi cards will deliver).

I'm looking at the Blackmagic again, because when it first came out and reports of it not working in Windows with TB3 displays I forgot one thing, I already have a set up that does that, so I could just run the display from my other TB3 ports on my laptop as I do already but then get PROPER acceleration on my 5K in macOS.

@oliverb how was your experience with this eGPU, you dont still have it right?
@GuideOfGalaxy you still about? You never mentioned how you got yours up and running and I can't find any build guides from you?

 

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + [email protected] (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070 (debating 2070 upgrade) @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + Vega 56 @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10 & macOS 10.14+

---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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OliverB
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April 25, 2019 11:51 am  
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.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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Eightarmedpet
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April 25, 2019 12:00 pm  

@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 Apple store, test and return if Windows is a no go... (also a used one just popped up on ebay but I think I'd want to be able to return if it doesn't work fully).

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touchbar + [email protected] (AKiTiO Thunder3) + Win10
2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + [email protected] (Sonnet Breakaway Box) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + GTX1070 (debating 2070 upgrade) @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10

2017 13" MacBook Pro Touch Bar + Vega 56 @32Gbps-TB3 (Razer Core V1) + Win10 & macOS 10.14+

---
LG 5K Ultrafine flickering issue fix


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OliverB
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April 25, 2019 12:30 pm  

@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.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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OliverB
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April 25, 2019 8:51 pm  
Posted by: Joas Souza

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 consideration that I'm based in UK. Any help?

@joas_souza
It's not more overprized than other Apple devices. If I needed a eGPU for professional work (where time costs more than hardware), it would definitely be my first choice (or the Sonnet Breakaway Puck 570). Those devices may be expensive, but they are high quality, very silent and they work.

2018 15" MBP & 2015 13" MBP connected to RTX2080Ti GTX1080Ti GTX1080 Vega56 RX580 R9-290 GTX680


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