RX 460 eGPU vs. Radeon Pro 460 in 2016 15″ MacBook Pro

eGPU Development 4 Comments

Mac users have always wished for a modern, top-of-the-line graphics card in their computers. Apple has never answered those prayers. Has this situation changed with the Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro which sports a Radeon Pro discrete GPU?

The short answer is no. The long answer is yes, if your primary objective is performance per watt.

The AMD Radeon Pro GPU lineup comes in three options. The base 15″ model comes with the Radeon Pro 450 and 2GB of dedicated video memory. The higher spec 15″ has the Radeon Pro 455, also with 2GB of dedicated video memory. The top dog Radeon Pro 460 has 4GB of VRAM and is only available as a build-to-order configuration. Going from the base 450 to 460 costs $200 while the 455 to 460 upgrade costs $100. My educated guess on a stand-alone price for this Radeon Pro 460 graphics card is $400.

RX 460 vs Radeon Pro

The Radeon Pro 460 shares many similarities with the RX 460, a desktop graphics card. These two cards are part of AMD Polaris 11. They have the same PCI ID (67EF) in macOS. In fact, the main difference is power consumption. Apple underclocked and undervolted the Radeon Pro GPUs in its Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro laptops to cap power consumption at no more than 35W. The Desktop RX 460 consumes more than twice that figure at 75W. And because we’re comparing apples to oranges, I opted to go with the least expensive RX 460 I could find that has 2GB VRAM and costs $80. Let’s see how this $80 budget graphics card performs against the top-of-the-line Radeon Pro 460.

For this comparison, I installed the RX 460 graphics card into the AKiTiO Node ($269) Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosure. Total cost for this RX 460 eGPU build is $349. The RX 460 eGPU tests were conducted on a Late 2016 13″ MacBook Pro (Thunderbolt 3) and an Early 2015 11″ MacBook Air (Thunderbolt 2). I also tested the RX 460 in a 2010 Mac Pro tower via the PCIe slot to get a baseline for this card. Benchmarks on Radeon Pro equipped Late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro laptops were contributed by our forum members (special thanks to Relvce and benr). These raw performance numbers speak for themselves.

Polaris 11MacLuxmark 3.1Geekbench 4Valley 1.0Heaven 4.0
RX 460 PCIe2010 Mac Pro5,92077,6761,094564
RX 460 eGPU2015 11" MBA5,849/7,384(iGPU+eGPU)68,4581,005510
RX 460 eGPU2016 13" MBP5,935/8,389(iGPU+eGPU)70,7501,002511
Radeon Pro 4552016 15" MBP5,901(iGPU+dGPU)39,009798404
Radeon Pro 4602016 15" MBP4,567/6,056(iGPU+dGPU)47,452895495

Apple touts the new 15″ MacBook Pro and its Radeon Pro discrete GPU lineup as providing the best performance per watt bar none. This is true. However, it’s a steep price to pay for a card that scores lower in all four benchmarks than its $80 desktop counterpart. The RX 460 eGPU simply outperforms the Radeon Pro 460 and costs less.

The true potential of external graphics cards for Macs and ultrabooks doesn’t stop at budget GPUs such as the RX 460 though. You can go all out with a GTX 980 Ti or R9 Fury X with liquid cooling. For the speed freaks among us, pairing more than one eGPU to a Thunderbolt computer is also possible. They don’t yield 100% performance compared to Desktop PCIe speed but can easily run circles around Apple’s top-of-the-line Radeon Pro dGPU.

 

Rate this Post

Share this Post

 

Related Articles
  • External GPU Buyer's Guide: 2018 Best eGPU Enclosures Reviewed
    August 18, 2018
  • Build Guides by users
    August 17, 2018
  • Razer Blade Stealth + Razer Core V2 RX Vega 56 eGPU
    Ultrabook Buyer's Guide: Best Laptops for External GPU
    July 28, 2018
    41
  • The Beginner's External Graphics Card Setup Guide for Mac
    April 9, 2018
    121
  • Thunderbolt 3 Host User Map for Firmware Updates
    September 21, 2017
    33
  • External Graphics Card for MacBook Pro - Boot Camp...
    September 10, 2017
    127
  • Nvidia GTX10xx error 43 fix on non-hotplug mPCIe/NGFF/M.2 eGPU...
    September 6, 2017
  • How To: Build an Apple External Graphics Development Kit
    June 6, 2017
    18
  • Public Repository of eGPU DSDT Overrides
    February 25, 2017
  • How To: Build an AKiTiO Thunder mini-eGPU
    February 15, 2017
  • How To: eGPU-Accelerated Internal Display in macOS
    January 21, 2017
    34
  • automate-eGPU v1.0.0 released - macOS eGPU installation tool
    January 15, 2017
  • How To: mPCIe, M.2 or Expresscard eGPU installation troubleshooting
    December 24, 2016

 

4
Leave a Reply

avatar
2 Comment threads
2 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
Eightarmedpettheitsageikir Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
ikir
Member

Very interesting article as always!!! Thanks! I think eGPU performance are incredible and even a basic RX 460 can make a big difference as these numbers show.

Waiting for Mantiz Venus review maybe with RX 580 bench eh eh

Eightarmedpet
Member

Loving this forum more and more… great post this, I was working under the assumption that the 460 in the 15 inch MBP was on par with a normal desktop 460, evidently not! Think thats sealed the deal for me – I’m going for a 13 inch.