M1 Chip 2

Will Thunderbolt eGPU work on M1 Series Macs?

eGPU Mac 33 Comments

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.

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mac_editor

@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… Read more »

clarketus

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… Read more »

motoic

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.

mac_editor

Posted by: @motoic 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… Read more »

alcas

@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?

 

mac_editor

@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 :)?

 

joevt

@mac_editor, no Thunderbolt peripheral controller supports 3 DisplayPort outputs but that’s not a problem – just chain another controller. The problem is, no Thunderbolt host controller supports more than 2 DisplayPort inputs. I suppose it may be possible to chain Thunderbolt controllers that have DisplayPort inputs (for example, the host controller of a Mac plus the peripheral controller of a Blackmagic eGPU or Sonnet Breakaway Puck RX 5550 XT or 5700) but I haven’t seen anyone test that. I don’t know that the new M1 MAX or PRO can’t put 3 DisplayPort connections on the same port. Three 4K 60Hz… Read more »

wessel

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!

Mini i5

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

They aren’t expandable via eGPUs or Bootcamp. 

 

salt_b

I read that in order to allow M1 silicon to run an eGPU we need drivers, and these drivers are labour intensive projects that mere enthusiasts would not be willing to devote their time to writing. What exactly is the deal with these drivers, could an accomplished expert outside of Apple write one? There are probably enough M1 owners who im sure could crowdfund the money to pay somone to write it, if it is indeed possible.  As an M1 owner with a 3080 eGPU, it would be more than handy to be abe to make use of it..but also,… Read more »

Kai the Film Geek

I’m still using two Radeon VIIs…now with an i9 16″ MacBook Pro…so am waiting for reliable testing especially using DaVinci Resolve before making any decision…most of what we’ve heard has been hyperbole but this GeekBench score is interesting…

Screenshot 2021 10 21 at 14.42.50

Screenshot 2021 10 21 at 14.43.11

Screenshot 2021 10 21 at 14.44.08

 I decided to run Geekbench for my setup….

Kai the Film Geek
Screenshot 2021 10 22 at 07.20.24

 

Need to see some real world feedback but this does look promising for me.. 😀 

@itsage, If the Resolve update is anywhere accurate I may have two for sale lol…

 

Kai the Film Geek

@itsage, Naw…was waiting to see some performance videos and reports with Resolve. That said what I have seen is impressive. My i9 2019 MacBook Pro is still a great machine…on it’s own and with with eGpus so there is no rush. I’m also considering just building a PC that I can put my Radeon VIIs in so getting the max performance from them…and up the RAM to a minimum 128GB. I can also put my Blackmagic editing card in PCI slot clearing more external devices. I also shoot in Blackmagic BRAW…on my Cinema Camera 4K…which can’t use Apple Pro-Res RAW… Read more »

mac_editor

@Kai the Film Geek @itsage the Radeon VII is actually gimped on macOS due to SMU firmware not being loaded: https://github.com/acidanthera/bugtracker/issues/1213

According to that post, the memory bandwidth is halved for the Radeon VII on macOS. It would perform better if Apple supported it appropriately. They have done similar things on Vega (to fix the fan issues).

 

Kai the Film Geek

@mac_editor, Oh…I knew they didn’t run at full speed due to TB limitations but not from hobbled drivers as well. I’m on MacOS Monterey now but will give it a go with those drivers you linked too…if it fecks up….that’s what back ups are for 😀

 

Kai the Film Geek

@itsage, Well…here’s what two Radeon VIIs buys you in todays bonkeers market place… 🙂
 

IMG 0402

IMG 0401

 
After doing my due diligence…watching tons of YouTube videos with actual performance in DaVinci Resolve with real world scenarios…noise reduction being the most taxing on the system…I decided to take the plunge…
 

Mini i5

I’m really looking forward to seeing how these new MBP displays look in person 👀   

I gotta say, I’ve been very impressed by Apple’s recent display panels.

The 120Hz M1 iPad Pro display is, for me, kinda perfect.

And even the 60Hz M1 24” iMac display looks really good in person.

I’m still holding out and waiting to see how a M1 Pro Mac Mini specs out, but this weekend I’ll def be all over the new MBP display models at the Apple store. 

 

 

mac_editor
Posted by: @itsage

Apple called it ProMotion in System Preferences > Displays. I looked in System Information > Graphics/Displays tree and could not find a reference to 120 Hz refresh rate either.

Makes sense to me. The display only ramps up to 120Hz when needed (animations, gaming, etc.).

erutan

@Kai

Every app is different, but the affinity suite benchmarks for the M1 Max are pretty amazing: https://twitter.com/andysomerfield/status/1451859111843356676

down in the thread a bit “The #M1Max is the fastest GPU we have ever measured in the@affinitybyserif Photo benchmark. It outperforms the W6900X – a $6000, 300W desktop part – because it has immense compute performance, immense on-chip bandwidth and immediate transfer of data on and off the GPU (UMA).”

Mini i5

@erutan, I’ve always found Affinity Photo very responsive on my Intel + eGPU setup.

It’ll be interesting to hear how M1 Pro/Max users harness the added compute power and bandwidth in their pro workflows. 

 

mac_editor

Posted by: @itsage So this is Apple’s way of doing adaptive sync. Pretty much. My experience has been generally positive – compared to my previous 2018 MBP, this one feels smoother. Still exploring when I get time. I did a quick LuxBall bench on the M1 Max and it scored ~36k, which is somewhat close to the Radeon VII‘s ~40k+ (eGPU) and higher than the Vega 64 (eGPU) at ~28k, the AMD GPUs being full-fledged desktop cards. It should outperform most laptops in productivity. It will be difficult to compete with NVIDIA and AMD in gaming though. Both make significant optimizations to their… Read more »

Mini i5

From what I’ve seen in person at the store, the new 14″ and 16″ display panels better align with the “Pro” moniker. Last year’s 13″ MBP display (on the right) is grayer, and lacks the dynamic range (bright whites and deep blacks) of the new 14″ MBP (on the left). The display on the new 16″ model (which feels super thicc and heavy btw) is impressive. Warm colors, cool colors, dynamic range, everything.  For comparison, I spent several minutes editing photos on a 32″ Pro Display XDR. Then made the same edits on the 16″ MBP. I didn’t miss the 32″ Pro… Read more »

Waldo Schaeffer

Since Apple Silicon models no longer support eGPU, my thunderbolt to PCIe hardware seems useless. Does anybody know if other PCIe expansion cards are compatible with Apple Silicon models? Like USB/RJ45 ethernet cards or discrete sound cards. PnP is preferred.

artik

I’ve also ordered the 16 max but  i’m afraid the low M1Max GPU power with NR. Now with 2x6800XT on Mac Pro 2013 I get 23fps on Resolve C4K h265 timeline.   

Kai the Film Geek

@artik, I am sure it will stutter dependent on NR settings…but I was getting that with my two Radeon VIIs…and that’s with BRAW and heavy NR…but that plays back better than H.265 at the moment…lol…