External GPU via Thunderbolt?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by 53x12, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. macrumors 68000

    53x12

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #1
    I remember reading about an external GPU that could be hooked up via TB. Is that still vaporware at this point or has anyone heard/read anything recently about that?
     
  2. macrumors 6502

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    UK
    #2
    I am fairly sure that there is some problem with external GPUs under Mac although it has been implemented by Sony on the PC. See http://www.sonnettech.com/product/thunderbolt/index.html and follow the links to compatible TB cards and none of these are GPUs.
     
  3. thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

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  4. macrumors member

    Exodist

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    #4
  5. thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

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    #5
    Exactly.
     
  6. macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    Location:
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    #6
    It is possible and the solution can be purchased right now, but it is insanely expensive and does not bring great results. The problem is that, despite the fact that TB is pretty fast, it still does not have the bandwidth that top end graphics cards need.

    Also the currently available Thunderbolt solution box does not meet the power requirements of a high-end graphics card.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/pci-express-graphics-thunderbolt,3263.html

    Adding a GTX 460 will certainly give a much better gaming performance than what the Mini is able to do now, but you have to ask yourself is it worth it, when you might as well just build a separate gaming PC.

    [​IMG]

    The HD4000 is a bit faster than the HD 3000 in the charts, but it's not exactly a brilliant performer.
     
  7. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2010
    #7
    This is all doable, but note that Thunderbolt connects to a PCIe slot that is slower than the slots a GPU would usually be seated in. So, while it can be done, it will not provide any benefits as you'll be limited to the throughput of the port and not the card.
     
  8. macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #8
    Isn't that exactly what I've just said. I even linked a pretty graph.
     
  9. macrumors 6502

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    UK
    #9
    Have you got a reference to mac solution of this type?
     
  10. macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #10
    I see no reason why the above solution that I linked would not work in OS X, as long as you use a graphics card that Mountain Lion includes support for. You need to check out the Mac Pro sub-forum and be surprised. Unfortunately with some of these solutions you will lose the boot screen, depending on how determined you are.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1496925
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1440150
     
  11. macrumors 6502

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    Feb 27, 2010
    #11
    Sorry, sorry. I was being slow and pokey when I responded and yours wasn't there when I hit reply.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #12
    Thanks. You make some good points and I didn't realize how expensive it could get. ~$600 for enclosure and $350-400 for GPU. However it would still be an option for someone wanting iMac performance but wanting their own monitor(s).
     
  13. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2012
    #13
    So, for $2900 (including two "cheap" monitors) you get a 2.6GHz mini and your GPU is limited to 4x PCIe lanes of performance.

    But $2400 will buy you a 3.4GHz iMac with a GTX680MX with $500 left over for a "cheap" monitor.

    Where was the value/logic in your idea?
     
  14. thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #14
    Because Thunderbolt expansion chassis are bound to drop in price. When that happens it becomes a possible option, when instead of costing $600 they are $200-300, for those with a mini or laptop and only integrated GPU but want some more GPU for games.

    The question is why do you care?
     
  15. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2012
    #15
    So.....You'll have $200 for a monitor. If you give up the GPU or CPU upgrade, you're back to $500 and its still far more powerful for the same price.

    Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you posted a question in an open public forum? Did you not? If you don't want anyone to criticize dumb ideas then don't post them.
     
  16. macrumors 604

    theSeb

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    #16
    You don't need to spend that much on the GPU - it's a waste of money anyway due to the limitations of TB and the fact that you would have problems supplying the power to a high-end card. You can pick up a 460 for like $90, but it is a very old card. A more sensible solution would be to use something like a desktop 640 or 650.
     
  17. thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #17
    That is a good point regarding something like the 650 or even 660. Both of those would give a nice bump over the Intel 4000. Probably not something I would consider until the expansion chassis drops in price. But even then it would be a nice upgrade over the iGPU.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors 68000

    53x12

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #18
    What you are forgetting is that for many on here the iMac is not a valid option. Many on here that have a Mac mini or are interested in one aleady have their monitor(s) from their current or previous setup. So they won't have to buy a new monitor. As a result your pricing estimates are wrong. By already having monitors from their previous computer the cost to upgrade to a Mac mini is cheaper than a iMac where they get a monitor they don't necessarily need or want. For many the all in one computer system is not a good fit. For others the Mac Pro is a dream however cost prohibitive. That is why the mini is a good fit. Decent cost: value ratio.

    So the cost of a max mini + external GPU is still a better value for many on here than a iMac.
     
  19. macrumors member

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    Feb 29, 2012
    Location:
    Mid-West
    #19
    And the setup above can be used with os x as well for those who might wonder. I'd be interested in it but I have the same setup haha
     

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