External dGPU?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by john556, Oct 23, 2013.


An aftermarket External dGPU to emerge as solution for professionals?

Poll closed Jan 21, 2014.
  1. Yes

    11 vote(s)
  2. No

    7 vote(s)
  3. Maybe

    11 vote(s)
  1. john556 macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2012
    With the advent of Intel's direction to iGPU and the apparent adoption by Apple to proceed along with it, do you think an after market external dGPU solution for professionals will emerge?
  2. Starfyre macrumors 68030


    Nov 7, 2010
    Sony Vaio Series X already has one, they are the first to do it, and they did this a few years back and continue to do so.
  3. john556 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 14, 2012
    Granted gaming would be a big marketing factor, but I was think more in terms of 3D development.
  4. justin216 macrumors 6502


    Mar 31, 2004
    Tampa, FL
    There was a guide floating around where someone made an external GPU for a few hundred dollars, hooked it to his MBA, and was able to play games on it using that much higher-end GPU.

    Obviously that's a bit DIY with lots of hackery, but such solutions will likely eventually become more mainstream.


    Link: http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/31/macbook-air-home-built-external-gpu/
  5. zOlid macrumors regular


    Jun 13, 2013
    There have been plenty of external enclosures demoed at different conventions, the last years.
    Many of them have been presented as "coming soon".
    But they don't come.
    Now why is that?
    The answer I've read up on is that Intel blocks them.
    They refuse to give them a TB certification, and if they don't get that its much harder to sell them.
    Also TB1 have been a bit to slow for eGPU to make some real difference.
    TB2 is faster, but its still not really as fast as one would like.

    How ever i personally feel this could be the future, and TB2 is a great stepping stone for giving it a market. If it would become a popular product on TB2, newer ports would soon come that works better for the application.

    So if Intel just stops with the licencing fees and the restrictions to TB, it could really take off and become a great standard. But until they do that, TB will keep being a niche standard, and will have a really hard time "taking off".
  6. Yahooligan, Oct 24, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013

    Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    I voted "yes" because this already exists. :)

    Here's a less hackey way to do it...


    And here's a cheaper enclosure than the Sonnet one, but power may be an issue.



    I don't know where you got that info, but it's incorrect and there are multiple external TB enclosures available. Not coming soon, available.
  7. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    I think that stuff will remain DIY until somebody like Nvidia or AMD throws their hat in. Maybe Lucid could do it.
    If they just fixed up an optimus driver like some tried you can actually play on the internal screen. Bandwidth for TB 2 should be plenty for fairly fast cards. Maybe not Titan or 290X but something slightly below that and not SLI or CF.

    For professionals I don't see it. If you need a Quadro or Firepro, you have never been happy at Macs. Iris Pro is just as good as an of these past mainstream geforce cards in stuff Photoshop or Final Cut needs. Gamers might like the external GPU because it is upgradable and can help playing games even on older notebooks at high settings.
  8. zOlid macrumors regular


    Jun 13, 2013
    Yes, there are. But not made specifically for Graphics cards.
    Some of them support it but 9/10 graphic cards that actually do any difference requires external power outside the pci-e port. And the enclosures don't have that power connection.
  9. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    Again, your info is out of date.


    TB2, 3 slots, 300w PSU + 75w aux connector.
  10. flr macrumors member

    Sep 30, 2013
    I believe that the price of the external Thunderbolt enclosures will drop because of the new Mac Pro. When this happens I will build such a device. Or I hope they will become available prebuilt. One of the best solutions I've found so far is the Sonnet Tech Echo Express III-D Desktop Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Chassis because it has a powerful integrated power supply and there is room for dual slot graphics cards. But +/- $ 1.000 asking price is just too much...
  11. zOlid macrumors regular


    Jun 13, 2013
    That product says nothing about supporting a graphics card. It says it supports Video and Audio capture cards how ever.
  12. rick3000 macrumors 6502a


    May 6, 2008
    West Coast
    External dGPU's already exist, in addition to the ones already listed many professionals use specialized GPU's that would not come stock in any computer like the RED Rocket to process RED 4k raw footage.

    Anyone that really needs an external GPU is not expecting any computer to come standard with a GPU that meets their needs, everyone else is probably trying to make the MBP into something it is not, like a dedicated gaming laptop.
  13. Yahooligan macrumors 6502a


    Aug 7, 2011
    They don't have to explicitly say they're supported, not sure why you think they only work with specific devices. They are PCIe slots, TB/TB2 ports are basically PCIe slots turned into hot plug ports. Plug in PCIe cards and they will work., the caveat is that there is only as much bandwidth as the TB/TB2 port will support.

    Did you bother reading the Tom's Hardware article I provided? :confused: You seem awfully set against accepting that these solutions exist and unwilling to learn about what they're really capable of.
  14. radiohead14 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 6, 2008
    i don't understand why people would vote "No" on this.. do you guys not like choice?
  15. Atomic Walrus macrumors 6502a

    Sep 24, 2012
    They're definitely going to exist eventually (I mean as commercial products from major tech companies, not the current semi-hack solutions). I'd say that external GPU is the solution to the ongoing war between graphics performance and the power/thermal limits of increasingly portable devices.

    Are we there yet? Honestly don't know. How's the bandwidth TB2 compared to a proper PCIe slot, and how much does the bandwidth compromise performance of high-end GPUs like a desktop class 780? I suppose I could look those numbers up.

    By the time "TB3" or equivalent rolls around I expect that commercial eGPU solutions will be widely available.
  16. yliu macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2009
    It would be a great idea! Especially with thunderbolt 2, I hope that there will be less loss of performance.

    The macbook air, a great portable device on the go could be turned into a decent gaming machine at the desk:)

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