External GPUs now viable?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Yixian, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. Yixian macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2007
    Location:
    Europe
    #1
    Sadly it seems that this is no an "area of controversy".

    On one side I see people saying that using an eGPU is prohibitively hacky and the bandwidth is too low to power games.

    On the other side I see people saying that it's actually a very easy set up on OS X, that drivers aren't an issue and that the way games use bandwidth, TB2 is enough to get ~85% performance from most cards.

    So what's the truth?

    And now there are a number of eGPU adapter that have actually gone to market, can someone recommend one that will actually work well with a MBA?
     
  2. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    #2
    I don't know whether it's The Truth(tm), but eGPU setups are prohibitively expensive and make little practical sense - they do make fun hobbyist/geek projects, though.
     
  3. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    #3
    Sounds a potential patch-up solution by the time you are done, may have already spent enough for a real game machine.
     
  4. CYB3RBYTE macrumors regular

    CYB3RBYTE

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    Sep 2, 2014
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    Midwest
    #4
    I want to see this happen badly for those of us who don't have a gaming machine...
     
  5. DaKKs macrumors 6502

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    Aug 15, 2012
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #5
    Viable, yes. Practical, no. There is still no proper way of outputing the eGPU to the internal LCD. Until that can ben done, it will just be a fun project.
     
  6. JoelTheSuperior macrumors 6502

    JoelTheSuperior

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    Feb 10, 2014
    Location:
    London, UK
    #6
    Well the issue now is that it's legitimately more cost effective to just build a gaming machine.
     
  7. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Location:
    France
    #7
    It's not that expensive. (200USD for the enclosure).
    It is fast, up to 95% of the power of the GPU.
    We only need one manufacturer to produce a reliable case. I would personally want to have a GTX770 waiting for me at home to plug my MBP.

    ----------

    Why is that so important, I see this eGPU thing more of a docking station, so an external display is a better option.(15" is to small for gaming).
    Anyway, with this setup even a macbook air can be a viable gaming machine.
     
  8. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2011
    #8
    I understand why you'd want to have more GPU power, but you don't seem to have a problem with the anemic undervolted CPU that'd bottleneck the whole setup (in the OP's case where he'd use a MBA at least); not a great idea, IMO.
     
  9. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

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    Oct 6, 2004
    Location:
    France
    #9
    The MBA's i7 is a very capable CPU.
     
  10. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #10
    The MBA's 2.7GHz is not that far off a MBP's 3.1GHz.
     
  11. crsh1976 macrumors 6502a

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    Jun 13, 2011
    #11
    Sure, it can crunch, but a MBA and its undervolted CPU aren't made to run full blast 24/7 while you play video games, it doesn't have the cooling, it doesn't even really compare to a MBP's quad-core chip anyway.

    By the time you've shelled out for a fully-upgraded MBA with i7 chip and 8 GB of RAM, plus the eGPU enclosure, plus the desktop video card, plus the big screen monitor because you can't play on the built-in display, etc, you've already gone over the price of a rMBP with discreet GPU. And lost lots of mobility.

    It doesn't sound like you're interested in common sense, tho.
     
  12. motrek macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2012
    #12
    You're not really in a position to be insulting when your posts are full of technical mistakes.

    1) "Undervolting" means something specific, namely, running a chip at a lower voltage than the manufacturer specifies for that part. What evidence do you have that Apple undervolts the CPUs it gets from Intel?

    2) The MBA definitely does have the cooling to run its Haswell CPUs at full load and full turbo boost indefinitely. I do this fairly frequently and the fan only spins up to around 4000 RPM. It might not be able to maintain full turbo boost if the GPU is maxed out too, but since we are talking about using a discrete GPU (not discreet, LOL) then that's a moot point.

    3) MBPs don't have quad core chips, or not all of them anyway. Only the 15" ones.

    And BTW, I never made any comments about external GPUs being a good idea or not so I don't know why you're going off on me about that. I just commented about the MBA's CPU. Maybe you didn't work out that I'm not the OP?
     
  13. iSee macrumors 68040

    iSee

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    #13
    FYI, gaming is for fun... and for a lot of people, optimizing the experience on their favorite random platform is part of the fun. Common sense has nothing to do with it.

    If you're trying for the best fps/megapixel/dollar then, yeah, a MBA doesn't make sense. But a lot of people don't really care about that.
     
  14. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Location:
    France
    #14
    Common sense is building a gaming PC. I agree, but eGPU is not for that.
    I am always impressed how people think about CPU performance based only in marketing and what they read over a tech blog. (for web browsing you definitely need an i7 CPU, ...)
    As someone that does performance computing with my computer, I can assure you that the MBA CPU is a very powerful animal (both of them, the i5 and i7). It has a nice Turbo, good hyper threading (i7) and good cooling. You will only see a benefit from the quad 15"s CPU if your task are heavily multi-threaded, and most of tasks and software (even professional) doesn't even care.
    Many AAA games aren't even multi-thread aware.
    By the way, you can feed the GPU video back in the internal LCD. (in windows)
     
  15. dollystereo macrumors 6502a

    dollystereo

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2004
    Location:
    France
    #15
    Replying to your question:
    The cheapest solution is the AKiTiO Thunder Dock, I recommend reading here:
    http://forum.techinferno.com/enclos...$200-akitio-thunder2-pcie-box-16gbps-tb2.html
     

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