External Graphics Cards?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by siritalks, Jan 10, 2012.

  1. siritalks macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2011
    I bought a Macbook Pro last year, but didn't really think I'd be using it for gaming or any high intensity graphical things. Turns out, the 512mb graphics card isn't good enough to run some of the things I want to run with it, and you can't upgrade them. Is it possible to connect up a good graphics card externally? If so, any recommendations of how to do this?
  2. 153098 macrumors member

    Jan 1, 2012
  3. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Current external graphics card offerings are only marginal improvements and are much more expensive than they're worth. They won't let you play BF3 on Ultra, for example.

    If you gave a better idea of what you needed to do maybe someone will have a better suggestion; but you're probably SOL.
  4. siritalks thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2011
    I'm wanting to run X Plane 10 at full (or close to full settings) but the 512mb graphics card doesn't handle it. It recommends 1gb or higher on X Plane's website.
  5. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Another thing to consider, is even when these graphic cards become more available. Will they be supported and function as expected in OSX? Its really up to apple and only apple to ensure the compatibility and if its not an apple product I have doubts about the feasibility of using this on a MBP.
  6. malman89 macrumors 68000

    May 29, 2011
    And the answer to that is probably going to be no. Apple doesn't consider traditional PC gaming a priority as much as other things, let alone 3rd party external hardware to achieve decent gaming quality.

    Even if they did, it would take years for a decent GPU to be in an external dock for a moderate price. Not sure what the price is now, but the Power Dock launched for a few hundred bucks for an uber crappy/barely better than integrated mobile GPU option.
  7. w00t951 macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    ViDock makes adapters for ExpressCard 34 slots. They apparently have a 20% performance decrease compared to a PCIe 8X slot. Thunderbolt has double the throughput (quadruple if you consider the two data channels) so I would expect a very efficient external video card solution.
  8. Macinblah macrumors newbie

    Jun 7, 2012
    Use a Vidock adapter...

    You can connect an external graphics card to MBP as long as it's generation 1, 2, or 4. I've been using ViDock (with Radeon 4850 installed) to play TS3 with all expansion packs on full settings.
    1) Buy ViDock
    2) Buy graphics card of your choice and install into dock
    3) Connect dock to expresscard/34 and play games like your on a PC

  9. terraphantm macrumors 68040

    Jun 27, 2009
    I wish they had something for thunderbolt. If I can hook up my 5870 to my rMBP, then I'll have absolutely no need for my desktop
  10. chesbrougha macrumors newbie

    Dec 24, 2009
    I just realized that in order to edit (basically at all) I need to turn my mbp retina resolution down to the lowest setting and just use the U2711 for editing (rather than the dual setup I had with my MATTE 17"). This fact is such a joke and worse yet that no one that reviews the computer mentions the tax that the display has on the computer.

    I wouldn't recommend this computer to anyone that relies on it for any type of editing; apple really thinks people are stupid and once again they are right.

    "Look what we built, look how pretty it is"
    "Uh, but frank, you do know that our hardware can barely handle it and that people might actually have to do something other than watch youtube if we're going to charge them $3K"
    "Haha, who's the new guy? Don't worry, they'll buy anything that we tell them to; someone get me the marketing team!"

    -apple meeting, code named "American Jackasses", June 2010 Cupertino
  11. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thunderbolt is essentially 4x PCI Express (v1). In comparison, most modern desktop GPUs use a 16x PCI Express (v2). Technically, it is possible to make an external GPU, but the TB throughput would be not sufficient to utilise it optimally. I am sure that future versions of TB and similar protocols will be much faster and then, proper laptop docks will become a reality.
  12. ninja2000 macrumors 6502

    Dec 16, 2010
    I think you are being a bit harsh on the impact 4x PCIe has. Check out the review on Anandtech, he has tested a nvidia 460 and amd 6970 in a sonnet thunderbolt enclosure. The impact wasn't that bad and made BF3 playable at high settings 1080p. Now maybe a 680 will be wasted in the enclosure, but buy a cheap mid range card and your mbp with poor gfx (especially the 13") is capable of playing most games well at 1080p
  13. gentlefury macrumors 68030

    Jul 21, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    The current adapters are over $1000 and a good card will run about $400....for that price you might as well just get a new computer.
  14. AlexMaximus, Sep 28, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012

    AlexMaximus macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2006
    A400M Base
    Now I have a question ..

    I have a generation 6 Macbook Pro, so I guess it will not work for me, even with the ExpressCard slot in place. This is too bad.

    However, very interesting topic for me! Do you have a picture of you setup with the box? Did you use an original ATI Mac card? Would a double slot card work on your setup ?
  15. terraphantm macrumors 68040

    Jun 27, 2009
    I think you're blowing it out of proportion. The only thing the computer really has any trouble with is gaming at native resolution.
  16. InuNacho macrumors 65816


    Apr 24, 2008
    In that one place
    Heya, how would you go around using one of those in OS X? I've been eyeing one to slap a 6870 in but would like some more Mac oriented feedback before making the plunge.
  17. Zeov macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011
  18. akdj macrumors 65816


    Mar 10, 2008
    Which MBP are you using? I've got two rMBPs. A 2.3/512/16 and a 2.7/768/16. Both. Flat. Fly. He'll, you can edit on a base line 13" just fine. It's rendering, effects, transitions, encoding, real time playback with opposing formats, et al (that affect the higher end hardware in a more positive measure of speed in comparison to the lower priced laptops---but ALL of the current models can edit just fine!). I've sold my 2008 MacPro. Both my retinas absolutely smoke my MP. We've still got a 2010 MP--bit the retinas are primary workstations with thunderbolt monitors. FCPx. FCP 7. AE. Maya, PS, and aperture. We are also using the new Avid suite and I've gotten the hang of premiere over the past year. Really digging the integration of premier, AE and PS...as well, we are doing a ton of Illustrator work. Promo posters, flyers and brochures, et al.

    I'm not sure which machine you're using but it sounds as though you're insinuating the use of a rMBP. If so, and you TRULY have one--something is wrong. These laptops are powerhouses. Even with the little bit of gaming I do. Diablo, Madden, NHL, and a couple of baseball games in Windows--they're monsters---no issues playin ANY recent games. Not that I purchased them for gaming at all. I've got a business to run and mortgages to pay. However. The cool thing is--I've also got a 7 year old to raise :)
    I'm 41--grew up with an Apple IIe in high school bit we were broke. No Atari, no cable TV...we were the last on the block to get a VHS deck:). Having a son, I've got every excuse to play games now. We are going to build a PC this winter as his science project. These days though, I'd much rather play my games on the console. Xbox, PS3--even the Wii. So much more social, the big screen, pretty great graphics...still, even with the mature hardware. I have found the same with the latest Mac laptops and iMacs. They're easily able to play most current games...and those they can't, you can install bootcamp, Windows, Steam, et al an have an excellent gaming experience

    As far as video post production. You're just plain wrong. Completely, 100% wrong. The new (entire) lineup of MacBook Pros are exceptional editing, rendering, and finalizing machines. They don't get ANY better in any manufacturers package. Gaming--sure. But to do so, you'll sacrifice way too much. Battery life, weight, noise, portability, longevity, poor resale value, and the complete inability to most importantly...be able to run OSx :)
  19. andymac2210 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2011
    You won!
    You were the first person not to read the discussion (or the thread title apparently) before posting.
    Well done Sir, well done.

    I've been looking for something like this for over a year now, ever since I started using a MBP with a core i-x series CPU.
    The CPU in this laptop beats my old windows tower by leaps and bounds, but the graphics card lets it down.
    It's fine for any work stuff I need to do with photoshop or anything like that.
    But when it comes to gaming it just isn't there, especially running on an external display.

    Modular computing is the way forward, I'd LOVE to be able to ditch the tower entirely and just plug in an external graphics card via TB when I dock the computer to my monitor.
    Then when it's off to the office I still have a great laptop that's plenty capable of what I need from it.

    Computer -> external graphics card -> monitor + external HDD's etc.
    So perfect.
  20. Zeov macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011
    thread title: External Graphics Cards?

    The only post i can think of regarding operating systems is Maflynns' answer: "Will they be supported and function as expected in OSX?"

    So what the hell are you talking about Mr. Arrogant?

    If he ever gets an eGPU solution, he's almost forced to have to play under windows due to availability of GPU's + games + WIN7 is better at gaming in general.

    Not like you're contributing to anything new in this thread.

    My question is really: Did you read the title and the discussion?
  21. andymac2210 macrumors regular

    Jul 18, 2011

    Your singular contribution to a thread about external graphics cards was simply one line about using bootcamp.
  22. terraphantm macrumors 68040

    Jun 27, 2009
    Anything that works on a MacPro in OSX should work if a thunderbolt solution could work (and if it were able to harness both ports, it should be able to give enough bandwidth to most cards).

    And I personally only want an external GPU for gaming - in which case I'd be in Windows and pretty much any GPU would work.
  23. Zeov macrumors 6502a


    Apr 1, 2011
    your contribution was simply talking about your "dream" setup which has been discussed a million times on this site, every mac owner that plays games wants this, including me.

    My point with the bootcamp WIN7 post was that with an external GPU, windows will be much more easier to manage drivers and games on.


    anyways i hope they'll release a thunderbolt eGPU within the next year or so, ViDock actually is working on one but sadly they intel will not give them the thunderbolt-something (in order to make it).. not sure what it is.. but thats why it's delayed from ViDock atleast.
  24. rabidz7 macrumors 65816


    Jun 24, 2012
    I would gladly get one but the msi gus ii has not been released.

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