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Hands-On With Apple's New $699 Blackmagic eGPU

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Alongside the new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models introduced last week, Apple also debuted a new eGPU enclosure designed in partnership with Blackmagic.

We picked up one of the new Blackmagic eGPUs to check out its design and the performance that it offers when paired with one of Apple's Macs.


The Blackmagic eGPU is equipped with a Radeon Pro 580 GPU, which was first introduced by AMD in June 2017. It features 8GB VRAM, and it is the same graphics card used in the high-end 2017 iMac.

You can connect the Blackmagic eGPU to any Mac that includes support for Thunderbolt 3, which includes the 2016 and later MacBook Pro models and iMac models produced in 2017.

Design wise, the Blackmagic eGPU features a futuristic looking aluminum enclosure that fits well on a desktop. A thermal grille allows for efficient heat dissipation, letting the included fan run lower, so it's as quiet as 18db.

It includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 4 USB 3.1 ports for connecting accessories, an HDMI port, and 85W of power delivery, so it can also power a MacBook Pro when connected. It is the first eGPU that offers support for the LG UltraFine 5K display.

Unfortunately, the Blackmagic eGPU is not upgradeable, so you're not going to be able to swap out the included graphics card for an upgraded version in the future, which is one of the major downsides to the accessory.

Compared to the graphics cards available in the 2016 and later MacBook Pro models, the Blackmagic eGPU offers much faster performance for tasks like gaming, VR experiences, and graphics-intensive creative work like video editing, 3D graphics work, and more.

In Apple's testing, the Blackmagic eGPU was twice as fast at many tasks as the GPU in the 15-inch 2018 MacBook Pro, and 6 to 7 times faster than the built-in GPU in the 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro. In our own testing with a 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2016, the Blackmagic eGPU offered impressive speeds in OpenCL and Metal tests.

The Blackmagic eGPU is available exclusively from Apple for $699. There appears to be a bit of a backlog, and orders placed today won't deliver until August 9 at the earliest.

What do you think of the Blackmagic eGPU? Do you plan on buying one? Let us know in the comments.

Article Link: Hands-On With Apple's New $699 Blackmagic eGPU
 
Last edited:

Ploki

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Jan 21, 2008
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Anyone know if the eGPU accelerates the built-in display?

It'd be neat if you could just have this sit quietly under a desk, utilizing its power on your laptop with one lone single cable plugged into the side of it.

iirc you can, but its limited somewhat
I feel like this isn't the best purchase considering you can't replace the card

blackmagic says no. nobody took it apart yet.
 
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TobyR

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Jun 19, 2006
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Anyone know if the eGPU accelerates the built-in display?

It'd be neat if you could just have this sit quietly under a desk, utilizing its power on your laptop with one lone single cable plugged into the side of it.

It will but you will never get a frame-rate faster than the native rate of the built in.

This would be far more appealing if the card were upgradeable … Vega, Navi, whatever (doesn't even have to support nVidia). They say it isn't but I have not seen anyone bust one open. The 580, while okay, is only going to work so long. TB3 is emerging so this chassis should allow for at least 1 generation of update before replacement.
 
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Digital Skunk

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Dec 23, 2006
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Anyone know if the eGPU accelerates the built-in display?

It'd be neat if you could just have this sit quietly under a desk, utilizing its power on your laptop with one lone single cable plugged into the side of it.

It would, but it doesn't accelerate the standard monitor.

But you have the right idea, most high end users that need something like this would just get an ugly, upgradeable case and stick it under the desk or in a closet somewhere. Making it pretty, low spec'd, and nonupgradeable is weird.

I feel like this isn't the best purchase considering you can't replace the card

It isn't.

Does its job. Is very attractive. Perfect for boutique creative shops where users want to post dog pictures next to their rigs. Not best for anyone who cares about using their money for long-term investments.

Apple probably designed be new MBP to have thermal throttling issues on purpose, just so they could sell you one of these too.

Sadly, Apple designed it with throttling just so you can upgrade in two years. Blackmagic Design makes these things, and while it's nice looking, they should've remembered the target audience.
 
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mmomega

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Dec 30, 2009
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Razer has offerings too, and they just came out with a new one for $199 which is pretty affordable (obviously doesn’t come with a card)
Most of the $199 boxes I have seen come with decent power supplies to power most of all cards.
But when you put in a Vega56 or 64, then you're going to need the 500-600w varieties to keep them from powering down under load.

again, "usually"

but you are correct, there are about a dozen boxes currently around the $200-300 range that will completely run an RX580 'ish card.
 
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SoN1NjA

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Feb 3, 2016
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Agree with this. Why not make this user upgradable? What did they do, soder in the GPU?
Well it wouldn’t be soldered because there’s not really a logic board

It’s just glued in or the enclosure just doesn’t open, but yes that’s probably what’s happened

Apple could make an excuse with being user friendly and that this doesn’t require any tech knowledge, but this is a niche product so
 
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critter13

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Aug 23, 2010
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Anyone know if the eGPU accelerates the built-in display?

It'd be neat if you could just have this sit quietly under a desk, utilizing its power on your laptop with one lone single cable plugged into the side of it.
checkout egpu.io those guys have been working on egpu solutions for a while and would have the answer. i think its possible
 
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