iMac external GPU

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Rogier1991, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. Rogier1991 macrumors member

    Sep 15, 2013
    I want to purchase a 2013 iMac and use it for work and for gaming. Because the iMac has not a real good gaming card I looked for another solution. One of them is installing an external GPU (with thunderbolt) and use it with Bootcamp under Windows. One of the manufactures of these solutions is Vidock. Is it possible to hook up an external GP from Vidock (like they have done on : and have a much better gaming experience?
  2. pscl, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014

    pscl macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2013
    i want to do the exact same thing...

    i read a lot of stuff about eGPU.
    but i cant find a clear manual to set up vidock plus with thunderbolt...

    i think you need something like this:

    and a vidock 4 plus with its expresscard.

    but the question is: do i need to plug in a monitor to get the gpu performance, or does this feed the video back to the macbooks/imacs display??? i can only find videos where it has been used on macmini...

    but maybe we have to wait for this...
  3. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    external GPU through Thunderbolt will only play on an external monitor.
  4. TSE macrumors 68030

    Jun 25, 2007
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Fact is, if you want to game, build your own PC. It will be cheaper, faster, and more easily supported (Boot Camp drivers aren't the best) than any Mac you can get.

    An iMac with the best possible GPU will give you a moderately good gaming experience, but at a much higher price tag. But if you are a fan of Mac OS X, this is what I would recommend.
  5. pscl macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2013
    In fact i dont want a Second machine or a Second Screen on my desk. Thats why im looking for Information about this solution. If it turns out to be Not that good i will go the other Way.
  6. abluehaze, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014

    abluehaze macrumors regular

    Aug 25, 2008
    I've asked similar questions here and you'll get the same answer. People telling you to use windows or build a win machine. It's funny that you ask a Mac question here and you get barraged by people telling you to use windows, how ironic.

    Basically though what it boils down to is thunderbolt on the iMac is basically worthless for a external gpu. As I understand it the setup requires you to output to an external display. So if you buy an iMac you're stuck with the gpu it comes with until you upgrade the whole machine.

    Your only other Mac option is a nMP or a last gen MP that you can pretty much stick any video card in.

    I'm not even going to waste my time stating the obvious windows solution. I don't think any of us would be here asking these Mac specific questions if we wanted to go the M$ route.
  7. Tanax macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2011
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Building a Windows machine results in another machine on your desk. And an ugly one at that since I haven't found any good gaming machine in a nice looking case.
  8. pscl, Jan 13, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014

    pscl macrumors 6502

    Jun 3, 2013
    you are so right. always the same answer in many different threads.

    i just ordered my maxed out 27" imac. i think the gpu will be ok for me... i really hope for the Asus XG Station 2 to be the final solution to the lack of gpu power of the whole mac lineup. This external gpu case will feed the gpu signal back into the macbook/imac and use the internal display. it has been introduced at ces 2012 for the first time. this year at ces 2014 it looks like the hardware is finalized and asus is just working on fix driver and firmware issues.

    man... it is so frustrating. why do i have to accept that 2000+$ mac's cant provide a serious gpu for high end gaming. even the nMP's D700 aren't made for gaming and way way too expensive.

    AND on top of that... there is NO way to use the 2013 imac as a display for a pc. this is like a lap in the face. and THIS could be fixed with a firmware update... but apple won't do this.


    yes... i dont like that too. but if it turns out that all the external solutions suck, this would be the only way for me. if this come true (damn... talking like this would be the apocalypse :D ) then i would go for a lian li case. they look really mac-like.
  9. Mac32 Suspended

    Nov 20, 2010
    Short answer: Forget it, it doesn't work in real life. It's very expensive, and would not improve performance over the internal GPU (680MX or 780M).
  10. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    If you really want top of the line gaming, go for a Mac Pro. The top of the line gaming hardware tends to generate a lot of heat anyway.

    I expect an iMac to provide medium gaming experience, not top of the line.

    A machine built for general purpose like an iMac is not going to be as good for gaming as a machine built primarily for gaming.
  11. jblagden macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2013
    Not Yet, but soon

    It is not yet possible to use an external graphics card, at least not affordably nor without having to boot into Windows, but with Thunderbolt-aware drivers which would also allow hot-plugging, it may one day be possible. In fact Village Tronic and Silverstone are each working on affordable eGPU enclosures, which I hope they’ll be able to begin selling this year, especially since they’ve been working on them for a year or so and many people(myself included) really want an affordable eGPU enclosure. The other problem besides drivers is that Intel doesn't want this sort of thing to be affordable. Although, i have made a petition, to try to get them to give Silverstone and Village Tronic the licenses they need:
  12. Truthfulie macrumors regular

    Dec 18, 2013
    There are no real benefit of going MacPro for gaming. Xeon, ECC and workstation GPU isn't built for gaming.

    To OP:

    It's quite frustrating to use a Mac if you are a gamer and you'll likely to get similar answer anywhere else, regarding eGPU and there is a very good reason why people suggest second machine over eGPU despite they are Mac users/lovers themselves. It's tried and true fact that Macs aren't as efficient when it comes to gaming no matter what kind of peripherals you buy. eGPU simply isn't efficient with current technology(and too expensive to the point where you are better off buying another PC which is why there are so many suggestions for that route) and you will be much happier with a second machine if you care about gaming experience enough that you are thinking about eGPU solution. Plus you can't avoid having second display since eGPU can only be hooked up to external display.

    There is one other option available as long as you are ready to make some sacrifices. You can build a Windows gaming PC and stick it to wherever your router lives (and use ethernet connection between the two for better latency) that way at least you won't have to mess around with two machines on your desk. And with the Windows PC, use Steam's In-Home Streaming to play those games on your Mac. Obviously you will get less responsive experience but they are continually improving the technology and it isn't all that bad as long as you aren't playing FPS games competitively.

    I too was very excited when Thunderbolt came out and dreamed about eGPU and perhaps one day we can buy TB display with proper desktop GPU built into them. But the bandwidth just isn't there yet.

Share This Page