mbp+egpu vs mac pro vs build my own pc

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ilikewhey, May 18, 2018.



  1. mbp with egpu

    13 vote(s)
  2. mac pro

    0 vote(s)
  3. windows mini itx build

    11 vote(s)
  1. ilikewhey macrumors 6502a

    May 14, 2014
    nyc upper east
    so...my window pc took a dump and i'm scrapping it for parts.

    looking back the only thing that has been time and time again reliable is my osx, which has the easiest backup and restore and most robust. however the more i think about it the more i realized apple has not pay much attention to the desktop community in a while.

    one of my strong requirement is to have a good gpu that has more than 4gb of ram due to rendering which may often time exceeds the onboard memory on the gpu.

    so i have come to 3 options

    buy a 15inch macbook pro,
    with this option i can swap out gpu in and out due to the advantage of egpu,
    does the laptop overheat due to clamshell mode?
    and around 20-30 percent dip in performance due to thunderbolt 3's limitation

    buy a mac pro
    with this option i have a desktop mac. fairly quiet from what i hear and its small in footprint.
    con: d300, d500, is so freaking old. its equvalent of 7000 series amd or 460. and the price tag apple is still asking for makes no sense.
    i don't want a cmp due to the size and i'm not going back to x58 xeon ipc speed.

    last but not least. and i really don't want to go this route since i want osx.
    is to build another pc, mini itx if anything
    i want to avoid this due to all the errors and problems i had to deal with windows over the years. but so far building a mini itx pc but in terms of powers it does everything i need.

    i also like to input i play the occasional video games like anno and city building games.

    i would like to hear your thoughts on this.
  2. iGobbleoff macrumors regular


    May 2, 2011
    I am in sort of a similar boat. I am waiting on the new MBP's (maybe?) and have already bought a eGPU to go with my 2010 17" MBP. The only reason I'm waiting on the new MBP's is because we can salary sacrifice them, otherwise i would have gone for a desktop.

    The eGPU works fine, not a problem. I'll be using the new MBP in a stand with the eGPU to drive two 32" screens, and I have the option of the portability if I need it.
  3. ilikewhey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 14, 2014
    nyc upper east
    thats what i been thinking, but my main concern is how hot does the mbp get in clamshell mode with egpu. i'm basically looking for a mac desktop but the mac pro hasn't been updated in 5 years.
  4. iGobbleoff macrumors regular


    May 2, 2011
    I don't think it matters. I've read forum posts where people were saying it didn't matter whether it was open or not, the vents will vent regardless.
  5. swerve147 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 12, 2013
    If you think about it, running an eGPU means running the active graphics card in a completely separate enclosure, thus removing one source of heat from the notebook itself. Theoretically the overall eGPU setup should run cooler overall, if anything. I can confirm this at least with an Alienware eGPU setup.

    Maybe poke around egpu.io to confirm this for Macbooks.
  6. bigtomato macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2015

    Get yourself and iMac pro it will last you many years to come....
  7. Shamgar macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2015
    Wanting a proper GPU pushed me to a hackintosh, but your focus on reliability makes that option a bit iffy. They can end up quite robust, but it sometimes takes a lot of work to get there.

    Would an iMac work for you? You'd get more performance than a MBP, and could still use an eGPU if the built-in GPUs aren't enough. Apple even sometimes updates the iMac, so a Coffee Lake model in the next few months is quite possible.
  8. bigtomato macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2015
    Unless you are playing games or doing video editing GPU does not make a difference. Currentl laptops are pretty fast
  9. ondert macrumors regular


    Aug 11, 2017
    Btw, 15” mbp connected to eGPU doesn’t overheat.
  10. ilikewhey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 14, 2014
    nyc upper east
    i do want to take a crack at the far cry 5 title, so yes i do want to play games. and i do encode decode videos from time to time. so yeah the onboard 450 amd is not fast enough.

    i was looking into the imac route, but i read that the egpu does not drive in windows graphics and only works if you are driving a 2nd monitor.
  11. impulse462 macrumors 68000


    Jun 3, 2009
    You’re gonna have to do some research for specific eGPUs but if you’re more focused on GPU heavy applications, a Mac Pro is definitely not worth it.

    You seem to like OS X so I’d go with a MBP with eGPU. There are some benchmarks (I can’t find them now) which compare mbps with eGPU to Mac Pro with eGPU and the major difference comes from the eGPU.
  12. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    What is wrong with iMac Pro then? Xeon-W CPU and a very decent GPU. Yes, its expensive. But very competitively priced when you look at the specs.
  13. eladnova macrumors regular

    Aug 31, 2012
    I’m posting this on the assumption that you’re starting from scratch and have not used OS X in a while.

    I’m a gamer and have built several gaming towers over the past few years but professionally and creatively I use and love the Mac. Had both systems running side by side for a few years. However I wanted to slim down my tech stack and got tired of windows crapping out and losing several setups due to Windows ( Vista at the time) crashing.

    A few years ago I ditched the PC and purchased an 2013 iMac with the higher end graphics card...
    • 3.5GHz Quad-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost up to 3.9GHz
    • 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 SDRAM - 2X4GB
    • 1TB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
    • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4GB GDDR5

    This became my gaming machine using Bootcamp and windows installed in a partition.

    I play on Windows...
    ghost recon Wildlands
    battlefield 1

    Soon I’ll be playing Far Cry 5

    It’s running very well on highish settings. I can recommend it. And actually I find Windows 10 to be remarkably stable.

    I hope that gives you some insight into a possible setup.

    On a side note I have a 2017 MacBook Pro and am toying with the idea of an eGPU rig too.
  14. Shamgar macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2015
    An eGPU can accelerate internal displays, but it needs application specific support to to so, and there is an increased performance penalty vs driving an external display. As a compute box for render tasks, it should't matter what the display configuration is.
  15. ilikewhey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 14, 2014
    nyc upper east
    thanks for all the feedback guys, yes i do prefer osx since its the most stable platform i had for the last 10 years. i prob had to reformat my windows 4 times by now and everytime losing exe directory routes, personal data is backed up but reinstalling programs was a pain. window backup was also a pain to deal with.

    i'm currently using my mbp and 2016 mbp 15, thats why i'm asking if i should just slap on egpu and call it a day, but from all my research i can't seen to find mbp's ambient temp and noise while using the egpu.
  16. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Why not an iMac pro?? Seems custom made for you.
  17. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    Just to add an anecdotal experience, I have a 13" nTB 2016 MBP and eGPU combination (Radeon RX 580 8GB). It works perfect for my needs as I only need the eGPU power when gaming. At home I have my MBP docked to a Thunderbolt Display with the eGPU connected to a TV and work in clamshell mode 90% of the time. When gaming all GPU work is offloaded to the eGPU so the MBP doesn't feel very hot and the fan doesn't spin up that high. I've never bothered to take any detailed numbers down but it has been working perfectly for me. It's a combination I love because I have the portability of the 13" MBP combined with an eGPU at home that gives better results than the 15" MBP. Plus I can easily upgrade my GPU down the road.
  18. Flabasha macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2011
    I'm in a similar situation, done some research, this is what I've found out so far...

    -iMac/iMac Pro is a good idea BUT the screen is married to the computer, and I'm using a much larger screen, which would be hard to lose. But it's certainly the most straightforward option.

    -Used MacPro seems to be a bad idea. Prices are still insane, and it's 5-year old tech.

    -eGPU performance is hard to get a handle on. I'm looking at buying one for my 2015 MBP, and that is a debatable use scenario, as I only have Thunderbolt 2, and eGPUs are choked by the Thunderbolt connection. Those with a 2016-on MBP don't have my problem, but it's still hard to get a great idea of the added performance. Some say it matters a lot, some say it's $1,000 for not much difference.

    -don't buy an eGPU if you're looking for Adobe programs to make use of it. I'm a professional video editor, so this was exactly what I was looking to do, but it turns out that Premiere, Photoshop and AE won't recognize the external card, regardless of whether it's an ATI or Nvidia card. However, Resolve does appear to be accelerated with an eGPU, and is fast becoming a legit option for an NLE. I use Resolve a ton, so an eGPU would help me in this area.

    -there's been some new eGPU options very recently coming out, including the "Game Box" all-in-one portable option, and the Razer Core X (which is not all-in-one). So this landscape is changing very fast.

    -eGPU for Macs seems to still be kind of "bleeding edge". So if I go this route, I expect to bleed. Don't know if it's worth it or not...
  19. ilikewhey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 14, 2014
    nyc upper east
    i want to ask does the mbp itself get noisy in egpu mode, as in how hot does the cpu get. and which game do you play. i want to install bootcamp and play far cry 5 and occasional fornite.
  20. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    The fan spins up a bit but nothing too noisy. I’m playing Dishonored 2 now and if I were to try that or another 3D game without the eGPU the fan would be at max, but with the eGPU it’s much less. I’ve never measured the RPMs as it’s never bothered me. As for heat, again I’ve never really measured it but the times I’ve felt my MBP while gaming it is not too hot. Sorry I can’t be more specific.
  21. Schranke macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2010
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Sounds like a major difference. would be interesting to see some numbers.
    If you have the time, could you maybe do a 10 min game without the eGPU and writ down fan RPM and temperature, and then do one where you use the eGPU?
  22. nachtfrost macrumors newbie


    Jun 24, 2017
    I have never been a big Windows fan, never understood really what is going on in the depth of the OS. An OS with an X in the name is something you can talk to. So 2002 or so I bought my first Mac. My main machine is the good old Macbook Pro 17 from late 2011. It is still fine for my work stuff, but since some years not an option for gaming. That was about 2015 or so, eGPU was at least for Macs not a really an option. I was looking for a gaming capable device and a device for the road, so I ended up wirh an Alienware 13 and Graphics Amplifier.

    During the last 3 years I had to deal with countless driver issues. Very often after shutting down the system, disconnect fomr eGPU unit, start the device without eGPU. Mouse not working, cannot detect internal GPU, sound driver problem. After fixing this issues and reconnectong eGPU some days later, guess what? Other driver problems with connected eGPU.

    A friend of mine got a Razor Blade with eGPU and he has problems, too. So, from what I saw eGPU is a tricky thing you have to think abut.

    But I am really thinking to give it a try again with OSX. Why? My beloved 17" is getting old and I am still looking for a good working / gaming combo. Without driver issues from 9 hells. I hope that WWDC will give some updates to eGPU.
  23. ilikewhey thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 14, 2014
    nyc upper east
    egpu works with osx? and its plug and play too.
  24. wubsylol macrumors 6502

    Nov 6, 2014
    eGPU performance is increasing with every macOS release, but - for the exorbitant price you spend - they're still nowhere near competitive with a desktop (e.g. iMac) with the same hardware. Factoring in the compatibility issues (which, once again, I'm sure will be resolved in time) I reckon you're better off going the MBP (and maybe even a nice external monitor if you have the space) + desktop route for the time being. Maybe in the future once eGPUs are matured a little further on macOS, but for now the performance gains don't really come close to justifying the price you pay and compatibility problems.
  25. Acronyc macrumors 6502a

    Jan 24, 2011
    It is pricey, but let me offer a counter argument. For the same price as a well-specced 15” MBP I got a 13” MBP and an eGPU with a Radeon RX 580 8GB. I have better GPU performance than the 15” MBP and I can enjoy the ability to upgrade my GPU at any time. I can also use the eGPU with any other thunderbolt equipped Mac I might purchase down the road and I don’t have to worry about maintaining an additional machine just for gaming.

    It also lets me use a smaller Mac when traveling as I don’t need the GPU power on the go.

    As you said, performance and stability in macOS continues to increase. It’s plug and play right now and I haven’t had any issues.

    For me, in the long run the eGPU route is cheaper and more convenient.
    --- Post Merged, May 24, 2018 ---
    Now that this has come up I’m interested in the numbers too. I will try to run some tests this weekend.

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