So are external GPUs over Thunderbolt officially a dead concept?

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Spytap, Dec 10, 2013.

  1. Spytap macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    Yes, I'm well aware that I'm not going to fully saturate a Titan, but when I bought my Air there was a glimmer of hope that I'd be able to buy a mount for a proper desktop GPU and attach it when I wanted to do some gaming. Having not seen anything in quite some time except some home build hacks, is this concept officially DOA?
  2. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
  3. DeltaMac macrumors 604


    Jul 30, 2003
  4. old-wiz macrumors G3

    Mar 26, 2008
    West Suburban Boston Ma
    The external GPU devices cost a lot plus you also have to buy the gpu itself. Then you have to hope you can find osx drivers for it.
  5. DeSnousa macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Maybe this will be more applicable when the new Mac Pros come out?

    Very interesting concept, first I heard about it. I don't think there would be a massive market as unless you are a gamer what is the point? All Mac are capable as is.
  6. Spytap thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    That's the point for some - the gaming market is huge. For others it's a way to "dock" a laptop into a more powerful desktop environment without having to buy (and maintain) one of each (think editing, amongst other scenarios.)
  7. thebrobrah macrumors regular

    Jun 13, 2013
    very dead unfortunately

    prohibitively expensive
  8. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Cost is not really a big issue. The real problem right now is that the external GPU solution will not pass Intel TB certification.
  9. thekev macrumors 604


    Aug 5, 2010
    It would be another issue. It's a matter of the cost to jump through hurdles required to pass certification along with the actual production cost. Note how much you pay for some of the mac edition gpus for the mac pro, all of which require 0 or minimal extra hardware work compared to the PC versions. I suspect you would end up with $200-250 above the typical PC side cost assuming a non-junky power supply, so you would need to look at higher end gpus to justify the price. It's just a matter of whether this would align well and find a sustainable market that wouldn't balk at the costs of bringing out a profitable option.
  10. theSeb macrumors 604


    Aug 10, 2010
    Poole, England
    Sure, cost is an issue, but it really should not be. Considering how much HW is actually required for an external TB-->PCIe box. Personally I think that the bandwidth limitations of TB (and even TB2) are the real issue. Have you seen the tomshardware article on this? Even mid-range GPUs suffer. The concept is great in theory, but the hardware is not there yet to implement it. How many people will be willing to pay for it is another matter though.
  11. ChesneyHawkes macrumors newbie

    Sep 21, 2012
    For the cost of doing this, you could just do what I do and target disk mode my macbook air to my iMac. I go from a base model 2013 11inch MBA to a maxed out 2013 27 inch iMac.

    Portability when I want it and performance when I need it. Am I missing something?
  12. Spytap thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    Yes - the reality that it would be cheaper by at least a thousand dollars to just have a dedicated gaming PC than to buy a separate maxxed out iMac and use target mode.
  13. dan1eln1el5en macrumors 6502


    Jan 3, 2012
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    I've found some posts around where it works, but only under windows.

    the problem is that the drivers for mac are released/bundled with OS X, for specific cards/configurations.

    I wouldn't say it's dead, it's never been alive and I'm hopeful that one day it might be an option to have a light easy to carry laptop, then when you are home you have a real nice strong gaming rig or video editing machine.
  14. 2IS Suspended

    Jan 9, 2011
    Gaming is huge... Gaming on a mac is not
  15. boast macrumors 65816


    Nov 12, 2007
    Can only hope TB gets implemented more in PC laptops to eventually create a market for it.
  16. Mackan macrumors 65816

    Sep 16, 2007
    Intel are currently blocking certification for any TB based eGPU solution, by purpose. Intel is a very sad company.

    I think they, and the whole laptop industry, will continue to do their best to destroy any chances of good eGPU solutions, for business reasons.
  17. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    There was never a market for it. There is technically no big problem, but all the MacBooks run multiple monitors without problems, so the only possible market are fanatical gamers - and they don't buy that kind of computer anyway.

    "Gamers" are loud. I wouldn't think there are actually that many of them. Consider that Apple TV has outsold Xbox 360 for many quarters, that's how big the "gamers" market is compared to other markets.

    But no doubt that gaming on the Mac is not big - so there is no market for this product.
  18. 2IS Suspended

    Jan 9, 2011
    You couldn't be more wrong... Gaming is a HUGE market. 360 has been out for what, nearly 8 years? Along with an equally popular PS3? Most everyone who wants one has had one for many years already. You want an accurate metric? Look at sales for video games, not consoles that everyone already owns. GTA 5 sales hit $800,000,000 on the first day.
  19. Why?????? macrumors member

    Dec 6, 2013
    If you really want to game with your air, then instead of buying the (soon to be released) thunderbolt GPU enclosures, just build a gaming PC. It may be more costly, but you can save yourself a whole mess of wires.

    A titan + enclosure can go to maybe $1200 or maybe more. With that price, you can build a very good gaming PC with a very competent AMD graphics card and a decent CPU.


    This is exactly why we need downvotes back.
  20. UKgaryb macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2013
    Manchester, UK
    Wasn't it Sony who used to put out a really nice laptop, with the option of an external bluray drive with built in AMD graphics card that ran over thunderbolt using a USB connector ?
  21. naborneo macrumors newbie

    Dec 21, 2011
    I keep seeing people talk about gaming for this purpose...
    What I'm seeing is a GPU render solution for Macbook Pros.
    I've begun looking at a GPU render solution for Cinema 4D such as Octane and iRay. These are both CUDA render engines so the new Pro does nothing for me in this instance. If I could connect two of these though with 780ti in them, to a new MacBook Pro, that's one beefy render machine that probably would travel nicely.
  22. Fandongo macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2011
    My CPU is a Neuro-Net Processor, a learning computer.
  23. Spytap thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    I may end up doing this. However I was hoping not to have to replicate hardware purchases (new motherboard, cpu, RAM, etc.) if there was an easier and cheaper solution. I don't do a lot of gaming - perhaps not enough to justify spending 1000+ on a dedicated gaming PC - but I do enjoy it and would appreciate a cheaper solution that let my Macbook Air serve a dual purpose with a small amount of additions.
  24. Nermal Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2002
    New Zealand
    What does "certification" mean in practical terms?

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