Waiting for Thunderbolt 4 thread (eGPU folks, this might interest you)

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Riven, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. Riven macrumors newbie


    Sep 12, 2016
    SF, CA
    With Apple making external GPUs (eGPUs) a reality in macOS 10.13, I've decided to wait as long as I need to until Apple releases a computer with Thunderbolt 4, specifically on a MacBook Pro. (32 GB DDR4L RAM might come as well by then.) If you look at my short post history, you might doubt me because at first I thought I was going to buy a Razer Blade Pro after Apple's dismal showing of rMBPs (imo) and then just today I said I was going to wait for the Mac Pro. In my mind native support for external GPUs on macOS was an absolute pipe dream. But then I ran across the external GPU Development Kit, and I'm absolutely locked into Apple for my next computer because of this.

    Currently, the Alpine Ridge TB3 controller has 40Gb/s throughput per port, and while there is enough bandwidth to run a GPU decently, think about the compute-heavy/high-end GPUs like the GTX 1080 or any workstation GPU – they will certainly run into the TB3 bottleneck. (I haven't done enough in-depth research to know how much a GPU's performance will be affected.)

    Since bandwidth has doubled with every iteration of TB, it's sensible to think TB4 will have 80Gb/s throughput per port. With that, I'll finally be able to run a gaming or workstation-class GPU from a laptop and have the setup of my dreams - portability when I need it; and graphics, compute power, a docking station, and charging when I need it at home, all through one cable.

    If you've been waiting for external GPUs, or something like this, wait for TB4 because high-end GPUs might still be significantly bottlenecked - I remember reading a long while ago that TB2 could run a GTX750 at only 85% of max performance. I'm willing to wait up to 3 years from date of posting. Perhaps it might come out earlier, who knows.

    Thoughts? Comments? Estimations on % of GPU performance lost due to TB3/hypothetical TB4 bandwidth constraints?
  2. Kiro macrumors member


    Sep 15, 2015
    Germany, Leipzig
    Maybe it works with two TB3 cables for 80gb/s ?
    I think that I've read that TB3 should be enough for a 1080ti.
  3. anton_usa macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2017
    Not necessarily. TB1 to TB2 didn't double the bandwidth. TB2 simply aggregates the two channels of TB1, which is the same total bandwidth.

    2011 - TB1
    2013 - TB2
    2016 - TB3

    Which shows exponentially increased time between releases, so you might be waiting 4+ years for a consumer product with TB4.
  4. Samuelsan2001 macrumors 604

    Oct 24, 2013
    Unless you are running two graphics cards in you eGPU in SLI then currently the bandwidth of TB3 is way more than enough for you. As it will take 4 years for AMD and NVIDIA to upgrade their architecture again then I doubt there will be anything that won't run on a TB3 eGPU before TB4 comes out anyway, you really are waiting for no good reason.
  5. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    What's the timetable for tbolt 4?
    Two years?
    Three years?
    How "long" are you willing to wait?
  6. Shalev macrumors member


    Jul 18, 2015
    in 3 years we will play in cloud gaming probably
  7. vkd macrumors 6502a


    Sep 10, 2012
    They know what we want and have the capacity to give it, but they will not because their only objective is drip feeding as much lower capacity nonsense for as long as possible. You see, their unique interest is profit, not benefitting others. They could not care less about benefitting others, that only comes as a subsidiary effect of their selling something for profit.
  8. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    Honestly, if you are wanting better GPU performance and more RAM I'd just ditch the Mac. There are laptops out there with a 1080 already, and 32GB on a PC is not an issue, even thin ones like the XPS 15. Apple just decided battery life was more important than RAM so decided to stick with low-powered RAM. I've used several PC laptops with standard DDR4 RAM and battery life hasn't been an issue. Really how many people work all day, every day not plugged in at some point? Most people I know plug in most of the day in the office and occasionally unplug for a meeting so battery life isn't really that much of a concern not to the point were I'd be willing to sacrifice battery over RAM or GPU.

    Unless you really, really need Mac OS, It would be easier to just switch. Yes Mac OS is lovely and yes having iCloud integration with other devices (phone, watch) is fantastic and nothing else on the market comes close, but if your primary computing platform is too slow it's time to look at priorities. Is the performance stopping you from earning money for example?
  9. itdk92 macrumors 6502


    Nov 14, 2016
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    One could argue that if you want GPU performance and more *and you're a professional* you should ditch laptops.
  10. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    True. Or have a laptop and a desktop? I only run on a laptop when I have to, in my home office I'm always on my desktop.
  11. Markoth macrumors 6502


    Oct 1, 2015
    Behind You
    These days, especially with Thunderbolt 3, the desktop form factor is likely to see even less usage, even by pros. Relying on a laptop + Thunderbolt 3 dock (which essentially turns your laptop into a desktop), is an option for many professionals who don't need a powerful desktop CPU for their job. Although, there are some laptops (if you can call them that) which do come with desktop-class CPUs, so even that scenario is covered.
  12. itdk92 macrumors 6502


    Nov 14, 2016
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    Sure, it's an option, but a very bad one for anybody working in the medium to high-end media industry. Also, laptops with "desktop-class" CPUs are a sad joke, sorry. If you mean the MacBook with the i9 - well, we know how bad things are.

    If you mean those 4-5kg PCs which some call "laptops", I am not sure what to say.. :)
  13. macintoshmac macrumors 68030


    May 13, 2010
    it is precisely what I am getting inclined to do. Used to be on a hackintosh desktop, got myself an MBP 15 in 2011 for that time I was looking to go out and make presentations, and then the 2016 as I was travelling ever other day, and now since a year I am at my home office, and I am inclined towards a desktop once again.

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