It’s nice to see an eGPU being sold in the Apple Store, but how does it compare to the competition?
Jeff Benjamin from 9to5 Mac has been doing eGPU reviews for a while. And as I’ve been watching them, I definitely had a favorite: Gigabyte's Radeon RX 580 “Gaming Box.” It’s smaller and cheaper than most options because it has an integrated GPU. The ease of use and portability benefits at the loss of customization. In my eyes, this is acceptable because it only runs for $500 right now.
Enter Blackmagic’s eGPU, costing $700. Made with macOS in mind, it’s not running NVIDIA because the operating system doesn’t officially support it yet, so it instead rocks an AMD Radeon Pro 580. It’s not small, standing about a foot tall, but it’s not ugly either. One of the major selling points is the noise levels. Obviously pushing a GPU to its limits causes a cacophony of buzzing fans, but not here.
However, Benjamin makes a great point: while the eGPU unit will stay quiet, your MacBook won’t. As a result you may want to pair this with an iMac, which is usually quieter, for a silent office space. It’s an interesting point that I’ll leave up to the video to explain why it matters.
One thing is for sure though, support for eGPUs on Mac OS just isn’t cutting it. Tests from Max Yuryev found that while Final Cut X will smoothly playback ProRes Raw 4K footage on the timeline, it won’t use the eGPU when exporting. If there’s issues with Apple’s own software, you’d better believe it gets worse from there. In general, Blackmagic’s Davinci Resolve utilizes the external power as it should.
In my opinion it’ll be the end of the MacBook 2018 cycle that we’ll see eGPUs really take hold. Now that a major player is selling out of the Apple Store, public awareness and need will hopefully grow. Here’s to hoping Adobe can get on board with this within the coming year.