Use an external graphics processor with your Mac

Your Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac running macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later can access additional graphics performance by connecting to an external graphics processor (also known as an eGPU).

An eGPU can give your Mac additional graphics performance for professional applications, 3D gaming, VR content creation, and more.

eGPUs are supported on any Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac: MacBook Pro notebooks released in 2016 and newer,1 iMac computers introduced in 2017 and newer, and iMac Pro. Your Mac must also have macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 or later installed. Learn how to update the software on your Mac.

With eGPU support in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later, you can:

  • Accelerate applications that use Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL
  • Connect additional external monitors and displays
  • Use virtual reality headsets plugged into the eGPU
  • Charge your MacBook Pro while using the eGPU
  • Use an eGPU with your MacBook Pro while its built-in display is closed 
  • Connect an eGPU while a user is logged in
  • Connect more than one eGPU using the multiple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports on your Mac2
  • Use the menu bar item  to safely disconnect the eGPU
  • View the activity levels of built-in and external GPUs. Open Activity Monitor, then choose Window > GPU History.

Supported eGPU configurations

It's important to use an eGPU with a recommended graphics card and Thunderbolt 3 chassis. And if you're using a MacBook Pro, the eGPU's Thunderbolt 3 chassis needs to provide sufficient power to run the graphics card while charging the computer. Check with the maker of the chassis to find out how much power it provides, and make sure that it's enough to charge your connected Mac notebook.

Recommended graphics cards, along with chassis that can power them sufficiently, are listed below.

Thunderbolt 3 all-in-one eGPU products

These products contain a powerful built-in GPU and supply sufficient power to charge your MacBook Pro.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 all-in-one eGPUs:

AMD Radeon RX 470, RX 480, RX 570, RX 580, and Radeon Pro WX 7100

These graphics cards are based on the AMD Polaris architecture. Recommended graphics cards include the Sapphire Pulse series and the AMD WX series.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 chassis for these graphics cards:

  • OWC Mercury Helios FX3
  • PowerColor Devil Box
  • Sapphire Gear Box
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350W
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W3
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W3

AMD Radeon RX Vega 56

These graphics cards are based on the AMD Vega 56 architecture. Recommended graphics cards include the Sapphire Vega 56 and XFX Vega 56.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 chassis for these graphics cards:

  • OWC Mercury Helios FX3
  • PowerColor Devil Box
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W3
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W3

AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition Air, and Radeon Pro WX 9100

These graphics cards are based on the AMD Vega 64 architecture. Recommended graphics cards include the Sapphire Vega 64, XFX Vega 64, AMD Frontier Edition air-cooled, and AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100.

Recommended Thunderbolt 3 chassis for these graphics cards:

  •  Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W3

eGPU support in applications

eGPU support in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later is designed to accelerate Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL applications that benefit from a powerful eGPU. However, not all applications support eGPU acceleration. Check with the application's developer to learn more.

Also note that macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later doesn't support eGPUs in Windows using Boot Camp or when your Mac is in macOS Recovery or installing system updates.

In general, an eGPU can accelerate performance in these types of applications:

  • Pro applications designed to utilize multiple GPUs 
  • 3D games, when an external monitor is attached directly to the eGPU
  • VR applications, when the VR headset is attached directly to the eGPU
  • Pro applications and 3D games that accelerate the built-in display of an iMac or MacBook Pro. (This capability must be enabled by the application's developer.)

For best results with applications like 3D games, set a display that's attached to the eGPU as the primary system display:

  1. Go to System Preferences > Displays, and select the Arrangement tab.
  2. Drag the white menu bar to the box that represents the display that's attached to the eGPU.

Learn more

  • If you have questions about Thunderbolt 3 chassis or graphics cards, or about third-party application support and compatibility, contact the hardware or software provider.
  • Software developers can learn more about programming their applications to take advantage of macOS eGPU support.

1. If you're using a 13-inch MacBook Pro from 2016 or newer, always plug eGPUs and other high-performance devices into the left-hand ports for maximum data throughput.

2. For optimal performance, eGPUs should be connected directly to your Mac and not daisy-chained through another Thunderbolt device or hub.

3. These chassis provide at least 85 watts of charging power, making them ideal for use with 15-inch MacBook Pro models.

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Published Date: Fri Jul 13 15:08:15 GMT 2018