Together with Thursday’s 2018 Macbook Professional refresh, Apple additionally introduced a partnership with Blackmagic Design which resulted in a brand new exterior GPU with an 8GB AMD Radeon Professional 580 GPU —and AppleInsider has it on the take a look at bench.

Blackmagic says that the $699 unit ought to enhance speeds by as a lot as 2.eight instances on the 15-inch MacBook Professional, and up to eight times on 13-inch methods.

As with the remainder of the exterior GPU models we’ve examined, it connects by Thunderbolt three, and is designed to connect with an exterior show for optimum efficiency enhance. Nevertheless, the Blackmagic one is the primary that may speed up a Thunderbolt three show with out counting on hacks or different workarounds —extra on that in a bit.

Prime quality design, area gray aluminum shell

The Blackmagic’s eGPU is dense, as in contrast to others AppleInsider has examined. The load is about the identical, however the unit is condensed, taking much less desk actual property than the Mantiz or assorted Sonnet models.

The highest and backside vents look to be plastic however are additionally properly made, The physique’s area gray anodizing matches the MacBook Professional professional fairly intently.

The design is harking back to the 2013 Mac Professional with an consumption vent on the backside and an single massive fan on the prime. Sadly, additionally identical to it, the eGPU lacks the power to take an improve sooner or later.

The primary eGPU to help Thunderbolt three shows

Monitor connectivity is supplied by HDMI for probably the most half. Whereas different models have integrated a pass-through Thunderbolt three port, the Blackmagic eGPU is the primary to make use of the port to speed up a downstream monitor, which we will fortunately verify. Neither Apple nor Blackmagic point out native USB-C monitor help in order that’s one thing we might be trying into.

Blackmagic eGPU ports

Together with the Thunderbolt three ports we have now four USB three.1 ports which run at Era 1 speeds. As such, they’re restricted to 5Gbps.

One omission is a DisplayPort output, that means those who have an older show that does not have an HDMI port could also be out of luck. Lively HDMI to DisplayPort adapters may be costly, and problematic, and the about $90 it prices to get one most likely is not definitely worth the effort.

That is the place the variations between USB-C and Thunderbolt three are available in to play. Thunderbolt three is USB-C, however not all USB-C gadgets are Thunderbolt three —so we’re undecided but how USB-C alternate modes which permit for simple monitor connectivity will work with the eGPU.

This all stated, We do have a USB-C to DisplayPort cable and adapter on order. If the eGPU will hook up with a monitor with a USB-C alternate mode, it will likely be the saving grace for those who want to attach with the rest than HDMI or Thunderbolt three.

This factor is quiet!

One of many greatest complaints we have had with the various exterior graphics enclosures we have reviewed is the noise. Usually, you’ve gotten a fan for the facility provide, one to a few followers on the graphics card, and one other fan or two for the enclosure which ends up in a continuing drone that does not go away, and will get worse when the system is below load.

After plugging the eGPU into our 2018 Macbook Professional and our LG 5K show, we began making an attempt to determine learn how to flip it till we realized it was on, and simply tremendous quiet. Apple quoted a sound stage of solely 18dB they usually weren’t kidding.

Foregoing upgradability and designing the GPU and different parts as a coherent complete allowed Blackmagic to make use of bigger heatsinks and a single massive fan which retains every thing very quiet, even below load.

As for connectivity, our LG UltraFine 5K show labored flawlessly linked to the Blackmagic Design eGPU. Now a single Thunderbolt three cable will permit customers to connect with an exterior show, exterior graphics, have a mixture of USB three.1 and USB-C ports, and cost a laptop computer with 85 watts of energy coming from the eGPU.


Launching Geekbench four, our 2018 13-inch Macbook Professional with Contact Bar with Iris Plus 655 scored 32,991 within the OpenCL compute rating. After plugging within the eGPU, and deciding on the Radeon Professional 580 contained in the gadget from the menu resulted in a rating of 110,507, virtually the identical rating as our top-of-the-line 2017 5K iMac with an inner Radeon RX 580 GPU.

We’ll do extra testing for the total evaluate.

Accessing a graphics card with this a lot efficiency together with the brand new quad-core CPUs within the 2018 Macbook Professional might imply that some 15-inch Macbook professional customers might now downsize to a the smaller mannequin. It will be extra handy when on the go, and there can be a efficiency achieve when on the desk versus utilizing a 15-inch with no eGPU.

This comes at a value, although. The Blackmagic eGPU is $699. That is $200 greater than the present retail value on the Gigabyte eGPU we checked out not all that way back, for a similar efficiency. The previous is quieter, however the latter is but smaller —however has an influence brick, and is far louder.

AppleInsider has been residing with eGPUs for some time, and have lived with the noise and dimension. So, we have now much more testing to do to see how a setup like this works in the true world, and stacks up towards different GPUs, and the way it absolutely strains up towards a 5K iMac.

The place to purchase

The Blackmagic eGPU, which is obtainable solely at Apple, sells for $699 with free transport or in-store pickup.

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