Skip to main content

Bring magic to your desktop with a $699 external GPU for MacBook Pros, iMacs

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Blackmagic Design teamed up with Apple to create an external graphics card enclosure with a built-in AMD Radeon Pro 580. Simply called the Blackmagic eGPU, it connects to Apple Mac devices via a Thunderbolt 3 port (40GBps) that support external graphics. It’s available now for $699 exclusively through Apple’s online shop and its brick-and-mortar stores scattered across the globe.

“Featuring an elegant, textured finish design, Blackmagic eGPU is extruded from a single piece of aluminum and features a unique thermal cooling system that’s been designed to perfectly balance the airflow and dissipate heat more efficiently,” Blackmagic says. “The cooling system also enables extremely quiet operation as low as 18dB, vital for those working in video production and audio engineering environments.”

AMD initially introduced the Radeon Pro 500 series with the latest 21.5- and 27-inch iMacs in June 2017. The Radeon Pro 580 is at the top of the five-card family packing 2,304 cores across 36 compute units with a base speed of 1,100MHz and a maximum speed of 1,200MHz. It includes 8GB of on-board GDDR5 video memory clocked at 1,695MHz, 144 texture mapping units, 32 render output units, and more.

As for the actual enclosure, it’s a beautiful device sporting a wrapped one-piece aluminum design with a machine anodized finish and a thermal grille mounted at the top. The enclosure stands on your desktop at 11.59 inches tall, 6.96 inches wide, and 6.96 inches deep. On the back you’ll find four USB-A ports (5Gbps), two Thunderbolt 3 ports (40Gbps), and an HDMI port supporting an external monitor up to a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution.

Also crammed into the enclosure is a 315-watt power supply that not only feeds the Radeon Pro 580 card but provides 85 watts of power through the Thunderbolt 3 ports to charge your connected, compatible Mac device. Right now, the only devices that support external graphics are the following (MacOS 10.13.5 High Sierra required):

  • MacBook Pro notebooks released in 2016 or later
  • iMac computers released in 2017 or later
  • iMac Pro released ion 2017 or later

Note that the external graphics unit does not work on older Mac devices using a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 adapter. There’s just not enough data bandwidth in Thunderbolt 2 (20Gbps) to handle an external graphics card, which typically either sits in a speedy PCI Express slot within a computer or is integrated directly onto the PC’s motherboard.

According to Blackmagic Design, you absolutely cannot upgrade the Radeon Pro 580 mounted inside, meaning you’ll be stuck with the now-older chip after the hefty $699 purchase. Blame the overall design that’s “optimized for quiet operation.” It’s not a simple stand-alone chassis with the card plugged into a slot, but instead features an integrated chip and cooling system that can’t be upgraded or swapped out.

Still, if you run into any problems, Blackmagic Design will provide technical support for an unspecified time. The device ships with a 12-month limited manufacturer’s warranty that you can read more about right here.

To purchase the $699 Blackmagic eGPU from Apple, head here. The company provides free two-day delivery if you can’t pick up the device from a brick-and-mortar location.

Editors' Recommendations

Kevin Parrish
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then…
MacBook Pro M3: Should you choose the M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max?
The MacBook Pro open on a table.

Apple's next generation of MacBook Pros is finally here, and they arrive touting the highly anticipated M3 chip. Like the previous generation, you have a choice between a 14-inch and 16-inch model, but there are a lot of differences when you start looking at the three versions of the chip that are available: the M3, M3 Pro, and M3 Max.

We're here to run you through all of the configuration options for the MacBook Pro M3, as well as if you should choose the M3, M3 Pro, or M3 Max. Apple currently has the , and they're shipping now.
Pricing

Read more
Why Apple’s subtle MacBook Pro decision makes me so happy
An Apple MacBook Pro 14 sits open on a table.

I've complained about the 13-inch MacBook Pro for years, often referring to it as the worst Mac in the lineup. But at Apple's Scary Fast Mac event today, the company decidedly killed the product -- at least for now.

Rather than updating the 13-inch MacBook Pro with the new M3 chip, Apple has replaced it in the lineup with a new configuration of the 14-inch MacBook Pro featuring the M3. Acting as the entry-level MacBook Pro, this new configuration does away with the leftover oddities on the 13-inch MacBook Pro from its bygone era, such as the Touch Bar, worse screen, old webcam, outdated port selection, and big bezels. But as of today, this 13-inch MacBook Pro is no longer being sold by Apple -- and we should all be happy about that.

Read more
I saw the new Space Black MacBook Pro, and it’s stunning
Two MacBooks Pro renders side by side against a black backround.

It's not often that MacBook Pros get new color options. But with this most recent update to M3 chips, the MacBook Pro will add Space Black, a color that first appeared on the iPhone, to the mix. I was shown an early preview of the new color ahead of the "Scary Fast" launch event, and I have to say: I'm smitten.

This new Space Black is not true black, of course. In truth, it's a slightly darker gray than Space Gray, which it replaces. And it's a good thing this isn't true black. Because remember, this is aluminum, and Apple isn't just slapping a coating or layer of paint on here like so many laptop manufacturers do when making true black aluminum laptops. These laptops, such as most gaming laptops or even something like the Surface Laptop, tend to scratch easily and fade over time.

Read more