Support for external graphics on MacOS finally arrives, but on select devices

Apple said last summer that support for external graphics cards would come to MacOS. That is finally happening with the release of MacOS 10.13.4 “High Sierra” but don’t get too excited just yet: Support for external graphics cards just isn’t possible on all Mac devices. Luckily, Apple provides a list of compatible models to eliminate any need for detective work. 

Here they are: 

Family  Release date 
MacBook Pro 

2016 to present 

iMac 

2017 to present 

iMac Pro 

2018 to present 

 The big hardware requirement needed to support an external graphics card is Thunderbolt 3. This technology is capable of transferring data at up to 40Gbps, providing plenty of bandwidth for the Mac and external card to thrash textures and other rendering data without any visual problems in games, 3D rendering applications, virtual reality content, and more. 

That said, your just-purchased MacBook Air that saw a huge price reduction during Best Buy’s recent flash sale won’t cut it, as Thunderbolt 2 doesn’t have a wide enough lane to handle data generated by external graphics. Thunderbolt 2 only speeds long at a slower 20Gbps: Four times the speed of a typical USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, but not fast enough for external graphics. 

With the Mac models narrowed down, Apple also provides a list of recommended external graphics card enclosures: Stand-alone “houses” that play host to the card and connects to the Mac via a single Thunderbolt 3 cable.  

First, here are the recommended enclosures along with the graphics cards that work best: 

Enclosures  Graphics cards 
OWC Mercury Helios FX 

Radeon RX 570 

PowerColor Devil Box 

Radeon RX 580 

Sapphire Gear Box 

Radeon Pro WX 7100 

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350W 

 

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W 

 

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W 

 

This group relies on AMD’s previous-generation graphics cards using its older “Polaris” design. Here, Apple recommends using graphics cards manufactured by Sapphire, specifically the “Pulse” series, and AMD’s in-house WX series for pros. 

If you’re looking for a bit more graphical power, check out Apple’s next batch. This list contains some of AMD’s latest graphics cards based on its newer “Vega” design: 

Enclosures  Graphics cards 
OWC Mercury Helios FX 

Sapphire Vega 56 

PowerColor Devil Box 

XFX Vega 56 

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W 

 

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W 

 

 Finally, we can’t have an external GPU lineup without mentioning AMD’s top-of-the-line cards, the Radeon RX Vega 64 and the Radeon Pro WX 9100. Have a look at Apple’s recommendations: 

Enclosure  Graphics cards 
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W 

Sapphire Vega 64 

 

XFX Vega 64 

 

AMD Frontier Edition (air-cooled) 

AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100 

 “eGPU support in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 is designed to accelerate Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL applications that benefit from a powerful eGPU,” the company states. “However, not all applications support eGPU acceleration.

One last idea Apple suggests is the purchase of Sonnet’s Radeon RX 570 eGFX Breakaway Puck. It resembles set-top boxes used for streaming, only it packs AMD’s RX 570, three DisplayPort connectors, one HDMI port, and the Thunderbolt 3 port. It relies on an external power adapter, enabling Mac owners to charge their device while using the external GPU. The RX 570 model costs $600 before taxes. 

Product Review

Ring’s Video Doorbell Pro goes on a diet, but doubles the resolution

Porch pirates will think twice when faced with Ring’s Video Doorbell Pro. Packing top tier features into a slim design, the Doorbell Pro is at home beside any front door.
Computing

The 2018 MacBook Pro just launched. How does it compare to last year's model?

An all-new MacBook Pro 13-inch has finally arrived, bringing with it Intel's powerful quad-core processor. But should you buy the 2018 model or save some cash and get last year's version instead?
Computing

Apple repair program won’t upgrade older MacBook Pros to new keyboard

Apple's quieter third-generation keyboard is exclusive to the 2018 MacBook Pro. This means you shouldn't expect a free keyboard upgrade if you take your older MacBook Pro in for keyboard repairs related to the issue with sticky keys.
Computing

The launch of the new MacBook Pro has been a complete disaster

Apple has flubbed what should've been a simple processor bump for the MacBook Pro. From issues with pricing and CPU throttling to the keyboard, the MacBook Pro is in an even worse position than before the update.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Computing

Apple quietly confirms 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard ships with anti-debris design

Apple appears to have a permanent fix in place to address the MacBook Pro's sticky key problem when it announced the 2018 refresh. But the fix won't be coming to the company's older notebooks, leaving existing owners out in the cold.
Giveaways

We’re giving away a $500 Casio Pro Trek smartwatch in a flash giveaway

If you're looking for a brand-new adventure watch and can't find a Prime Day deal that suits your fancy, you can enter to win one right here. One lucky winner will walk away with a Casio Pro Trek WSD-F20, but you can't win if you don't…
Computing

Turn your Surface Pro into a cheap Surface Studio with Kensington’s dock

Want a Surface Studio but don’t want to pay the premium price? Kensington has a new docking station built for the cheaper Surface Pro that essentially holds Microsoft’s detachable in an all-in-one-PC-style configuration.
Product Review

With surreal speed and battery life, the 13-inch Surface Book 2 is hard to beat

Microsoft took what was best about its Surface Book 2-in-1 and made it even better. Our Microsoft Surface Book 2 13 review looks at an incredibly well-built machine that’s both fast and enjoyed awesome battery life.
Product Review

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it: Dell’s XPS 13 2-in-1 builds on a winning formula

Dell’s new XPS 13 2-in-1 aims for excellence by copying many treats that made the normal XPS 13 stand out, but have users moved on to newer, better designs?
Mobile

Here are the best Amazon Prime Day smartphone deals (updated)

Amazon Prime Day has arrived and it brings a host of deals on all kinds of products. If you're in the market for a new smartphone, we've rounded up deals on some of our favorite phones like the Galaxy Note 9 and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro.
Computing

Benchmark test shows Core i9 severely throttled in 15-inch MacBook Pro

YouTuber Dave Lee is reporting what we already expected would happen with Apple’s latest MacBook Pro refresh with the Core i9-8950HK six-core CPU crammed inside: Throttling. There is just not enough space in the thin chassis.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Roll-up solar panels, dream controllers, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Computing

What's the best laptop? We've reviewed a lot of them -- and this is our answer

The best laptop should be one that checks all the boxes: Great battery life, beautiful design, and top-notch performance. The laptops we've chosen for our best laptops you can buy do all that — and throw in some extra features while…
Computing

Watch out for these top-10 laptop buying mistakes

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

These laptop makers produce the most reliable, quality hardware today

If you want to buy your next laptop based around a specific brand, it helps to know which the best brands of laptops are. This list will give you a good grounding in the most reliable, quality laptop manufacturers today.
Web

Google to run a 4,000-mile cable between Virginia and France

There will soon be a cable connecting France and Virginia, and it's all in the name of providing better internet service. In a statement this week, Google announced that it would be constructing an undersea, transatlantic cable.
Computing

Leave your opponents in awe of your skills with the best gaming mice

If you want to rise above the competition, you need the best tools. We've found the overall best gaming mouse, as well as picks for best budget gaming mouse, best left-handed gaming mouse, and best ambidextrous mouse.
Product Review

An overclockable monitor is definitely overkill, but you'll want this one anyway

The latest gaming monitor from Asus is a 27-inch flagship that spare no expense to stuff in every feature imaginable, but does an $800, 1440p monitor make sense in a post-4K world?
Computing

Here's everything you need to know about buying your next computer monitor

Check out our computer monitor buying guide for advice on everything from size to resolution and response times. A new display can be an investment, but it doesn't need to be intimidating -- here's everything you need to know.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Computing

HDR monitors are beginning to have an impact. Here are the best you can buy

HDR isn't the most common of PC monitor features and is often charged at a premium, but the list of available options is growing. If you're looking for the absolute highest-end in image quality, these are the best HDR monitors you can buy…