BLACKMAGIC DESIGN EGPU
Should you consider this stylish-looking enclosure?
| | Price £599/$699 Developer Blackmagic Design and Apple WEBSITE www.blackmagicdesign.com
The EGPU from Blackmagic Design (and Apple) is essentially a graphics card in a box, but feels like so much more. The hardware itself is a sizeable enclosure in a finish to match the latest Macbook Pro, so will look good next to your other equipment. It’s capped at each end by black venting to allow for airflow, which is almost inaudible (a rarity for this kind of enclosure – so much so that a soft, white light is the only way to see that it’s powered on). The case houses four USB 3 and 2 Thunderbolt ports and an HDMI port, significantly adding to available connections, although one Thunderbolt port will be taken up connecting the host machine (a Macbook Pro).
There has been much talk about this type of device and whether or not it’s of value or even powerful enough, but this might be a bit narrowminded. Of course, there are applications where using a device like this isn’t needed, and many others where it could be but as yet haven’t been optimised, but that’s almost missing the point. If you think of the developer and its user base things become clearer. Film editing and colour grading work with Resolve is perfectly catered for and, compared to the host machine doing the leg work on its own, you’ll see speed hikes of around 5x.
Now the argument against this is that you could possibly get more power in a single device with a workstation but, when you consider the benefits of portability and versatility, being able to use this on location is a big factor. The EGPU is powered by Thunderbolt, is light and you can leave it on your desk if you don’t need ultimate power on the road that day. Of course, the same cannot be said for a workstation.
Benchmarking is tricky for this kind of device, as every user will have varying setups, plugin loadouts and configurations. But it’s fair to say that, for applications that been optimised, the speed increase is at least noticeable and at most significant. Averages seem to be in the range of 2x to 5.5x, so for 3D rendering in Cinema 4D to having nodeheavy grades in Resolve, you’ll see real-world benefits. So if you want an adaptable, efficient setup, then the price tag doesn’t seem all that high.
While not all applications are optimised for use with an EGPU, those that are make this a powerful solution that is simply much more versatile than investing in a stationary high-end desktop machine.
the enclosure is sleek and almost entirely silent