BLACKMAGIC DE­SIGN EGPU

Should you con­sider this stylish-look­ing en­clo­sure?

3D World - - CONTENTS -

| | 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

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