From the UK’S Na­tional Trust to mag­a­zine pub­lish­ers to man­u­fac­tur­ers, dig­i­tal con­tent cre­ator Mike Griggs has a wide and var­ied port­fo­lio of clients for whom he cre­ates 3D art, mo­tion graph­ics and mul­ti­me­dia ex­hibits. A typ­i­cal day might in­volve sam­pling bird­song near Vir­ginia Woolf’s coun­try es­tate or cre­at­ing 3D an­i­ma­tions for VR. To keep on top of these de­mands, Griggs wanted to take the full power of the GPU com­put­ing rev­o­lu­tion on the road.

“My work is never the same from one day to the next, and I need the power that GPU com­put­ing of­fers for CGI an­i­ma­tion and porta­bil­ity – for client vis­its, work­ing on the go, col­lat­ing data from shoots and just ex­plor­ing ideas while sit­ting on the sofa,” said Griggs, founder of Cre­ative Bloke.

How­ever, un­til re­cently, Griggs found the com­bi­na­tion of porta­bil­ity and per­for­mance led to many com­pro­mises in­stead of the op­ti­mal “lap­top turned desk­top work­sta­tion” he sought. Then Ap­ple of­fi­cially rolled out ex­ter­nal GPU (EGPU) sup­port for Thun­der­bolt 3-equipped Macs, only rec­om­mend­ing EGPU so­lu­tions pow­ered by AMD graph­ics cards.

“I was thrilled,” Griggs said. “The EGPUS have long been the grail of mod­u­lar com­put­ing and stay­ing with the Mac has be­come so much eas­ier be­cause of the EGPU sup­port.”


An EGPU is a full-sized graph­ics card in­stalled in an ex­ter­nal en­clo­sure with its own power sup­ply that is then con­nected to the host PC or lap­top via a Thun­der­bolt™ 3 USB Type-c in­ter­face. The lat­est macos ver­sions ro­bustly in­te­grate EGPU sup­port for Radeon Pro graph­ics, pro­vid­ing a sim­ple, plug-and-play ex­pe­ri­ence for artists such as Griggs, en­abling him to eas­ily and in­stantly boost the graph­ics ca­pa­bil­i­ties of his Mac sys­tem.

Griggs chose the AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100 graph­ics card in the Ap­plere­c­om­mended Son­net EGFX Break­away Box 650W, with the Son­net con­nected to

an AMD Freesync-en­abled 4K dis­play. The com­bi­na­tion over­comes a “frus­trat­ing com­pro­mise” that Griggs had made for years – that of hav­ing to switch be­tween his Ap­ple Mac­book Pro and higher-pow­ered Win­dows-based work­sta­tions that he cus­tom-built.

With the Radeon Pro WX 9100 EGPU, Griggs says his lap­top feels like a work­sta­tion. “Day-to-day tasks feel quicker with the pow­er­ful GPU,” he said, adding that “the Radeon Pro WX 9100 throws graph­ics and UI el­e­ments around the screen smoother than a hot knife through but­ter.”

He said in his ex­pe­ri­ence, the per­for­mance of After Ef­fects and Pre­miere, both from Adobe, is en­hanced by the pow­er­ful GPU, while his favourite edit­ing ap­pli­ca­tion, Ap­ple Fi­nal Cut Pro X, is “a beast” on the EGPU when scrub­bing, ren­der­ing pre­views and work­ing with ef­fects and mo­tion graph­ics.

In his own tests, Griggs said the speed im­prove­ments when us­ing the Radeon Pro WX 9100 EGPU with a Mac­book Pro for Maxon Cin­ema 4D are also dra­matic. For a Radeon Proren­der scene he cre­ated, the Radeon Pro WX 9100 EGPU took 10 min­utes and 8 sec­onds to ren­der the scene, com­pared to more than 42 min­utes for the lap­top’s in­ter­nal Radeon Pro 560 in­te­grated graph­ics. This is a ben­e­fit when work­ing un­der tight dead­lines. “With ev­ery­thing de­liv­ered dig­i­tally, if you’re on a one- or two­day turn­around and some­one’s scream­ing at you, a half hour can make a dif­fer­ence,” he said.

With a per­for­mance in­crease of up to 4x4, the Radeon Pro WX 9100 EGPU in tan­dem with the Mac­book Pro also has a cre­ative im­pact, ac­cord­ing to Griggs.

“Quicker ren­der times means quicker it­er­a­tion which makes bet­ter im­ages,” he said. “You are start­ing to ex­plore things with your cre­ativ­ity you would not have be­fore be­cause it would take 45 min­utes to ren­der. Now what you see is what you get, you can tweak and up­date while main­tain­ing a con­tin­u­ous work­flow.”

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