External graphics processors
When Apple deployed macOS 10.13.4, suddenly Macs with Thunderbolt 3 ports gained new upgrade options thanks to support for external graphics processing units (eGPUs). At the time that was limited to the MacBook Pro and iMac, but the superfast connection is now available on the Mac mini and the MacBook Air, too.
When you connect an eGPU to a Mac, displays connected directly to the eGPU benefit right away. Any internal display on the connected Mac is still handled by the computer’s built–in graphics processor. However, some apps — like video tool DaVinci Resolve — are designed to leverage any suitable GPUs they find connected to the computer. Some apps — games, in particular — have been found to have issues when running through an eGPU. If you encounter such trouble, contact the software’s publisher/developer to find out if a fix is forthcoming.
In the performance charts on page 43, note that the DaVinci Resolve test shows the impact on render time of connecting a Razer Core X with a Vega 64 card to our Mac mini review unit with a Core i3 processor. That card is near the top end of the range that Apple recommends for use in this way.
See Mac|Life #145 for a review of the Razer Core X, an enclosure into which you install your choice of macOS– compatible card (see bit.ly/applegpu) and Mac|Life #147 for the ready–to–go and incredibly quiet Blackmagic eGPU.
Blackmagic’s eGPU ($699) and eGPU Pro ($1,199) also add four USB–A ports.