Apple's Computers Now Officially Support External GPUs

Apple announced support for Thunderbolt 3-based external GPUs with macOS High Sierra 10.13.4. Only select GPUs, external GPU docks, and Apple computers are supported, however, and the feature still won’t work on Windows Boot Camp.

On the computer side, 2016-and-later MacBook Pro laptops, 2017-and-later iMac desktops, and the iMac Pro are supported. On the GPU side, Apply only recommends that certain AMD Polaris and Vega graphics cards be used. Apple also notes that if you’re using a MacBook, the external GPU dock you use needs to be capable of supplying enough charging power to the laptop.

Of the gaming-focused Thunderbolt GPU docks, only the PowerColor Devil Box and Sapphire GearBox are officially recommended by Apple. The former has been tested by Apple to work with recommended GPUs up to the Vega 56, while the latter should only be used with the recommended Polaris cards. With a 500W PSU, the Devil Box is one of the most capable external GPU docks, but there’s a bunch of lower-powered units that should work fine for Polaris cards.

Performance and utilization information for external GPUs can be viewed in the macOS Activity Monitor. The full list of Apple-approved GPUs and Thunderbolt GPU docks is copied below.

For AMD Radeon RX 570, RX 580, and Radeon Pro WX 7100 graphics cards:

  • OWC Mercury Helios FX

PowerColor Devil Box

  • Sapphire GearBox

  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350W

  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W

  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W

For AMD Radeon RX Vega 56:

  • OWC Mercury Helios FX

  • PowerColor Devil Box

  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W

  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W

For AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition Air, Radeon Pro WX 9100:

  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W

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  • oneblackened
    Course, it doesn't matter too much - there are Nvidia drivers up through Pascal for MacOS, so it should work just fine.
  • 10tacle
    Whew. Anywhere from $250-$450 *just* for the interface box...then you have to buy the card. You'd have to be a serious Apple fan to fork out this much money just to use a dedicated GPU. Kind of ruins the all-in-one clean look of their modern iMac desktops. I guess it's better than nothing for those wanting to game.

    When Apple made full sized case Mac Pros some years back, you could buy Apple-approved dedicated internal PCIe video cards. Some are still for sale out there on the used market like a GTX 680 variant. Example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Nvidia-GTX-680-2GB-SC-SIG-CUDA-Graphics-Video-Card-for-Apple-Mac-Pro/253374419756?hash=item3afe4ad32c:g:1DIAAOSwUQlaoe9V
  • kenjitamura
    Anonymous said:
    You'd have to be a serious Apple fan to fork out this much money just to use a dedicated GPU.

    Just about every Apple user is a dedicated Apple fan. It's like alcoholism; 10% of the population are predisposed to the addiction, they make what would otherwise be poor computer purchasing decisions, and there is no reasoning with them when they're in fan boy mode.