Sonnet has introduced its new family of external graphics solutions aimed primarily at Apple's Mac systems featuring an Intel CPU and a Thunderbolt 3 port. The latest eGPU Breakaway Puck boxes are powered by AMD's Navi graphics processors and enable you to attach a 6K display to an older Mac or just boost its graphics performance. As an added bonus, they can act like simplistic docking stations.
Apple's systems launched in recent years are notorious for their lack of upgradeability. While Apple's iMac and MacBook Pro 16 can be configured with a choice of discrete GPUs before purchasing, Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro 13 have to rely on their integrated GPU, which sometimes do not provide sufficient performance or capabilities. For such systems, the only GPU and storage upgrade option is usage of an external GPU and/or a storage system.
Sonnet's eGPU Breakaway Puck Thunderbolt 3 boxes with a built-in GPU are designed exactly for that. Measuring 15.2×13×5.1 cm (6 x 5.1 x 2 inches) and weighing 1.47 kilograms (3.25 pounds) with an external power supply, they are small enough to keep on the desk and portable enough to transport if/when needed.
Sonnet's latest eGPU Breakaway Pucks are based on AMD's Radeon RX 5500 XT (Navi 14 XTX, 1408 stream processors, 5.2 FP32 TFLOPS) with 4GB of GDDR6 or AMD's Radeon RX 5700 (Navi 10 XL, 2304 stream processors, 7.95 FP32 TFLOPS) with 8GB of GDDR6 memory.
The eGFX boxes come with three display outputs: a TB3 connector to attach one 6K monitor (e.g., Apple's own Pro Display XDR) or two 4K screens, a DisplayPort 1.4, and an HDMI 2.0b. As an added bonus, they are equipped with two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A connectors. Furthermore, the second Thunderbolt 3 port can be used to daisy chain another TB3 device, such as a storage system.
For high-end iMacs and MacBook Pro 16s, these boxes do not exactly make sense, but for entry-level machines, they will offer a significant performance boost, albeit at a price. Sonnet's GPU-RX55-TB3-S (Radeon RX 5500 XT) will retail for $599.99, whereas the company's GPU-RX57-TB3-S (Radeon RX 5700) will cost $899.99.
The boxes can only upgrade Intel based Macs as Apple's M1-based Macs do not support external graphics cards. However, Sonnet says that Apple M1 Macs 'do not yet support eGPUs,' which suggests that appropriate support could be added later on.