Get to work with the new eGPU Apple and Blackmagic Thunderbolt 3

Along with Thursday's Macbook Pro 2018 update, Apple also announced a partnership with Blackmagic Design that resulted in a new external GPU with a Radeon Pro 580 AMD 8GB GPU, and AppleInsider has it on the test bench.

Blackmagic says the $ 699 unit should increase speeds 2.8 times on the 15-inch MacBook Pro and up to eight times on 13-inch systems.

As with the rest of the external GPU units we've examined, it connects through Thunderbolt 3 and is designed to connect to an external display to maximize performance. However, the Blackmagic is the first to accelerate a Thunderbolt 3 screen without relying on attacks or other hardware solutions – more than that in a moment.

High-quality design, space gray aluminum housing

The Blackmagic eGPU is dense, compared to others AppleInsider has tested. The weight is more or less the same, but the unit is condensed, occupying less desktop space than the Mantiz or Sonnet units stocked.

The upper and lower openings appear to be plastic but are also well manufactured. The gray anodized phosphors of the body space the MacBook Pro pro quite closely.

The design is reminiscent of the Mac Pro 2013 with a ventilation inlet at the bottom and a single large fan at the top. Unfortunately, like him, the eGPU does not have the ability to perform an update in the future.

The first eGPU compatible with Thunderbolt 3 shows

The monitor connection is provided by HDMI 2.0 for the most part. While other units have a built-in Thunderbolt 3 port, the Blackmagic eGPU is the first to use the port to accelerate a downstream monitor, which we can happily confirm. Neither Apple nor Blackmagic mentions the native USB-C monitor support, so that's something we'll investigate.

  Blackmagic eGPU ports

Along with the Thunderbolt 3 ports, we have 4 USB 3.1 ports that operate at generation speeds 1. As such, they are limited to 5 Gbps.

An omission is a DisplayPort output, which means that those who have a previous screen that does not have an HDMI port may be unlucky. Active HDMI to DisplayPort adapters can be expensive and problematic, and the nearly $ 90 that costs to get one is probably not worth it.

This is where the differences between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 come into play. Thunderbolt 3 is USB-C, but not all USB-C devices are Thunderbolt 3, so we're still not sure how the alternative modes of USB-C that allow easy connectivity with the monitor will work with the eGPU.

All this, We have a USB-C to DisplayPort cable and an adapter in order. If the eGPU will connect to a monitor with an alternative USB-C mode, it will be a saving grace for those who need to connect with something other than HDMI or Thunderbolt 3.

This is silent!

One of the biggest complaints we have had with the numerous external graphics cabinets we have reviewed is the noise. It usually has a fan for the power supply, one to three fans on the graphics card and another fan or two for the cabinet that generates a constant hum that does not go away and gets worse when the system is under load. .

After plugging the eGPU into our Macbook Pro 2018 and our LG 5K screen, we started trying to figure out how to convert it until we realized it was on, and just super silent. Apple cited a sound level of only 18dB and they were not kidding.

The previous update capability and design of the GPU and other components as a coherent whole allowed Blackmagic to use larger heat sinks and a single large fan that keeps everything very quiet, even under load.

In terms of connectivity, our LG UltraFine 5K screen worked perfectly connected to the Blackmagic Design eGPU. Now, a single Thunderbolt 3 cable will allow users to connect to an external display, external graphics, have a mix of USB 3.1 and USB-C ports, and charge a laptop with 85 watts of power from the eGPU.

Performance [19659005] When launching Geekbench 4, our 13-inch Macbook Pro 2018 with Touch Bar with Iris Plus 655 scored 32,991 on the OpenCL computation score. After connecting the eGPU, and selecting Radeon Pro 580 within the device from the menu resulted in a score of 110,507, practically the same score as our high-end 5K iMac 2017 with a Radeon RX 580 internal GPU. [19659022] We will do more tests for the complete review.

Having access to a graphics card with this performance along with the new quad-core CPUs in the Macbook Pro 2018 could mean that some Macbook pro 15-inch users could now reduce to a smaller model. It would be more convenient when away from home, and there would be a performance gain on the desktop versus a 15-inch without eGPU.

However, this has a cost. Blackmagic eGPU costs $ 699. This is $ 200 more than the current retail price in the Gigabyte eGPU that we badyzed not so long ago, for the same performance. The first one is quieter, but the last one is even smaller, but it has a power block and it is much louder.

AppleInsider has been living for a while living with eGPU and has lived with noise and size. So, we have to do a lot more tests to see how a configuration like this works in the real world, and compare it to other GPUs, and how it aligns completely with a 5K iMac.

Where to buy

The Blackmagic eGPU, which is only available from Apple, sells for $ 699 with free shipping or in-store pickup.


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