Blackmagic eGPU – Graphics Superpower for MacBooks via Thunderbolt 3

July 12th, 2018
Blackmagic eGPU – Graphics Superpower for MacBooks via Thunderbolt 3

Apple has just launched refreshed MacBook Pros and that’s great news! But for us filmmakers this is not the only great news for today: Blackmagic Design has teamed up with Apple in order to create an external powerhouse for the aforementioned MacBook Pro: The Blackmagic eGPU combines a Radeon Pro 580 graphics processing unit alongside with a full-featured Thunderbolt 3 dock.

Blackmagic eGPU

The new Blackmagic eGPU. image credit: Blackmagic Design

Over the years the number of ports on the popular Apple Macbook Pro has been drastically reduced. Now, in 2018, we’re down to 4 USB-C ports and 1 headphone jack. That’s it. So adding a capable dock to your virtual shopping bag became somewhat mandatory in order to really exploit the machine’s full potential. That’s the one thing quite a few professionals mutter about. The other thing is graphics.

The GPU of a given computer can’t be potent enough for creative work such as editing, FX work, color grading, RAW processing and so on. Blackmagic Design and Apple obviously listened and created the Blackmagic eGPU. An external GPU plus the kind of dock you need when there’s some serious work to be done in the field.

Blackmagic eGPU

Hot on the heels of today’s new MacBook Pro lineup comes the Blackmagic eGPU, a companion for that computer (or any other Mac with Thunderbolt 3 ports). It sports a Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB RAM. That’s not the fastest graphics board but that way the whole unit can be operated pretty much silent. According to Blackmagic it emits only around 18db of noise. Usability first, raw power second. What good is an extremely powerful eGPU if you can’t use it near a desk without additional sound insulation?

Blackmagic eGPU

image credit: Blackmagic Design

The Blackmagic eGPU is even capable of driving the LG UltraFine 5K display natively, just plug into one of the USB-C type Thunderbolt 3 ports and of you go. The other TB3 port is for connecting your MacBook Pro and then you still have 4 USB 3 ports left. Furthermore, the eGPU provides up to 85W of power for your MacBook. An HDMI 2.0 connection (supports 4K output) is also included.

Blackmagic eGPU

image credit: Blackmagic Design

Starting with MacOS 10.13.4, users can benefit from external eGPU devices. And if you happen to be a DaVinci Resolve user, you might know that additional GPUs will make your workflow fly. Grading on a single screen with “just” a Macbook Pro powering your creative work can become a little bit cumbersome over time, especially if you use the new features of DaVinci 15, namely Fusion FX. So being able to hook up another (bigger) screen, a dedicated GPU and some extra connectivity is a good thing, indeed.

Features & Performance

What is a new gadget without benchmarks? So here we go: according to both companies the Blackmagic eGPU outperforms the bare Macbook Pros by quite a bit when using it with DaVinci Resolve:

Blackmagic eGPU

Performance of a Macbook Pro 13″ with and without the Blackmagic eGPU. Image credit: Blackmagic Design

These numbers are not validated by real-life users in real-life work environments, sure, but it looks pretty impressive.. If you happen to use a more powerful 15″ version, the performance multiplier shrinks a little bit but it’s still impressive to see how DaVinci Resolve benefits from an extra GPU.

Blackmagic eGPU

Performance of a Macbook Pro 15″ with and without the Blackmagic eGPU. Image credit: Blackmagic Design

The Blackmagic eGPU is light enough to carry it around with you yet powerful enough to improve your workflow while out and about. The unit weights 4,5 kg (9.9 lbs) and the reason for that is the massive power supply which not only powers the unit itself but is capable of powering your Macbook Pro at full speed plus your devices as well. The eGPU measures 17,7 cm x 29,5cm (7″ x 11.6″) and it comes with a power cord and a 0.5m Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cable.

In order to put this thing to work you’ll need a recent Mac running macOS 10.13.5 or later. This includes MacBook Pro computers from the 2016 model year and later, 2017 iMac and iMac Pro. Although the Blackmagic eGPU is not limited to work with Mac computers Blackmagic Design does not recommend using it with Thunderbolt 3 equipped Windows machines unless vendors have updated their systems. So for now, this is Mac only.

Blackmagic eGPU

image credit: Blackmagic Design

All you need is a Thunderbolt 3 capable computer, Thunderbolt 2 won’t do as it doesn’t provide enough throughput for decent eGPU performance. The whole 40Gbit/s of Thunderbolt 3 is needed, really.

DaVinci Resolve and Others

This machine is obviously tailored for using it with Blackmagic’s own DaVinci Resolve (see the benchmarks above). You even can use multiple Blackmagic eGPU devices in order to really accelerate your workflow. Blackmagic doesn’t recommend to daisy-chain eGPU, though. So you should use one eGPU per USB-C port only. Although DaVinci Resolve might be the main target for this device, VR artists and hardcore gamer also benefit from additional graphical power.

Blackmagic eGPU

image credit: Blackmagic Design

The one downside worth mentioning is the inability to upgrade the built-in Radeon Pro 580 GPU down the road. Due to the thermal and acoustic design of this unit you can’t swap GPUs. That’s fine for now but what about 5 years in the future?

Pricing and Availability

The Blackmagic eGPU is $699 and it’s available exclusively through the Apple store for now.

Links: Blackmagic Design | Apple (eGPU) | Apple (new MacBook Pros)

It seems that we’re heading into a multi-device future here. Just bring your MacBook pro for light work, or, if some heavy lifting is required, bring the laptop plus this Blackmagic eGPU in order to get a fully fledged rig while working in the field.

What do you think about this new performance gadget? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018

“Superpower”???!! ????

You guys clearly have NO CLUE what you’re talking about. Again.

 Gavin Fuerst
Gavin Fuerst
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

Stuard, you seem to have all the wisdom! Please enlighten us!

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Gavin Fuerst

Gee, Fuersd, maybe not ALL, but certainly MORE, yes. And definitely ENOUGH to know that the performance of this useless thing (for anything other than maybe a MacBook without GPU) is lightyears away from qualifying as “Superpower”. Such utter (probably paid for) click-bait BS.

But then, looking at your posts, you wouldn’t understand anyway. ??‍♂️

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

Stuart

No body is paying us to write “Superpower”….I hope you are not serious about that.

And as a side note, being arrogant won’t take you far. How about a bit of respect to fellow filmmakers or better yet, trolling elsewhere?

Thank you

Johnnie

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Actually, “arrogant” is when you claim to be able to cast any such hyperbolic judgement when at the same time never even having so much as TOUCHED, let alone used in. Just blindly parroting the BMD PR machine. The urge to do so has to come from somewhere, doesn’t it? And if it ain’t at least money, then that only makes matters worse. Then YOU are just trolling US.

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

Stuart Stu, Move on, life is too short.

Share your frustration elsewhere.

Thank you

Johnnie

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

???… sure.

:-)))))

paolo baroni
paolo baroni
Guest
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

stuart i have a solution like this at home….looks like the bullshit comes just from your mouth….so shut up

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  paolo baroni

:-)))))))))

Suuuuuuuuure you do! Funny how YOUR clueless BLATHER doesn’t coincide with ANYTHING that others (including me) are experiencing, hm??! You lying sack of…

Try searching for “2018 Macbook Pro + Blackmagic eGPU TESTED” on Youtube… and then you best just clam up, so as not to make an EVEN BIGGER fool of yourself. LOL

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

Stuart Stu

I kindly ask you not to get personal and attack people here. If you want to comment about the product, you are more then welcome.

Thank you.

Johnnie

paolo baroni
paolo baroni
Guest
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

BUT YOU , YOURSELF at your house or office WHAT HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED?? JUST YOUTUBE VIDEOS AND U ARE STILL TALKING??????????
SHUT UP
u are clearly an ignorant about egpu since your experience is based on youtube videos
go play nintendo…there’s radeon in it
ahahahhahaahhahahahahahahahaah

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  paolo baroni

LOL!!

Clearly a 12 year old. And obviously he just watched the video and feels REALLY stupid and caught in his own lies… and rightfully so.

Get off the internet and learn some basic english.

Yeah, and so much for “not to get personal and attack people”, eh?

paolo baroni
paolo baroni
Guest
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

stuart why don’t u SHUT UP till the new super smash bros is out…..

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  paolo baroni

Ah, sorry. Just a TEN year old pathetic blowhard after all. My bad.

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

Guys, thank you both.

Can we please move on?

I would hate to lock that thread.

Thank you.

Johnnie

paolo baroni
paolo baroni
Guest
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

done. sorry

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Oh god… PLEASE DO Johnnie. This little illiterate child is unbearable.

paolo baroni
paolo baroni
Guest
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Stuart Stu

please do not be sorry just delete your account we don’t need your experience here… go to NASA or NSA

 Gavin Fuerst
Gavin Fuerst
Member
July 16th, 2018

Paolo, did you try it with Resolve? I know the latest beta supports CUDA. Nvidia cards are faster than AMD’s Radeons but are not officially supported by Apple. Depending on the support of GPU’s the speed will mildly be better. With Davinci Resolve Studio R15 you gain quite a bit of performance. The free version of Davinci Resolve can add 1 eGPU and the Studio version several. Paolo give it a try with the beta! You have to set your Resolve to CUDA in the beta for your card to be supported.

 Stuart Stu
Stuart Stu
Member
July 19th, 2018
Reply to  Gavin Fuerst

“not officially supported by Apple”?? ? What complete BULLS**T!!

But you have to just LOVE how such TURDS of apps such as Resolve and PPro need something like THIS just to get at least CLOSE to the performance of FCP X on A MAC MINI. So pathetic.

 val3rie valerie
val3rie valerie
Member
July 16th, 2018

Can this help for work with Adobe Premiere and After Effects?
I need to boost those programs

paolo baroni
paolo baroni
Guest
July 13th, 2018

i have a thunder 3 box with a geforce 1080Ti…it’s really a waste of money…there is a 10-15% gain that’s it….and the thing that they put beats wireless headphones in the pic lets you understand the level of professionalism they can certify….TOY….apple is not ready for this at all…..and i think is not even interested in 3rd party collaboration….so we have poor 16 gb ram machines stuck with radeon…..soon we’ll see windows revenge now that mac os is a mediocre os too

Johnnie Behiri
Admin
July 14th, 2018
Reply to  paolo baroni

Ciao Paolo.

We hope to get a unit to test soon. This will allow us to come up with a solid conclusion which is not based on a promotional slide (Beats wireless headphones)…:)

Thank you.
Johnnie

paolo baroni
paolo baroni
Guest
July 14th, 2018
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

johnnie i’m very curious…maybe they put radeons because the driver is better, nvidia is still a B driver…i went for the fastest card my wallet can afford……waiting for hands-on review! ciao

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