A Kickstarter project for a high-performance desktop GPU that can plug into a MacBook via Thunderbolt and is compatible with the Oculus Rift VR headset has raised its backing target of $50,000 in less than 24 hours.

The Wolfe is a portable box that contains an Nvidia desktop-class graphics card and connects to a MacBook or other laptop via Thunderbolt 2 (or potentially Thunderbolt 3), and promises vastly improved performance for gaming, virtual reality, graphic design, and video editing.

Wolfe GPU box
The team behind the Wolfe claims owners of newer laptops can expect performance increases up to 500 percent when using a Wolfe box, or up to 1000 percent with the Wolfe Pro, while older computers are said to see even more dramatic performance gains.

  • The Wolfe contains an NVIDIA GTX 950 GPU - 768 cores operating at 1024MHz, for a peak compute power of 1.57 TeraFLOPS.
  • The Wolfe Pro runs on an NVIDIA GTX 970 GPU - 1664 cores operating at 1050MHz, for a peak compute power of 3.49 TeraFLOPS.

What about NVIDIA's 10-series GPUs? As of right now, The Wolfe Pro includes an NVIDIA GTX 970. However, it's more than likely that Wolfe Pro level backers will be able to opt for the new GTX 1060 in our post-campaign survey for even better performance.

The box runs off a 220W PSU and has three DisplayPort 1.2 connections, one HDMI 2.0 and one DVI-I port. The Thunderbolt connection also offers the potential for more than one Wolfe box to be used with one laptop, for building a render farm or for a multi-monitor setup, say the makers.

Kickstarter early-bird pledges of $399 or more get backers a Wolfe box powered by a GTX 950 with the option of Thunderbolt 2 or 3 connectivity, while a standard pledge costs $449. An early-bird pledge for the Wolfe Pro is $549 ($599 for a standard pledge). A Wolfe DIY pack for modders who want to use their own GPU costs $269.

The makers note that while the Wolfe will increase laptop display performance, the best results are expected to come with using an external monitor or VR headset, due to the inherent bandwidth restrictions in Thunderbolt 2.

The project was conceived by a group of Harvard computer science graduates and Mac-owning gaming enthusiasts, after they hacked together a prototype GPU box in a DeWolfe dorm room at Harvard.

The team has continued to improve the hardware and software at the Harvard Innovation Lab, with the aim of making Macs "performance powerhouses" and "to stop big companies from charging outrageous prices for minuscule upgrades" by letting users take control of their computer's performance. The Kickstarter project page quotes a shipping aim of February 2017.

The project comes five months after Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey suggested VR headset support for the Mac was "up to Apple," and that the company needed to "prioritize higher-end GPUs." If Apple builds a machine that can handle the hardware, Oculus VR would "love to support Mac," said Luckey.

Update September 23: The Wolfe team has canceled its Kickstarter campaign and refunded all pledges due to uncertainty over product certification.

We’re writing today to share some important news: we are going to be cancelling our Kickstarter campaign, and refunding your pledges in full. Our success has attracted the attention of some big players in the industry, who recently reached out to us about the Wolfe. Through these conversations, it became clear there would be some uncertainty in attaining the product certifications essential for the Thunderbolt 2 (and thus macOS) versions of the Wolfe.

The team notes it remains committed to the project and is working with "new partners in the industry" to develop "an even better product."

Top Rated Comments

keysofanxiety Avatar
61 months ago
We've hoping for external GPUs for so long now; I remember when Thunderbolt first came out, that was one of the ideas MR readers were really excited about. A thin, light laptop with great battery life for portability - then just plug in an external GPU if you want to do high end gaming. Shame it never really materialised.

I really hope Apple are considering this. They wouldn't even have to really do any work. Just release an SDK to allow this functionality on OS X and 3rd party graphics manufacturers can do the hard part of releasing the hardware. I know it would be massively popular.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cindori Avatar
61 months ago
For all of you complaining about the choice of GPU: There is no GTX 1000 series driver support in macOS. These guys can't change that. It's why they are stuck with 900 series.

I assume these dudes are running Bootcamp. VR software for macOS just doesn't exists. Gaming on macOS? Come on? Seems useful though but a little misleading, No?

I think the idea is to encourage future support for macOS in these sectors.
www.vrdesktop.com (http://www.vrdesktop.com)
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JackANSI Avatar
61 months ago
Well the "Akitio Thunder2" is on amazon for $219 basically the same thing, just stick a gfx card in it
"The PCIe (x16) slot accepts half-length, full-height, double-width cards and provides a maximum of 25W."

Good luck with that.


---------------------------

The project comes five months after Oculus Rift founder Palmer Luckey suggested VR headset support for the Mac was "up to Apple ('https://www.macrumors.com/2016/03/03/oculus-rift-for-mac-requires-better-gpus/')," and that the company needed to "prioritize higher-end GPUs." If Apple builds a machine that can handle the hardware, Oculus VR would "love to support Mac," said Luckey.
I love that burn he laid on Apple. Just freakin' awesome people like that call Apple out on their BS.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
thisisnotmyname Avatar
61 months ago
I'm confused, how is this different from existing thunderbolt pcie enclosures?
With other boxes you can buy it and know it will ship to you. They lack the Vegas like thrill of throwing down money and maybe receiving a product or maybe getting a string of emails talking about how great it will be when you receive it after your tenth schedule delay in 2022.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
moep Avatar
61 months ago
The enclosure seems quite small for a full size card. I wonder if they use MXM modules?

Really? You're marketing to the Apple crowd with money and doing all this work on a external box, cabling, power and what have you and putting in a 950 series nvidia card? Wow. 1060 in the very least.
OS X has no Pascal drivers yet so an enclosure with a 1060 would be an expensive paperweight at this point.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ries Avatar
61 months ago
TB1/TB2 doesn't really support eGPU 100% due to some issues for GFX cards, you have to jump through hoops abit to get it to work somewhat. TB3 added official support for eGPU.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
apple event hashflag

Twitter Hashflag for April 20 Apple Event Goes Live

Tuesday April 13, 2021 2:21 pm PDT by
Following the overnight Siri leak and subsequent announcement that Apple will hold a media event on Tuesday, April 20, a new Twitter hashflag has appeared to help provide visibility for the event on the platform. For the last several recent events, Apple has utilized hashflags, which are little icons next to hashtags on Twitter, as a way to market its events. The company first started the...
macos catalina serial number

Apple Preparing Rollout of New Randomized Product Serial Numbers Ahead of 'Spring Loaded' Event

Wednesday April 14, 2021 2:08 am PDT by
Apple is advising its authorized premium resellers and dealers to prepare for new products with 10 and 12 digital serial numbers, days ahead of when it's expected to reveal a slew of new products. MacRumors previously reported that Apple plans to switch to randomized serial numbers for future products starting in early 2021. The company now seems to be preparing for that roll-out, telling...
iphone12cameras

Kuo: 2022 iPhones to Feature 48-Megapixel Camera, 8K Video, and 6.1 and 6.7" Sizes With No 5.4" Mini Option

Tuesday April 13, 2021 10:45 pm PDT by
The upcoming 2022 iPhone lineup will feature two 6.1-inch devices and two 6.7-inch devices, with no mini-sized 5.4-inch iPhone, well-respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Two of the iPhones will be high-end models and two of the iPhones will be lower-end models, similar to the current iPhone 12 lineup. Apple introduced the 5.4-inch...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...