Apple Shares Recommended Graphics Cards and Chassis in New eGPU Support Document for macOS High Sierra 10.13.4

macOS 10.13.4, released to the public yesterday afternoon, introduces official support for eGPUs (external graphics processors) on Thunderbolt 3 Macs. Alongside the release, Apple has published a detailed support document that outlines how eGPU support works and provides graphic card and chassis recommendations for use with your Mac.

One or more eGPUs can be used with the 2016 MacBook Pro and later, the 2017 iMac and later, and the iMac Pro, so long as macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 is installed. Apple has added eGPU support for graphic-intensive operations like using VR headsets, 3D gaming, and developing VR apps.

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Apple’s support document outlines all supported eGPU configurations, with Apple recommending only AMD Radeon cards. There are no supported Nvidia cards.

It’s also worth noting that Apple has eliminated support for some cards that were supported during the beta, such as the AMD RX 560.

It's important to use an eGPU with a recommended graphics card and Thunderbolt 3 chassis. And if you're using a MacBook Pro, the eGPU's Thunderbolt 3 chassis needs to provide sufficient power to run the graphics card while charging the computer.

Apple recommends AMD Polaris, Vega 56, and Vega 64 graphics cards, paired with a specific Thunderbolt 3 chassis. For the AMD Radeon RX 570, RX 580, and Radeon Pro WX 7100 cards (of which Apple recommends the Sapphire Pulse series and the AMD WX series), Apple recommends the following Thunderbolt 3 chassis:

  • OWC Mercury Helios FX3
  • PowerColor Devil Box
  • Sapphire Gear Box
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350W
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W
  • Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W

For the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 cards, Apple recommends the Sapphire Vega 56 and the XFX Vega 56 with the OWC Mercury Helios FX, PowerColor Devil Box, Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550W, or Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W.

The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650W is the only chassis recommended for AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition Air, and Radeon Pro WX 9100 graphics cards, while the only recommended all-in-one eGPU product is the Sonnet Radeon RX 570 eGFX Breakaway Puck.

For the MacBook Pro, eGPUs and accompanying TB3 chassis must be able to provide sufficient power to run the graphics card while also charging the computer. In the case of the 15-inch model, that means the chassis needs to support at least 85W of charging power.

Apple says eGPU support has been designed to accelerate Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL apps that benefit from more graphics power, and not all apps will support eGPU acceleration. Apple says eGPUs will work with most of the following types of apps:

  • Pro applications designed to utilize multiple GPUs
  • 3D games, when an external monitor is attached directly to the eGPU
  • VR applications, when the VR headset is attached directly to the eGPU
  • Pro applications and 3D games that accelerate the built-in display of an iMac or MacBook Pro. (This capability must be enabled by the application’s developer.)

Multiple eGPUs can be used together, but Apple recommends users connect eGPUs directly to the Mac instead of daisy-chaining them through another Thunderbolt device or hub.

macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 does not support eGPUs in Windows using Boot Camp, when the Mac is in macOS Recovery, or when system updates are being installed.

Top Rated Comments

bladerunner2000 Avatar
38 months ago
WHY are Nvidia GPUs not supported???
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Regime2008 Avatar
38 months ago
Nvidia > AMD gpu's. Not a smart choice to disregard Nvidia support.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Cougarcat Avatar
38 months ago
No nVidia support means I’m not holding my breath for nVidia options in the new Mac Pro.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ActionableMango Avatar
38 months ago
"Not supported" and "not compatible" are completely different things.

Most common Nvidia cards are compatible with Mac, they just aren't supported by Apple. You have to download the drivers from Nvidia. Nvidia continues to provide MacOS display drivers and MacOS CUDA drivers for their cards.

There are many people using "not supported" 980, 1080, Titans, etc. just fine...either internally (PCIe Mac Pro) or externally in a Thunderbolt enclosure.

There are a couple of cards that have poor compatibility, so do your research first.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lestdog Avatar
38 months ago
I don't get it. What is it with Apples bias towards AMD? Nvidia kills AMD in GPU rendering and 3D partical simulations. Cinema4D integrated pro render and frankly it just sucks.

Oh well, another Apple mystery.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ikir Avatar
38 months ago
Nvidia > AMD gpu's. Not a smart choice to disregard Nvidia support.
Totally untrue. AMD now beats Nvidia in many ways: eGPU support, macOS drivers especially Metal and OpenCL completely destroy Nvidia which Mac drivers are becoming a joke. Vega architecture is awesome.
And beside this it is Nvidia fault, also when they understood they are far behind, announced eGPU "support" partner ship with infamous software thief BizonBox for overpriced, unofficial, hacked eGPU. Nice Nvidia....
[doublepost=1522437633][/doublepost]
Does anyone know if having a eGPU gives any performance benefits to a brand new 5K iMac? I mean does the eGPU power the iMac screen at all?
Only Metal and OpenCL. OpenGL only is dev support it. eGPU is more for future Mac Pro, Mac mini and nowadays MacBook Pro. Anyway you can still use an external display with iMac and use 100% eGPU power.
[doublepost=1522437724][/doublepost]
Vega 64 barely matches GTX 1080. (Even my PC has a 1080 Ti, full disclosure.) We are still waiting for Nvidia driver for 10.13.4
Not true at all. Vega destroy 1080 ti even with the old beta bugged and slow drivers
http://barefeats.com/early_vega.html
Anyway Nvidia drivers for macOS are terrible and especially not stable
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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