Hands-On With Apple's New $699 Blackmagic eGPU
Alongside the new 13 and 15-inch MacBook Pro models introduced last week, Apple also debuted a new eGPU enclosure designed in partnership with Blackmagic.
We picked up one of the new Blackmagic eGPUs to check out its design and the performance that it offers when paired with one of Apple's Macs.
The Blackmagic eGPU is equipped with a Radeon Pro 580 GPU, which was first introduced by AMD in June 2017. It features 8GB VRAM, and it is the same graphics card used in the high-end 2017 iMac.
You can connect the Blackmagic eGPU to any Mac that includes support for Thunderbolt 3, which includes the 2016 and later MacBook Pro models and iMac models produced in 2017.
Design wise, the Blackmagic eGPU features a futuristic looking aluminum enclosure that fits well on a desktop. A thermal grille allows for efficient heat dissipation, letting the included fan run lower, so it's as quiet as 18db.
It includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 4 USB 3.1 ports for connecting accessories, an HDMI port, and 85W of power delivery, so it can also power a MacBook Pro when connected. It is the first eGPU that offers support for the LG UltraFine 5K display.
Unfortunately, the Blackmagic eGPU is not upgradeable, so you're not going to be able to swap out the included graphics card for an upgraded version in the future, which is one of the major downsides to the accessory.
Compared to the graphics cards available in the 2016 and later MacBook Pro models, the Blackmagic eGPU offers much faster performance for tasks like gaming, VR experiences, and graphics-intensive creative work like video editing, 3D graphics work, and more.
In Apple's testing, the Blackmagic eGPU was twice as fast at many tasks as the GPU in the 15-inch 2018 MacBook Pro, and 6 to 7 times faster than the built-in GPU in the 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro. In our own testing with a 15-inch MacBook Pro from 2016, the Blackmagic eGPU offered impressive speeds in OpenCL and Metal tests.
The Blackmagic eGPU is available exclusively from Apple for $699. There appears to be a bit of a backlog, and orders placed today won't deliver until August 9 at the earliest.
What do you think of the Blackmagic eGPU? Do you plan on buying one? Let us know in the comments.