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Blackmagic eGPU for Apple MacBook Pro reviewed for Adobe Creative Cloud users

Will the new Blackmagic eGPU announced by Apple make your apps run faster on a MacBook Pro? See the review here.

Late last week Apple dropped 2 announcements. The new MacBook Pro with 32 gig of ram (Ill be doing a review next week) and the Blackmagic eGPU.

What’s an eGPU? It stands for external Graphic Processing Unit. You plug your computer into it and it used the built-in video card to speed things up. In this case you get 8Gb of Vram vs 4Gb on the internal card on the faster MacBook Pro available.

Basically its a Hub. You plugin your MacBook Pro. (2016,2017 or 2018 with USB-C ports), The Mac is powered by the USB-C cable and can also use peripherals attached through USB-C or USB. I was able to use a keyboard, mouse, 32 Tb Thunderbay TB3 raid and a Samsung 27″ 4k display and power my 2017 15″ Macbook pro from a single USB-C cable. Very nice!

As far as this setup, it works very well, is almost silent and looks really nice. But it goes downhill fast from there. Watch the video for specific speed tests in Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro.

The specs

Compatible with Mac with Thunderbolt 3 ports (Must have High Sierra installed)

Radeon Pro 580 graphics processor with 8GB of GDDR5 memory

Two Thunderbolt 3 ports

Four USB 3 ports

One HDMI 2.0 port

85W power delivery

Speed tests with Adobe CC

Running tests on Lightroom Classic, Photoshop CC and Premiere Pro CC, I found that gains were very minuscule and in some cases it ran slower. What happened?

It looks like this box is setup to accelerate DiVinci Resolve (also made by Black Magic) it mainly works on metal and OpenCL. Resolve is built using Metal and open CL so it will see nice gains. Apple and Blackmagic collaborated on this device and built it together. As such, my guess is (and purely my guess) other software manufacturers haven’t had the opportunity to test and optimize yet.

In the future maybe Adobe and other software companies will adopt this technology (if it takes off) and build in support for eGPU and see better performance. At the time of this review, you won’t see much in the way of gains using Photoshop and Lightroom. Curious to add, at this point even Apple Final Cut Pro doesn’t use the eGPU for encoding videos. But hey, it’s brand new, let’s see what happens down the road.

I wouldn’t have a problem with all of this, if Apple was a little more forthcoming in their promotion of this. Instead they position it as a solution for all creative pros. (Which is a good thing that Apple are giving attention to creative pros). Apple positions it to sell with the new MacBook Pro and its included on the same page. This is what Apple says on their website

Blackmagic eGPU

Desktop-class graphics without the desktop.

Blackmagic Design has created an external GPU (eGPU) ideal for MacBook Pro. So you can have desktop-class graphics performance without giving up the portability of a notebook. Housed in an all‑in‑one aluminum enclosure, the Blackmagic eGPU is powerful yet quiet, charges your MacBook Pro using Thunderbolt 3, and has built-in I/O connections to drive both a Thunderbolt 3 display and VR accessories simultaneously. With the Blackmagic eGPU and MacBook Pro, you can accelerate pro apps, create VR content, and enjoy supersmooth gaming anywhere you roam.

eGPU support was just recently added to Apple MacBook Pro in macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 and later.

You will see this icon in the tool bar.

 You use it to disconnect from the eGPU when you are finished working and would like to undock.


My conclusion is that this is very new to Apple and we will have to see how it develops down the road. Right now, unless you are using Divinci Resolve, it might be a case of bleeding edge for now. I haven’t tested it on all software though. If you have tried it on other software and have found gains in performance, please add a comment and let us know.




3 responses to “Blackmagic eGPU for Apple MacBook Pro reviewed for Adobe Creative Cloud users”

  1. I haven’t had a chance to play with this much, just got it hooked up, but I wanted to see if I could scroll quicker in Lightroom CC with it (one of the reasons I bought it). It’s slightly better, but still not awesome. I’ll continue to test but may just return it. If you’re on the fence and buying primarily for Lightroom performance, you might wait a bit.

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