Right on the heels of Apple discontinuing its Thunderbolt display, the rumor mill is picking up: Apple’s next monitor might integrate its own GPU.
John Paczkowski, Managing Editor at BuzzFeed, made the claim based of off unnamed sources:
Thunderbolt Display takes dirt nap as expected. Sources telling me next-gen display will indeed have integrated GPU https://t.co/kx6n0vQGMf
— John Paczkowski (@JohnPaczkowski) June 24, 2016
There are two reasons why having an integrated GPU could be amazing. First off, the panel is rumored to be 5K, like the 5K iMac. Problem is, that resolution is too much Macs to handle over a single cable. An integrated GPU could offload the processing to the display itself.
Secondly – and this one’s much more of a stretch – Apple could actually put in a powerful GPU in there. One that could support high resolution gaming and video editing normally reserved for more powerful desktop rigs.
In effect, this could make future MacBooks work something like the Razer Blade Stealth and the Razer Core, outfitting a slim laptop with an external desktop-class graphics card.
For this to work, future MacBooks would have to be equipped with Thunderbolt 3 instead of the current Thunderbolt 2 to support most of the throughput of a desktop-class graphics card. That will almost certainly happen, given Apple already moved to a USB-C connector with the redesigned 12-inch MacBook, and Thunderbolt 3 operates through USB-C.
It’s also worth noting that, Apple could support any external Thunderbolt 3 GPU dock if it wanted to – like the above Razer Core – as Intel made graphics card support part of the spec. But it’s very unlikely Apple will bake third-party support into
OS X macOS, because Apple prefers you buy its own products.
That’s why integrating a GPU into a 5K monitor itself would be a perfect solution. If it already has to include a GPU at all, Apple might as well add throw in some perks, and the monitor will already be large enough that a decent GPU shouldn’t occupy much space. Most importantly, it means Apple gets to sell more fancy monitors while also appeasing gamers and video professionals.
Still, I wouldn’t hold my breath. It’s more likely Apple will just put in as powerful of a GPU as it needs to be to drive the display. But a man can imagine.