Well, here’s a surprise: at WWDC 2017, Apple officially acknowledged support for external graphics enclosures (also known as eGPUs), devices that allow you to attach a dedicated graphics card to your computer, usually through a Thunderbolt 3 port.
Even more surprising, Apple is selling an external graphics enclosure in the form of a developer kit with an AMD Radeon 580 (we’ll post a link here once available). The kit is uses a Sonnet External GPU enclosure with a 350-watt power supply, and comes with an AMD Radeon RX 580, USB C hub, and $100 Vive discount for $599, which seems like a reasonable price. You should be able to install your own graphics card into the kit as well – though I imagine Apple has optimized performance for the 580.
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To be clear, you’ve been able to add existing external graphics enclosures like the Razer Core to the Mac for some time, though it might have required a bit of elbow grease. An official acknowledgement from Apple, however, is a big change of pace. Maybe that’s why Nvidia decided to finally create Pascal drivers for the Mac.
Though Apple posited the announcement as a way for developers to create apps and games running Metal 2, Apple’s newest graphics software standard, it’s clear the company is taking external graphics seriously for consumers now; the company specifically mentioning using external GPUs for powering virtual reality experiences on macOS High Sierra.
And it makes total sense – it’s an easy way for Apple to add graphics horsepower without bulking up its laptops. It’s a welcome move that gives me some hope the company does care a little bit about gamers after all.
If you want to order a dev kit of your own, you can head over to Apple’s developer page.
Follow all our WWDC 2017 coverage here.