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.
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.