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MacOS Now Officially Supports External GPUs

Apple has finally provided MacOS with proper support for external GPUs, but there are a few catches.

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Back around June of last year, Apple hit the news cycle with word that MacOS would soon gain support for external GPUs. It was good news for power-minded users: while Mac hardware typically isn't part of the PC gaming conversation, the ability to connect a capable graphics card externally would surely bolster performance for those who get their thrills through Apple technology. Now, not quite a year later, external GPU support has finally arrived in MacOS, though users will note that there are a few specific limitations.

First, users will note that not all external graphics cards are supported — in fact, according to the Apple support website, it looks like only a specific set of graphics cards are officially supported, including AMD Radeon RX 570, 580, and Pro WX 7100 GPUs alongside the RX Vega 56, Vega 64, and Vega Frontier Edition Air GPUs. This isn't to say that other graphics cards like the GeForce GTX 1070 won't work, but making use of such hardware will likely be far less straightforward than using these specific Radeon offerings.

Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Boxes are among Apple's list of recommended external graphics enclosures.

MacOS users will also find that external graphics support is entirely software-dependent: if the app or program in question hasn't been designed to make use of an external GPU enclosure, users may as well not have an external GPU at all. Lastly, and perhaps obviously, support for graphics enclosures only extends to Thunderbolt 3-equipped systems, including late-model 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros and iMacs.

While Windows-oriented PC gamers may not see the appeal of connecting a bulky external GPU enclosure to a slim and svelte Apple laptop, the fact remains that the choice now exists for those power users who need the additional grunt. After all, having the option is better than having no option at all. Plus, with the potential for added power on-hand, software studios may begin developing more robust game and VR experiences specifically for Apple hardware.

Guides Editor

Kevin Tucker is a core component of Shacknews' powerful guide development team. For questions, concerns, tips, or to share constructive criticism, he can be reached on Twitter @dukeofgnar or through e-mail at kevin.tucker@shacknews.com.

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