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Home / Technology / Blackmagic eGPU Pro mini review: Quiet, fast, and extremely expensive-like a Mac

Blackmagic eGPU Pro mini review: Quiet, fast, and extremely expensive-like a Mac



Samuel Axon

There are many criticisms of Apple's Mac products, but most of them cited that they often do not have graphics that are comparable to what you see in similarly priced Windows machines. Unfortunately, the company currently offers no desktop in which you could, say, slot two

Some of that could change when Apple moves to its own on Macs or when it introduces a New Mac Pro. But for now, the company's official answer to this line of criticism is doubling down on external GPU support in macOS. Support for this started during the High Sierra Cycle and was expanded in some helpful ways in last year's Mojave OS release.

In addition to providing software support for eGPUs, Apple has developed what is more or less its official version of the eGPU solution Apple's recommended external displays for a while now. The company did so by partnering with hardware maker Blackmagic Design, an Australia-based company that specializes in products for video professionals. The first eGPU from Blackmagic included with AMD Radeon Pro 580 and was priced at $ 699. It's a quiet and easy-to-use GPU, and the GPU was a big upgrade over the integrated graphics in many Macs-we wished a higher-end GPU option was offered for creative professionals and hardcore gamers who needed more.

Enter the Blackmagic eGPU Pro. At $ 1199, it includes a Radeon RX Vega 56. And in theory, that's a big upgrade. So far, some basic benchmarks have been published in the recent model.

Specifications

As it is already known, the most important spec to consider here is the GPU itself: a Radeon RX Vega 56 with 8GB of HBM2 memory. That's a high-end GPU workstation designed for tasks like 3D modeling, and it's faster than even the top Vega GPUs available in the MacBook Pro or iMac (the mid-range Radeon Pro Vega 20 and 48, respectively). [19659010] It's the same GPU as you'll find in the iMac Pro base, which starts at $ 5,000. $ 500 or $ 700 for the Radeon Pro Vega 64 or 64X with 16GB of HMB2.

The Blackmagic eGPU Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac, and it has two ports, four USB 3 ports (Type A), to HDMI 2.0 port, and a DisplayPort 1.4 port. It's capable of delivering 85W of Mac Mac which is good enough to keep any Mac laptop running. For a hot minute, some macOS releases supported eGPUs over Thunderbolt 2.

The box includes the eGPU itself, a half-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable, and a power cable-there's no external power brick. 11.59 x 6.96 x 6.96 inches (29.44 x 17.68 x 17.68 cm) and weighs 9.92 pounds (4.5 kg).

Design

There are no translations for this product what we said about the Blackmagic eGPU last August. As far as we can tell, the chassis is the same. It's just the GPU inside that's different.

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro attempts to minimize its footprint on your desk by being tall. Its obelisk-like design is unusual; folks passing by your desk might have to venture out a few weeks before figuring out what it is. The Pro's design can definitely be described as minimalist, but it's the same time just a touch too flashy for my tastes. That's subjective, though. Despite these efforts to lower its footprint, the overall volume is a little bulkier than we'd like. There are actually smaller eGPU enclosures on the market. But Blackmagic prioritized quietness above all else.

And what's the case with the slower model last year, Blackmagic has succeeded on that front, and that's really what you're paying for. If there's a eGPU enclosure that runs quieter than either of Blackmagic's eGPUs, I've never seen it myself. The eGPU Pro is only audible in an otherwise silent room, and even then, it's subtle. In fact, it's certainly quieter than a MacBook Pro with fans fully revved up. Chances are, if you've got a desk covered in computers and peripherals, this is going to be one of the quieter devices sitting there.

There's another positive to consider here. This thing has a ton of ports, and the Thunderbolt ports can be daisy-chained to a point. So the odds are you'll end up having just one wire connected to your Mac: the Thunderbolt 3 port from this eGPU. This does not just make it a decent port hub.

Given that the best-powered Thunderbolt 3 and USB hubs can run more than $ 300, this value just beats the eGPU's price just a bit. That's obviously no consolation.

Listing image by Samuel Axon


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