Apple's new M1-powered Macs don't seem to support eGPUs

Blackmagic eGPU Pro
Blackmagic eGPU Pro (Image credit: Blackmagic)

What you need to know

  • Apple announced three new Macs today, all powered by the new M1 SoC.
  • But none of those machines appear to support eGPUs.
  • References to eGPUs have been removed from technical specifications for all new M1-powered Macs.

Apple today announced three new Macs, all powered by the fancy new Apple M1 SoC. And while the refreshed Mac mini, MacBook Air, and 13-inch MacBook Pro are all nice and quick it seems anyone wanting to beef up their graphical performance might be out of luck. It doesn't appear that any of the new M1-powered Macs support external GPUs (eGPU).

People have been using eGPUs to augment the graphical power of their Macs for years, mainly because the chips that come inside Macs aren't normally particularly speedy in terms of gaming or heavy video and photo workflows. But if the new Macs' technical specifications are anything to go by – and they should be – eGPUs are out.

M1 Mac Mini Accessories

M1 Mac Mini Accessories (Image credit: iMore)

Checking the specifications for any new M1 Mac shows the distinct lack of any mention of the eGPU options. But if you instead look at Intel versions of existing machines, the Blackmagic eGPUs are listed.

Intel Mac Mini Accessories

Intel Mac Mini Accessories (Image credit: iMore)

There are a couple of possibilities here. The first is that Apple isn't writing software drivers that will make eGPUs, made by other companies, work on their new chips. That means leaving users stuck with the internal GPU which could be fine. But it probably won't be, especially if you want to game on a Mac. The second is that this is just an oversight and eGPUs will work fine. I suspect it's for the former, unfortunately.

I've reached out to Apple for clarification and I'll update this post once I get it.

Oliver Haslam
Contributor

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

3 Comments
  • It was interesting to note that Apple mentioned that TensorFlow would run on the M1 GPU.
  • Not exactly. They were talking about using TensorFlow models, which are ML models created by TensorFlow.
  • I'm going to guess that the M1 currently doesn't support enough PCI lanes to support an eGPU. This would also explain why there's only 2 Thunderbolt ports.