The new Blackmagic eGPU Pro gives your Mac a serious graphics upgrade

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

Right now through the Apple Store you can get the Blackmagic Design eGPU Pro for $1,199. It is essentially an external Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics card in a fancy case with tons of connectivity options. Of course, in reality it's a lot more complicated than that. But if you're working from an Apple device like the Retina MacBook Pro that only uses integrated graphics, this might be the solution to your graphical problems. After all, what good is all that power without a powerful graphics card to take advantage of it?

Along with the RX Vega 56, you'll get 8GB of HDM2 memory, a Thunderbolt 3 cable, 85W power delivery, and a whole bunch of ports on the back. Those ports include two for Thunderbolt 3, one HDMI 2.0, one DisplayPort 1.4, and a four-port USB hub. The more powerful graphics card and the DisplayPort are both new additions to Blackmagic over the $699 original, which uses a Radeon Pro 580.

For comparisons sake, the RX Vega 56 is similar to the graphics card that comes on the $4,500 iMac Pro, and the Radeon Pro 580 comes with the $2,500 iMac. The eGPU would work wonders with either of those machines, too, thanks to eGPU acceleration on certain apps that will allow you to make use of all the graphics power at your disposal.

In addition to the connectivity options, the Blackmagic has a slick design. The chassis is beautiful and will fit with any workstation. There's definitely a reason it's sold alongside Apple's products. Plus, it's very quiet. Near silent. The Blackmagic definitely does some black magic trickery to keep this thing quiet even when it's handling a heavy load, but you'll find the intake fan on the bottom and the exhaust fan on the top rarely disrupt your work or play.

It used to be an external GPU like this was a pipe dream because there was no connection powerful enough to handle that sort of bandwidth, but Thunderbolt 3 is what makes it possible. In fact, if you're using an older machine that doesn't support Thunderbolt 3 you won't get anything out of the Blackmagic. You'll also need to be running the Mojave version of macOS because that's the latest one with support for eGPUs like this. The support you'll get will vary by machine and from program to program. It's only this year that Apple has started building up eGPU support, so expect to run into a few hurdles now and then.

Also, you should know because of the design this is not a machine you can upgrade. It's powerful enough that it will last you years and you'll get a lot of out if it in that time, but eventually the graphics power will become obsolete. Going with something like the $299.99 Razer Core X and installing your own graphics card might be better in the long run if that worries you, but it definitely won't look as pretty.

Remember while this is available for purchase, it won't ship right away. According to the Apple website, delivery starts between Jan. 15 and Jan. 23.

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John Levite

J.D. Levite has been in the deals game since 2012. He has posted daily deals at Gizmodo, The Wirecutter, The Sweethome, and now for Thrifter. He was there for the first Prime Day and has braved the full force of Black Friday. If you cut him, he bleeds savings. But don't try it for real. That's a metaphor.