Apple introduced a $700 device on Thursday called an “eGPU,” made by a company called Blackmagic, that can give a 13-inch MacBook Pro better performance than any 15-inch MacBook Pro that Apple sells.
An eGPU is an enclosure that houses a graphics card, and you can plug it into a MacBook Pro with a USB-C cable, just like you would plug in your laptop’s charger.
Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pros don’t come with graphics card, which are useful for power-hungry tasks, like photo and video editing, as well as playing games. That’s a privilege reserved for the 15-inch models. Adding an eGPU to the 13-inch MacBook Pro helps bridge the performance gap with the 15-inch models.
Plugging in the Blackmagic eGPU to the 13-inch MacBook Pro would actually give you much better performance than any 15-inch MacBook Pro that Apple sells. The Blackmagic eGPU comes with an AMD Radeon RX 580 graphics card, which is significantly more powerful than the Radeon RX 560x that’s in the high-end 2018 MacBook Pro.
It also means you get the portability of a 13-inch laptop with the option of adding the performance of a larger laptop, or even a full-size desktop.
The thing is, there are already other eGPU options made by a company called Gigabyte that are cheaper for the exact same performance. Some even offer better performance for less or the same price as the Blackmagic eGPU.
Check them out:
The Gaming Box RX 580 8G Graphic Card eGPU by Gigabyte has the same graphics card as Apple’s Blackmagic eGPU, but costs $200 less.
As its name implies, Gigabyte’s $500 Gaming Box RX 580 8G Graphic Card eGPU comes with an AMD Radeon RX580, the exact same card you’d find in the $700 Blackmagic eGPU.
In all fairness, I haven’t tried either the Blackmagic eGPU or Gigabyte’s own eGPU. Still, I can’t imagine that Blackmagic’s model includes $200 worth of extras that make it worth buying over Gigabyte’s.
And if you want better performance than the Blackmagic eGPU, there’s the $615 Aorus GTX 1070 Gaming Box, also by Gigabyte.
The $615 Gigabyte AORUS GTX 1070 Gaming Box comes with Nvidia’s GTX 1070 graphics card, which is more powerful than the graphics card in the Blackmagic eGPU sold by Apple. That’s $85 less for better performance.
And for significantly better performance for the same price as the Blackmagic eGPU, there’s the Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080 Gaming Box.
The $700 Gigabyte Aorus GTX 1080 Gaming Box comes with NVidia’s GTX 1080 graphics card, which is better than the GTX 1070, and significantly better than AMD’s Radeon RX580 for the same price as the Blackmagic eGPU.
Alternatively, you could always buy an eGPU enclosure and graphics card of your choice separately.
You could buy a eGPU enclosure on its own, like the $300 Razer Core, and add whatever graphics card you want, like the $280-$350 Nvidia GTX 1060 below. You’d still get similar power as the Blackmagic eGPU for up to $120 less.