Accelerating the late 2016 MacBook Pro with an external graphics card

Thursday, 02 February 2017

Bare Feats have been testing the new AKiTiO Node eGFX Box with their late 2016 MacBook Pro. This full-bandwidth Thunderbolt 3-connected cage can connect standard NVIDIA graphics cards to the Mac. Along with many graphs showing how much better every benchmark runs with different cards compared with the best possible internal GPU from Apple (the 4GB AMD Radeon Pro 460) they conclude:

The AKiTiO Node eGFX Box is the first Thunderbolt 3 GPU expander we have tested that is macOS friendly, runs at full Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth, has a built-in power supply, and ships with a 2 meter Thunderbolt 3/USB-C cable. And with the array of compatible NVIDIA GPUs to choose from, you can be confident that it will not only support your CUDA capable apps, but will accelerate OpenGL and OpenCL capable apps beyond what the MacBook Pro's discrete AMD GPU is able to do.

Rob ‘Art’ Morgan of Bare Feats later tweeted Final Cut Pro X-specific information. X will take advantage of the external GPU in the Node eGFX box if it has a display attached:

FCPX 10.3.2 works if external display connected to GPU in Node. During Directional Blur render, 70% load on 980 Ti, 0% on 480.

He tweeted a graph of how much Final Cut lays off GPU processing to an external graphics card:

Looking forward to Bare Feats adding some Final Cut tests using this setup soon!