How Much Boost Does a 13-inch MacBook Pro Get From An eGPU?
February 9th, 2018, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist
Feb 16th - corrected label on DaVinci graph
A Thunderbolt 3 eGPU box with a high-end AMD GPU should provide a big performance boost when connected to 13-inch MacBook Pro with 'wimpy' Integrated Intel Iris graphics? We decided to see how much of a boost.
iMac Pro Vega 64 - iMac Pro (2017) with 8-Core 3.2GHz Intel Xeon W and Pro Vega 64 GPU.
rMBP13 Vega Frontier - MacBook Pro (13-inch,2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) with 3.3GHz Dual Core-i7 processor connected to the AKiTiO Node Pro PCIe Expansion Box via Thunderbolt 3 port; Two of the Vega GPU's DataPorts were connected directly to the dual DataPorts on the Dell 5K UP2715K display.
rMBP13 Iris 550 - MacBook Pro (13-inch,2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) with 3.3GHz Dual Core-i7 processor and Intel Iris Graphics 550 connected via Thunderbolt 3 to the LG UltraFine 5K Thunderbolt 3 display.
Both Macs were running macOS 10.13.4 beta 1.
Using the built-in Benchmark mode, we selected Medium preset at 2560x1440 Fullscreen, disabled Vsync, and disabled MSAA. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
Total War: WARHAMMER
Using the built-in 'dwarfs versus greenskins' Benchmark, we selected "High" preset, 2560x1440, full screen. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
Using a recorded 2 minute flight of the SR-71 Blackbird, we started up benchmarking mode from the Terminal app specifying 2560x1440, full screen, circle view, high quality (fps_test=3). (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
Built-in Benchmark was run using HIGH preset at 2560x1440 Fullscreen. (HIGHER Frames per Second = FASTER)
This two minute OpenCL Benchmark uses the selected GPU to render the LuxBall Scene. (HIGHER KSamples per Second = FASTER)
GeekBench 4 OpenCL
Measures the OpenCL performance of the selected GPU from image processing to computer vision to number crunching, a relevant and complex challenge. (HIGHER Score = FASTER)
GeekBench 4 Metal
Measures the Metal performance of the selected GPU from image processing to computer vision to number crunching, a relevant and complex challenge. (HIGHER Score = FASTER)
DaVinci Resolve 14.3
Using the Candle project, we measured how fast it could playback the 117 frame video clip while rendering ONE node of noise reduction in real time. GPU Processing mode was set to OpenCL
WHAT DID WE LEARN?
At "home base," your 13-inch MacBook Pro with the relative weak integrated Intel Iris Graphics will see a big boost in GPU intensive apps if you are so inclined to add a beefy eGPU box and high-end GPU.
As you can see from the graphs, we included the iMac Pro with Pro Vega 64 GPU to show that the eGPU with a Vega Frontier Edition won't transform your 13-inch MacBook Pro into a 'fire breathing' gaming desktop. But at least it becomes 'competitive.'
The pure GPU tests (LuxMark, Geekbench, DaVinci Resolve) showed the MacBook Pro with eGPU keeping up or even beating the iMac Pro. It did NOT, however, attain the game performance of the iMac Pro. Why? Because games use mixture of CPU and GPU.
The AKiTiO Node Pro PCIe Expansion Box we used as an eGPU is a much improved design over the Node from the beefier 500W PSU to longer, thicker screws for easy install/de-install of GPU.
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WHERE TO BUY THE AMD RADEON RX VEGA 64 GPU
B&H Photo Video sells various brands of AMD Radeon Vega GPUs. Check also with NewEgg. CryptoCurrency Mining using OpenCL has caused a shortage and price rise. NowInStock.net tracks pricing and availability of the RX Vega 64 and Vega Frontier Edition.
What about NVIDIA Pascal GPUs like the TITAN Xp and 1080 Ti? They currently do not work with eGPUs under High Sierra 10.13.3 or later. Once they do, we will jump at the chance to include them in the test mix.
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copyright 2017 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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