Help Me, Laptop: I Want an eGPU for My MacBook Pro

As part of a recent update to macOS High Sierra, Apple has enabled the use of certain eGPUs with its MacBooks. And reader sivagray wrote in asking how they can get one to work with theirs. Specifically, they planned to pair it with an AMD Radeon RX 580.

I have an early 2011 MacBook Pro with following specs,” sivagray wrote. And then I didn’t need to read the specs, because I already knew the problem.

Even though they’re on the right version of macOS, High Sierra OS 10.13.4, our reader can’t use an eGPU with their MacBook Pro. Support for eGPUs requires a Thunderbolt 3 port, which didn’t start on MacBook Pros until 2016. That means you need either a 2016 or 2017 MacBook Pro (or, if you have a desktop, a 2017 4K or 5K iMac or iMac Pro).

So there’s problem number one. They’ll need a new MacBook Pro. Now, if sivagray did have a compatible laptop, the RX 580 should work. It’s on the list of supported cards, all of which are currently from AMD. We recapped the list of supported cards and chassis options here.

MORE: Which GPU is Right For You?

We’ve reviewed a number of eGPU enclosures here.

And if sivagray or anyone else intends on using a supported MacBook for gaming with an eGPU, there’s more you may have to buy, like a monitor. Apple’s own reference page states that you can play games “when an external monitor is attached directly to the eGPU.” To use your Mac’s built-in display, you have to count on app developers to update their apps.

As nice as it would be to just plug any eGPU into any Mac and have it work, you need the right ports and the right tools. In this case, the user doesn’t, so it may be time for them to update. They may want to check out our review of the most recent MacBook Pro.

Credit: Laptop Mag