Official Apple user support for external Thunderbolt 3 GPUs not coming until Spring 2018

in macOS
While Apple did announce official support for Thunderbolt 3 eGPU implementations, a footnote nestled deep in the High Sierra preview page declares that user support in a non-beta fashion won't be available to users until Spring 2018.

Apple's note on the matter springs from the "Virtual reality for Mac" section. In the section, Apple notes that the HTC Vive VR headset is supported on Mac with "the new iMac with Retina5Kdisplay, the new iMacPro coming in late 2017, or any supported Mac paired with an external GPU."

Following that sentence, is a link to footnote 3 on the same page, noting that the external GPU expansion capability is "planned for spring 2018."

AppleInsider has briefly examined eGPU support in macOS High Sierra, and has discovered that third-party hardware and video cards work the same as the developer's kit should. There are notable pre-release testing issues according to Apple's developer notes, including:
  • Lack of support for mirrored displays

  • No "clamshell mode" support

  • No support for HDMI audio

  • AutoLogin failure when EGPU is attached

  • No acceleration of internal display on iMac, MacBook Pro

  • 60W of charging power, not 87W

  • No support for USB-C displays

  • No sleep support for attached mac -- but display sleep is fine
Apple's developer kit for external Thunderbolt 3 GPU testing costs $599 and includes a Sonnet external GPU chassis with Thunderbolt 3 and 350-watt power supply, an AMD Radeon RX 580 8-gigabyte graphics cards, a Belkin USB-C to 4-port USB-A hub, and a promo code for $100 towards the purchase of an HTC Vive VR headset. Macs with Thunderbolt 2 ports are compatible with third-party eGPU enclosures, but Apple lists it as an "unsupported configuration."

To go along with Apple's VR and eGPU initiative, Valve launched its own first beta of SteamVR for the Mac on Monday, giving early testers the ability to sample virtual reality experiences on compatible Macs.

AppleInsider will be examining the Apple eGPU developer's kit and will further examine support in the coming days. MacOS High Sierra's first release to the general public is expected in the fall of 2017.


  • Reply 1 of 5
    frantisekfrantisek Posts: 755member
    Prepping for new Mac Pro?
  • Reply 2 of 5
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,715member
    Ot maybe they're just beta testing it now so they make sure its done right the first time. I'd rather they do this than rush something out and have it be buggy or not efficient. 
  • Reply 3 of 5
    tipootipoo Posts: 1,140member
    Wonder if Thunderbolt 4 will be out by Spring 2018. Then Macs on that should lose almost no GPU performance to TBs lower bandwidth than PCI-E. 
  • Reply 4 of 5
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,728administrator
    tipoo said:
    Wonder if Thunderbolt 4 will be out by Spring 2018. Then Macs on that should lose almost no GPU performance to TBs lower bandwidth than PCI-E. 
    There's no sign of it from Intel yet, as far as I am aware.
  • Reply 5 of 5
    Maybe TensorFlow will support GPU compute on Macs again in Summer 2018? Otherwise, deep learning devs on MacOS will need to continue using virtual private servers/computers for even moderate tasks. 
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