In July 2018, Apple announced the $699 Blackmagic eGPU, an external GPU it developed with Blackmagic Design that’s based around a Radeon Pro 580 with 8GB of video memory. In October the two companies announced the the $1,199 Blackmagic eGPU Pro, an external graphics processor featuring the AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics processor.
Neither are upgradeable. And there’s no trade-in program for upgrading from the non-pro to the pro version, but there should be.
Apple says the Blackmagic eGPU should give 2.8x faster graphics performance on the 15-inch MacBook Pro and 8x faster on the 13-inch. Featuring the Radeon Pro 580 graphics processor with 8GB of GDDR5 memory, the Blackmagic eGPU sports two Thunderbolt ports, four USB 3 ports, four UBS 3 ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, and 85W power delivery.
Apple says the Blackmagic eGPU Pro delivers nearly twice the performance of the Blackmagic eGPU model and up to 22x faster performance than the built-in graphics on a 13-inch MacBook Pro. It features a DisplayPort connection that can drive a 5K display. It boasts 8GB of HBM2 RAM, a 2048-bit memory interface with 410 gigabyte per second bandwidth, and 56 discreet compute units for up to 10.5 teraflops of processing power.
If I had purchased the Blackmagic eGPU in July, then a better model debuted three months later, I’d be very unhappy that I couldn’t upgrade. What’s more, I’d be hesitate to buy any more of the Apple/Blackmagic collaborations, expecting an even better model (the eGPU Pro 2?) would arrive within the year.
Apple is pushing eGPUs for use with its laptops and the new Mac mini. But if the tech giant wants to get a share of the external GPU market, it either needs to: make eGPUs that are upgradeable, or offer a trade-in program for them like it does with Macs.
Until one of those two things happens, I’ll buy a third party eGPU that’s upgradeable.