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Thread: eGPU recommendation needed for a MacBook Pro Retina

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    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Sea of Cortez, Mexico
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    eGPU recommendation needed for a MacBook Pro Retina

    Like many who use Mac laptops, I'm running into problems when using a variety of software programs (such as Topaz AI Gigapixel and Sharpen AI) due to limited and a non upgradable graphics card on my 2015 MacBook Pro 15" Retina. I've communicated with Joe Fredric, a Support Engineer at Topaz, regarding my issues with Topaz programs that are crippled by their operating speed.

    Joe has been sympathetic, as he has the same problem, and he answered my question with the following response:
    "We certainly understand the processing limitations of Mac laptops, as many of us, creators included, use Macs to work. I'm actually writing from a 2014 MacBook Pro with Intel Iris 5200 Graphics, right now. I totally sympathize with the processing times seen on this hardware, but I also do not expect much from the GPU on this machine. Unfortunately, our proprietary implementation of neural network processing requires that we use OpenGL (it's how we make AI run on your computer, instead of huge server farms). This means that our proprietary implementation will use your graphics card to allow for speedy processing. Further, while we do offer a CPU mode that will prevent your machine from slowing down while processing the image, CPU mode is much much slower than GPU processing. This is also due to the nature of our implementation. Sadly, this cannot be changed. Therefore, users that are hoping to see a marked improvement in processing speed will need to consider the raw power of the hardware they're using, much more so than they consider the entire ecosystem. This means that some Mac users will have more reason to look at the Windows platform that allows for the use of more powerful hardware. Desktop cards will always be more powerful than laptop cards, thanks to their higher TDP (thermal design power) -- basically they can accept more power because they can dissipate heat more effectively. Laptops always have and always will be a form factor of convenience, and not raw power, and so sacrifices are made in areas that are highlighted with an extremely demanding product from our AI lineup. I hope my explanation helps clarify why performance of this product varies by hardware that is used."

    While I understand that more and more programs will be using Artificial Intelligence to improve their performance, I also know that I'm not the only photographer who can't upgrade his or her computer for a good while. I'd rather put the funds, when available, into a newer camera or a better lens.

    I've asked Joe if he has researched the topic of using an eGPU with a MacBook Pro as there are now a number of eGPU's that Apple supports for use with their MacBook Pros. Since I'm perfectly happy with the performance of my 2015 MacBook Pro apart from the limitations imposed by the Graphics cards, I'm wondering if any forum members who own a MacBook Pro have looked into this issue and have purchased or are considering purchasing an eGPU in lieu of upgrading their computer?

    A final note: eGPU's require a USB3 interface, but there are USB2 to USB3 adapters available so that shouldn't be a problem.

    Correction: I just heard back from OWC and they've informed me that a native Thunderbolt 3 port is required on a MBPro. So it looks like a 2016 or later MBPro laptop will be required.

    Question answered.
    Last edited by apocolibri; 8th March 2019 at 07:08.

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