Apple has implemented the long-awaited support for the operating system macOS to use external graphics cards connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port. However, not all Mac computers will use this new feature, as not all video cards are suitable for connection. In addition, for everything to work, it is also necessary to support the new function with software.
In June last year, Apple announced its plans to implement support for external graphics processors in its operating system macOS. And now, almost a year later, official support has become a reality. With the latest update installed macOS 10.13.4 High Sierra users were able to connect a number of different graphics cards to Mac computers. The connection is made via the Thunderbolt 3 port. Such technical solution allows to increase the productivity of number of tasks, including games and video editing. In addition, Apple particularly said that the new feature, now provided in its operating system for computers, is useful when working with virtual reality.
The support itself did not surprise, because it was planned for a long time. But there are a number of limitations regarding what users can do with external graphics processors connected to computers. First of all, users can choose only from those models that are officially supported. At the same time, Apple only supports some of the AMD Radeon graphics cards. This does not mean that GeForce cards will definitely not work. Some users noted that they worked when the new function of the operating system was at the beta stage. The question remains whether this compatibility will continue.
In addition, users will not gonna be able to use external video cards in the operating system Windows, which works through Boot Camp. However, even the fact that a graphic card is connected to the computer through the Thunderbolt 3 port with the operating system macOS, may not be enough to support the video processor that was provided. Developers need to enable support. The new feature will only work on fairly new Mac computers, since the use of an external graphics processor assumes a very high speed provided by Thunderbolt 3. Among the supporting new function of computers – MacBook 2016 and 2017, iMac 2017 and iMac Pro 2018.
So, if the user has a new computer and uses applications that support the new function, then it will be very useful for those who appreciate the performance of the GPU. The concept of using external video cards is popular in the community of gamers. But the possibility of using additional graphics processors was not available on the Mac.
A huge role in the possibility of using the new function is played by the features of the Thunderbolt 3 port. This technology provides a transfer rate of up to 40 gigabits per second. This speed is sufficient to ensure that between the Mac and the external video processor there is a fast exchange of data necessary for processing textures and rendering data in the game process, and this additional work done by the hardware did not cause any noticeable problems to the user in games, 3D rendering applications the content of virtual reality and other applications for which an additional video card is needed.
The port speed of Thunderbolt 2 is not sufficient to transfer data generated by an external graphics card. Its speed reaches only 20 gigabits per second. Thus, it is four times faster than the usual USB 3.1 Gen 1 port, but this is not enough for an external graphics processor. The speed of data transfer is often determining factor that makes possible the use of a particular new technology.
Thus, for several hundred US dollars the user can make his computer much more productive. The new feature can be especially useful for those who use the MacBook Pro.