Apple reveals graphics turbocharger as macOS gets support for external GPUs

Apple let loose with plenty of Mac goodness at WWDC yesterday, but one thing you might have missed is that as well as announcing official support for the HTC Vive and Steam VR on Mac, the company also revealed an official first-party external GPU enclosure to supercharge its computers.

This means that older MacBooks and iMacs with weaker graphics solutions (most obviously integrated GPUs) will be able to obtain the firepower to develop VR content or play virtual reality games (or indeed any games) by plugging in such a box, with no need for any workarounds whatsoever (as required by existing solutions).

Apple revealed that the next version of macOS, High Sierra – alongside its freshly revamped Metal 2 graphics tech – adds support for external GPUs via the Thunderbolt 3 port.

And the company is coming straight out with a graphics enclosure kit built around an AMD Radeon RX 580 (running off a 350W power supply) aimed at developers using the beta version of High Sierra.

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Devs only

The official name of the product is the External Graphics Development Kit and it’s aimed at VR content creation (or any demanding graphics application, for that matter), with the price pitched at $599 (around £465, AU$800). Only those signed up for the Apple Developer Program can buy the box currently.

Also note that there’s limited availability even then, and purchasing developers get a $100 (around £80, AU$135) promotion code towards buying an HTC Vive headset, meaning that going all-in with the full VR package will be slightly cheaper.

As for the consumer version of the graphics enclosure, apparently Apple is looking at a spring 2018 launch date, so we’ve still got a bit of a wait for this product to go mainstream.

Apple was certainly pushing virtual reality with the Mac at WWDC, and on-stage demos included an Industrial Light and Magic wizard creating a computer-generated scene from Star Wars in real-time using the HTC Vive’s controller as a palette.

Via: The Verge

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).