External GPU box for Virtual Reality for portable Macs

VR HeadsetApple recently updated it’s iMacs with Virtual Reality support. Some older high-end computers from Apple, like iMac Retina 5K Late 2015 with R9 M395X graphics are capable to run less resource demanding virtual reality too, but probable the most known virtual reality manufacturer, Oculus Rift, said they won’t support VR on Macs till Apple creates powerful computer. Even Mac Pro with dual AMD FirePro D700 does not meet recommended specs for Virtual Reality. Apple announced iMac Pro too, a powerful machine to support creating of virtual reality, but it will come in December 2017 and the most cheaper iMac Pro starts at 4999 USD.

Laptops are not capable to develop virtual reality, except huge, heavy gaming laptops which cost thousands of USD. But Apple, with partnership with Steam, announced official GPU box with support for next generation of Metal, Metal 2. You need a Mac with Thunderbolt 3 support. Thanks to Metal 2 and AMD Radeon RX 580 8 GB VRAM in this e-GPU kit, you will get GPU powerful enough for creating VR content and to play resource-intensive games with VR headset.

External Graphics Development Kit – official name of this kit – contains AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU and 350 W power supply packed in box with Thunderbolt 3 port and, as “bonus”, USB-C hub with 4x USB ports. For limited amount of customers is available 100 USD price cut for HTC Vive VR headset.

As I said, you need Mac with Thunderbolt 3 or alternatively, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 compatibility, so new MacBooks Pro with Touch Bar are supported, but 12-inch Retina MacBook not.

Unfortunately, this kit is only available to registered developers. But what happens, when registered developer sells his External Graphics Development Kit to someone, who is not registered? It is locked on Apple ID or how? Currently, we don’t know, time will show it. If you are not registered developer or if you don’t have Mac with Thunderbolt 3, you have to look after other eGPU solutions.

And price?

599 USD without taxes in USA. Apple did not announce price outside of USA. In European Union, it should be more expensive, but with taxes. And we must count, that price may vary by country in European Union. Kit will be available since Spring 2018.

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