The Best External GPU for a MacBook Pro



Summary List



8.40/10


1.
Premium pick:
Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5500 XT






8.60/10


2.
Editors choice:
Razer Core X






8.00/10


3.
Best value:
Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro V2






8.60/10


4.
Razer Core X Chroma






10.00/10


5.
Cooler Master MasterCase EG200






7.80/10


6.
Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750






6.60/10


7.
Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750ex





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The idea of an external graphics card (eGPU) was once the talk of fantasy, but that's no longer the case. Thanks to Thunderbolt 3 and its high-bandwidth 40Gbps transfer rate, external enclosures can now accommodate high-end graphics cards.

That means you can now supercharge the graphics performance of your Mac computer, even if it's a laptop. There are some caveats to doing this. You'll need a Mac with an Intel processor and an AMD graphics card.

That said, here are the best external GPUs for a MacBook Pro.













Premium pick
1. Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5500 XT






8.40 / 10

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Sonnet is no stranger to offering the best external GPUs for Mac. Its Thunderbolt 3 eGPUs were the first to be recommended by Apple, and the new eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5500 XT is no exception. It's a Thunderbolt 3 all-in-one eGPU sporting an AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT graphics card with 4GB of GDDR6 video memory.

You're getting serious power for professional creative workflows, including editing, rendering, and animating. But the best part is that you get an actual GPU, which is a big win since it's becoming increasingly difficult to secure one due to the global chip shortage and cryptocurrency miners.

In addition to the HDMI and DisplayPort connections, the second Thunderbolt 3 port also supports external displays, including the 6K Apple Pro Display XDR. There are additional ports for you to connect USB accessories and expand the functionality of your Mac. You also get 60W of power to charge your MacBook Pro.



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Key Features

Features Radeon RX 5500 XT GPU
Supports up to three 4K displays
Supports 6K displays and 49-inch 5120x1440 Dual QHD monitors
60W laptop charging power




Specifications


Brand: Sonnet

GPU Included: AMD Radeon RX 5500 XT

GPU Max Power: Not provided

GPU Max Size: Up to 2-slot card

External Power Required: Yes

Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 3, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0, 2x USB 3.2 Type-A





Pros

Compact and portable
Powerful Radeon RX 5500 XT GPU
Many video connectivity options
Charges your MacBook



Cons

No GPU upgrade options
Large power brick




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Editors choice
2. Razer Core X






8.60 / 10

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The Razer Core X is well-suited for high-powered graphics cards, such as the AMD Radeon Pro cards and the latest Radeon RX 6000 Series cards. It's easy to see why. This eGPU enclosure delivers up to 500W of power to the GPU and 100W to charge your Mac, ideal for use with the 15-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

The enclosure sports a classic tool-less slide and lock design, so you don't need any tools to upgrade or replace your GPU. It's optimized for cooling, thanks to the open vents and aluminum body for increased heat dissipation. The Core X also runs pretty quietly, even when pushed to the max. You can safely use it in your office or any work setting.

Another excellent highlight of the Core X is that you get plenty of options for choosing a GPU. The enclosure can fit up to three-slot wide, full-length PCIe desktop graphics cards and has enough juice to power almost every AMD card in the market.



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Key Features

One PCIe 3.0 x16 slot
Built-in 650W power supply
100W laptop power delivery
Tool-less design




Specifications


Brand: Razer

GPU Included: No

GPU Max Power: 500W

GPU Max Size: Up to 3-slot card

External Power Required: Yes

Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3





Pros

Support for workstation GPUs
Plug and play on Mac
Charges your MacBook
Tool-less, easy upgradeable design



Cons

Lacks USB 3.0 ports




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Best value
3. Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro V2






8.00 / 10

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The Mantiz MZ-03 Saturn Pro V2 is the best budget external GPU enclosure for MacBook Pro. It is cheaper than the Razer Core X despite supplying a whopping 550W of power to the GPU and 97W laptop charging power. It also offers five USB ports, a Gigabit Ethernet plug, and a SATA III port for an additional storage drive.

It's a great option if you don't want to spend a lot on an eGPU enclosure and still want the ability to run powerful graphics cards. The MZ-03 Saturn Pro V2 uses separate Thunderbolt 3 controllers for the GPU and I/O, meaning you'll get maximum performance from your card even with multiple USB accessories connected.

The only downside with this enclosure is that it supports up to 2.75-slot cards, while the Razer X supports bigger 3-slot cards. It can also get noisy when running graphics-intensive operations. But if those things don't matter, you're going to get excellent performance and features for a lot less.



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Key Features

Two Thunderbolt 3 controllers (for GPU and I/O)
Built-in 750W power supply
97W laptop charging power
SATA III port for SSD/HDD




Specifications


Brand: Mantiz

GPU Included: No

GPU Max Power: 550W

GPU Max Size: Up to 2.75-slot card

External Power Required: Yes

Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3, 5x USB 3.0, 1x SD Card reader, Gigabit Ethernet





Pros

Affordable
Support for high-powered GPUs
Premium design
Great selection of ports



Cons

Noisy fan




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4. Razer Core X Chroma






8.60 / 10

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The Razer Core X Chroma has almost the same design as the Core X with aluminum construction, open vents for additional cooling, and a tool-less slide and lock mechanism for easy access to the internals. Razer added its signature Chroma RGB lighting, which is great for gaming or adding a nice ambiance to your space.

The Core X Chroma also features a larger 700W power supply, enabling it to handle demanding graphics cards that require up to 500W. If you run a lot of graphics-intensive tasks for sustained periods, this is the kind an eGPU enclosure you need for your MacBook Pro. It's stable under pressure and runs incredibly quiet.

Additionally, the 100W power delivery can charge a 16-inch MacBook Pro while running full throttle. You'll find four USB 3.1 ports and a Gigabit Ethernet plug on the rear of the enclosure.



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Key Features

Built-in 700W power supply
100W laptop power delivery
RGB lighting powered by Razer Chroma
Four USB ports and Ethernet plug




Specifications


Brand: Razer

GPU Included: No

GPU Max Power: 500W

GPU Max Size: Up to 3-slot card

External Power Required: Yes

Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3, 4x USB 3.1, Gigabit Ethernet





Pros

More power to support workstation GPUs
Solid build quality and good looks
Additional ports
Simple tool-less setup
Runs silently



Cons

RGB lighting not customizable on Mac




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5. Cooler Master MasterCase EG200






10.00 / 10

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The Cooler Master MasterCase EG200 is an expensive option but well worth the investment if you're tight on space. It combines an eGPU enclosure, docking station, and a laptop stand in one compact 9.7L chassis.

The built-in vertical laptop stand is the best highlight, allowing you to store your MacBook when not in use and clear some valuable desk space when using an external monitor—a convenient way to leverage the clamshell mode in a MacBook.

Along with the Thunderbolt 3 port, three USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, and a SATA III port, add removable storage to your MacBook Pro. The USB hub and drive use a separate connection to your laptop through a USB Micro-B to Type-A cable (USB-C adapter included). The enclosure only uses the Thunderbolt 3 pipeline for graphics to ensure maximum performance.



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Key Features

Built-in vertical laptop stand
Built-in 550W power supply
Hot-swappable hard drive bay
Dedicated USB connection to allow GPU leverage the full Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth




Specifications


Brand: Cooler Master

GPU Included: No

GPU Max Power: 375W

GPU Max Size: Up to 2.5-slot card

External Power Required: Yes

Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3, 3x USB 3.2 Gen1, 1x USB Micro-B 3.2 Gen1





Pros

Space-saving design
Separate USB and PCIe circuitry for maximum graphics performance
Incredibly quiet
Additional ports and SATA drive bay



Cons

Expensive




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6. Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750






7.80 / 10

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Apple used a Sonnet Breakaway Box to introduce the external GPU technology back at the 2017 WWDC. Sonnet has since added two new members to the Breakaway Box family, including the eGPU Breakaway Box 750, which replaces the discontinued eGFX Breakaway Box 550. It's the cheapest eGPU enclosure you can buy for your MacBook Pro.

The eGPU Breakaway Box 750 houses a 750W power supply ideal for high-powered and high-performance graphics cards. It supplies 375W of continuous power to the GPU and up to 475W during the most graphics-intensive operations such as 3D rendering.

In addition, there is 100W power delivery to support full charging speeds in the demanding 15-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. This eGPU enclosure is AMD-approved for most of the air-cooled Radeon Pro and RX GPU versions. It also comes with free lifetime tech support for added peace of mind.



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Key Features

Built-in 750W power supply
100W laptop charging power
AMD approved
Quiet temperature-controlled fan




Specifications


Brand: Sonnet

GPU Included: No

GPU Max Power: 475W

GPU Max Size: Up to 2-slot card

External Power Required: Yes

Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3





Pros

Affordable
Supports workstation GPUs
Charges your MacBook
Excellent compatibility with Mac and AMD GPUs



Cons

No USB ports




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7. Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750ex






6.60 / 10

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The Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Box 750ex replaced the discontinued eGFX Breakaway Box 650W, one of the top Thunderbolt 3 eGPU enclosures recommended by Apple. Sonnet switched to a 750W power supply to handle the latest power-hungry cards and added extra USB ports and an Ethernet plug.

While it still offers the same 375W of continuous power and up to 475W of peak power to the GPU, the eGPU Breakaway Box 750ex is stable, silent, and cooler on heavy operations than the previous model. The Thunderbolt 3 port provides 85W to your MacBook Pro for charging.

There are some downsides to this eGPU enclosure. It can only fit up to a 2-slot wide graphics card, so it's not compatible with 2.5 or 3-slot wide GPUs. However, with the right GPU, the eGPU Breakaway Box 750ex is one of the best Thunderbolt 3 external GPU enclosures for the MacBook Pro in terms of compatibility and support.



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Key Features

Built-in 750W power supply
85W laptop charging power
AMD approved
Quiet temperature-controlled fan




Specifications


Brand: Sonnet

GPU Included: No

GPU Max Power: 475W

GPU Max Size: Up to 2-slot card

External Power Required: Yes

Ports: 1x Thunderbolt 3, 4x USB 3.2 Gen1, 1x Gigabit Ethernet





Pros

Highly compatible with Mac and AMD GPUs
Supports workstation GPUs
Additional ports
Charges your MacBook



Cons

Does not fit large 3-slot cards




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FAQ
Q: Can You Use an External GPU With a MacBook Pro?



Any MacBook Pro with an Intel processor and Thunderbolt 3 ports can use an external GPU. Apple introduced the eGPU technology at the 2017 WWDC, making it easier to accelerate the graphics performance of your MacBook Pro without upgrading to a new one. However, the latest Macs with an Apple M1 chip do not yet support external GPUs.








Q: Is an External GPU Worth It?



If your workflow requires apps that use Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL, or you want to enable new gaming and VR experiences, an external GPU is definitely worth the investment.

An eGPU can also help you connect additional monitors to your MacBook Pro, charge your Mac, add more ports, and use your MacBook while its display is closed (clamshell mode).

The graphics performance boost you get with an eGPU cannot be understated, especially for the 13-inch MacBook Pro models with integrated graphics.

And the best part is that you can unplug the eGPU and carry your MacBook with you to work or just about anywhere, something you can't do with a desktop PC.








Q: Which Graphics Card Is My MacBook Pro Using?



If you want to check which graphics card your MacBook Pro is currently using, go to the Apple menu on your Mac and select About this Mac. The active GPU will appear next to the Graphics.

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