What it is: External graphics processing cards can boost the performance of your Macintosh.
The biggest flaw with the Macintosh is that it typically offers weak integrated graphics with limited memory. For most people who browse the Internet or use word processing, integrated graphics is fine. For anyone who does heavy duty graphics work such as CAD or video rendering, integrated graphics are too weak. That’s why so many professionals must either pay for a professional version of the Macintosh that includes a more powerful graphics processor or they simply spend less and use a Windows PC instead.
For those who need graphics power but don’t want to spend more for a professional Macintosh and don’t want to use Windows, the other alternative is to buy an external graphics processor (eGPU). Essentially this is a graphics card shoved in a separate box that connects to your Macintosh using a Thunderbolt 3 cable. Although this sounds easy, it does have some restrictions.
First, you need a modern Macintosh that can run macOS 10.13 High Sierra or greater. Second, you need a Thunderbolt 3 port. If your Macintosh lacks this, you’ll need to spend $49 for Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. Third, you’ll need to spend at least $200 or more to buy an eGPU box and then another $200 for the graphics card itself. Fourth, you can only use a limited number of graphics cards, which prevents you from buying a less expensive graphics card.
Assume around $400 for a eGPU. With the right Thunderbolt cables and an additional box connected to your Macintosh, you’ll now have vastly improved graphics power. As long as you need this power, the cost of a eGPU will be worth it. If you don’t need graphics, then a eGPU will simply be a waste of money.
If you’re looking at a Macintosh and you need heavy duty graphics power, look at a professional Macintosh model that includes a separate graphics processor, not an integrated graphics processor. Extra graphics processing will cost you money one way or another, but if you need it, then the cost will be minimal if it helps you make more money in the long run.