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Apple M1-powered Macs can detect eGPUs and 144 Hz displays, but hardware acceleration may only be possbile with a future macOS 11 update

Apple M1-powered Macs may get eGPU support in a future update. (Image Source: Apple)
Apple M1-powered Macs may get eGPU support in a future update. (Image Source: Apple)
There is a possibility of Apple enabling eGPU support via Thunderbolt 3 in M1-powered Macs with a future update to macOS 11. At the moment, eGPUs seem to be recognized by macOS 11 Big Sur, but they don't seem to provide any hardware acceleration due to lack of driver support.
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The Apple M1 has proven to be quite a performer, but it's current implementation does have some shortcomings. One of the main cons with MacBooks powered by the M1 SoC is that they lack any support for external GPUs (eGPUs) such as the Blackmagic eGPU. However, it looks like all hope is not lost as a future software update may possibly resolve this issue.

When Apple first announced the transition to ARM during the WWDC keynote back in June, developer docs (via AppleInsider) that detailed about porting Metal apps to Apple Silicon seemed to indicate that the company may drop support for non-Apple GPUs.

Now, French publication Mac4ever reports that M1-powered Macs can see an external Pro Display XDR connected to a Blackmagic eGPU housing a Radeon RX 580 but don't support any hardware acceleration yet. Support for refresh rates greater than 60 Hz also looks to be a possibility.

AppleInsider further tested the same with the Razer Core X and the Sonnet eGFX Beakaway Box. These eGPUs with cards such as the RX 590, Vega 64, and Radeon VII could be identified by macOS 11 but do not actually seem to accelerate the display. Possible reasons for this could be lack of drivers or changes (if any) in how Apple implemented Thunderbolt 3 support in M1-powered Macs.

Apple M1-powered Macs can support 144 Hz displays. (Image Source: Paul Haddad on Twitter)
Apple M1-powered Macs can support 144 Hz displays. (Image Source: Paul Haddad on Twitter)
macOS 11 in M1-powered Macs can detect eGPUs, but there's no hardware acceleration. (Image Source: Mac4Ever)
macOS 11 in M1-powered Macs can detect eGPUs, but there's no hardware acceleration. (Image Source: Mac4Ever)

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Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam - Managing Editor - 1340 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2012
Though a cell and molecular biologist by training, I have been drawn towards computers from a very young age ever since I got my first PC in 1998. My passion for technology grew quite exponentially with the times, and it has been an incredible experience from being a much solicited source for tech advice and troubleshooting among family and friends to joining Notebookcheck in 2017 as a professional tech journalist. Now, I am a Lead Editor at Notebookcheck covering news and reviews encompassing a wide gamut of the technology landscape for Indian and global audiences. When I am not hunting for the next big story or taking complex measurements for reviews, you can find me unwinding to a nice read, listening to some soulful music, or trying out a new game.
contact me via: @Geeky_Vaidy
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 11 > Apple M1-powered Macs can detect eGPUs and 144 Hz displays, but hardware acceleration may only be possbile with a future macOS 11 update
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2020-11-26 (Update: 2020-11-26)