One of the surprises that came out of Apple’s WWDC keynote was the company’s official endorsement of external graphic cards. Soon after the MacBook Pro came out, users figured out a way to improve performance by connecting the laptop to an external GPU. The procedure isn’t simple, and some believed Apple could kill it in future macOS releases. However, a few months ago while talking about the future of the Mac Pro, Apple said it’s not against such devices. Fast forward to WWDC, and it looks like Apple ready to fully embrace them. That means you can buy an official Apple external GPU right now — but there’s at least a twist.
As announced on Monday, the External Graphics Development Kit is available. right away to developers.
For $599, or the equivalent in your local currency, you get a Sonnet external GPU chassis with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and 350W power supply. You also get a VR-ready AMD Radeon RX 580 8GB graphics card, which already costs a pretty penny by itself.
Included in the package is also a Belkin USB-C to 4-port USB-A hub, and a $100 promo code towards the purchase of HTC Vive VR headset.
The bad news is that you have to be a developer to get it, which means you have to pay the $99 yearly fee to get in. Also, the program is restricted to a select number of countries, including Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, and the United Kingdom.
Finally, you’ll need to run macOS High Sierra to use it. But if you already have that developer ID ready, that shouldn’t be a problem.
That said, if you really want Apple’s official external GPU card, prepare yourself to jump through a few hoops to get it.