Virtual reality is in full bloom this year, but to enjoy amazing VR experiences you need computers capable of heavy lifting, especially in the graphics department. That means you need to either upgrade your Windows 10 computer, or buy a new one – in other words, MacBook and iMac users will be losing out, for the time being. But Apple might have an amazing trick up its sleeve that will allow it not only to continue to slim down its laptops but also to offer VR fans a decent experience.
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Apple’s $999 Thunderbolt Display is currently running out of stock in Apple retail stores, which is a sign that a refresh might be in order. But 9to5Mac has heard rumblings that, for the first time ever, the display might pack a dedicated external graphics card that would be able to handle more graphics-intensive tasks and bring high-end gaming and VR to the Mac.
According to the source who talked to 9to5Mac, the display refresh will feature a 5K resolution similar to what’s found on the Retina iMac. The monitor would need to connect to a computer using a high-speed USB-C port. Once that happens OS X would seamlessly determine which GPU to use, the one in the laptop, or the one inside the display, for a certain task.
The rumor is all the more interesting considering the recent GPU-related announcements. A GPU Thunderbolt display might be user-upgradeable. It would be enough to upgrade the graphics card to keep up with more demanding PC experiences in the years to come. And Apple wouldn’t be the only company doing this. Check out DigitalStorm’s 34-inch curved all-in-one Aura system that has the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card inside.
Assuming these details are accurate, it means that Apple is starting to take VR very seriously. We previously heard that Apple is committed to VR, but we’re yet to see any products that would prove that Apple wants to offer Mac and iOS users a great VR experience on Apple devices.
Considering that current Thunderbolt displays seem to be running out of stock ahead of Apple’s WWDC 2016 event, it would make sense to see Apple unveil a new display at the mid-June show.