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Rhiannon108

Video cards to add to a Macbook? AMD works?

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Am thinking of getting a Radeon RX 570 to plug into a Macbook via an external box. But, I"ve heard the AMD cards don't work well with Firestorm or SL. Is that right? Any workarounds that aren't too complicated and risky or advice about Mac-friendly video cards to improve SL performance?

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You need to get AMD to use with a Mac. Apple has been using AMD exclusively for several years and doesn’t support Nvidia very well. 

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1 hour ago, Rhiannon108 said:

Am thinking of getting a Radeon RX 570 to plug into a Macbook via an external box. But, I"ve heard the AMD cards don't work well with Firestorm or SL. Is that right? Any workarounds that aren't too complicated and risky or advice about Mac-friendly video cards to improve SL performance?

My iMac Pro contains an AMD Vega 56 Pro graphics system, which is slightly faster than the 570. It works fine with SL, but I think people with lesser hardware running under Windows probably get better frame rates. eGPU support in macOS has improved considerably, but that's no guarantee of success with SL. Hopefully there's a good return policy where you shop.

NVIDIA is not an option since Apple dropped driver support and hasn't allowed NVIDIA to release their own.

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AMD cards absolutely work with SL. It would be a major issue if they didn't !

eGPU's should work just fine, as has been mentioned AMD is the better choice for Apple/OSX.

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The comment about Apple support of NVIDIA cards not being supported on macOS is incorrect. Apple Technical notes list several NVIDIA cards compatible with older machines at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208898. These are for macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and so are also Metal compatible. 

“These specific third-party graphics cards are Metal-capable and compatible with macOS Mojave on Mac Pro (Mid 2010) and Mac Pro (Mid 2012):

  • MSI Gaming Radeon RX 560 128-bit 4GB GDRR5
  • SAPPHIRE Radeon PULSE RX 580 8GB GDDR5
  • SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 7950 Mac Edition
  • NVIDIA Quadro K5000 for Mac
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 Mac Edition

Some other third-party graphics cards* based on the following AMD GPU families might also be compatible with macOS Mojave on Mac Pro (Mid 2010) and Mac Pro (Mid 2012):

  • AMD Radeon RX 560
  • AMD Radeon RX 570
  • AMD Radeon RX 580
  • AMD Radeon Pro WX 7100
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 56
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 64
  • AMD Radeon Pro WX 9100
  • AMD Radeon Frontier Edition”

Technical Note HT208544 discusses eGPUs. These external GPUs are compatible with any Thunderbolt 3-equipped Mac. They accelerate apps that use Metal, OpenGL, and OpenCL. 

This info is from https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208544. You can do searches of more specific information by searching at https://support.apple.com or a Google or other search engine for user group testing for other machines, etc. 

Perhaps the confusion about NVIDIA support is due to this in the second technical report “Aftermarket GPU drivers delivered by third parties are not compatible with macOS.” in that they have not been tested for support of all the uses that the GPU is used for in macOS such as “accelerating the user interface, providing support for advanced display features, rendering 3D graphics for pro software and games, processing photos and videos, driving powerful GPU compute features, and accelerating machine learning tasks.” and the multiple security layers for making it difficult to penetrate to the OS software and especially, the kernel. 

I hope this helps Mac users. 

P.S. I forgot to mention that applications also can decide whether they will use a specific GPU. I have never encountered an app that refused to run with my GPU but applications that choose not to use the native frameworks  environment but their own graphics environment (resulting in slower performance, lack of support features such as spell and grammar checking, service extensions, cut and paste in multiple formats transparently, and many more capabilities) are often frustrating as they could have retained their UX as the native graphics and other interface items could have retained integration, and performance benefits of the OS. 

Edited by JosephWayseeker
Added note about non- native applications.

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9 minutes ago, JosephWayseeker said:

The comment about Apple support of NVIDIA cards not being supported on macOS is incorrect. Apple Technical notes list several NVIDIA cards compatible with older machines at https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208898. These are for macOS 10.14 (Mojave) and so are also Metal compatible. 

"Several" = two seven year old cards. Until Apple and Nvidia kiss and make up, just get an AMD card.

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1 hour ago, Lyssa Greymoon said:

"Several" = two seven year old cards. Until Apple and Nvidia kiss and make up, just get an AMD card.

Yeah, when your GPU literally physically falls apart after only a year or two and they take zero responsibility for it then I would be wary of doing business with them again, also. However, as an external GPU it shouldn;t be an issue because it will come with macOS drivers in the box and nVidia is pretty aggressive at keeping their drivers up-to-date.

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6 hours ago, Alyona Su said:

Yeah, when your GPU literally physically falls apart after only a year or two and they take zero responsibility for it then I would be wary of doing business with them again, also. However, as an external GPU it shouldn;t be an issue because it will come with macOS drivers in the box and nVidia is pretty aggressive at keeping their drivers up-to-date.

This is only semi related but to the Nvidia and Apple problem, the thing that spawned the dead mobile geforce 9400's was not nvidias fault. Apple did not adequately cool the hot running mobile gpus and they experienced BGA failure. If you dont cool something to the point that it gets so hot it desolders itself from the board then you have an issue. On top of that Apples inhouse drivers changed the thermal max threshhold up to 115c instead of 105c. That doesnt sound like much but it was enough of a difference that anything they did with those gpus was no longer in nvidias hands as they were operating outside of what Nvidia said is safe. Fast forward a few years and they gave up on the desktop nvidia gpus as well around the time of Fermi and early Kepler because they ran hot as hell and the aging mac pro chassis design was not designed for that much heat.

But anyway, there are unofficial methods to get just about any GPU to run on a mac, regardless of if its supported by Apple or not.

https://9to5mac.com/2018/05/05/nvidia-egpu-thunderbolt-macos-script-video/

If someone has written a driver for it, itll work. I think theres a modified RTX turing driver as well for current high end GPUs on the nvidia side, but the most stable are Pascal. If you know how to follow a step by step guide then this is a pretty simple ordeal, though you will be tinkering with OSX beyond what you get at face value, so proceed with caution.

EDIT: and this was a topic of discussion on another site recently i was involved in, there was the thought of "well these are the only GPUs apple says support metal and have OSX drivers", anything newer has Metal support. Nvidia Kepler and up, AMD GCN and up and intel HD 4000 and up.

Meaning anything from the southern islands for AMD and newer, HD 7000 series, R9/7/5 200, R9/7/5 300, RX 400/500, Vega 56/64, Radeon VII, RX 5700 and 5700xt, as well as any Radeon Pro or Firepro cards in the same generations from the GCN based Firepro W6/7/8/9xxx series, the already mac designed Firepro D series, W refresh x100's, and any cards under the Radeon Pro WX name (polaris and vega).

For nvidia that means Kepler and up, so the GTX 600 series, 700 series, 800 series (mobile only), 900 series, 1000 polaris series, 2000 turing and 1600 turing cards. As well as any Quadros from Kepler and up, so the Quadro K series, M series, P series and RTX quadros (they just reference the architecture name).

These cards will all support metal though may not have official apple drivers, nor will every card have a 3rd party driver compatible with OSX, this is especially true for the Radeon Firepro/Pro or Quadro's. The cool thing about OSX drivers is that they are stupidly inter-compatible with same gen cards, many of them function the same for every product on the same die variant, ie a GM 204 die being a GTX 970, 980, mobile 960/965/970/980/980MX and Quadro M4000 and M5000 (and their mobile equivalents) will all function off of the same 3rd party driver without issue.

Different die variants will not, if you have a 980ti it will not work with the same driver as the 980.

The cards Apple lists are just cards they have put into their machines before and are known tested and compatible with drivers from Apple. If you have a 680, you can use a 670, 660ti, or 660 because theyre all the same die and run off of the same driver.

This does not account for lower end cards in the same generation but with cut down technologies, not all of them are the same actual generation. Example, a GT 610 is still a 600 series card, but it is not Kepler, it is Fermi, one generation older, and does not support Metal. Just the same with AMD the HD 7450 is a 7000 series gpu but is not GCN, its terascale and does not support Metal. This may apply in other ways as well to many low end cards.

tl;dr any gpu newer than the GTX 600 series or AMD 7000 series is metal compatible, and therefore mac compatible IF there is a driver for it

 

Edited by cheesecurd

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2 hours ago, cheesecurd said:

This is only semi related but to the Nvidia and Apple problem, the thing that spawned the dead mobile geforce 9400's was not nvidias fault. Apple did not adequately cool the hot running mobile gpus and they experienced BGA failure.

 

Awesome. Didn't know you have intimate inside knowledge. Though it's really a moot point and my comment still applies. 👍

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