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Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but its technically graphics related.

I have a mid 2010 MacBook Pro. My installed graphics card is the NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256MB card. It's embedded so I cannot upgrade it, but after poking around on Apple support a bit, an external graphics card was suggested. Any Apple users here experimented with external GPU's? Which ones does the 2010 model support? Would it be difficult to set up?
Solution: Sell Mac for a Surface Book Razz
Honestly, I've never heard of an external graphics card for Mac, (I'm more of a PC guy, although I do have an iPad 3 Smile) What I have found isn't all that impressive for the price, you may as well get an upgraded computer (not the newest mac but the 2015 should do) I use the Surface Book (by Microsoft), while expensive, has a ~940m NIVIDIA with 1 gb of vRAM, much better than the Macs. But if you just like Macs then I'd get a 2015 Mac since it's the last one to have a dedicated thunderbolt port. If my research is correct, this card should work (for both your 2010 and the 2015) Here's a detailed video on it. How easy it is to hook everything up I'm not sure, I think you just need to install a few drivers, but don't take my word for it.

I hope this helps, good luck. Very Happy

Edit: I should really ask you what you are trying to use your computer for: Gaming, video/ photo editing, or something else?

small video editing; I'd go for the mac 2015
Heavy video editing; I'd go for the Surface Book (or similar)
Light gaming; I'd stay with the mac 2015 (since you seem to like macs)
Heavy gaming; I wouldn't go for the Surface Book, you may need the 2015 mac and the eGPU
TheLastMillennial wrote:
If my research is correct, this card should work (for both your 2010 and the 2015) Here's a detailed video on it. How easy it is to hook everything up I'm not sure, I think you just need to install a few drivers, but don't take my word for it.
This sort of thing is the only reasonable solution, and it won't work with your current machine. Razer sell a similar piece of kit, but they're all fairly expensive. Jeff Atwood wrote at some length about these devices and liked the idea in general, but the prices are too high to be very useful right now- for the cost of the enclosure you can build a complete computer and add a powerful GPU to it.

The main technical matter here is that Thunderbolt is literally PCIe, so if your system can talk to a PCIe GPU it should work with one of these enclosures (though hotplugging a GPU requires some degree of software support). Any other bus is going to be some combination of slow and poorly-supported.
I've looked into eGPU options considering that TB3 is hypothetically fast enough for such a thing. I don't think it's worth it because they are not only expensive but incredibly huge. I can see something like that making sense if you dock your laptop at a desk at work then take it home with you at the end of the day. But, I assume this is for recreational use? You're going to be at home anyways. I just honestly can't imagine why you'd really want an eGPU.

Consider a desktop, for ~$500 (TB PCIe box + GPU) you can get an equivalent Windows desktop. If you're steadfast on macOS, get a 2015 MBP. Though Apples Refurbished store only has 2016's Sad

So, now I'm totally going to derail this topic, I apologize, but I have questions:

TheLastMillennial wrote:
small video editing; I'd go for the mac 2015
Heavy video editing; I'd go for the Surface Book (or similar)


Do you have any reason for this? I understand that some people have different measures when it comes to suggestions and what not but I can reliably edit a multi-cam project with 3 1080p sources on my 2016 MacBook Pro (w/ dedicated GPU). Adding in transitions, audio, music and, other effects. I can likely edit more than 3 but I haven't had a project use more than that yet. I know I can do at least 4; I can probably compile all the angles from various projects in one multi-cam clip and see if I suffer any performance issues as I go up in angle count... I think my software (Final Cut Pro X) tops out at 16. I wish I had that many cameras! Work has 2 and I personally have 4 capable of video. So, that max I can possibly do for one project is 6 unless, like I said, I cheat and use angles from other projects. And now you have me curious. I'll try that after work tomorrow Very Happy

But I wouldn't say a Windows is any more or less capable than a Mac for a video editing, unless that Mac/Windows is an ultrabook or netbook not equipped for the task (11" MacBook vs Surface Book). I associate light editing with iMovie and Movie Maker and heavy editing with Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premier and, anything else that's out there.
The problem isn't Windows, the problem is the buggy, crashy NLEs developers make for Windows that makes people dive right for the ostensible simplicity of Macs.

I personally dislike Macs for their ridiculous price points - they tend to their value for a very long time due to Apple's "monopoly" on, well, Apple products. They price their MBPs as if they were cars and people still buy them. But Apple is a premium brand and if you like the pretty UI and the "everything is like magic" mantra, then keep using Apple. MBPs are very capable laptops and they are very well fine-tuned in terms of performance and battery balance. By comparison, Windows laptops are garbage filled with bloatware that obviates how little HP, Dell et al. think at all about how much their software impacts overall system performance a little after a few hours of using said laptop.

In short, there is no hope of replacing your laptop GPU with something better, and if such a solution exists, it's usually more expensive than what it's worth. You just buy a new laptop and blame Apple et al for making landfills taller.

Sorry for the rant Neutral but I do suppose this is the situation when it's best to upgrade your Mac with a new one.
oldmud0 wrote:
Windows laptops are garbage filled with bloatware that obviates how little HP, Dell et al. think at all about how much their software impacts overall system performance a little after a few hours of using said laptop.

Actually, companies are selling some of their laptops as 'signature edition' where you pay a little bit more, but there is no bloatware. My Surface Book never came with any bloatware and I can get a solid 9-10 hours out of it with everyday use and still get perfect performance. Smile

Alex wrote:
So, now I'm totally going to derail this topic, I apologize, but I have questions:

TheLastMillennial wrote:
small video editing; I'd go for the mac 2015
Heavy video editing; I'd go for the Surface Book (or similar)



Do you have any reason for this? I understand that some people have different measures when it comes to suggestions and what not but I can reliably edit a multi-cam project with 3 1080p sources on my 2016 MacBook Pro (w/ dedicated GPU). Adding in transitions, audio, music and, other effects. I can likely edit more than 3 but I haven't had a project use more than that yet. I know I can do at least 4; I can probably compile all the angles from various projects in one multi-cam clip and see if I suffer any performance issues as I go up in angle count... I think my software (Final Cut Pro X) tops out at 16. I wish I had that many cameras! Work has 2 and I personally have 4 capable of video. So, that max I can possibly do for one project is 6 unless, like I said, I cheat and use angles from other projects. And now you have me curious. I'll try that after work tomorrow


I don't personally know how well a Mac performs with heavy video editing. I'm currently researching this, but if you have good personal experience with it then, ACagliano: Go ahead and use his Mac version. I just recommended a Window's laptop since they (I know not always, but generally) come with more graphics power.

It's really up to ACaglino, If they need tons of graphical power, then I'd go for a Windows laptop. Otherwise, it seems that just a newer Mac would be fine. Smile
I'm not going to get into the Mac vs Windows debate that seems to be starting - because (1) it's off topic and (2) it seems to devolve into an uncivilized discussion - but I will report back on the angle count from my earlier post. I combined the max number of clips I can, 16, and I can edit and view them all at the same time. Click for full size awesomeness.



Each clip has it's own audio as well, so that's 16 audio and video tracks playing at once. There's probably some behind the scenes magic, such as not loading the audio tracks of all 16 clips but I'm fairly sure all those clips are playing back at 1080p each, for a total of 17 1080p videos on screen (got to include the preview!)

But I doubt it's going through the GPU for this, it's just 16 videos streaming from the SSD, through RAM and, into the software. I can throw the 90GB project file onto a MacBook Air at work and see how well it handles Very Happy

Some advice I can give regarding video editing on computers. It's not wholly about the GPU. Sure, it helps but the CPU will be many times better. I don't know what software you're using for video editing, Acagliano, but focus more on the CPU. Go for an i7 Quad Core for the multi-threading as that will help you immensely. I have a quad-core i7 2.0GHz Mac mini from 2011 and it's still a power house. Doing tasks faster than my moms 2014 MacBook Pro, granted she has a dual core but it's clocked at 2.4Ghz. I know have a 2.9GHz Quad Core i7.

Professional software is very likely to be multithreaded. Heck, even iMovie is multi-threaded. Unless you're doing something that utilizes a GPU, like Motion, then you'll want to focus on GPU. Now, if you're render times are slow when exporting a movie, consider again the CPU. Now, if you are using Final Cut Pro, you may be better off for the long term by purchasing two used Mac minis. Purchasing Compressor and install that on those Mac minis. Now you can distribute the video rendering across those computers. It's going to run you a little bit more than an eGPU route though.

Now, after writing all that I realized that you never mentioned video editing, that was in the post I replied to from TheLastMillennial. So, this is probably all for naught. But it may help someone in the future.

But to your initial question, I doubt it's worth it, let alone practical. Doesn't even look like you have Thunderbolt, just Firewire and DisplayPort, as Thunderbolt was introduced in 2011.
Alex wrote:

Some advice I can give regarding video editing on computers. It's not wholly about the GPU. Sure, it helps but the CPU will be many times better. I don't know what software you're using for video editing, Acagliano, but focus more on the CPU. Go for an i7 Quad Core for the multi-threading as that will help you immensely. I have a quad-core i7 2.0GHz Mac mini from 2011 and it's still a power house. Doing tasks faster than my moms 2014 MacBook Pro, granted she has a dual core but it's clocked at 2.4Ghz. I know have a 2.9GHz Quad Core i7.

How is this advice? You just spewed out a bunch of random observations that seem to be comparing instances with multiple independent variables.
Alex wrote:

Some advice I can give regarding video editing on computers. It's not wholly about the GPU. Sure, it helps but the CPU will be many times better. I don't know what software you're using for video editing, Acagliano, but focus more on the CPU. Go for an i7 Quad Core for the multi-threading as that will help you immensely. I have a quad-core i7 2.0GHz Mac mini from 2011 and it's still a power house. Doing tasks faster than my moms 2014 MacBook Pro, granted she has a dual core but it's clocked at 2.4Ghz. I know have a 2.9GHz Quad Core i7.

Why not go for a 16-threaded AND ryzen overclocked to 3.8GHz Evil or Very Mad
To be honest, I completely forgot about AMD since I've mostly ever dealt with Intel chipsets. I've heard lots of good things about Ryzen since it'd debut and look forward to seeing how the Ryzen chip is received over the next few months to a year.
Alex wrote:
To be honest, I completely forgot about AMD since I've mostly ever dealt with Intel chipsets. I've heard lots of good things about Ryzen since it'd debut and look forward to seeing how the Ryzen chip is received over the next few months to a year.

Slightly offtopic: Ryzen had a few problems on launch due to a design issue in Windows' thread scheduling that resulted in a mis-distribution of threads across core sets as well as more frequent cache misses.
  
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