Blackmagic EGPU and C4D


#1

I just saw the news of the EGPU from Blackmagic that incorporates a Radeon 580 GPU. I am still hanging out for next years Mac Pro which I hope will deliver a Pro solution that has been lacking for over 4 years now, but this piqued my interest especially when coupled with a laptop. Does anyone know if it would be a viable GPU Pro Render renderer for when R20 hits in September. I know I’m clutching at straws and I really should have moved to a PC based solution, but I’m still keeping the faith for a Mac return to the Pro fold. I have faith because it seems Apple has employed creative professionals who actually use this stuff so hopefully they send stuff back that isn’t up to snuff.


#2

Others should be able to give you more details, but EGPUs working with MacBooks and iMacs were used during testing of R20. There were some limitations though since the EGPUs need rather current mac models to work with.


#3

I wouldn’t recommend the Blackmagic. You are better off with a Sonnet or Akitio eGPU so you have freedom to choose which GPU you put inside. The RX580 is not a very high end card so that will be outdated pretty soon. Waste of money in my opinion.

odo


#4

700 dollars + tax for an 18 month old external gpu that can’t be upgraded… Why?


#5

these days i am pretty much only given macs and eGPUs to demo Prorender with, currently at siggraph demoing using a macbook pro with 2 sonnet boxes using wx9100s for AMD and Apple. these two eGPUs scream through renders. they turn any mobile device that has thunderbolt 3 into a high end GPU rendering workstation. its pretty impressive.

im not just saying this because i work for maxon and demo for Apple and AMD, but in the 12 months ive use eGPUs with macs (and PCs) ive NEVER had any kind of an issure, not one.

i personaly would go for the sonnet box then you can throw any PCIe card you like in there, or if portabilty is your thing they do a very small rx570 Puck


#6

Another vote for the Sonnet box. The 580 isn’t enough.

I have a 580 in my iMac. It gives decent initial preview speed in the viewport, but for final renders or something needing animation, you will want something with a lot more oomph.

I’m considering an eGPU and a Vega 64 card since the wx9100 cards are so expensive (the Vega 64 aren’t cheap, either). You can also swap out the GPU if you need cuda (and the slight hacking/tweeking needed to get Nvidia eGPU working on the Mac), or to upgrade to the latest AMD hardware when they release something new.

For $100 more than the Black Magic with a Radeon 580, this Vega 56 combo is in stock:
https://www.sonnetstore.com/collections/egpu-expansion-systems/products/egfx-breakaway-box-550-rxvega56-bundle

You can buy individual components for a bit cheaper, but this is specifically on Apple’s list of supported hardware. It will basically be plug and play and you can still swap out the GPU - even the power supply - as needed.

Heck, the sonnet eGPU combo with a Radeon 580 (that won’t throttle like the black magic box) is only $570, saving you a bundle vs the blackmagic with Radeon 580.
https://www.sonnetstore.com/collections/egpu-expansion-systems/products/egfx-breakaway-box-550-bundle

A review I read said the only reason to get the blackmagic eGPU was if you need to keep your office absolutely quiet. It’s super silent and doesn’t run quite as fast as a regular Radeon 580 as a result.


#7

The Sonnet box appears to be Mac (thunderbolt) only. Are there eGPU enclosures (multi card) you’ve had good luck with that play nice with PCs?


#8

Agree 100%. I would not recommend the Black Magic eGPU to anyone. Not because it won’t work but because it’s not a good value short-term or long-term. Bottom line: they made a poor choice of card for a non-upgradeable unit and also as a rule you don’t want to buy an eGPU that has a USB or other “hub” ports on it, because all those do is sap power from the GPU and bandwidth as well.

Sonnet 650 would be my recommendation. It has a PSU that will allow you to use the latest Vega 64 cards (the 550 stops with the Vega 56 cards), it’s roomier than the others so easier to install large cards, and it’s a simple 1 port device. A lot of people use the Node Pro also but it’s not as easy to install stuff and also maxes out with the Vega 56 cards). Either way with the Sonnet designs All power all bandwidth go to the GPU.

And to the other question posted, Both the 550 and 650 boxes are PC compatible. Just make sure you’re running Windows 10 v1709 or later. Using a PC will actually give you more options because they’ll work with the latest NVIDIA cards as well as AMD. Don’t try Boot Camp, not supported / won’t work without hacks and even then not reliably. On the Mac front stay away from 10.14 until it’s officially released. Getting better but still buggy and zero NVIDIA options as even third party hacks won’t work until NVIDIA updates their driver set in the fall for 10.14.


#9

Many thanks for all the great replies. I think that a set up for Da Vinci Resolve might be great for this box as it will be tested in house and tuned for that purpose but as people have said there are more compelling reasons for other units and cards


#10

Thunderbolt is a generic intel standard, it has been available on any non-budget windows laptop for a few years now.


#11

Thanks, Matthew.

I do most all of my work on desktops. It didn’t occur to me to check if there are PCI Thunderbolt cards available, as I’d assumed only Apple used that tech.


#12

There isn’t really much use in adding a thunderbolt PCI card and then buying an eGPU. Put the GPU in your desktop directly! I suppose it could help those who have cooling problems by moving GPUs outside of the case, or help people with small tower enclosures add large Desktop cards.

eGPU really helps people who don’t have PCI slots, but have computers with thunderbolt 3 ports, like MacBook Pro, iMac, or Razer Blade users.


#13

Ah, my bad. I thought eGPU enclosures allowed you to attach multiple external cards. I already have a decent Nvidia in the box.


#14

If you’ve got room for another, that’s a quick boost to your rendering speed. You might need a better power supply, though. :slight_smile:


#15

You know those old overstuffed, hard shell suitcases that you had to get three Samsonite gorillas to sit on in order to close? That’s me closing the lid on my PC after working on it. :slight_smile:


#16

Sounds like my old PC!

Perhaps a thunderbolt card would help you by moving a new GPU and all of it’s heat outside of your existing case, allowing you to fit a large card without worrying about your case dimension (or closing it again)? At that point though, I wonder if the connection of thunderbolt 3 PCI card -> eGPU -> GPU would be buggy on windows.


#17

Apple makes such crazy amounts of money from iPhones and iPads that I wouldn’t hold my breath in the short term.

Pro computers are a tiny, tiny portion of Apple’s current income - as long as people cue up in front of Apple stores to mainly get iPhones and iPads, that is what they are going to concentrate on.


#18

Except that they have explicitly stated they are actively working on a new Mac Pro, and have teams of creative professionals working alongside the people designing the machine in order to address as many concerns as possible.

The only part I wouldn’t hold my breath on is a return to NVIDIA GPU’s, even as a BTO option, given the extortion attempt NVIDIA pulled back in 2014


#19

This was the thing that actually made me re think jumping ship. It shows that they do see value in the creative professional market but remember that is now a fairly loose term . Like bedroom producers in the music sphere being able to effectively do to a great extent what once was the realm of a few million dollar studios, motion graphics, 3D AR and effects are now easily doable in the bedroom so to speak. Yes this machine will be aimed and priced with professionals in mind, but the market is now much bigger for this type of machine.

I also think it would be foolish to exclude NVIDIA as by all accounts their new cards are ridiculous. But I am not holding my breath.


#20

Apple could have made an interim Mac Pro tower in a pinch just by upgrading the cheesegrater design with moden components. That’s basically what hackintoshes are and what most pro users are asking right now. Professionals actually need to get the job done right now for a living, not next year to look cool.

That’s why I have my doubts about Apple’s real commitment to the pro market. To me, they’re just using it as a marketing tool for the brand value: by saying that this or that famous creative professional is using a mac pro, they make the brand look cool and can sell more consumer products like iphones, ipads, laptops and imacs to the rest of the market.

That’s also why instead of just making a big metal box that “just works”, they want to invent something fancy to be able to communicate about it. Otherwise it’s not worth it in term of market share for them. I think that’s why the trashcan was created in the first place.

Now they say they’re listening, and hopefully they’ll have something good, but it’s still going to be a side product and a communication tool for them more than a business line.

Regading the Blackmagic eGPU, I agree it looks underpowered but Blackmagic design has a history of making disruptive products at very competitive prices, both in hardware and software. This is their first endeavour in that field though, and you have to buy it exclusiveley via the Apple Store, so you might very well be paying the Apple tax there too.