EGPU for MacBook Pro feasible?


I start college classes for Computer Animation soon. I am doing my classes online because I can not move to Florida right now. The school will be sending me a 2017 MacBook Pro to work on.

2.8ghz Quadcore i7 turns boost to 3.8ghz
16gb 2133mhz LPDDR3 memory
256gb SSD
Radeon Pro 555 with 2gb memory
4 thunderbolt 3 ports

I know this MacBook will not cut it in the long run. Especially when it comes to rendering. Is it feasible for me to get an external graphics card for rendering? I was reading about Radeon Pro Render. I receive an extra $1,000 to spend on school supplies. I can just use that to buy a good external graphics card setup.

I will also be in Thailand for a year starting next March. I can continue my classes online from there. Building a big desktop to render on might not be feasible if I can’t bring it on the plane with me. I was also thinking maybe I should wait and buy pieces to build a mini desktop over the next 4 to 5 months. The first 3 months are just basic classes and my 4th should be a Art Foundations class and the 5th should be 3d Foundations. I should be fine getting by with the MBP for the first 6 to 7 months I think.

I know software we will go over will include Maya, Zbrush, and Houdini. I also would like to learn how to use Mari even if I have to go outside of school to learn. I can either buy external graphics card like a Vega 64 or 1080ti early and figure out how to use it for rending with Radeon Pro Render or… I can just wait 4 to 5 months using the MBP and have around $2,500 to build a mini pc that I can travel with. I have been looking at threadripper builds on YouTube. I would really appreaciate any and all advice.


Will your school classes be using Radeon ProRender? It does look cool, but isn’t very well-implemented yet or widely used. There are of course other GPU-based renderers but Vray, Arnold, and most of the others still use the CPU for rendering. So it wouldn’t matter if you had a fancy external graphics card or not. MacBooks aren’t really made for rendering but I imagine it’ll do alright for a quad-core low-power CPU. And it’ll give you a chance to sleep between classes!


I see that it says we will be learning to use Nuke and Arnold. I am taking the classes online. So I get a MacBook Pro and Wacom Intuos Pro. I will not be at the college to use their computers on campus. I was also told they have a render farm on campus.

Looks like I will have to build a computer… I can always take it apart and bring it to Thailand. Then just buy another case when I get there. I was hoping just an external graphics card would take me farther. Maybe i’ll put together a threadripper build.