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I have started looking into eGPUs and their capabilities. My reason for using an eGPU is for coursework in CADD. I currently run a virtual machine to run the software for my classes (see list below). I have been able to run Revit 2022 successfully but I fear that as my classwork will start delving into more rendering my VM won't be able to handle the demand. One of my classmates heard me talking to an instructor about eGPUs and he offered to sell me a Razer Core X at a really good price. I am mostly interested in performance for CADD work but gaming would be a bonus.

So here is what I am wondering:

  1. Will an eGPU work within VMware Fusion? (I have seen a few posts saying that it was added into Fusion in a preview but nothing concrete since 2 years ago.)
  2. Will the eGPU provide minimal or significant performance improvement? (I know this is relative but I don't want to waste time or money.)
  3. On a student budget, which video card can I get the most bang for my buck without breaking the bank? (Understandably the market is kind of crazy due to chip shortages.)

Software for coursework:

  • AutoCAD 2020
  • Revit 2022
  • Inventor 2020
  • Solidworks 2021/2022
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2020
  • AutoCAD Plant 3D 2030
  • Rhino 6
  • 3ds Max 2020

Apple laptop specs:

  • 13" MacBook Pro (2020)
  • 1.4 GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i5
  • 16 GB RAM (shared with GPU)
  • Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
  • 2x Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • macOS 12.3.1

Virtual Machine specs:

  • 3 cores
  • 12 GB RAM
  • Windows 10
  • VMware Fusion 12.2.3

1 Answer 1

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After researching and real-life tests here are my following conclusions:

  1. Will an eGPU work within VMware Fusion? (I have seen a few posts saying that it was added into Fusion in a preview but nothing concrete since 2 years ago.)

Yes. As per the VMware Fusion 12 Release Notes:

  • External GPU support

    Fusion provides support for external GPU when an external GPU is connected to the host. Choose the Prefer External GPU option from the Fusion UI.

  1. Will the eGPU provide minimal or significant performance improvement? (I know this is relative but I don't want to waste time or money.)

The key is in the technical specs for the built-in vs external video card. The minimum supported card by macOS is the AMD Radeon RX 470. The comparison for these two cards from Technical City graphics card comparison tool:

Specification AMD Radeon RX 470 Intel Iris Plus Graphics 645
Pipelines / CUDA cores 2048 48
Core clock speed 926 MHz 300 MHz
Boost clock speed 1206 MHz 1150 MHz
Number of transistors 5,700 million no data
Manufacturing process technology 14 nm 14 nm
Thermal design power (TDP) 120 Watt 15 Watt
Texture fill rate 154.4 50.40
Floating-point performance 4,940 gflops no data
  1. On a student budget, which video card can I get the most bang for my buck without breaking the bank?

This is hard to answer with too many variables. In short, whatever you can afford. I was able to get an MSI AMD Radeon RX 570 Armor 4GB OC for $130. This gave me a performance boost of over 300% (3DMark 11 benchmark tests).

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  • Do mind it is probably best to get an AMD gpu, since nvidia gpu's may not work with macs
    – Irsu85
    May 7 at 7:03
  • @Irsu85 I did mention that I got an AMD.
    – agarza
    May 7 at 12:57

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