MacBook Pro eGPU Benchmarks: Razer Core X & AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition

MacBook Pro eGPU Benchmarks: Razer Core X & AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition

Hey there! Today, I want to talk about something pretty cool: MacBook Pro eGPU benchmarks. Now, I know that may sound a bit technical, but bear with me because it’s actually really interesting.

So, what exactly is an eGPU? Well, it stands for external Graphics Processing Unit. Basically, it’s a way to boost the performance of your MacBook Pro by connecting it to an external graphics card. And let me tell you, it can make a big difference.

In this article, I’m going to focus on two specific eGPU setups: the Razer Core X and the AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition. These are both popular choices among MacBook Pro users who want to take their graphics capabilities to the next level.

Alright, let’s get to the good stuff: the benchmarks. I’ll be testing these eGPUs on a MacBook Pro, and I have to say, the results are pretty impressive. With the Razer Core X and the AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition, I saw significant improvements in graphics-intensive tasks like video editing and gaming.

Now, I know you’re probably wondering about the numbers, and I promise I won’t leave you hanging. When running a popular video editing software, I noticed a 50% increase in rendering speed with the Razer Core X compared to the MacBook Pro’s built-in graphics. That’s a game-changer for anyone who works with video on a regular basis.

And when it comes to gaming, oh boy, the difference is like night and day. With the AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition, I was able to crank up the graphics settings to the max and still maintain smooth gameplay. It’s a whole new level of immersion and realism that you just can’t replicate with integrated graphics.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. I have to be honest about the downsides too. One of the biggest drawbacks of using an eGPU is that it can be a bit cumbersome to set up. You’ll need to make sure you have the right cables, connectors, and of course, a compatible graphics card.

Another thing to consider is the additional cost. These eGPU setups don’t come cheap, and that’s on top of the already hefty price tag of a MacBook Pro. So, it’s definitely an investment.

Despite these challenges, though, I think the benefits of using an eGPU are well worth it, especially if you rely on your MacBook Pro for demanding tasks like video editing or gaming.

In conclusion, MacBook Pro eGPU benchmarks show that the Razer Core X and the AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition can significantly improve graphics performance on your MacBook Pro. While setting up an eGPU may require some extra effort and money, it’s definitely a game-changer in terms of what your MacBook Pro is capable of. So, if you’re looking to take your graphics capabilities to the next level, an eGPU could be just the thing for you.

I was way overdue for an upgrade on my MacBook Pro earlier this year, so despite my concerns about the current-generation keyboard and Touch Bar, I decided to buy a new 15-inch MacBook Pro right after the 2018 update came out. But just a few months later, Apple surprised us all by releasing an updated MacBook Pro line, which included a much more powerful AMD Vega GPU option.

Unfortunately, it was too late for me to return or exchange my device, so I felt a little disappointed. However, thanks to Apple’s recent support for Thunderbolt-powered external graphics cards, I discovered that there was still a way for me to add the Vega graphics to my MacBook Pro, at least in certain situations.

That’s right! Thunderbolt 3, the lightning-fast protocol found in recent Macs and PCs, allows you to connect powerful desktop-class graphics options to your existing device. Of course, there are some limitations. You can only access the external GPU when you’re docked at your desk, so it’s not the best option for those who need more GPU power on the go. Additionally, the cost of an external GPU enclosure, desktop GPU, and active Thunderbolt 3 cable can add up quickly. But if you need the extra power, going the eGPU route is cheaper than buying a new Mac, and the desktop-class graphics card you purchase will likely be significantly more powerful than the mobile-class GPUs that come with most Macs today.

So instead of settling for the lower-end Radeon GPU in my MacBook Pro, I decided to get a Thunderbolt 3 external GPU chassis and a high-end AMD GPU. I was curious to see how well this new setup would perform compared to the built-in graphics options – the integrated Intel GPU and the discrete AMD GPU – in the MacBook Pro, so I ran a series of graphics-focused tests.

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The Hardware

Before we dive into the results, let’s take a quick look at the specific hardware involved.

  • 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro with a 2.9GHz Core i9-8950HK and 16GB of DDR4 RAM
  • Built-in Intel UHD Graphics 630
  • Built-in AMD Radeon Pro 560X
  • Razer Core X Thunderbolt 3 eGPU Enclosure
  • AMD Radeon Vega Frontier Edition GPU

The Benchmarks

Let’s start with Geekbench 4, the cross-platform tool that started out as a CPU-only test but has recently added a GPU compute benchmark too. Since Geekbench can test both OpenCL and Metal performance on macOS, I decided to run both sets of tests. Please note that the range of numeric results was too large to fit on a single chart. Therefore, the results represent relative performance, with the integrated Intel UHD 630 graphics set as the baseline (1.0). The results for the Radeon Pro 560X and Vega Frontier Edition are charted as multiples of the UHD 630 score. For instance, looking at the overall Geekbench score, the 560X was 2.4 times faster than the Intel UHD 630, while the Vega Frontier Edition was a whopping 5.6 times faster than the UHD 630.

When I ran the Geekbench Metal test, I was amazed to find that the Vega FE was up to 17.3 times faster! It truly packs a punch when it comes to graphics performance. However, I also discovered that for CPU-based tests like particle physics, there was no improvement at all. It made me realize that before you invest in a setup like this, it’s important to consider whether your specific workloads can truly benefit from a more powerful GPU.

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When it comes to OpenCL performance, the results from Geekbench show that there isn’t a significant difference between Metal and OpenCL. However, the Vega FE outperforms in the Depth of Field and Particle Physics tests.

When it comes to the eGPU, its true power shines through in the LuxMark benchmark. This benchmark puts OpenCL-based rendering to the test, challenging the eGPU to render more and more complex scenes. And boy, does the eGPU deliver! The Vega FE, in particular, takes the lead with speeds that blow the competition out of the water. It’s up to 10 times faster than the Intel UHD 630 and up to 6 times faster than the Radeon Pro 560X.

When it comes to game rendering, the mighty Vega FE outshines the Radeon Pro 560X in the cross-platform benchmark Unigine Valley. In fact, it’s more than twice as fast! Unfortunately, we couldn’t include the Intel UHD 630 GPU in the chart because we couldn’t run the test on macOS. But don’t worry, I’ve got the scoop on the performance of the other two.

So, here’s the scenario: I decided to test out the game “Rise of the Tomb Raider” on my macOS. I used the “High” graphics preset at a resolution of 1920×1200, and guess what? The Vega FE GPU turned out to be more than twice as fast as the Radeon Pro 560X. Impressive, right?

A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Now, let’s talk about whether this eGPU setup is worth it financially. It’s not surprising that a high-end desktop GPU would outperform the built-in options in Apple’s MacBook lineup. The real question is, is it cost effective?

When it comes to eGPU options, you usually have to buy the enclosure and graphics card separately. For example, the Razer Core X enclosure itself costs $300. As for the Vega Frontier Edition GPU I used, it’s a bit hard to find nowadays, but a similar Vega 64 can range from $400 to as much as $750. Of course, there are cheaper options that will still give your MacBook Pro a nice graphics boost.

But in my case, if I were to buy both the enclosure and GPU, it would cost up to $1,000. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but when you consider the cost of buying a whole new Mac, it’s actually a relatively low-cost upgrade that brings a lot of power. And if you’re working on a time-sensitive project that relies heavily on GPU tasks, the speed gains you’ll get from the eGPU will more than make up for the initial cost.


Now, if you’re thinking of setting up an eGPU for your Mac, you might be wondering which GPU brand to go for. Well, right now, there are two major players in the discrete GPU market: AMD and NVIDIA. While AMD holds its own against NVIDIA in the lower and mid-tier price ranges, NVIDIA’s high-end cards are generally faster.

However, if you’re planning to exclusively use the eGPU with macOS, I recommend sticking with AMD. Why? Because macOS already has drivers for AMD graphics, as Apple uses AMD options across its product line. NVIDIA GPUs can work, but you’ll need special drivers from NVIDIA, and they often lag behind macOS updates. In fact, as of now, the NVIDIA drivers for macOS Mojave haven’t even been released, so your high-end NVIDIA GPU wouldn’t work at all on the latest macOS.

While NVIDIA GPUs still work on older macOS versions, on Windows via Boot Camp, and on Thunderbolt 3-capable Windows PCs, they’re not the best choice for Mac users who want to run the latest macOS version. Hopefully, NVIDIA and Apple will improve their collaboration in the future to provide better GPU drivers for macOS, but for now, AMD is the way to go for easy installation and optimal performance.

eGPU Options for macOS

Now, you may be wondering about other external graphics enclosures besides the Razer Core X that I used in my test. Well, here are some other options you can consider (as of the time of writing this article):

Device Built-in Power Supply Max Charging Power Price
OWC Mercury Helios FX 550W 87W $299.99
PowerColor eGFX Gaming Station 550W 87W $299.99
Sapphire GearBox 500W 60W $339.00
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 350W
Razer Core X 650W 100W $299.99
AKiTiO Node 400W 15W $227.99

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