Give your Thunderbolt 3 equipped laptop a boost when running DaVinci Resolve with the Blackmagic eGPU, Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box and eGFX Breakaway Puck.
The best way to speed up DaVinci Resolve on a Thunderbolt 3 equipped Windows laptop, Macbook Pro or iMac is to use an external GPU. If you’re struggling with DaVinci Resolve performance, please also take a look at my post on DaVinci Resolve minimum system requirements.
Here are three DaVinci Resolve eGPU options worth considering.
The Blackmagic eGPU is available in two models. An entry level Blackmagic eGPU comes with an 8GB Radeon Pro 580 and costs $699. The Blackmagic eGPU Pro comes with an 8GB Radeon RX Vega 56 an costs $1,199.
Both of these eGPU’s connect to your laptop via Thunderbolt 3, and will charge your laptop while connected. The Blackmagic eGPU also gives you a 4K HDMI output, an additional Thunderbolt 3 connection and four USB 3 ports. The Blackmagic eGPU Pro features an additional displayport supporting an external display at up to 5K resolution.
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box
If you don’t want to be tied to a particular GPU, the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is a good solution. It’s compatible with most GPU cards on the market and is likely to be upgradable for a while to come.
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box is an external Thunderbolt 3 to PCIe interface that can accommodate a full-length, full-height, single- or double-width card. You need to supply the GPU, as it isn’t included like the Blackmagic eGPU. There are two readily available Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box models to choose from.
eGFX Breakaway Box 550
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 550 can be found for around $280 and supports cards requiring 375W of power (equivalent to 600W recommended system power). This model supports nearly every compatible GPU card. Exceptions are the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition, WX 9100, and overclocked NVIDIA cards with high peak power requirements.
eGFX Breakaway Box 650
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box 650 is a bit more expensive at around $366. However, it supports more power hungry cards requiring 375W of continuous power plus an additional 100W peak power (equivalent to 750W recommended system power). This model is AMD approved for the air-cooled editions of the AMD Radeon RX Vega 64, Vega Frontier Edition, and Radeon Pro WX 9100. It also supports overclocked NVIDIA cards with high peak power requirements.
Compatible GPU Cards
Check the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box GPU Compatibility list for a full list of GPU cards. Be sure to check the OS compatibility. Most of the AMD Radeon GPU cards are compatible with macOS (High Sierra 10.13.6 and higher) but Nvidia cards are not. Both AMD and Nvidia cards are compatible with Windows.
The eGFX Breakaway Box does support 120mm x 1, single-fan radiators. This enables higher overclocking. The supplied system fan can simply be replaced with the radiator/fan assembly.
Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck
The Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck is a compact eGPU with an integrated GPU. It’s available in two models, with either a Radeon RX560 or Radeon RX570. Both models have 4GB video memory and will supply 45W of power for charging a laptop while connected. One 4K HDMI connection and three displayport connections support up to four 4K displays.
The Radeon RX560 equipped eGFX Breakaway Puck is priced at around $399 and the Radeon RX570 equipped version is priced around $499.
DaVinci Resolve eGPU Recommendation
While the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck is the smallest and least expensive solution, it also provides only 4GB video memory in either configuration. For this reason, I recommend the Blackmagic eGPU with the 8GB Radeon Pro 580 as the best value for money. It also provides a higher charging output of 85W and an additional Thunderbolt 3 connection.
Power and Upgradability
If you’re looking for more power than the Blackmagic eGPU, I recommend looking at the Sonnect eGFX Breakaway Box 550 with a GPU of your choice. I think this is a more flexible option than going for the Blackmagic eGPU Pro. It also allows you to upgrade the GPU later on.
If you’re on a very tight budget and can’t stretch for the $699 Blackmagic eGPU, then the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Puck with the Radeon RX560 at $399 is a good choice. The Radeon RX570 version at $499 is only $200 below the Blackmagic eGPU and I’d highly recommend making that stretch if you already have $500 to spend.