Many PC gamers and enthusiasts will tell anyone that it is not a very good idea to game on a Mac. Apart from the somewhat outdated hardware, the laptops and computers are well-known for performance throttling when the going gets tough. However, many still try by relying on updates from third-party developers to release the updated device drivers for their hardware.
This is basically what NVIDIA has done. Although Apple is now using AMD graphics cards on its current line of laptops and computers, there is still a tiny niche of eGPU and Hackintosh enthusiasts who need driver support for the latest NVIDIA Pascal graphics cards.
The last time Apple used an NVIDIA graphics card on a Mac was back in 2013. And at the time, even the Mac Pro has already switched to an AMD graphics card. Only the MacBook Pro and iMac remained with NVIDIA; at least until the following year. Nevertheless, with NVIDIA releasing a slew of new drivers for the latest Pascal-based graphics cards, it is still relevant in today’s Mac computing.
When does one use an NVIDIA graphics card on a Mac?
As mentioned, Apple has already switched to AMD in terms of graphics cards. Nevertheless, there are many third-party hardware that enables users to sort of equip a Mac with an NVIDIA graphics card, and that is through eGPU hardware.
Another way one can use the NVIDIA Pascal drivers is through what is called the Hackintosh. A Hackintosh is a hodgepodge of various common PC hardware that is made to run like a Mac. More details of it are discussed below.
What is eGPU?
An External Graphics Processing Unit or eGPU is a standalone piece of hardware that provides added graphical support to an existing PC system. Instead of installing a graphics card inside the actual computer, an eGPU provides the same feature as a proper graphics card albeit it is situated outside of the computer. The only link between the eGPU and the host computer is a length of cable: either Thunderbolt or USB.
An eGPU helps boost system performance
For a PC, it is quite easy to swap or replace a piece of hardware, for instance, a graphics card. However, on a Mac, since pretty much everything is custom made, there is really not a lot one can do to change the hardware in order to improve performance. Most of the time, Mac users are stuck with what Apple puts inside a Mac system, be it a MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac Pro. However, those who want to add more graphics processing power to their existing Mac setup can do so by using an eGPU.
The eGPU will act as a standard graphics processor to a performance-constrained Mac. Right now, the most used interface port for an eGPU is either USB 3.1 to Thunderbolt 3. There are older eGPU systems that support Thunderbolt 2 as well. However, these systems can oftentimes introduce a bottleneck between the graphics card and the host computer due to slower data lines.
So what if NVIDIA released Pascal drivers for the Mac?
This is where it gets pretty interesting. At the moment, NVIDIA has the most powerful graphics card in the market. And it will be releasing another one pretty soon: the NVIDIA Titan Xp. Since Macs only support AMD processors and older NVIDIA graphics cards, the new ones, like the NVIDIA GTC 1050 to 1080 are still unsupported. This means, gamers are stuck in using the AMD graphics cards even if they have an eGPU hardware.
Who else can benefit from the NVIDIA Pascal drivers?
Apart from eGPU users, there is also a very small group of, what you can say unofficial Mac users, who will benefit from the driver update: the Hackintosh community.
The Hackintosh community is a relatively small group of Mac enthusiasts. This community has succeeded in porting the Mac OS to run outside of an official Mac system. These devices are made from common PC hardware and runs an unlicensed version of the Mac OS, hence the name Hackintosh.
Although not completely legal, Apple somewhat tolerates Hackintosh users. However, it is clearly stated in its end user license agreement for the Mac OS that when used outside of official Mac hardware, its usage is deemed illegal. Nevertheless, as mentioned earlier, it is a very small community although it tends to grow bigger with every passing year.
NVIDIA Pascal driver release date
With NVIDIA releasing Mac support for the GeForce GTX 1050 and above, it changes the game altogether. Now, extreme gamers who are also fans of the Mac will be able to enjoy their favorite games on any Mac system. Not only that, they will also be able to enjoy the games in the best possible graphics settings.
While the NVIDIA Pascal drivers do not affect the entire Mac ecosystem directly, it is still a rather big deal. Especially to extreme gaming and Mac enthusiasts. Gone are the days of limited hardware support. Now, everyone can enjoy whatever hardware they want to add on their Mac systems. Users can finally upgrade their older Maxwell-based 9 series graphics cards for a more powerful Pascal 10 series GPUs.
NVIDIA is set to release the Pascal drivers for the Mac sometime next week. As mentioned earlier, it will include support to all the new series 10 graphics cards from the company. Unfortunately, the release will be in beta form. Meaning, users will need extra care in using the drivers as they are not fully tested yet. The beta driver will surely contain a fair bit of bugs that will need to be sorted out.
Users are urged to perform regular data backups in case your system experiences a fatal bug. For more tech updates, be sure to check us out at TheBitbag.