Apple Silicon M1 eGPU support might still be coming

The new M1 Macs have taken over the Web with news about their astounding performance, an admirable feat for Apple's first stab at an ARM-based desktop chip. The Apple Silicon ran circles around their Intel counterparts and even bested NVIDIA's and AMD's older desktop GPUs. Despite that, the MacBooks could probably still do even better if paired with an external graphics card or eGPU. Sadly, that was officially not the case but it might actually only be a matter of time before eGPU support for macOS Big Sur on M1 Macs returns.

To be fair, the exclusion of eGPU support was expected but also disappointing nonetheless. The move to an ARM architecture meant that older device drivers will not work directly on the new Macs, even and especially with emulation. Apple had to prioritize which peripherals it wanted to work with the M1 Macs on day one and eGPUs may not be that critical to the majority of its users anyway. Additionally, Apple wanted to flaunt the superior graphics capabilities of the M1 Silicon, without any external assistance.

But while eGPU support was officially off the list, it seems that the foundations are still there in Big Sur anyway. AppleInsider reports that the operating is actually able to detect eGPUs like the Blackmagic and Razer Core X connected to the Macs. Displays connected via the eGPUs' Thunderbolt 3 ports also functions as normal but acted more like a passthrough. They stop working if connected directly to the cards.

The site theorizes that the lack of drivers is the primary reason for holding back eGPU support, which wouldn't be surprising. There's also the factor that Apple's implementation is slightly more arcane and requires more time to get it working again. eGPU support isn't exactly standardized yet even on Intel-based computers either.

When that support will finally land is still up in the air and Apple might not be in a rush if the number of Mac eGPU users is quite small in the first place. It will most likely focus more on pushing the M1's graphics prowess to the point that most users won't feel the need for anything other than Apple GPUs anyway.