For most of Apple’s existence, gaming on the Mac has meant second-rate performance, particularly for the dollar. While there have been a handful of exceptions over the years — often only when major GPU refresh cycles happened to precisely coincide with Mac refresh cycles — the GPU performance available in a Mac has vastly lagged what you can buy in a PC.
Yesterday, at WWDC, the Cupertino company announced several new initiatives and products that should make VR on Macs far more plausible, as well as drive higher Mac gaming performance in general. The company’s new Metal 2 API, the successor to its Metal API, and is supposedly up to 10x faster than its predecessor, and will be included in its High Sierra macOS update. Metal 2 has also been credited with adding support for external graphics arrays, which appear to be based on AMD’s XConnect technology and run via Thunderbolt 3.
The entire point of Thunderbolt 3 is to extend the PCI Express bus in a way that’s essentially transparent to the operating system. To the OS, when you plug in a Thunderbolt device, you’re hooking it up via PCI Express (the exact version of PCIe depends on the version of Thunderbolt you’re using and the controller chip used to connect the ports to the rest of the system).
The new external enclosures will include an RX 580 card and will use a Sonnet external GPU chassis. The initial dev kits will also ship with a dedicated 350W power supply, Belkin USB-C to four-port USB A hub, a promotion code for $100 off on an HTC Vive, and a $599 list price.