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Kickstarter campaign pitching external GPU for MacBook Pro, promising up to 10x performance increase

A Kickstarter campaign which got fully-funded on day one is offering a choice of two external GPUs for MacBook Pros that offer up to ten times the performance of the top-end built-in one. Connected via Thunderbolt 2 or 3, the Wolfe Pro gets you an NVIDIA GTX 970 GPU for $599, with estimated delivery in March 2017.

The GTX 970 has 1664 cores operating at 1050MHz, for a peak computing power of 3.49 teraflops, with rendering speeds almost ten times higher than a maxed-out 15-inch MacBook Pro with AMD R9 M370X GPU. Frame rates exceed 70 frames per second, creating a machine suitable for high-end gaming and VR applications.

The company also promises that backers will be given the option of upgrading to the even more powerful GTX 1060 when available …

If you don’t need quite that level of performance, the standard model is equipped with an NVIDIA GTX 950 GPU, giving you 768 cores operating at 1024MHz for a peak computing power of 1.57 teraflops. That still gets you more than 50fps and rendering speeds four-times faster than a top-end 15-inch MBP for $449 (or $399 if you’re quick).

There’s also a $269 DIY box allowing you to use your own GPU. All three boxes give you three DisplayPort 1.3 outputs and one HDMI.

However, given that the project is already fully-funded, and all the Early Bird Pro models have gone, you might want to hold fire for now to see what Apple has in store. It’s been reported that this year’s MacBook Pro will offer the option of an AMD Polaris GPU. This still won’t compete with the Wolfe boxes, but will close the gap somewhat.

Finally, if you’re in the market for a 4K or 5K monitor, it’s also believed that Apple is working on a new 5K monitor with built-in external GPU. There’s no word yet on which GPU, or whether more than one option will be available.

But if you want to jump in now, the Kickstarter campaign has 30 days to run at the time of writing. You’ll be asked whether you want a Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt 3 model later in the campaign. Wolfe says that only Kickstarter backers will get the option of the TB2 version (needed for older machines).

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