You can connect a PC graphics card to a Macbook Air… and it works

One of the biggest things that PC gamers say to make fun of Mac users is the fact that Macs are non-upgradeable. With the announcement of the new Mac Pro last month, it seemed like the days of customizable Macs has come to an end.

Or is it? Larry Gadea, one of the users on the Tech Inferno forums, thinks that there may be a solution. In the video, he is shown hooking up a GeForce GTX 570 eGPU to a 2013 11″ Macbook Air with the use of a variety of different adapters. First, he hooks up his video card to a PCI Express port, which is actually an adapter that allows him to hook it up to an ExpressCard slot. Next, he takes an Express Card to Thunderbolt adapter and, finally, hooks up the whole rig to the tiny 11″ Macbook Air. He actually had a few things to say about this set up:

“It has become very clear that gaming is not only high-performance, but super practical on an 11″ Macbook Air. There’s so much going against it: this hodgepodge of adapters, it has a low voltage CPU, disaster of wiring and exposed sensitive parts, crazy boot-time chainloading software, Intel killing companies producing adapters and products left right and center via legal threats, etc. but somehow, with the right parts and some patience, it works spectacularly. And is quite cheap too!”

One of the neat things about this set up is that you can easily unplug it, so if you actually wanted to use your 11″ Macbook Air as a laptop on the go, you can. Theoretically, this set up can be used for other Thunderbolt-equipped Macs like the iMac and the soon to be released Mac Pro. For skeptical PC gamers who are looking to have something to say to Mac users, here it is: The set up only works with Boot Camp, with an installed Windows partition, due to the graphics card driver requirements. A lot of the technical information, including benchmarking, can be found in this forum thread.

While I’m pretty impressed with Larry’s passion to improve graphics rendering on a Macbook Air, I’m curious if he can somehow commoditize this thing. Most Mac users don’t want to be bothered with doing the grunt work of hooking all these things up, let alone be bothered with buying the necessary hardware. Still, the fact that this is a possibility is fantastic news, and I fully expect that certain Mac users, who are also gamers, will look into this opportunity and get to play more current games, rather than later. As a Mac user, my curiosity’s piqued.


0 thoughts on “You can connect a PC graphics card to a Macbook Air… and it works

  1. This is beyond stupid. For the cost of 1 Mac Book Air….you could build a PC gaming rig, that would blow this Frankenstein piece of crap out of the water…and run Apple OS as well, a VM, via the hypervisor.


    1. I don’t doubt that his definition of “high-performance” or “super practical” is a bit skewed, especially with Macs, but this brings to light something that gamers with laptops – whether they have PCs or Macs for that matter – would like to have.

      One of the biggest problems with laptops, even alleged “gaming” laptops, is that they’ll never have the horsepower to match desktop computers. The proposal here is to externalize at least some of the horsepower that desktops have so that laptop users can still use their computers as a portable device and, when home, they can still enjoy graphically intensive games. This post is just an example of one such idea, but people have been doing this on PCs for years now as well. This Youtube video talks about how it can be done on PCs:


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