Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 evaluation: quiet GPU energy for Intel Macs

Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 evaluation: quiet GPU energy for Intel Macs

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If you wish to improve your Intel-based transportable Mac, however don’t need a big field in your desk, the Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 is an effective alternative — right now.

The eGPU enclosure is an effective way to extend the efficiency of your present Mac or MacBook with out paying to improve the unit for a more recent mannequin. It is cost-effective and will doubtlessly lead to a higher-performing Mac than Apple might present for a similar worth.

The PCI-e eGPU enclosures nonetheless have one large problem — they’re hefty packing containers that sit on or close to your desk, taking over a number of desk area, and so they carry out finest with an exterior monitor, as a substitute of looping again to a MacBook Professional’s inner show. Given the designs of some fashions, they’ll additionally stick out like a sore thumb, as a everlasting and unmistakable reminder that you simply needed extra GPU efficiency than the Mac might present by itself.

The Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 tries to tackle the issue by packing all the principle performance of an eGPU enclosure right into a compact gadget. As an alternative of an enclosure massive sufficient to carry some small Home windows PCs, the Breakaway Puck is sufficiently small to be hidden on a desk or behind a monitor utilizing a VESA mount, taking over as little room as attainable whereas nonetheless offering the identical energy.

Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 – Key specs

  • 6 inches by 5.1 inches by 2 inches.
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports, 1 DisplayPort 1.4, 1 HDMI 2.0b, 2 USB 3.2 Kind-A
  • 60W energy supply
  • AMD Radeon RX 5700 GPU

Small and highly effective

Sonnet declares the Breakaway Puck to be the “smallest transportable all-in-one eGPU dock,” and at a look, that looks like a great descriptor. Measuring simply 6 inches by 5.1 inches and a couple of inches tall, the puck has a smaller footprint than a Mac mini, and is not a lot taller.

The power brick is half the size of the Breakaway Puck. (iPhone 11 Pro for scale)
The ability brick is half the scale of the Breakaway Puck. (iPhone 11 Professional for scale)

Like different space-saving {hardware}, the ability adapter is a hefty energy brick, transferring the majority of power-related electronics out of the principle physique.

The ability brick alone is 3 inches vast by 6.1 inches lengthy and 1.2 inches thick, making it fairly substantial in dimension in comparison with the gadget it powers. Since there is a prolonged energy cable in use, this brick might be tucked out of the best way to attenuate the general look, but it surely’s nonetheless very a lot one thing to think about. That stated, behind-desk area is at a lot much less of a premium than on-desk space.

Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 – Connectivity choices

Like different eGPUs, the Breakaway Puck gives additional connectivity choices past Thunderbolt 3. As soon as related to a number Mac utilizing Thunderbolt 3, there is a small choice of ports out there, each for video and different functions.

Sonnet included quite a few ports on the back of the Breakaway Puck.
Sonnet included fairly a number of ports on the again of the Breakaway Puck.

There are a complete of two Thunderbolt 3 ports, so the unit can type a part of a daisy-chain if required. There’s additionally 60W of energy supply over Thunderbolt 3, which will likely be sufficient to recharge a 13-inch MacBook Professional whereas it’s getting used.

The opposite video choices embody a DisplayPort 1.4 port and an HDMI 2.0b port. A pair of USB 3.2 Kind-A ports spherical out the listing, every with a possible knowledge switch charge of 5Gbps.

With these connection choices, you’ll be able to handle many alternative combos of shows, relying in your necessities.

The Thunderbolt 3 ports can help a 6K-resolution display screen at 60Hz when utilizing a Thunderbolt 3-compatible show, such because the Professional Show XDR, although it could actually additionally deal with a 5K-resolution monitor at 60Hz over USB-C. Sonnet additionally claims the Thunderbolt 3 connection helps two 4K shows at 60Hz when utilizing its Thunderbolt 3 to Twin DisplayPort or Twin HDMI 2.0 adapters.

The onboard DisplayPort 1.4 connection can deal with a 4K display screen or a Twin QHD model at a decision of 5,120×1,440, at 60Hz apiece. The HDMI 2.0b port can help a 4K display screen at 60Hz.

Works with Intel Macs, however not at the moment M1

There are a selection of limitations on what you are able to do with it. As we speak, the Breakaway Puck will work with Intel-based Macs with Thunderbolt 3, as Apple has but to offer any eGPU help on its M1-based Apple Silicon Mac lineup.

It’s attainable to make use of the Breakaway Puck beneath macOS Catalina 10.15.7 or later, with it additionally being suitable with Macs operating macOS Large Sur.

Nevertheless, Sonnet warns it’s not licensed to be used with Home windows. Sonnet’s help web page explains Home windows at the moment doesn’t help a Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C show related to a Thunderbolt 3 port, and that eGPU help just isn’t attainable beneath Boot Camp, proper now. Sonnet says that they are ready on a repair from Microsoft, however who is aware of how lengthy that is going to take.

Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 – Transportable, quiet efficiency

Offering the graphical energy of the Breakaway Puck is an AMD Radeon RX 5700, with 8GB of GDDR6 reminiscence. This not AMD’s “Large Navi,” and there’s no help for that in any respect in macOS but, but it surely does have 36 compute models, 2,304 stream processors, and 10.3 billion transistors.

It has base and boosted clock speeds of 1.4GHz and 1.7GHz, peak single-precision compute efficiency of seven.95 teraflops, a peak half precision compute efficiency of 15.9 teraflops, and reminiscence velocity and bandwidth of 14Gbps and as much as 448GB/s, respectively.

Geekbench’s Metallic benchmarks put the RX 5700 at 42,017 factors, very far forward of the default Radeon Professional 5300M 4GB within the 16-inch MacBook Prowith 24,346 factors, and even pips out the highest tier Radeon Professional 5600M at 40,966.

To check the efficiency, we benchmarked the Breakaway Puck towards different on-hand GPUs. For this, we used the Unigine Haven and GeekBench OpenCL benchmarks.

Many of the checks had been carried out on a 2018 15-inch MacBook Professional with a Core i9 processor and 32GB of reminiscence. Whereas it has onboard Intel UHD Graphics 630 and Radeon Professional 560X GPUs, we additionally in contrast the Puck towards a Radeon VII in a Razer Core X eGPU case.

We additionally put an M1 Mac mini via the identical outcomes to check the Puck towards Apple Silicon.

GeekBench 5 OpenCL benchmark scores.
GeekBench 5 OpenCL benchmark scores.

Beneath GeekBench 5’s OpenCL check, the Breakaway Puck manages to realize 50,290 factors. That is respectable in contrast with the Radeon VII, which has twice the reminiscence and a significantly wider 4096-bit reminiscence bus.

The Breakaway Puck can be a substantial enchancment over the built-in GPUs, with it scoring 9 instances greater than the Intel built-in graphics and greater than double the 18,114 of the discrete Radeon Professional 560X.

The Breakaway Puck scored greater than double the M1 Mac mini’s 19,542 rating. It is a sensible demonstration that the Breakaway Puck might be a possible graphical improve for M1 Macs, assuming Apple ever provides help for eGPUs.

Unigine Heaven benchmark scores.
Unigine Heaven benchmark scores.

The Unigine Heaven benchmark gives just about the identical story as GeekBench, with the Radeon VII within the eGPU enclosure taking the lead with 4,128 factors and 163.9 frames per second. Sonnet’s gadget nonetheless reaches 3,328 factors and 132.1 frames per second.

Within the decrease half of the desk, the M1 Mac mini would not fairly handle to realize half the efficiency of the Breakaway Puck, at 1,604 factors and 63.7frames per second. Lastly, the built-in graphics of the MacBook Professional got here in final at 1,112 factors and 44.1 frames per second.

Throughout all of those checks, which had been carried out in an workplace with a background of 37 dBA, the Razer enclosure hit about 53 dBA, principally as a result of fan on the video card. When testing the MacBook Professional by itself, it hit 48 dBA. Testing with the exterior GPU related to the MacBook Professional peaked at 46 dBA.

The massive takeaway right here is that the Breakaway Puck can present a efficiency enhance when put next towards the built-in graphical choices Apple consists of in its present Intel-based and Apple Silicon Macs. Within the examined examples, the Breakaway Puck offers greater than double the efficiency, making it a viable improve path, when compatibility exists.

No improve choices

One of many fundamental tradeoffs in utilizing the Breakaway Puck is that it can’t be upgraded. In any respect.

Upgradeability is the principle good thing about bigger and louder eGPU enclosures, because it’s comparatively trivial to interchange the graphics card with a extra highly effective model. There’s additionally the choice with different fashions to purchase the enclosure and set up your individual card — assuming you may get a card at or close to retail pricing.

You don't have the option to change the GPU in the Breakaway Puck due to its size (iPhone 11 Pro for scale)
You do not have the choice to vary the GPU within the Breakaway Puck because of its dimension (iPhone 11 Professional for scale)

These are belongings you actually can not do with the Breakaway Puck. If you would like one other with a sooner GPU, you don’t have any alternative however to attend for an up to date mannequin to return out with a greater chipset, and change your entire unit.

This might not be a giant deal for anybody who prioritizes area and appearances over utility, however it might appear to be wasteful to these erring in direction of the latter.

Cheaper — for the second

Relying in your priorities and the way usually you plan to improve your graphical capabilities, it might be worthwhile going for an eGPU, albeit with caveats.

For those who needed to purchase a Breakaway Puck RX 5700, Sonnet will promote you one for $899.99.

Choosing an exterior method would imply choosing up an enclosure and the eGPU individually. For the enclosure, getting Sonnet’s eGFX Breakaway Field will set you again $299.99, which is able to go away you with $600 to amass the comparable RX 5700 as a graphics card.

Given the RX 5700 had an preliminary launch RRP of $349.99, this might appear to be a no brainer for anybody involved with efficiency somewhat than aesthetics. This may put the theoretical package deal worth at simply shy of $650, saving you $250.

The affect of the continued semiconductor provide chain scarcity, and the calls for of cryptocurrency mining, have severely impacted the high-end graphics card market. So, good luck discovering a card, even an older one, at retail worth.

Not solely are you able to not get a graphics card of that caliber simply, however in instances the place you’ll be able to, you may find yourself paying a substantial premium.

For instance, the RX 5700 XT, a slight step up from the RX 5700, had a beneficial retail worth at launch of $399.99. Searches for the cardboard via on-line retailers in March 2020 reveal worth tags of between $1,300 and $1,500 for the cardboard, a number of instances AMD’s supposed promoting worth.

Beneath regular video card pricing, taking place the route of discrete enclosure and card has its advantages each from an expandability standpoint and a monetary one. However, proper now, there is a monetary penalty, making the Puck extra enticing — right now.

Down the road, when the GPU market settles again right down to saner worth ranges and demand is not an issue, discrete enclosures and graphics playing cards stands out as the higher approach to go. However, that day is not right now and we aren’t anticipating it any time quickly.

Future unsure, shake magic GPU later

It is not clear what Apple goes to to about PCI-e GPU help. Additionally unclear, is the way forward for your entire Thunderbolt eGPU idea.

Clearly, you probably have an Intel Mac and freeze your {hardware} right now at Large Sur model 11.2.3, and have a RX 5700XT or older in any type, you are good to go together with an eGPU or Mac Professional. Tomorrow is much less sure.

Within the quick time period, we’re anticipating “Large Navi” help in macOS, if for no different motive than to provide Mac Professional homeowners extra choices with the array of PCI-e slots that it has. Alternatively, Apple Silicon would not have any help for eGPUs in any respect, and there are not any indicators of a M-whatever Mac Professional on the horizon.

An Apple Silicon Mac Professional appears inevitable, and we’re hoping when that day comes it’s going to carry alongside PCI-e help, and help for GPUs apart from the built-in one. However, we have additionally been hoping the return of Nvidia GPU help for a number of years, and that hasn’t manifested both.

So, for right now, the Breakaway Puck RX 5700 is an effective mix of worth, efficiency, and availability for Intel Mac homeowners. It is quieter than a full-size enclosure and card, suits in a smaller area even contemplating the discrete energy provide, and is cheaper proper now.

So, in brief, in March of 2021, we just like the Breakaway Puck RX 5700 very a lot. The reply to the identical query could also be totally different in two or three years for any one in every of quite a few causes.


  • Compact dimension
  • Highly effective RX 5700 GPU
  • Many video connectivity choices


  • No GPU improve choices
  • Massive energy brick

The place to purchase

The Sonnet eGPU Breakaway Puck RX 5700 might be purchased from B&H Picture for $899.99.


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