Over the last week I gave some thought to getting a decent gaming PC. I also have a PS4 that I play most of my non-Mac games on. My Alienware Alpha handles the general games that Windows is the only way to play the game, or I need the PC multiplayer.
I then started thinking about just getting en eGPU for my MacBook Pro, and running Bootcamp. I have an i7 15" from 2016, with 16gb of ram. After reading the egpu.io forums, getting Bootcamp and an eGPU to work on machines with a discrete GPU (like mine), is a pain in the ass. You basically need to hack a few things, and shut off PCI lanes on the MBP.
Then I stumbled on this Reddit post about a user’s experience with Parallels and gaming. He claimed it was largely impossible to tell the difference between Bootcamp and Parallels. This is because Parallels uses Metal 2 to handle all the graphics stuff in between Windows and the display.
So, I decided to do some tests. I used my 2016 15" with the Radeon 455 with Parallels running on an external drive, and my Alpha R1. I recorded the benchmarks as best I could. If the game had a built in benchmark, I used that. Otherwise I used Steam to just keep an eye on FPS and ballpark the averages. It wasn’t scientific, but I could handle some margin of error. If the game had a macOS version, I also used that as a control. My benchmarks are at the end of the post.
Even without the eGPU. yeah, he was correct. There were two odd things I noticed: I have no idea why the Alpha benchmark for Tomb Raider was so high, other than maybe it defaulting to a different graphics setting; and any online game (Destiny 2 and WoW) really struggled on the VM. This is a non-issue for me since I was just using those games to collect data. It was interesting to see there really wasn’t a hell of a difference between all of them.
I am likely going to get the eGPU this summer. I still don’t think I will buy a lot of AAA-style games even on PC with it. Those, I will just use my PS4 and soon to be PS5 for. My main goal is to try and get as functionally close to a minimal one-device setup as I can. But, for some of my games this will work great.