Apple taps AMD for graphics in refreshed MacBook Pros

MacBook Pro 15-inch

Apple has revealed it'll be shipping MacBook Pros powered by AMD’s Radeon Pro Vega graphics chips, significantly boosting performance compared to its notebooks using the Radeon Pro 560X.

AMD’s Vega Pro chips are quieter than the company's previous chips and because they make use of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2), the memory bandwidth to the GPU is doubled, allowing the GPU to take more of the graphics load.

The chip will be particularly handy for those in the media and creative industries, with Apple highlighting they've been designed for video, 3D, rendering, and compute workloads - ie., any application that uses a chunk of GPU.

AMD’s super-powered graphics chips have already been integrated into Apple’s desktops, including the iMac Pro models, but this is the first time they'll appear in the more compact machines, meaning power is now much more portable.

Although Apple will be installing Vega graphics chips in a selection of its MacBook Pros, if you're not quite ready to splash out on a completely new (very expensive) machine, it'll also be shipping an external GPU enclosure to connect a desktop AMD graphics card to supercharge the power of a non-Vega laptop. Although this means you'll have to lug an extra piece of kit around with you, it's probably worth that little extra weight when you consider you can essentially get desktop power on your laptop.

Apple will be offering Vega chips in its 15-inch MacBook Pros, with either the Radeon Pro Vega 20 or Radeon Pro Vega 16 chip installed from the 14 November.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.