Macs are no strangers to graphics cards, and there are plenty of options available to get the most out of your hardware.
Here’s a look at the best Mac graphics cards for your Mac, including a full list of recommended models.
Macs with GPUs that are supported by macOS Sierra, Apple’s latest operating system, include the Intel Core i5-4300, the Intel i7-3770K, the AMD Radeon R9 290, and the Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti.
Some Macs, like the Apple MacBook Pro, also have discrete GPUs that support Intel’s new Core i7 and i7+ chipsets.
In this guide, we’ll look at which Macs come with discrete graphics cards that are compatible with macOS Sierra and how they can help you run your Mac smoothly.
Intel Core-i5-4400 (3.4 GHz, Turbo, 10MB Cache) 3.3GHz Intel Core processor; Intel HD Graphics 520 graphics; 2GB GDDR5 memory; Intel Iris Pro graphics; 256GB PCIe 3.0 x4 (up to 512GB) up to 1TB PCIe SSD; Intel Thunderbolt 2; 802.11ac wireless networking; Bluetooth 4.1; SDXC card slot; USB 3.1 Type-C; microSD slot; power adapter for power Macs that have Iris Pro GPUs include the MacBook Pro 13 (Late 2017), 13 (Early 2018), 13 Pro (Late 2018), and 15 (Early 2019), as well as the iMac Pro 13, 17, 17 (Late 2016), and 27 (Early 2017).
All three of these Macs support discrete GPUs, but the newer MacBook Pro and the newer iMac Pros have more integrated graphics and a more capable Thunderbolt 3 port.
Macbooks with discrete GPUs are typically a good fit for Macs in the lower-end price bracket, but if you’re on a budget, you can look at Macs like the MacBook Air 13 with Intel Iris graphics, MacBook Pro 11 (Early 2016), 13, and 13 (Mid 2017), or the Mac Pro 11.2 (Mid 2018).
The MacBook Pro 12 has integrated GPUs, as does the MacBook 13, but those models have no Thunderbolt 3 ports.
All of these models can run macOS Sierra without issue, but they don’t come with Iris graphics.
AMD Radeon HD 7970M (3 GHz, 8MB Cache, 512GB GDDR3) 4.8GHz AMD Radeon graphics; 512GB GeForce GTX 1070 graphics; 4GB GDDR4 memory; 2TB PCIe 3, SATA3, or Thunderbolt 3 SSD; 802-11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 5.0; SD card slot Macs featuring AMD Radeon GPUs include MacBook Pro 14 (Early 2020), 13 and 13 Pro, and MacBook Pro 15 (Late 2019), with discrete Radeon HD 7770M graphics.
The older MacBook Pro (Early 2015) and the older MacBook Pros have integrated GPUs that can run Sierra without problems.
The MacBook Air 15 (Mid 2016) and 15 Pro (Mid 2019) also feature integrated GPUs with 4GB of RAM.
The Radeon HD 7870M is the most powerful graphics card available for Mac, with up to 4GB per GPU.
However, it is the least expensive option available in the lineup.
AMD cards typically come with an integrated GPU.
Mac computers without integrated GPUs generally run OS X Mavericks and Sierra without issues.
3rd-party options include the Nvidia Quadro FX 370 (8GB GDDR6, 512MB GDDR3), GeForce GTX 1060 (8Gbps, 8GB GDDR7, 512 MB GDDR3, 256MB GDDR5), and GeForce GTX 970 (8Gb GDDR5, 512 GB GDDR3).
Macs without integrated graphics also run OS 10.10 El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mountain Lion, and macOS Sierra Sierra is the only operating system on which you can’t upgrade from the previous version.
All the graphics cards listed in this guide are currently in stock at Macworld.
Macworld has also tested the graphics chips from several other vendors, but this list includes a limited number of them.
3 Apple MacBook Pros and 13 MacBook Pros The MacBook Pros feature discrete graphics chips, which means they can run OS Sierra without any issues.
The graphics chips are not available in Apple stores, but Apple is actively shipping them in Macworld’s online inventory.
Apple’s MacBook Pro is one of the most popular models in the Macbook lineup, but it is also the most expensive.
The Macbook Pro has a price tag of $2,199, but its base price of $1,199 includes a one-year warranty.
For comparison, a 12-inch MacBook Pro has an estimated MSRP of $3,799.
For the most part, Macbooks come with integrated graphics, so it’s not difficult to see why Macs need discrete graphics.
All Macs from the 12- to 13-inch range are Intel-based, but some of the MacBook Pros are