November 2, 2016

BizonBOX 3 is First Mac Thunderbolt 3 GPU Expander Out of the Gate

It's the perfect extension for the new Apple Macbook Pro.

Why would you need a GPU expander for your new Macbook Pro, which already cost you thousands of dollars? Most people—even filmmakers—don't.

However, there are certain situations where you need more graphics power, and a Thunderbolt expansion chassis with a strong graphics card can be a great addition to your system. If you work regularly with video and find yourself waiting on the progress bar more than you would like—either hours-long outputs of a feature in your NLE or days-long renders from programs like Da Vinci Resolve, After Effects, or Maya—adding more graphics horsepower can be a very cost-effective way to speed up the render. While it is expensive, it saves you hours of your life.

In you are on the hunt for "moar PWR" for your new Macbook Pro, you should consider the BizonBOX 3.

Why Thunderbolt 3? Aside from the obvious limitation that the new MBP doesn't use Thunderbolt 2 and only offers Thunderbolt 3 connections, you could use a dongle to attach a Thunderbolt 2 expansion box if you wanted, but it wouldn't take full advantage of the new standard. Thunderbolt 3 has a speed limit of 40gb/s, as opposed to the 20gb/s limit of Thunderbolt 2, and while most devices won't use all the available bandwidth, graphics bandwidth is an area where it will likely be put to use.  

Credit: BizonBox


This box offers an x16 PCIe Version 3 slot with a maximum bandwidth of 15.75 GB/s. Theoretically, it fits within the Thunderbolt 2 standard; in reality, it's at least somewhat limited by it, since protocol overhead takes up some space in the signal and leaves the average throughput at around 11GB/s.

It's surprising that there hasn't been more activity from competitors.

What's most surprising here is that not only is BizonBOX 3 the first Mac compatible GPU expansion box for the new MBP, but, so far, it appears to be the only one released. Thunderbolt 3 isn't a surprise—hard drive manufacturers like Lacie came out with Thunderbolt 3-enabled storage devices almost immediately to support the new laptop. Especially considering the graphics limitations of the new computer (and the Razer Stealth gaming laptop already showing the power of the combination), it's surprising that there hasn't been more activity from competitors such as mLink, Magma, or Sonnet.

BizonBOX 3Credit: Bizon

Bizon has caught some flak in the past for simply reselling Akitio products with a new label and a hefty markup. With that in consideration, the fact that the company uses the older Thunderbolt 2 Macbook Pro next to the BizonBOX 3 in the marketing materials is not a good sign. However, rebranding is one method that many popular companies use to get their start, and Bizon has recently moved into designing its own hardware. The company has developed a good reputation for very involved, responsive customer service after purchase. In you are on the hunt for "moar PWR" for your new Macbook Pro, you should consider the BizonBOX 3.

Available now, with optional graphics cards options.

Tech specs

  • Supports full-length, full-height and double-width cards
  • Aluminum + SECC sheet metal case
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) port, 1 x internal PCIe (x16) slot with 4 lane PCI Express 3.0 interface
  • 1-year limited warranty with 2-year extended option
  • 4.4 Lbs / 2 Kg case
  • 14.17 inches x 3.5 inches x 8.07 inches, 36 cm x 8 cm x 20.5 cm
  • 200W power included, 400W power (for cards like the Titan) optional
  • 6-pin + 8-pin PCI–E power connectors for graphics card, 8-pin + 8-pin with 400W supply

Your Comment

30 Comments

To be fair, they probably couldn't get a new MBP for the photoshoot before product launch.

November 2, 2016 at 4:21PM

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Alex Douglas
Music Video Producer
77

I tested a Thunderbolt 2 version of Bizon Box with GeForce 960ti inside attached to my maxed out trashcan Mac Pro. I run a bunch of tests in Premiere, Davinci, After Effects, and the performance was the same compared to dual D700, even the Thunderbolt 2 speed is slower than PCI (wtf, apple?). This test surprised me very much and also made me sad. However I found one con: you can't set computer to a sleep mode with this box attached. Well, you can, but it won't wake up after. Also you need to disable System Integrity Protection on your MacOs to install tuned Nvidia drivers

November 2, 2016 at 4:55PM

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Andrey Nikolaev
Director of Photography
102

Why would you spend that type of money on a Bizon? Then get a weak card like the GTX 960ti?

Try again with a Maxwell Titan X

November 2, 2016 at 5:03PM

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R
84

They had 960ti only available. As they said, the difference in the performance between these two cards is minor.

November 3, 2016 at 5:56PM

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Andrey Nikolaev
Director of Photography
102

What makes me surprised is you're trying to replace two workstation cards that are specifically made for parallel computing with a mid level gaming card...

November 2, 2016 at 8:40PM

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Oscar Stegland
DP/Steadicam
495

What makes me surprised is 10k computer which gives glitches every render, so I just can't use GPU and have to render via CPU. So I was desperate

November 3, 2016 at 5:55PM

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Andrey Nikolaev
Director of Photography
102

I did nearly exactly what Alex Douglas did with my Mac Pro trashcan, but for different reasons: BECAUSE THE DUAL AMD D500 CARDS DON'T WORK.

Let me clarify, after sending in my Mac Pro for repair and having the cards switched out 3 separate times, my videos would render with a horizontal, glitch artifact, in both DaVinci Resolve and Premiere Pro.

After buying a GeForce 980 Ti card along with the Bizon Box, I was able to solve this problem.

The good news is that it also works on my Macbook Pro, but that has a slower processor and not 64 gigs of RAM.

November 3, 2016 at 1:30AM

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Same story, bro :-(

November 3, 2016 at 5:57PM

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Andrey Nikolaev
Director of Photography
102

Andrey,

It feels good to know I am not alone, but it is terrible that Apple would release a flagship computer that can not edit video with its stock specs (especially at the price tag of <$5,000).

Do you have any issues with your thunderbolt ports connecting to VGA monitors or even thunderbolt to thunderbolt enabled monitors, or any issues connecting monitors through your HDMI port on your Mac Pro?

Thanks,

James

November 3, 2016 at 10:39PM

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Both my monitors are connected via Thunderbolt - Displayport, the only issue I have is some glitches when the computer is booting up, but they are minor.

November 4, 2016 at 7:27PM

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Andrey Nikolaev
Director of Photography
102

Sorry this is a little after the fact, I had a similar issue with my d700's I found that it occurred when I manually updated the nvidia graphics firmware. Caused some issue in how davinici used the d700's. On a whim I did a fresh reinstall of OSX and then DID NOT update the NVIDIA firmware. This might be why you were able to eliminate your problem by using an Nvidia GPU. Or it could be something else entirely.

November 13, 2016 at 10:05PM

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I share your sentiments. I've sent my $10,000 Mac Pro [trashcan] in twice for video card issues. The second time they had to give me a completely new system because they couldn't solve the problem. When I got it back the second time my second 24" Apple LED Cinema display still exhibited the same problems.
And for my lost production time and troubles I was never compensated.
- very frustrating

November 4, 2016 at 11:31AM

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Brian
Senior Producer / Graphic Design Artist
65

In my case it's an overheating problem, so GPU cards replacement does't help. I guess Apple wants us to set up a water cooling system on mac pro

November 4, 2016 at 7:29PM

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Andrey Nikolaev
Director of Photography
102

"This box offers an x16 PCIe Version 3 slot with a maximum bandwidth of 15.75 GB/s. Theoretically, it fits within the Thunderbolt 2 standard"

This is wrong. It's that age old computing mistake: bits and bytes are not the same thing. Capital B vs. lowercase b.

A x16 PCIe 3.0 has 15 GB/s of bandwidth, or a 120 Gb/s.

Thunderbolt 3 has 40 Gb/s or around 5 GB/s of bandwidth – around a third of a x16 PCIe lane. It's actually closer to a x4 PCIe lane in performance, but maybe comparable to a x8 PCIe lane in real life use.

You will not get optimal, peak performance from a graphic card with an external Thunderbolt enclosure (but maybe performance that's good enough, though).

November 2, 2016 at 6:55PM

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You don't need so much bandwidth in real life. I run a GTX970 with a macbook pro 2015 , I get 95% of the perf of a windows machine with a card installed internally. ( and I'm sure that is just because the driver are not so well optimised on MacOSX )

This thing changed my life , first , the macbook pro is not able to drive a 4K screen , in theory yes, but in real life the computer become so hot that the cpu and the gpu are slowed down... second in premiere and resolve you can use the card to do the calculation , when you are working with 4K file this is a life changer !

After I have to say that Bizon are just thief , it's an overpriced shit , just buy the new Akitio Thunderbold 3 , a good graphic card and a Dell 200w power adaptater. Even the software is not from them, they sell with an opensource script that handle the installation of the drivers !

November 3, 2016 at 2:57AM, Edited November 3, 3:01AM

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Hi Gilles. I have a Akitio Thunder 2 pci express box + Geforce GTX 750 ti (75watt GPU), and I was just going to purchase the Thunder 3 pci express box from amazon. Are you really sure we can plug a Dell 200w adapter? Asking Akitio support about this, they said: "The maximum power output through the PCIe slot of the AKiTiO Thunder2 PCIe Box is 25W. The biggest power supply that is supported is 120W but it will not increase the power that comes through the PCIe slot. No, you cannot use that 150W power supply. The connector doesn't fit and it's over 120W. "

November 24, 2016 at 10:21PM

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In addition to being incorrect about the specs for thunderbolt, as already mentioned, akitio released a thunderbolt 3 pcie enclosure at least a month ago. Bizon buys these and puts a psu in it and supplies them with ripped off code and then charges the customer twice as much. So I guess technically they're the first dedicated egpu box though the ability has been around for months.

November 3, 2016 at 1:18AM

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that's why it costs an incredibly stupid amount. 650$

November 3, 2016 at 4:29AM

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Jose Santos
Student/Director
220

It's still nothing more than a hugely overpriced and now repackaged Akitio thunderbolt box!!! Even copied the razer core on the design...

It costs 649$!!
Seriously NFS what happening to your posts? You are making this huge promotional post, as if you have been using it and saying that it looks great, but that is just like reviewing a camera by it's specs and not even looking at the image.

You used to have interesting post but now I barely come here, it's like the gossip site of the film industry!

https://www.akitio.com/expansion/thunder3-pcie-box

November 3, 2016 at 4:26AM, Edited November 3, 4:28AM

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Jose Santos
Student/Director
220

I could not agree more with you Jose...
I have nothing against ads here in NFS. I just ask for clarity because I believe that NFS priority is resources to help out filmmakers. If you make posts that were paid state it. No one will get mad about it as you have bills to pay like all of us.

November 3, 2016 at 7:35AM

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Herman Delgado
Filmmaker
412

They had 960ti only available when I was considering to test the box. As they said, the difference in the performance between these two cards is minor.

November 3, 2016 at 8:26AM

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Andrey Nikolaev
Director of Photography
102

Does anyone know where I can buy an external GPU that will work with thunderbolt 2? And is it worth it? And will I be able to use it with thunderbolt 3 one day?

Or is it all pointless and shall I continue to use proxies and forget about all this shit? I certainly don't need a touch bar right now what a load of cobblers!

November 3, 2016 at 8:31AM

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Liam Martin
DP, editor, part time director
497

"A load of cobblers!" HA HA, love it!

And totally right: The touch bar is an embarrassing gimmick that degrades Apple's product line. Apple is working overtime to turn once-useful tools into pathetically gimped toys.

November 5, 2016 at 4:46PM

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David Gurney
DP
1523

It's really not nice to see NFS to support ripoff companies. Please delete this article and write about Akitio thunderbolt box that is the product this is based on.

BUT it does work "out of the box" with OSX while new Aktio don't.

November 3, 2016 at 8:47AM, Edited November 3, 8:49AM

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Don Nachos
Editor / Animator / Producer
182

Some people are very upset about Aktio Vs. Bizon and the price difference, but forget why Bizon is priced higher: it is for people who do not wish to learn how to install all of the firmware/software, and want a product ready to go, out of the box.

Yes, the hardware is identical, but Bizon is more expensive because they have people that are willing to help if there is any issues and also created a plug and play option that is easy to use compared to the Aktio "do it yourself" option.

I ended up spending the extra money for the Bizon and the GeForce 980 Ti card simply because the Aktio plus power supply unit looked a bit too complicated to use.

November 6, 2016 at 11:01PM

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This is another alternative that is cheaper and seems to get good reviews from people. Whether or not it's compatible with resolve in Mac is another question: https://www.akitio.com/expansion/node

November 3, 2016 at 9:46AM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1412

The difference between this and the competing Akitio is not just the price. It looks like there is more. I asked about their previous version and the differences between it and the Akitio. Here was their response. I'm guessing this would be the same for the Thunderbolt 3.0 version:

"The Akitio Thunder2 is not designed for graphics cards. It does not have adequate power supply, ventilation and software support. Akitio Thunder2 can be used as a base for DIY eGPU project.

The BizonBOX is a complete product designed for graphics cards, with warranty and technical support.

More details here: https://support.bizon-tech.com/hc/en-us/articles/210709389-Why-should-I-...

If you have any other questions, just let me know and I’ll be happy to help."

November 3, 2016 at 6:26PM, Edited November 3, 6:27PM

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Here is interesting performance test:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eePK6Di4ETg

November 4, 2016 at 1:48PM, Edited November 4, 1:53PM

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Paid Infommercial

So far, nobody has demonstrated eGPU working on 2016 MBP in OS X. The Akitio this is based on just reported that theirs doesn't work.

Folks at Bison are likely sweating right now. Made a lot of bold claims, with nothing to back them up.

The author of this ad should ask for clarification from Bizon, and some screen shots.

And in the future maybe try products before reviewing them?

November 7, 2016 at 3:02PM, Edited November 7, 3:05PM

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Has anyone had any experience with bizon box 2S with MBP retina (late 2013)?

I was wanting to get the bizon box 2S, though before purchasing I would like to know if there are any performance boosts using bizon box in after effects and FCPX.

November 18, 2016 at 12:35PM

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Kshitij Mehra
2D animator/ Editor.
8

Saludos sujein en Besbuy MSI games laptop con video card invidia G force 1070 16 G Ram y todos Los power para edicion la compre por solo 1,400 Dollar con 2 años de garantia

December 13, 2016 at 6:30AM

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