Whoops

Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« on: April 16, 2020, 11:59:21 PM »
Been in the last days in an awful and painful discovery trip of the difficulties of making Thunderbolt (TB)  working with newer PC machines using Windows 10.

Decided to share some info so I can help other in the future.

If you have Audio peripherals that use a Thunderbolt connection (I have 2x UAD Satellites and Focusrite Red 4 Pre) and want to have a new Windows PC built:

- Buy a Motherboard that states Thunderbolt in the Internal I/O Connectors or has a Thunderbolt port on the back.
There's not a lot of motherboards with this, there's just a few.

Remember that having an USB-C port is not the same has having thunderbolt.
Although in latest PC's, Thunderbolt 3 (TB3)  will come with an USB-C connector, USB-C is just a connector and can be used for different things. So don't think that because it has that USB-C connector that it has Thunderbolt integration.

Same connectors different things:





If the motherboard doesn't have a Thunderbolt port on the back,

only a few Gigabyte have, you have to get a motherboard with a thunderbolt connection in the I/O internal connectors

and buy an extra PCi card that will connect to the PCi slot and also to the thunderbolt on board Header.



Don't make the same mistake as myself and many others that though being PCi was the only thing needed, no, you need to have a thunderbolt header on the motherboard also.



- Your Audio devices are probably TB1 or TB2 (both with Mini Display Port connector) . The computer will have TB3 (USB-C) connector. So you still need a converter outside the computer for TB2 to TB3 conversion
TB1 and TB2 are Retro-Compatible

There's only 3 that I know in the market:

Startech Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt Adapter (Product ID: TBT3TBTADAP) -  80 to 120€



Kanex Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt Adapter (Product ID: K170-1051-BK6I) -



The Apple Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt adapter (Product ID: MMEL2AM/A)  - 56€
UAD says "has been found to be incompatible with certain Windows systems in our internal testing. As a result, we do not recommend this adapter for Windows Thunderbolt systems. "



For people with UAD systems read this:

https://help.uaudio.com/hc/en-us/articles/205927089-Apollo-Thunderbolt-Connection-Info-

https://help.uaudio.com/hc/en-us/articles/215731443



- Current Z390 Motherboards with Thunderbolt 3

Gigabyte Z390 DESIGNARE Intel Z390 (TB3 port on the back, no PCi card needed)

Asus PRIME Z390-A (TB3 header , ThunderboltEX 3 card needed)

Asus WS Z390 PRO (TB3 header , ThunderboltEX 3 card needed)

Asus ROG MAXIMUS XI EXTREME (TB3 header , ThunderboltEX 3 card needed)


Gigabyte motherboards with TB3 header, GC-TITAN RIDGE (rev. 1.0) pci card needed:
« Last Edit: April 17, 2020, 12:09:58 AM by Whoops »


Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2020, 12:06:58 AM »
Hope this guide can help people not making the same mistakes as myself.

I spent the last 3 days learning the hard way.

And spent 400€ on a motherboard that I can't use.

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2020, 04:07:29 AM »
Thanks for your experience and useful information!

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2020, 04:21:41 PM »
I built a PC with a Gigabyte Z390 DESIGNARE using a Startech Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt Adapter connected to a Presonus Quantum and has been flawless since day one.
 I thought the Focusrite Red 4 Pre and the Red 8 Pre did not have thunderbolt drivers for Windows.

squarewave

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2020, 07:34:36 PM »
Mmm, I was thinking about getting a new mac mini and a motu 828es. The mini has USB-C and USB3 connectors but the 828es has a TB2 and a USB2. Presumably the Apple adapter would be right for the mini. Or I could just use the USB2 port and take the hit. I actually use my audio interface for all things audio (and hardly ever recording actually).

I do need to run 10' (3m) or so. What works better long distance:

  TB3<-adapter->TB2 or
  TB3<->USB2 or
  USB3<->USB2?

Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2020, 09:10:32 PM »
Mmm, I was thinking about getting a new mac mini and a motu 828es. The mini has USB-C and USB3 connectors but the 828es has a TB2 and a USB2. Presumably the Apple adapter would be right for the mini. Or I could just use the USB2 port and take the hit. I actually use my audio interface for all things audio (and hardly ever recording actually).

I do need to run 10' (3m) or so. What works better long distance:

  TB3<-adapter->TB2 or
  TB3<->USB2 or
  USB3<->USB2?

USB 3 and USB2 are retro-compatible and it's free, the same cable and connector and no need for any converter.
I would just use the USB connection

Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2020, 09:21:41 PM »
I thought the Focusrite Red 4 Pre and the Red 8 Pre did not have thunderbolt drivers for Windows.

Yes, no official Windows drivers for the Red 4Pre or Red 8Pre. That's another hard lesson  I learned.

I always used the Red 4Pre on a MAC so I never even though it would be possible that Focusrite would not have released drivers for Windows.
That seems really odd from a marketing/sales point of view, they are competing with UAD Apollo interfaces.
The UAD interface has the ability to record with channel plugins inserted, it also uses its processor to process UAD plugins and UAD develops drivers for Windows and MAC.
I think the Red 4Pre sounds better than the Apollo, but it doesn't seem to me that from a marketing point of view Focusrite is really doing their best, they already have less points in their favour and even decide to cut a lot of their possible market by only supporting one platform.

Anyway, there's a windows thunderbolt driver that works with the Red 4/8 Pre interfaces,
it's a beta driver and it was made for the Claret series but works with the Red Pre interfaces if firmware was not updated.
It's Focusrite Control 2.1.9 and can be downloaded here:

http://beta.focusrite.com/
« Last Edit: April 17, 2020, 09:56:50 PM by Whoops »

squarewave

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2020, 09:48:08 PM »
USB 3 and USB2 are retro-compatible and it's free, the same cable and connector and no need for any converter.
I would just use the USB connection
Great post and advice Whoops. Thanks.

Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2020, 10:00:00 PM »
Great post and advice Whoops. Thanks.

The last days were terrible, learning all of this the hard way.
Don't want anyone to go through the same.

I just hope the store allows me to return the motherboard (although I already used it) and refunds me, so I can buy a Gigabyte Designware

cyrano

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2020, 11:25:30 PM »
USB 3 and USB2 are retro-compatible and it's free, the same cable and connector and no need for any converter.
I would just use the USB connection

Unfortunately, even that is not exactly completely true these days. There is at least one USB chipset that doesn't work for audio at all. Fortunately, it's only used in a small number of budget mini laptops and Windows tablets.

What's needed for TB support in PC's, is BIOS or UEFI support for it. Unfortunately, a few manufacturers sell motherboards spouting TB support without having it. Those who complain, get a promise it'll be added in a future update. More often than not, these updates never see the light of day.

When it comes to TB adapters, you'll have to try if it works. Startech, fi is a good brand, but even their adapters don't work with every combo out there. It used to be Apple adapters were the way to go, but even Apple is uncertain these days.

Most Macs no longer have an ethernet port. A USB-C to ethernet adapter is the answer. It works, unless you need to boot over ethernet, or you need promiscuous mode. The first Apple adapter worked fine for both of these. The second one doesn't. Both adapters share the same product number. Even the genius bar folk don't seem to know that.

If you need to know about incompatibilities, check the RME forum. That's the only place I know where some knowledge is available.

And if you think TB will give you lower latency, forget it. It's lower, but not very different. PCI or PCIe will still give the lowest latency possible. Good drivers yield more difference than hardware.

USB3 is almost equal. Unfortunately, there aren't may USB3 audio interfaces available. Zoom is one of the best known and their latency numbers are very good. There's a few others, but their drivers seem to be too new.

Buy only where you can exchange if it doesn't work, seems to be sensible advice.
Why is it people love to believe and hate to know?


Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2020, 11:47:46 PM »
Unfortunately, even that is not exactly completely true these days. There is at least one USB chipset that doesn't work for audio at all. Fortunately, it's only used in a small number of budget mini laptops and Windows tablets.

Thanks for the info

What's needed for TB support in PC's, is BIOS or UEFI support for it.

Not really, the actual motherboard needs to have a TB header , it connects the TB stream directly to specific PCI lines.
Your BIOS can have thunderbolt support (the same BIOS software is used on a lot of different motherboards) but if your motherboard doesn't have a TB Header or a thunderbolt port on the back (very very rare, only Gigabyte has) it's a no go.


If you need to know about incompatibilities, check the RME forum. That's the only place I know where some knowledge is available.

Thanks

And if you think TB will give you lower latency, forget it. It's lower, but not very different. PCI or PCIe will still give the lowest latency possible. Good drivers yield more difference than hardware.

I couldn't care less about TB, I just use it because it's what the equipment I use has, and I like that equipment and already invested a lot of money on it, so I can't afford to sell it now and buy new stuff for a lot of money to do a similar thing.
If UAD Satellite or Red 4Pre had PCi cards, I would use that.
With the Red 4Pre at least I still have the option of going Dante so it's not only stock on TB.

Buy only where you can exchange if it doesn't work, seems to be sensible advice.

I bought in a big store chain, something like Sam Ash of the computers, their return policy is wider than smaller companies, but there's always exceptions in the return policy, like everything has to be returned in the original bags.
What happens is all the cable bags are sealed plastic with no opening and to use them you have to break the plastic.

I will replace them with some zip tie plastic bags, let's hope they accept it

thanks

analag

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2020, 12:59:32 AM »
I built a PC with Thunderbolt 3. Asrock X570 Steel Legend with the TB3 daughter board option.  I run a Presonus Quantum and a Focusrite 8pre USB. Works very well.
Audio engineering suffers from misinformation, disinformation, and downright lying more than most fields of endeavour.

Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2020, 01:25:19 AM »
I run a Presonus Quantum and a Focusrite 8pre USB.

Thanks.

I assume the Focusrite you're referring to is the Clarett.

Are  those soundcards TB3?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2020, 06:46:09 PM by Whoops »

cyrano

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2020, 09:01:21 AM »
Not really, the actual motherboard needs to have a TB header , it connects the TB stream directly to specific PCI lines.

If it has a TB header, it has BIOS support for it; otherwise it wouldn't function, me thinks...

I couldn't care less about TB, I just use it because it's what the equipment I use has, and I like that equipment and already invested a lot of money on it, so I can't afford to sell it now and buy new stuff for a lot of money to do a similar thing.

Same here. I still use FireWire because of my FF400.

I bought in a big store chain, something like Sam Ash of the computers, their return policy is wider than smaller companies, but there's always exceptions in the return policy, like everything has to be returned in the original bags.
What happens is all the cable bags are sealed plastic with no opening and to use them you have to break the plastic.

I will replace them with some zip tie plastic bags, let's hope they accept it.

Haven't got a household sealer around?

I've never had trouble with returns, except once. Bought 20 HD's for use in  Drobo NASs. After the NAS had finished formatting, the drives were dead. I was refused immediate exchange, until I pointed out politely, that as a system builder, I would take my business elsewhere AND make a lot of noise about it. It took just one phone call to mgmt to get those drives exchanged immediately.
Why is it people love to believe and hate to know?

Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2020, 08:10:49 PM »
Haven't got a household sealer around?

Actually my parents had one, but 2 weeks ago I was helping my father clearing the garage from stuff they haven't used for years.
I found one plastic bags sealer there, but it was thrown in the bin that day.

I was there unused for 20 years, it could have stayed 2 weeks more, damm

Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2020, 08:59:59 AM »
Unfortunately, even that is not exactly completely true these days. There is at least one USB chipset that doesn't work for audio at all. Fortunately, it's only used in a small number of budget mini laptops and Windows tablets.

It just got to my attention that it's not only in "budget mini laptops and Windows tablets" it also happens in  some expensive 2018 Macbook Pro models.
The USB 3 chip doesn't deals well with Audio Stream from sound cards and  cuts the audio in an out.

Is a common known problem with "T2 chip" models

You can have more info here:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/music-computers/1232030-usb-audio-glitches-macbook-pro-2018-a.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpVNkglXc84

cyrano

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2020, 06:06:12 PM »
Two different things.

The USB2 chipset in those tablets is a hardware problem. Can't be changed.

The problem with T2-equipped Macs isn't hardware, but firmware related. The T2 controls pre-boot conditions like firmware password, drive encryption, keys for authentication...
It will only power up the main Intel processor if all is hunky dory. All very good for security.

Unfortunately, all of this happens via the main USB chipset. Since most activity stops before the Intel loads MacOS, it shouldn't bother anything. But these keys also get checked for cloud related activity.

Apple made all of that cloud business as easy as possible. Read: there isn't a real user control interface. Not even via the Terminal. On recent MacOSes, you can't completely switch off the cloud.

Some combo's of hardware, audio driver and software setup seem to get a hiccup if and when the OS decides to check a key, because it all passes over that one main USB bus. And the OS might decide it needs to check because it adds something to the Time Machine cache, fi. Like the song you've just been recording. Or a mail that just arrived, or...

Apple knows about and fixes these bugs. But it can take a while. And some might never be fixed if Cupertino has yet another new MacOS out.

It's also the reason I'll probably never buy a new Mac again, since it took away that reliability I've known for over 30 years.

There's a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The thing that made the Hackintosh possible, Clover has just gotten a successor: OpenCore.

See:
https://github.com/dortania/OpenCore-Desktop-Guide/blob/master/README.md

OpenCore looks very promising and could potentially allow me to run MacOS next to BSD and Linux under Qubes, probably on some Lenovo hardware.

Or, hell might freeze over and RME might release their stuff for Linux  :P
Why is it people love to believe and hate to know?

Whoops

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2020, 08:28:08 PM »
Thank you so much for explaining Cyrano, I didn't know the technical side of it.

But in the end basically you can't rely on your USB sound cards directly connected those Macs.

Apple knows about and fixes these bugs. But it can take a while.

Those Macs are from 2018, so maybe it will never be fixed, every year they release a new OS with a new set of problems a new set of panels obsolescence gifts.

It's also the reason I'll probably never buy a new Mac again, since it took away that reliability I've known for over 30 years.

I totally understand what you say.
I have a Macbook Pro Late 2011, amazing laptop, it's super reliable and after 9 years it's still going strong. I owned over 6 PCs in my life, and this Macbook is the best computer I bought to date.
I travel a lot on work, sometimes I work in Live gigs in bad weather conditions or in festivals with dirty air, it just takes a lot of abuse.
These are also the last laptops (with the ones from 2012) were you can almost replace everything yourself.

Saying this I really think that Apple would look to my comments and say "we've f**ked up this guy will use the same computer for 15 years, we have to do something that only lasts 2 years"


There's a tiny bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The thing that made the Hackintosh possible, Clover has just gotten a successor: OpenCore.

See:
https://github.com/dortania/OpenCore-Desktop-Guide/blob/master/README.md
y Mac
OpenCore looks very promising and could potentially allow me to run MacOS next to BSD and Linux under Qubes, probably on some Lenovo hardware.

I like the Hackintosh idea, and I'm doing a hackintosh desktop, I really can't stand windows and it's unbelievable that after so many years Microsoft it's still doing a bad interface, it takes 1 more click to do everything, it takes two more sub menus to reach anything, it's really poor.

So for desktops I think the hackintosh it's a good solution, but for laptops there isn't really anyhting out there on the PC world that's as sturdy as an aluminium 2011/2012 Macbook pro, the horrible plastic cases kill me.

cyrano

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2020, 07:22:13 PM »
There are Chinese MB Pro lookalikes. Cheap. According to our hardware shop, the cases are the same as Apple's. I'm just afraid the keyboards might be the same crap too. That's what keeps me from ordering one.
Why is it people love to believe and hate to know?

Seeker

Re: Thunderbolt and Windows 10 - Painful hard way and Advice
« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2020, 07:39:19 PM »
This is great advice!  I went through the same thing when I moved to thunderbolt a little more than a year ago, it can be very confusing!
"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” - Miles


 

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