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Q: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity

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Lars FuchsQ: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 1:28:49 am

Hi Cows,

I have some questions about expanding my macbook editing system with thunderbolt expansion and possibly and extra video card in an external chassis.

I hope this hasn't been addressed in other threads, if so, my searches didn't turn them up.

I edit with PPro CC 2015 on a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) 2.5 GHz Intel Core i7, 16 GB 1600 MHz DDR3, AMD Radeon R9 M370X 2048 MB. Primarily documentary and short films, from a broad variety of cameras, almost entirely HD. I haven't gotten any 2K or 4K or RAW yet, and while the future is hard to predict, not likely in the short to medium term. At the moment I get a lot AVCHD from C100's, C300's, GH2's (hacked as often as not), and a big chunk from a Nikon D7000. I also do some work in AfterEffects, mostly supplemental to the editing, some compositing and green-screen, not so much motion graphic design.

Performance has been adequate but not stellar cutting a 20 minute doc with a huge hodgepodge of sources. All of the above, plus HMC-150's, HVX-200's and 250's, Canon 5D Mk3's, some GoPro, etc.

I am considering some Thunderbolt expansion options such as those form AJA (IO family), CalDigit TS2, BlackMagic, to simplify adding external monitoring and device storage.

I am also considering a PCI expansion chassis such as that from Sonnet to add an extra CUDA video card in the hope that will improve performance in PPro (and AE).

Will adding both an extra video card and external storage and monitoring overwhelm the Thunderbolt bus? What if I use the USB3 bus for storage, and only use the Thunderbolt for the graphics card and the monitors?

Input most sincerely appreciated!


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Tero AhlforsRe: Q: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 4:50:31 am

Get a proper computer instead of trying to Frankenstein a laptop.


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Lars FuchsRe: Q: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 3:14:36 pm

That's very insightful. Any suggestions? I've described the sort of work I'm doing, so what would you recommend? Why not post here:
https://forums.creativecow.net/whatsystemortool
I'm sure other folks, not just me, could benefit.

In the meantime, I already have my laptop, and as I prefer the Mac OS for post production, I am reluctant to use a windows or linux box. But there are some real issues around the 'trash can' mac, not least of which is price, so I'm not quite ready to throw in the towel on my laptop. And as it happens I often have to edit while travelling, and so in these cases my laptop is essential.

No input on the Thunderbolt bandwidth question?


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Tero AhlforsRe: Q: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 3:35:13 pm

Using an external thunderbolt thing to run a GPU is pretty pointless in the mobility case. The performance is not as good as when it would be used in a proper PCI lane. Also you'd need something to power that. Also you'd have to lug that gear around in addition to the laptop.

[Lars Fuchs] " I am reluctant to use a windows"

You can get really beefy Windows based laptops that have impressive GPUs cheaper than a Macbook. Some even have SLI setups. You wouldn't need to lug around an underpowered external GPU.


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Lars FuchsRe: Q: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 7:30:07 pm

Indeed, the external GPU was not intended for use while mobile. My thinking was to have a more powerful set up in my studio, using the same laptop I used while travelling.


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Jamie PickellRe: Q: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 8:23:19 pm

I had a similar setup for awhile cutting a full hour long show in AVID and then cutting a bunch of short form videos in Premiere. I have the last of the 17" MacBook Pros that has Thunderbolt 1, Firewire 800 and an ExpressCard slot. I had my media on a GRaid connected via Firewire 800, I ran the thunderbolt cable out to a CalDigit Thunderbolt dock (version 1) which allowed me to attach a second monitor via HDMI. I then used the thunderbolt pass through on the dock to attach an AJA T-Tap to send a broadcast signal to a monitor via HDMI. That setup worked quite well.

Since your laptop does not have Firewire 800, you can use USB 3.0 which I did once I upgraded my system to the new MacPro. The GRaid I was using did not have Thunderbolt and I found that the various Thunderbolt to Firewire adapters (Apple's adapter and the OWC Thunderbolt dock) were crashing Premiere so I switched to using the USB 3.0 connection and had no issues whatsoever.

I think your MacBook has Thunderbolt 2 so I would recommend getting the CalDigit Thunderbolt Dock version 2 which supports Thunderbolt 2.

Hope this helps,
Jamie



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Lars FuchsRe: Q: Thunderbolt Bandwidth, PCIe Expansion, and Docking station capacity
by on Mar 4, 2016 at 9:37:17 pm

Thanks. This is very helpful. It sounds like you were pleased with the AJA T-Tap. I haven't given that much thought.

I have been getting good mileage out of my CalDigit VR's, but they're old enough that they've earned their keep. It's probably time to replace them with an upgrade too, since I'll be looking for USB3 RAIDs.

Again, thanks!


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