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Thunderbolt on Windows: ASUS P8Z77-V Premium, Pegasus R4 and an Apple Thunderbolt Display

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: ASUS

Pegasus R4 RAID and Apple Thunderbolt Display

Pegasus R4 External RAID

In order to test out the new Thunderbolt integration on the ASUS P8Z77-V Premium motherboard (and future Thunderbolt implementations), Promise sent along one of its new Pegasus R4 devices – recently prepared for the Windows OS. 

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One of the earliest Thunderbolt-compatible accessories for the Apple platform, the R4 and R6 are four bay and six bay high performance RAID solutions for external storage respectively. The R4 uses the Promise RAID engine and is powered by a 500 MHz Sierra 8011 SoC that it claims is more than capable of hitting the read and write speeds available on the Thunderbolt connection. The unit has 512MB of DDR2 memory used for caching (which we had to adjust our benchmarks to overcome). 

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The R4 unit has four interchangeable drive bays that allow the unit to support RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, 50 and even 6 depending on your use. The unit is very well built and is targeted at professional users that often run programs like Premiere, Photoshop and more. Our unit shipped with a set of four 1TB hard drives in a RAID 5 configuration though we mixed things up a bit by converting to RAID 0, and even using some Corsair Force 3 GT SSDs to maximize the bandwidth of the Thunderbolt connection.

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The back of the unit is pretty clean. A power connection, a serial connection that goes unlisted in the manual, and a pair of Thunderbolt connections for pass through support. Interestingly, you can connect the Pegasus R4 to the system through either TB port without issue.

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With the copper Thunderbolt cable installed, the R4 is basically ready for immediate use in its default state.

Apple Thunderbolt Display

In order to test some other aspects of the Thunderbolt interface such as pass through capability and performance while streaming video, we were able to get an Apple Thunderbolt Display in for some quick testing. The 27-inch 2560x1440 monitor is impressively built and the images it produces are crisp and clean. Unfortunately for most users, the display is a clean $999!

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As with all Apple products, the design is clean and efficient. It even comes with an incredibly attractive brushed aluminum finish. 

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Even with a host of accessory ports on the display the Apple Thunderbolt Display is very clean with only a power cord and a Thunderbolt connection available on the back I/O of the monitor. 

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At the bottom right of the screen you'll find connections for three USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire 800 connection, Thunderbolt pass-through and a Gigabit Ethernet jack. All of this data flows through the Thunderbolt connection to the PC, including the audio for the integrated speakers (found on the bottom of the display). For Mac users, these options are great but for Windows users, Apple has yet to release a driver to enable the Ethernet, USB or FireWire connections. The integrated audio worked immediately in Windows 7 though, which is nice.

The Thunderbolt pass through allows you to connect other devices after the display in a daisy chain configuration where as if you connect a standard mini-DisplayPort monitor it will have to be the terminating point of the chain. 

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In addition to the Thunderbolt connection, Apple includes a MagSafe connector that allows you to charge your notebook and plug in the monitor without having to remove your power cable from your back. This is a really slick addition.

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Here is another shot of the back of the Apple Thunderbolt Display. It demonstrates the capability for a single Thunderbolt connection to clean up the clutter of cables that forms around a PC or a dockable notebook. Having an interface with the capability to stream as much as 10 Gbps as well as pass through video for a monitor on a single cable offers up a lot of interesting system integration options for PCs. 

June 28, 2012 | 10:37 AM - Posted by OctaveanActually (not verified)

Actually its not entirely accurate to say “any monitor with a DisplayPort connection” will work with Intel Thunderbolt since I believe you need to have at least a DisplayPort v1.1 or higher compatible monitor. Version 1.0 presumably wont work.

June 28, 2012 | 11:30 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Hmm, I hadn't heard that.  I'll check!

June 28, 2012 | 10:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I'll stick with (e)SATA and USB 3.0. Too many issues with TB performance and cost for it to be considered a true SATA and USB 3.0 replacement for the average joe.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/thunderbolt-performance-z77a-gd80,32...

June 28, 2012 | 11:33 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I read the page on that story about the problems, and I didn't see ANY of them.  I think the initial push MSI made with their GD80 board was causing much of that.  I know that ASUS went through certification with their Premium board and MSI's GD80 has gotten significant updates.

June 28, 2012 | 11:15 AM - Posted by Arb1 (not verified)

Yea its faster then USB3 but USB is on every machine for last 15 years and its cheap. TB on other hand it on a hand full of machines and cable ALONE costs a lot so i don't see TB doing much less intel dumps a ton of cast in to get every computer to have it and gets those prices WAY down.

June 28, 2012 | 09:39 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You realize USB was only on a handfull of machines when it first started too, right?The cables back then were costly as well.

Not exactly a good argument.

June 28, 2012 | 11:29 AM - Posted by OctaveanActually (not verified)

I believe there is already at least one Thunderbolt cable not manufactured by Apple already but it is the same ~$50 price. Instead of they typical Apple white color its black.

I agree that Thunderbolt is more expensive then the ubiquitous USB but its not exactly the same thing. For example, in theory you could run high-end graphics subsystems off of Thunderbolt such as something akin to an HD 7970 or GTX680, on a laptop or tablet (with Thunderbolt support). You just cant do that with USB. So the potential is there.

June 28, 2012 | 11:36 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Very good point.

June 28, 2012 | 06:36 PM - Posted by Bojan (not verified)

Yes indeed. Sony's latest Z series of laptops features external DVD/AMD graphics card combo.

June 28, 2012 | 12:25 PM - Posted by OctaveanActually (not verified)

The Asus “P8Z77-V Pro / Thunderbolt” edition motherboard is available now for ~$259.99. It doesn’t have all the features of the P8Z77-V Premium but its cheaper and has built in Thunderbolt.

June 29, 2012 | 12:32 AM - Posted by Draconian

I wonder if the P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT has the same Cactus Ridge controller as the P8Z77-V PREMIUM.

There are different TB controllers that support differing amounts of daisy chaining.

June 28, 2012 | 12:49 PM - Posted by StanB (not verified)

With DisplayPort connectivity built in, is it possible we will see this replacing DVI & HDMI?

Though I love my HP z30w, I want to see 120hz 30 inch monitors. I know there is a new cable standard based on CAT5e/6 networking cables but I've not heard anything since it was announced like 2 years ago. With 4k TVs supposedly on the way we need to see some progress on this front.

June 28, 2012 | 03:01 PM - Posted by Revelation (not verified)

This is fantastic. I'm guessing this will open notebooks and limited desktops alike to portable GPUs. Finally a way to update that notebook video adapter!

June 29, 2012 | 12:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I've seen the sony in action, and it's like a bad joke. Good luck getting the external gpu to work on the integrated monitor. i couldn't play any games at all on it, and even aero was performing... poorly. Lots of tearing. Not to mention that the external video card requires a discrete power supply, which kills portability, and presumably is a risk to the system if it should ever come unplugged while in use, and this is looking like a design decision that puts hp's dv6000s to shame. Oh, and the laptop sitting next to it was the same size, cost $100 less, and had a faster gpu built in. It's a nice thought, but really guys? this is the future? If this is what I have to look forward to, half assed implementations...

Not that it's a bad idea in and of itself. I would kill for a displaylink adapter that could output dual link dvi and sport its own small gpu inside for hardware accelerated video that can run on only the 10w available through thunderbolt. That should be more than doable, and a killer product. But as it stands, we're no less than three generations from true external video cards.

June 29, 2012 | 12:09 PM - Posted by choco (not verified)

I agree with the side paragraph on "more than storage" although I don't think people really get this.

This is the way forward with thunderbolt and is highly underrated.

When we start seeing graphics, displays, cpus, SSD banks, in the forms of thunderbolt docs (sure cpu and memory will have to wait for v2 but so did hdd with usb 1 v 2.0)
This is where thunderbolt real benefits will be seen.

Just imaging the ability to dock your phone into your pad which can doc into a workstation or gaming rig.
Each time you get more memory, cpu and gpu power or what ever it is you docked too.
Each time getting an auto backup of your primary medium.

It gives the end consumer similar advantages to blade disk and cloud (think azure cpu scaling) hardware scaleability benefits directly.

Windows OS already allows hot swapping and adding cpus, memory, gpus, hdd (old news) and what not. Now its time for the hardware to catch up to the software.

July 6, 2012 | 10:08 PM - Posted by LawrieK (not verified)

So, what happens if you plug each end of a TB cable into separate PC's?
USB has A and B plugs to prevent this due to the risk of power related damage and competing hosts. How has TB solved this issue?
It sure would make for a killer "Laplink" cable tho.

I hope that as soon as the bios and driver issues are well settled, we will see TB ports replacing display ports on high-end video cards, a nice way to upgrade a system I think.

TB has a solid future, of that I'm pretty sure but USB will remain a more appropriate bus for cheap and low bandwidth devices for some years yet.

Thanks for the great article, now I wish my new PC had TB in place, guess I'll have to hold out for the GFX card option.

August 8, 2012 | 09:15 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I bought the asus p8z77 pro/thunderbolt and apple thunderbolt display but while i get an image from the iGPU HD 3000 (i7 2600K) on my thunderbolt display, it seems that the discrete card (GTX 560 ti) does not kick in in 3d games although the option is enabled in Lucid virtu MVP. Am I missing something? Can someone help, pls ? The article above seems to tell a different story than mine.....
Some games don't even start although they appear as supported in lucid mvp, so I must be doing someting wrong

Thank you in advance !

January 14, 2013 | 01:38 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Have you figured out how to get your discrete card to run through your thunderbolt yet? I wanted to make sure this could be done on the pro before I buy one.

January 17, 2013 | 04:21 PM - Posted by Jebbie (not verified)

I have bought the P8Z77-V PRO/THUNDERBOLT too now and an apple thunderbolt display.. i have made the installation so far as described:

- installed all latest drivers (chipset, lan, usb, whatever)
- made bios-update to 1805
- installed latest intel graphics hd driver
- installed latest nvidia driver for my Asus GTX-560 Ti
- installed lucid virtu mvp
- reboot - go to bios and activate iGPU
- connect thunderbolt display and got image..

but i have only a resolution of 640x480 - the device manager is telling me, that the hd graphics card has not enough resources (error 12) and lucid virtu drops an error "wrong gpu configuration"..

all i can find in the manual is, that i have to make sure, that the integrated gpu is not deactivated when a deticated graphics card is installed.. but in the bios, i can't find a point under "Integrated peripherals" or any other point to control that...

the other thing.. my windows is not on the latest state, cause my install cd is a little bit out-dated and currently i didn't finish running the updates of windows.. could that cause a problem?

what have configured in this review in the bios? iGPU? Auto? or something else? what whit any other settings like wakeup over tb oder tb settings itself?

February 13, 2013 | 02:42 PM - Posted by Luis (not verified)

exist laptop pc whit thunderbolt port?

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