MacBook Pro - How to achieve optimisation of inputs and outputs across FOUR physical Thunderbolt 3 Ports?

Hywel

I'm a musical nobody...
Hi folks, thanks for your advice.

I have purchased a late 2019 MacBook Pro 16” which I intend to use for music and photography. I will be using it with a desktop 4k Thunderbolt 3 monitor which should be capable of also charging the laptop (just about).

Like most people I have an assortment of legacy peripherals which I have listed below

USB things include
3 x USB3 docks with SSDs/HDs
2 x USB3 hubs which I currently use for attaching a Wacom tablet, cameras, iPhones, iPads, Steinberg eLicenser, NI Maschine Jam
Computer Keyboard
Mouse
NI Komplete Kontrol S88
Audient iD4

I also have a Thunderbolt 2 hard disc which is used for photo storage and also has it’s own dedicated T2 port in my current setup though being a spinning HD using a T2 connection for this is perhaps overkill. It does have a USB 3 option to connect.

On my current setup (a Mac Mini) most of the above are daisy chained in no particular organised way and probably through ignorance rather than knowledge, I have dedicated a single USB port to each of 1. NI Komplete Kontrol S88 and 2. Audient iD4 audio I/O device. I have accepted any audio and idiosyncratic glitches I get currently as a factor of either computer system inadequacies or data bottlenecks in the peripheral chain.

So, eventually to MY QUESTION…

The MacPro has 4 physical Thunderbolt 3 ports - IF I dedicate one port to the external 4K monitor, what is the best solution and distribution of the peripherals across the remaining 3 Thunderbolt ports so as to optimise audio, sample access, MIDI I/O information etc OR should everything be fast enough that I won’t need to worry about it? By the way, I realise that I will need a handful of various adapters.
 

SupremeFist

Active Member
I don't quite have that much stuff hanging off my mbP but you can definitely plug the S88 (or any USB-MIDI device) into a (decent USB-C) hub rather than dedicating a port to it.
 

gst98

Member
I'm in a very similar situation myself. I had it all sorted until I upgraded from a 2016 to the new 16 inch macbook, and because it requires so much power, my USB-C monitor no longer could provide as much power as I was using when running logic and powering my Arrow. As far as I'm aware only the new £6000 pro monitor, and a razer monitor can do this. (look to see if your mointor outputs 100w.) Even my apple designed LG usb-c monitor is now useless thanks to the high demand of the new laptop.

Here my advice: USB-C/tb3 is incredible and prioritze inputs that take advantage of this the most. TB3 has a conncetion speed of 40Gbps compare to 5Gbps of USB3.0. You'll be amazed at how much stuff can plug into 1 port of the macbook.

So for me the first thing I think of is to have my UBC-C UAD arrow plugged in directly for the lowest latency.

Next is external SSDs. I prevoisuly tried to save ports and my SSDs through a hub, but they were trasnsfer data at 1/10th of the rate, and amde investing in fast NVME SSDs pointelss. So choose the SSD with your most commonly used samples and use a port for that. Also, put the most important stuff you have on your macbook SSD. Apple's SSDs are SOOOO much faster than anyone else on the market, and the fact that it is soldered to the motherborad makes it even faster.

Then obviously your scrren will take up one port too. Don't what you're using, but my monitor has a two port usb hub built into which is really helpful.

As far as keyboard and other peripherals/iloks - stick them in a usb hub. These are the least imoprtant thing, and the they can all go down 1 USB-C port. I stick this hub into my monitor which saves me a port. The 4th port for me is a USB-C hub that allows me to plug in SD cards, more SSDs, adn crucailly lets me plug in the powe cable and supports 100w pass through.

I still have to juggle if I want to plug in my UAD Octo or anything else. I got excited when there were rumors that the new 16inch was going to have 6 ports. shame that didn't come true.
 
OP
Hywel

Hywel

I'm a musical nobody...
I'm in a very similar situation myself. I had it all sorted until I upgraded from a 2016 to the new 16 inch macbook, and because it requires so much power, my USB-C monitor no longer could provide as much power as I was using when running logic and powering my Arrow. As far as I'm aware only the new £6000 pro monitor, and a razer monitor can do this. (look to see if your mointor outputs 100w.) Even my apple designed LG usb-c monitor is now useless thanks to the high demand of the new laptop.

Here my advice: USB-C/tb3 is incredible and prioritze inputs that take advantage of this the most. TB3 has a conncetion speed of 40Gbps compare to 5Gbps of USB3.0. You'll be amazed at how much stuff can plug into 1 port of the macbook.

So for me the first thing I think of is to have my UBC-C UAD arrow plugged in directly for the lowest latency.

Next is external SSDs. I prevoisuly tried to save ports and my SSDs through a hub, but they were trasnsfer data at 1/10th of the rate, and amde investing in fast NVME SSDs pointelss. So choose the SSD with your most commonly used samples and use a port for that. Also, put the most important stuff you have on your macbook SSD. Apple's SSDs are SOOOO much faster than anyone else on the market, and the fact that it is soldered to the motherborad makes it even faster.

Then obviously your scrren will take up one port too. Don't what you're using, but my monitor has a two port usb hub built into which is really helpful.

As far as keyboard and other peripherals/iloks - stick them in a usb hub. These are the least imoprtant thing, and the they can all go down 1 USB-C port. I stick this hub into my monitor which saves me a port. The 4th port for me is a USB-C hub that allows me to plug in SD cards, more SSDs, adn crucailly lets me plug in the powe cable and supports 100w pass through.

I still have to juggle if I want to plug in my UAD Octo or anything else. I got excited when there were rumors that the new 16inch was going to have 6 ports. shame that didn't come true.
Hmmm, interesting about the monitor and power output to the MBP... I haven't purchased a monitor for it yet but I was looking at the BenQ PD3220U 32" 4K which outputs 87 watts apparently. Now I'm not sure from what you've said whether that will be enough.
 

gst98

Member
make sure that the 87 watts is accurate. sometimes they won't constantly always put out what they say due to meeting efficiency regulations. I was wrong its a 100watt hour battery, the charger is 87w, so maybe it will work. trouble is no one exepcted anyone to make a laptop with such a big battery.

btw I use an LG 27uk850. when the usb c was new, most brands wouldn't do usb-c, and I thought one deisgned by apple would be the best use. (the internals are frome the apple ultrafine). It does annoy me that its only be 3 years and already the monitor lost one of the main reason to spend the extra on a usb c monitor.

Most use is fine, but logic destroys battery and then the monitor cant keep up. I'd try searching for a monitor which people recomend specifically for your laptop. otherwise the BenQ monitor looks great. if you're not in a rush to get a monitor, lots of them will come out soon amde to work with it.

if you're doing photography work it looks like it has good colour accuracy. despite it saying HDR it only has 300 cd/㎡ of brightness. HDR is 500+. All the brands lie in the same way, but if you're doing any colour correction you'd be better off doing on the latop screen.
 

whinecellar

Jim Daneker
I was in this exact dilemma when I bought a new MBP back in March (2018 model, but same idea). In short: buy the Caldigit TS3+ Dock and you’re good to go. It’s the only reliable TB/USB-C Dock out there, it drives 4k effortlessly, supplies ample power, and even has a ridiculously fast card reader for photo/video guys. I love mine.

I have a 55” 4k Samsung TV running off of it, 2 daisy-chained Apollo interfaces via Apple USB-C > TB adapter, loads of USB peripherals, external SSD chassis, etc.

Go for it.
 

gst98

Member
I was in this exact dilemma when I bought a new MBP back in March (2018 model, but same idea). In short: buy the Caldigit TS3+ Dock and you’re good to go. It’s the only reliable TB/USB-C Dock out there, it drives 4k effortlessly, supplies ample power, and even has a ridiculously fast card reader for photo/video guys. I love mine.

I have a 55” 4k Samsung TV running off of it, 2 daisy-chained Apollo interfaces via Apple USB-C > TB adapter, loads of USB peripherals, external SSD chassis, etc.

Go for it.
Even at £285 that doesn't quite power the new 16 inch though. I mean I'm sure it would be fine, but i've neve been able to bring myself to spend so much on those hubs.

Also fitting muplitple SSDs, power, HDMI isn't the optimal set up for performance.
 

LowweeK

Monkeying with libraries
I was in this exact dilemma when I bought a new MBP back in March (2018 model, but same idea). In short: buy the Caldigit TS3+ Dock and you’re good to go. It’s the only reliable TB/USB-C Dock out there, it drives 4k effortlessly, supplies ample power, and even has a ridiculously fast card reader for photo/video guys. I love mine.

I have a 55” 4k Samsung TV running off of it, 2 daisy-chained Apollo interfaces via Apple USB-C > TB adapter, loads of USB peripherals, external SSD chassis, etc.

Go for it.
Thanks for this feedback !
I was thinking getting one and I’m really waiting for a discount bow.
Caldigit did nothing for BF/XMas time. :crying:
 

SupremeFist

Active Member
Even at £285 that doesn't quite power the new 16 inch though. I mean I'm sure it would be fine, but i've neve been able to bring myself to spend so much on those hubs.

Also fitting muplitple SSDs, power, HDMI isn't the optimal set up for performance.
Fwiw these are weirdly much cheaper from Apple UK (£220ish iirc) than anywhere else, and certainly the throughput of TB3 is such that you'll lose zero performance running T5-level USB-C SSDs through one. (I already have two Samsung T5s hanging off an Anker hub each and according to a disk speed utility they run at very near the advertised max bandwidth for both reads and writes.)
 

gst98

Member
Fwiw these are weirdly much cheaper from Apple UK (£220ish iirc) than anywhere else, and certainly the throughput of TB3 is such that you'll lose zero performance running T5-level USB-C SSDs through one. (I already have two Samsung T5s hanging off an Anker hub each and according to a disk speed utility they run at very near the advertised max bandwidth for both reads and writes.)
Good to hear you're having such success with them. Is that tested when they are loading samples though? I'm sure if you run a normal disk test they would be fine, but if you're reading from both SSDs (streaming samples from disk for example) and got a 4k feed with power, surely that would start to bottleneck?
 

SupremeFist

Active Member
Good to hear you're having such success with them. Is that tested when they are loading samples though? I'm sure if you run a normal disk test they would be fine, but if you're reading from both SSDs (streaming samples from disk for example) and got a 4k feed with power, surely that would start to bottleneck?
Ah well I don't run an external monitor so I can't speak to that, but I certainly have no problem streaming samples from them...
 

jbuhler

Senior Member
Good to hear you're having such success with them. Is that tested when they are loading samples though? I'm sure if you run a normal disk test they would be fine, but if you're reading from both SSDs (streaming samples from disk for example) and got a 4k feed with power, surely that would start to bottleneck?
I have not had any problems running 4 SSDs (USB3) and a 2K monitor through a Thunderbolt 2 dock of this sort. TB2 has considerably less bandwidth than Thunderbolt 3. These hubs themselves, even the Thunderbolt 3 versions, all require external power I believe. (My old TB 2 dock in fact died and I had to replace it with a TB 3 dock, though my computer is still TB2 so I don't get the bandwidth gains.) But I've never had an issue with a bottleneck from streaming samples from SSDs. Maybe I would if I had a better audio interface where I could run with a lower buffer.
 
OP
Hywel

Hywel

I'm a musical nobody...
FYI - I did a bit of research into the Caldigit TS3+ Dock and this is a response Caldigit made on the Amazon UK site with regard to charging the new 16" MBP which requires 96W of power.

"Thanks for contacting us. We are working diligently to determine the best solution that will fit all Mac-based computer systems, including the new 16” MacBook Pro and its 96W power supply. While it is not difficult to increase the wattage on our current docking solution, to do so reliably is another task entirely.
In the meantime, the TS3 Plus and USB-C Pro dock are going to provide 85W of charging and are still the best possible solutions for current and future Mac machines."

Their response was dated 19th November 2019.
 

gst98

Member
FYI - I did a bit of research into the Caldigit TS3+ Dock and this is a response Caldigit made on the Amazon UK site with regard to charging the new 16" MBP which requires 96W of power.

"Thanks for contacting us. We are working diligently to determine the best solution that will fit all Mac-based computer systems, including the new 16” MacBook Pro and its 96W power supply. While it is not difficult to increase the wattage on our current docking solution, to do so reliably is another task entirely.
In the meantime, the TS3 Plus and USB-C Pro dock are going to provide 85W of charging and are still the best possible solutions for current and future Mac machines."

Their response was dated 19th November 2019.
yeah maybe best to wait a bit - it's not to mess with power supplies. Designing high-power power supplies is not easy to do and make it safe and reliable.
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
sorry for the dumb question but I haven’t upgraded like in 10 years...

you guys keep mentioning power for the monitor... or to poweran external monitor.

Is that just the video signal out of the computer to the external monitor?

and why would power be an issue in this context? Are these external monitors 4K or something above normal Logic Pro sort of thing?
 

gst98

Member
sorry for the dumb question but I haven’t upgraded like in 10 years...

you guys keep mentioning power for the monitor... or to poweran external monitor.

Is that just the video signal out of the computer to the external monitor?

and why would power be an issue in this context? Are these external monitors 4K or something above normal Logic Pro sort of thing?

So the new macbooks only have 4 USB type C connectors - and nothing else.
lots of people complained about losing ports etc, but the USB-C connectros, let apple use there thunderbolt 3 cables, have so much bandwidth and speed that they can transfer pretty much anything.

So they beauty of this is that you can have one cable coming out of your mac, which connects to your external 4k monitors for example & you plug everything into your monitor. So that 1 single cable will provide power to the laptop, connect the video feed (which can then be split to up to 4 screens), connect you mouse and keyboard, your SSDs, audio singal for heaphones etc... literally everything. But it does come at a compromise, such as your SSD and audio interface will be faster plugged directly to its own port than all down one cable.

However, you have to have a monitor that was designed to work with these new laptops, because USB-C is very complicated and requires expensive chips to do all of this. Thats why even 3rd party dongles are very expensive. It also needs to be able to provide power to the laptop.

The issue we have now, is if you bought the new 2020 16 inch macbook, Apple designed it to way more power hugry than anyone expected to go any times soon so that they could make it a faster machine. That now means that most of these clever monitors are not able to send enough power to the latop to keep it charged. The only reason logic is mentioned, is that running any DAW, or final cut, adobe porgram etc.. uses so much power that the power coming from the monitor isn't enough to keep it charged. I get about 2-3 hours of use out of mine.
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
So the new macbooks only have 4 USB type C connectors - and nothing else.
lots of people complained about losing ports etc, but the USB-C connectros, let apple use there thunderbolt 3 cables, have so much bandwidth and speed that they can transfer pretty much anything.

So they beauty of this is that you can have one cable coming out of your mac, which connects to your external 4k monitors for example & you plug everything into your monitor. So that 1 single cable will provide power to the laptop, connect the video feed (which can then be split to up to 4 screens), connect you mouse and keyboard, your SSDs, audio singal for heaphones etc... literally everything. But it does come at a compromise, such as your SSD and audio interface will be faster plugged directly to its own port than all down one cable.

However, you have to have a monitor that was designed to work with these new laptops, because USB-C is very complicated and requires expensive chips to do all of this. Thats why even 3rd party dongles are very expensive. It also needs to be able to provide power to the laptop.

The issue we have now, is if you bought the new 2020 16 inch macbook, Apple designed it to way more power hugry than anyone expected to go any times soon so that they could make it a faster machine. That now means that most of these clever monitors are not able to send enough power to the latop to keep it charged. The only reason logic is mentioned, is that running any DAW, or final cut, adobe porgram etc.. uses so much power that the power coming from the monitor isn't enough to keep it charged. I get about 2-3 hours of use out of mine.
thanks for the info.

So from what I’m understanding the issue is that a cable has to power a monitor and from there it goes to the laptop as both power and video and it doesn’t power the battery fast enough to stay on/run ok.

and with a dock it should be fine, correct?
 

gst98

Member
thanks for the info.

So from what I’m understanding the issue is that a cable has to power a monitor and from there it goes to the laptop as both power and video and it doesn’t power the battery fast enough to stay on/run ok.

and with a dock it should be fine, correct?

yes and no. the monitor (and its power supply) has been designed for this purpose. The power from the latop comes from the same power supply that powers the monitor.

The dock is not a necessary part of the setup. I don't seem one, but others here seem to like how it can simplir the number of cables you might need. But liek the monitors, the docks will need to be redesigned to work with the new latops.

the workaround is we have to have the apple power supply plugged in for now (as a supplement really). the dock listed here also can provide power and hence would then mean you don't need your apple power supply. But thats an expensive way to go when you could just buy a monitor once it has been redesigned to supply enough power.