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  • What do my fellow filmmakers do about USB C?

    Posted by Chris Newberry on December 15, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Sorry if this isn’t the right forum – I couldn’t find the Hardware one!!

    I wanted to see what you all do about USB C – I have multiple USB C devices which sell themselves as being awesome and superfast etc – ideal for filmmakers!

    I have three USBC G Drives as main edit drives, plus a whole host of USB C rugged/portable drives… add to that USB leads for card reads etc and I probably have at least 10 devices that are ‘super quick’…

    The problem is my iMac only has two USB C ports – and newer models still don’t have ‘a lot’. But USB C has one major problem as technology – you cannot get an expansion port.

    So I have one port with one USBC drive on it, plus then I have a USBC to USB hub and all my lovely fast USBC devices are now running at the old USB speed – and no doubt having a bit of a bottle neck effect.

    I’m first to admit I’m not the most tech knowledgeable – so please tell me I’m wrong!! What are my solutions here?

    What do you all do about it?

    Mark Grance replied 11 months, 3 weeks ago 5 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • Mads Nybo jørgensen

    December 15, 2022 at 11:26 am

    Hey Chris,

    Although they look the same connection wise, have you checked whether your USB-C drive could be a Thunderbolt Drive?

    There are a few companies around offering break-out boxes.
    For a little while I’ve had my eyes on the OWC Thunderbolt Hub for my Mac Mini, but have not yet ordered it. It supports both USB-C and Thunderbolt (currently in stock with in the UK):

    There are plenty of other brands around doing the same.
    Some which has bigger selection of connections + card-reader built in.
    What is worth keeping an eye on, whatever you choose, is the data throughput on the ports.

    Hope that this helps?


  • Chris Newberry

    December 15, 2022 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you Mads – I shall check out right away.

    Is Thunderbolt and USBC interchangable? My HDDs are defo USBC, but they work in the iMac , so if the Thunderbolt iMac sockets accept USBC connections, then your mentioned devices could help

  • Ben Balser

    December 15, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    Bear in mind that Thunderbolt is faster, but both sides of the cable must support it for that speed increase. Otherwise, you’re running USB-C.

  • Mads Nybo jørgensen

    December 15, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    Hey Chris,

    I am mainly working on a HP ZBook Pro with USBC Thunderbolt ports.
    I don’t really notice whether my external device are USB or Thunderbolt, as the USBC interface is fast enough for most of the work that I do.
    Adding, that for editing I use my internal SSD’s, and rarely connect to an external drive unless it is for backing up or moving a project back into Post.

    Rather than getting stuck on one or the other, I think that your main point is that Mac has a limited amount of ports, without the ability to expand the hardware. Adding, that if you are really unlucky and don’t “eject” your drive before unplugging, you can run the risk of losing data.

    So having all your drives connected to a break-out box might not be a bad thing, regardless of being USBC only, or with Thunderbolt.

    However, there are smarter people around here, including Bob Zelin, who will rightfully ask about your back-up and disaster recovery. As if you have all your eggs in one basket, or sitting on one connection as it would be, they could all fail spectacularly simultaneously.

  • Chris Newberry

    December 15, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    Excellent point – thank you

  • Neil Sadwelkar

    December 20, 2022 at 3:04 am

    Your iMac USB-C port is actually a Thunderbolt 3 port.

    The USB drives you have, if they are portable drives, then they will top out at about 120 MB/sec, and if they are desktop drives, then they may go up to 200 MB/sec or more depending on model.

    You do get USB-C to 4-port hubs where the USB ports are USB-A USB 3.0 ports, so, totally about 600 MB/sec shared between 4 ports.

    If you connect 4 portable drives via USB-A to USB-C cables to this kind of a hub, you’ll still see full speed on all 4 drives. Even if you connect 4 desktop drives to this hub, you’ll still see full speed on all 4 drives as long as not more than 2 drives are simultaneously reading or writing.

    If you need even more speed or of any of your USB-C devices are SSDs or RAIDs, then you can look at getting a Thunderbolt to USB hub. Caldigit, Sonnet, and OWC make them.

  • Chris Newberry

    December 20, 2022 at 9:33 am

    Thank you Neil – this is really helpful!! I appreciate you time

  • Chris Newberry

    December 20, 2022 at 9:46 am

    Thank you Ben – most helpful

  • Mark Grance

    December 23, 2022 at 4:08 pm

    It should be noted that USB C is only referring to the connector’s form factor and not the speed. USB speed is referenced in numbers like USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 or 3.2 Gen 1, etc.

    I know it sounds like I am nitpicking but there are USB cables (with USB C connectors) out there that are not high speed.

    If you have a lot of “USB C” cables in your collection, I recommend you take the time to test them one at a time directly connected from the computer to a drive and use something like AJA System Test Light or Blackmagic Disk Speed Test to verify the performance of the cables. I found “USB C” cables that are as slow as USB 2.0.

    Also, just because a drive has a USB C connector doesn’t make it fast.

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