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Thunderbolt 2: Ready for Windows with the ASUS ThunderboltEX II

By: Tyler Bernath | Editorials in Storage | Posted: Apr 14, 2014 10:03 pm

Installation and Setup




To get up and running with the latest Thunderbolt technology on the ASUS Z87 Pro, we must first install and setup the ThunderboltEX II. Going by ASUS' instructions, you must use the bottom slot on the motherboard as you can see in the image above. I can confirm this is the only slot that will work, so don't try it any other way; it just won't work as intended. Now that we have the card installed, we have to connect the short internal USB header looking wire to the Thunderbolt header on the motherboard and to the card.




Part two of the installation procedure has us connecting the DisplayPort cable from the port on the back of the motherboard to the ThunderboltEX II. This allows the card to pass through DisplayPort display and audio to the Thunderbolt controller.




Here is our final build. We are running an Intel 4770 processor with 16GB of Corsair Dominator Platinum RAM. The GPU is the reference designed GeForce GTX 760, and system storage is handled by four Seagate 600 Pro 200GB SSDs in RAID 0.




To finish setup of the ThunderboltEX II, we need to dive into the BIOS and setup a few parameters. If everything is installed correctly, you should see a Thunderbolt menu in the advanced configuration menu.




Selecting the Thunderbolt configuration, we find all the options for the ThunderboltEX II. One thing I recommend doing is setting the Cache-line size to 128 as it seems to affect performance by a fair margin.




If you want your ThunderboltEX II to achieve peak throughput, we need to set the black x16 slot on the board to x4 mode. The tradeoff here is we will lose the ASMedia SATA controller, so make sure you're using the yellow SATA 6G ports for your internal storage.




When Thunderbolt was initially launched, Windows users were left hanging with little to no support. If you wanted to use a Thunderbolt storage device, you pretty much had to pop it open to find out what controller it was using and install the drivers manually, of course lacking hot plug support as well. This time around, Intel is on the ball with full hot plug and driver support via the driver and tray software.




Here we can see our DCS5320L is running firmware version 11.80 SL1 F5 with software version You can change Thunderbolt connection options in this menu as well.

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