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ASUS ThunderboltEX II working with Gigabyte 200 Series

Joined
Mar 19, 2016
Messages
2
Motherboard
GA-z270mx Gaming 5
CPU
Intel i5-6500
Graphics
Intel HD 530
Hi all,

I've been using the site for a little while now but I've been compelled to post now because I managed to get the ASUS ThunderboltEX II working with the Gigabyte GA-z270mx Gaming 5 motherboard.

I was inspired to give the idea a shot by the successes in this thread about the ASUS TBT 3 card post.

If you don't want to be bothered reading my story below, I'll just list the concise steps I took to get it working and attach some photos.

  1. Installed the ASUS AIC into the PCIe x4 slot (closest to the THB_C header).
  2. Used jumper wire to connect the GC-Alpine Ridge cable to the ASUS cable (which itself is an adapter)
  3. Flashed BIOS version F4. In F5, I couldn't seem to get the Thunderbolt option to appear.
  4. Booted into Windows and installed thunderbolt drivers from Gigabyte's website. Neither the ASUS or the Gigabyte flash utilities recognized any devices. That's okay.
  5. Booted back into the BIOS and navigated to Peripherals-> Thunderbolt(tm) and changed the Thunderbolt Security to None.
  6. Make sure your TBT device is connected and turned on (an Apollo Twin interface in my case) and boot into OS X.*
* I already had the UAD drivers installed in OS X beforehand. I'm not sure if this matters though.

NOTE** After writing this post I decided to test and see if the cable is even necessary. It isn't, at least for my audio interface.

The long version:
I am in the pro audio field and was looking for a (cost effective) solution to getting an apollo interface working on my hack. After some research I concluded I'd get a Gigabyte mobo that was on the compatibility list for the GC-Alpine Ridge AIC. Once I got it in my hands I installed the hardware, installed the UAD drivers in OSX, installed windows 10 to a spare drive and loaded the thunderbolt drivers there. Simple.

Next, because of my own personal feelings towards much of Apple's hardware, I refused to buy their $50 Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, so after failing to get a few third party adapters working I managed to source an ASUS ThunderboltEX II card and figured it was my best chance to avoid shelling out more cash (yes, I'm cheap sometimes).

First problem is that the TB cable doesn't fit the motherboard header. Luckily I had the cable that came with the GC-Alpine Ridge which has the smaller, correctly sized, connector attached to a cable with the larger 5 pin connector. The larger connector was the same as the one on the ASUS card (the ASUS cable itself converts the 9pin header on the card to the 5 pin connector to which I'm referring), so I simply used some jumper wire to make a 1-1 connection between the two cables and bingo! The card believes that it's plugged in.

After booting back into Windows and not having any luck getting the card recognized, I decided to revert the BIOS firmware to F4 since the Thunderbolt option in the BIOS was not appearing. Booted back into Windows and reinstalled the (gigabyte) thunderbolt drivers and reset the pc again into the BIOS. The Thunderbolt option finally appeared and I went in and set the security to None. Booted back into windows again and no luck, but before calling it quits I decided to boot into OS X just for fun.

Upon booting into OS X (Note that the Apollo was already ON and Connected before boot) I got a pop up stating that the Apollo needed a Firmware update. Great! Applied the update and it said I needed to reset the interface which meant I needed to reboot the hackintosh as well. Did so and when I turned the interface back on it started in a way I had never seen before which meant the firmware upgrade was successful and I had thunderbolt communication.
 

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Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
18
Motherboard
GA-Z270X-Gaming 7
CPU
i7-7700K
Graphics
GTX 1050
Mac
MacBook Pro
Mobile Phone
iOS
Hi all,
NOTE** After writing this post I decided to test and see if the cable is even necessary. It isn't, at least for my audio interface.
...woah! This is interesting. I must try this with the EX 3 card. If it works I'm a bit confused.
I guess the BIOS must support the PCIe Thunderbolt somehow or could the AIC cards work on any mobo with a PCIe X 4 slot?
 
Joined
Mar 19, 2016
Messages
2
Motherboard
GA-z270mx Gaming 5
CPU
Intel i5-6500
Graphics
Intel HD 530
...woah! This is interesting. I must try this with the EX 3 card. If it works I'm a bit confused.
I guess the BIOS must support the PCIe Thunderbolt somehow or could the AIC cards work on any mobo with a PCIe X 4 slot?
I read somewhere on the forum about the cable only providing specific signals (for sleep and other things I suppose). It would make sense that you don't actually need it if that is the case, since there have been people that got the GC-Alpine Ridge working on mobos that don't even have the TB header.
 
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