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Configuring Windows for Thunderbolt

This article shows the necessary steps to configure your Thunderbolt 3-equipped Windows PC for use with UAD Thunderbolt hardware and software.

Note: If you haven't already, please see the additional non-Thunderbolt specific configuration steps in  this article.

For Windows 11 users, please view the video below as well:

1. Make sure Windows is up to date

A 64-bit edition of Windows 10 with Anniversary Update (version 1607 or higher) is required for Thunderbolt compatibility with Universal Audio products. We recommend making sure that the latest Windows 10 updates for your system are installed to avoid problems with performance and compatibility. You can manually check for updates in Windows 10 by going to Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update > Check For Updates.


2. Install the latest Thunderbolt 3 updates from your computer manufacturer

In some cases, Windows computers equipped with Thunderbolt 3 will not ship with the necessary updates required for full Thunderbolt 3 functionality. We recommend installing the latest available Thunderbolt 3 updates from your computer manufacturer for best performance and compatibility. This includes updates to Thunderbolt 3 firmware, Thunderbolt 3 chipset drivers, and/or BIOS updates to enable Thunderbolt 3 functionality.

The general directions below should help you find available updates for your Thunderbolt 3 PC. If you're unable to find or perform these updates, we recommend contacting your computer/motherboard manufacturer for help making sure everything is up to date. 

Checking for Thunderbolt 3 updates 

1. Locate the model of your computer/motherboard. This info can be found by going to Start > Control Panel > System. The computer/motherboard manufacturer and model will be listed under "Manufacturer" and "Model" respectively.

2. Go to the computer/motherboard manufacturer's website and locate your computer/motherboard model. There will typically be a search bar on the manufacturer's website that allows you to quickly search for your computer/motherboard model.

3. On the product page for your computer/motherboard model, look for a "Downloads" section (sometimes called "Drivers & Downloads,” "Support & Downloads" or something similar).

4. In the Downloads section for your computer/motherboard, you will most likely be asked to select your Windows OS version from a drop down menu. 

5. A list of available downloads will be displayed. Thunderbolt 3 firmware and driver updates will typically be under a "Chipset" category, and will say "Thunderbolt" or "Thunderbolt 3" in the title. For example, here's how the Thunderbolt 3 firmware and driver updates are displayed on Dell's website for one of their Thunderbolt 3 laptops:


Thunderbolt 3 firmware and driver updates on Dell's website

Note that some computer manufacturers may list an "Intel NVM Firmware" update separately from the Thunderbolt 3 Firmware updates. If you see "Intel NVM Firmware" in the list of available downloads for your computer/motherboard, make sure to download and install that update in addition to any Thunderbolt 3 Firmware updates that are available. Intel NVM Firmware version 15 or later is recommended. 

3. Make sure Thunderbolt is enabled in BIOS

Certain PC systems require that you manually enable Thunderbolt in the BIOS before any Thunderbolt 3 hardware can be used. The steps for entering the BIOS and changing this setting will vary depending on the computer/motherboard manufacturer and the BIOS version. We recommend consulting your computer/motherboard manual or contacting your computer/motherboard manufacturer for help making any changes in the BIOS.

In some cases a BIOS update is required to enable Thunderbolt functionality before Thunderbolt 3 hardware can be used. BIOS updates can typically be found on the computer/motherboard manufacturer's website by following the directions in step 2 above and going to the "BIOS" category on the downloads page. However, if you have any doubts about the process of updating your BIOS then we strongly recommend contacting your computer/motherboard manufacturer for assistance.


4. Configure Windows power options

Follow the steps below to prevent Windows from spinning down the hard disk and throttling processor performance.

Go to: Control Panel > Power Options. The Power Options window opens.

In the Power Options window:

1. Select the High performance option.
Note: You may need to click "Show additional plans" to expose the High performance option.

2. Click the Change plan settings link for the High performance option. The Edit Plan Settings window opens.

3. Click the Change advanced power settings link. The Advanced settings tab appears in a new Power Options window.

4. In the Advanced settings tab in the Power Options window:

Click "+" next to Hard disk

a. Click "+" next to Turn off hard disk after
b. Set Turn off hard disk option(s) to Never

Click "+" next to Processor power management

a. Click "+" next to Minimum processor state*
b. Set the Minimum processor state(s) to 100%

5. Click the Apply button to activate the settings.

*Note: Some systems may not display the "Minimum processor state" option. In this case, disable the Intel SpeedStep option in the system BIOS instead (if available) using instructions provided by the computer manufacturer. For more information, see below
If your system displays an option for "Maximum processor frequency", leave this set to the default setting of "0 MHz".


Power Options – Turn off hard disk: Never



Power Options – Minimum processor state: 100%


Advanced Configuration

The following are recommended advanced configuration steps for Thunderbolt Windows systems. These steps are not required but can dramatically improve performance on some systems.

Disable Core Parking & CPU Throttling

Intel processors feature CPU power management abilities that dynamically change clock speeds and sleep states. These changes can adversely affect real time audio and can result in audio artifacts such as pops, clicks, beeps, etc.
Many systems will have setup options that allow you to turn off certain power management features from the BIOS. Please consult your computer/motherboard manual or contact the computer/motherboard manufacturer for help with making any changes in your BIOS / UEFI setup utility (the exact steps will vary depending on your computer/motherboard model and BIOS version).
By disabling the following features, your system will run at a constant clock speed and will not halt individual cores:
  • Intel SpeedStep (or EIST)
  • Intel Turbo Boost (or Turbo Mode)
  • C-State Control (or C1E, C3, C6, C7)