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Old September 22nd, 2012, 02:52 PM   #1
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USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

Let me start by saying that I do most of my editing on my PC desktop machine, so I'm not looking for a replacement.

What I am looking for is an option to do some work when I'm away from home and the occasional on-location work.

I'm looking at the new Thinkpad T430u, it's a nice ultrabook with 2 USB 3.0 i/o ports only. The plan would be to keep the boot drive a small but fast SSD, and just run all media off an external drive. But is USB suitable for video editing? It's faster then Firewire, but I heard something about it only being able to send data in "packets", making it not so good for video editing?

If this is the case, then are all ultrabooks out of the question? None that I have seen have Firewire and none have ExpressCard slots for adding it.
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Old September 25th, 2012, 08:44 AM   #2
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

No one has an opinion on USB 3.0 as an option for video editing from an external drive?
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Old September 25th, 2012, 09:40 AM   #3
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

USB 3.0 works fine for me. I don't know what other storage options you're considering, but the field seems to be narrowing as fewer laptops come with firewire 400 ports, and PCMCIA or Express Card slots are also getting scarce. With those card slots, you could get firewire 400/800 and eSATA ports if you're machine didn't come with them. My main editing machine has 5 USB ports, 2 of which are also USB 3.0. It also has eSATA, but I haven't seen a portable HDD to use with it and I don't like the rigid cable it uses. I do have a minor problem with my USB 3.0 ports occasionally breaking connection. Not a big deal except most of my 1TB WD HDDs are password protected and once the connection breaks, I have to re-enter the password to get it going again. There is just too much slop in the connection and if the cable gets pulled sideways too much it disconnects. I don't know if it's an issue with the Sager laptop or the cables or just the way the USB 3.0 connection works.

When choosing your SSD size, make sure to leave plenty of room for the OS and your programs. I got a 600GB SSD and it's sufficient for now. I'm editing on Sony Vegas Pro 11, but have Adobe Production Premium CSS 6 loaded as well.

I think USB 3.0 is currently the best option for portable storage.

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Old September 25th, 2012, 12:58 PM   #4
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

I just want to make sure you are not making a distinction between "storage" and an active drive for editing directly off of. For simple storage of inactive projects, who cares, but how about editing projects directly off one?

This would be similar to what I do on my desktop, which has only a 128GB bootdrive, with sufficient room from programs. Media does not live on this drive, but rather on separate internal drives (1TB WD blacks). I then store completed projects on an external USB 3.0 drive (though I don't really edit off it.)

My laptop will have a fairly small SSD boot drive, meaning I must edit off of external drives exclusively. I'm hearing mixed reviews on USB 3.0 being capable of this. Speedwise, it looks like it should be fine, but what about this possible issue with "data packets?" It sounds like it can't send date back and forth simultaneously.
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Old September 25th, 2012, 01:18 PM   #5
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

i cut 4k R3Ds via USB 3.0 on my laptop, not the best setup, and not in full rez, but it works OK, 1080 footage editing via USB 3.0 is totally fine (MXF 35mbs, DSLR MOVs) on desktop and mobile, especially if you have decent laptop ,mine has i7, 2Gb graphics, 12Gb RAM, SSD drive
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Old October 2nd, 2012, 03:44 PM   #6
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

wow, I've done some searching on the net and there really seems to be no consensus on this issue. The exact same question seems to have been brought up on a number of forums almost always with the same answer ranging from "...I used it in this particular set up and it seemed, ok" to "we'll have to wait and see if it sending data in bursts is a problem?"

Well, USB 3.0 has been out for some time now. PC's don't universally support firewire or eSATA (especially in a laptop), and it looks like USB 3.0 is the direction that they are going in. Frankly as long as it performs better then Firewire, I'm ok with it, because I have no issue with it's speed. However, if it performs worse, then I know to look somewhere else.
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Old October 2nd, 2012, 04:18 PM   #7
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

Also, worth throwing out there, it seems like in the realm of such high transfer speeds as USB 3.0 or say thunderbolt, the precise speed is inconsequential for a non-raid mechanical drive, because they both exceed the speed of the physical drive itself.

Granted this changes if your using a SSD or a raid. But still, this does not address the issue of whether data bursts is an issue or not.
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Old October 4th, 2012, 09:51 AM   #8
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

I found this video which says that there are a few different "modes" for USB 3.0 implementation. It looks like some might better then others for video editing (UASP mode, seems to support the best performance for smaller back and forth data transfer).

Unfortunately, your it is up to you motherboard to support these different modes, and for UASP, both your motherboard and the device must support these modes.

Anyway, here's the link:

USB3 Transfer Modes Compared & Explained Bot Mode, Turbo Mode & UASP Mode NCIX Tech Tips - YouTube!
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Old October 4th, 2012, 03:23 PM   #9
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

I have four WD My Book USB3 externals totalling 6Tb and they are almost as fast as me single drive SATA internals. I have used one of them in an NLE workflow, but not as a source drive. I guess if it was not compressed you could get away with it, but I'm thinking that AVCHD or H.264 1080 would not let you smoothly scrub the timeline with Premiere Pro using such a drive. I have no experience with other NLEs

As an addendum to this, when I first built my current system, I tried to get away with a 1st gen Velociraptor as the source drive (DSLR H.264) and suffered from a jerky timeline. Getting a second identical drive in raid 0 fixed things up. As it happens, one of those v'raptors died on me (they are 'supposed' to be one of the most reliable HDDs out there) and as a raid 0 that data was non-recoverable. There was hundreds of hours of work on that drive, so I was thankful I'd invested in Shadow Protect which does 15 minute updates in the background. I also had a straight back up, but that was nearly a week old when the drive failed.

I didn't feel able to trust either of those first v.raptors, so got two new 2nd gen 600Gb v'raptors for a raid 0 project drive.

I also have a USB3 500Gb pocket drive which is as fast as the WD My Books and great for moving large amounts of data between (non-networked) systems. USB3 is great, but not that great.
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Old October 4th, 2012, 04:32 PM   #10
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

Trevor. Thanks. This is what I was worrying about. Frankly, this sucks.

Most PC laptops don't have firewire. All macbooks do. No PC laptops have thunderbolt. New macbooks do (hell, even the macbook air has thunderbolt.) Very few PC laptops have eSATA, and though macbooks don't either, I've never used that interface because it's not terribly common.

Why is it that I could buy the lowest end macbook and be up and running editing video, when I have to search long and hard for a PC laptop that isn't going to cause me problems? Apple is one company, and they mange to get so much right, why can't any of the handful of PC manufactures manage to do the same?

Sorry about the PC vs. Mac rant, I just want to get a new PC laptop, and USB 3.0 being the "latest and greatest" when it sounds like it will be a worse option then Firewire. That technology is over 10 years old!
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Old October 4th, 2012, 08:33 PM   #11
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

I just did a quick web search; apparently Thunderbolt equipped notebooks are out there.
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Old October 4th, 2012, 10:29 PM   #12
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denez McAdoo;1754727
I'm looking at the new Thinkpad T430u, it's a nice ultrabook with 2 USB 3.0 i/o ports only. The plan would be to keep the boot drive a small but fast SSD, and just run all media off an external drive. But is USB suitable for video editing? It's faster then Firewire, but I heard something about it only being able to send data in "packets", making it not so good for video editing?[/quote

If this is the case, then are all ultrabooks out of the question? None that I have seen have Firewire and none have ExpressCard slots for adding it.
I would worry about using a 14" monitor with a resolution of 1366 x 768 for editing. I formerly used an 18.4" 1080p laptop and I still found it small!

Regarding USB 3.0. Data is always sent in blocks or packets - that really has nothing to do with anything that might concern video editors - who are not a demanding lot technically. Compared to server architecture and database management, etc. video editing is child's play.

According to what has been tested, USB 3.0 is at least capable of 2.5 Gbps sequential (about 300 MB/s) - that's two Red Epic 5K streams of data throughput.

I wouldn't use either USB or Thunderbolt for editing large chunks of data. If you are really worried about reaching data rates that touch 5 or 10 Gbps, then you should be seriously considering 10 gigabit Ethernet (not cheap) to string your drives, preferably over fiber. This is not something that laptops can do. The weakest link in a laptop is the motherboard.

If you're lucky, a good platter hard drive might be able to sustain 125 MB/s (1 Gbps). Three of these in RAID will push USB 3.0 to the max. Seven of these will push Thunderbolt, but then again, you will be using 10 GbE by that point. And you'll be worrying more about your SATA 6 Gbps bottleneck.

If you don't have the money, and you want to remain as 'universal' as possible, stick to USB 3.0. Both macs and PCs have that.

One brand I've consistently used over the last five years is Acer. Not only are they the cheapest, but also the most feature packed. If you have to stick to ultrabooks, you can edit in lower rez or proxies anyway, and you'll barely even need USB 2.0 speeds (remember 2 years ago everyone made do without USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt).

Hope this helps.
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Old October 5th, 2012, 09:56 AM   #13
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

Shem, looks like your right, thunderbolt on PC laptops are trickling in. And in the Thinkpad line from Lenovo no less (my personal preference) with the ThinkPad Edge S430 (USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, discreet NVIDIA GeForce graphics, and a 1600x900 display!)

Sareesh, see this is why I'm getting all worked up, because of the back and forth information on USB 3 as a viable interface for video. My wallet and my emotions can only handle so much!

For starters, I do most of my editing from my desktop - dual display, Intel i7 processor, 12GB ram, NVIDIA Quardo FX graphics. I want a laptop for portable flexibility, not as a desktop replacement.

I know I'm going to make some performance concessions (I want to spend in the $700-$1000 range.) I just don't want the bottleneck to begin at the source. I had suspected that the speed issues might be largely moot because we're in the range of are overkill anyways. It's the data packet bursts that bother me. Doesn't video and (simple) motion graphics involve significant back and forth communication?
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Old October 5th, 2012, 10:02 AM   #14
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

by the way, here is a link to a review of the ThinkPad Edge S430, which is not available yet. It has both thunderbolt and usb 3. Looks like it will be in the sub $1000.

Review Lenovo ThinkPad Edge S430 Notebook - Notebookcheck.net Reviews
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Old October 5th, 2012, 11:48 AM   #15
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Re: USB 3.0 for video editing? laptop, ultrabook solution

I just finished customizing a T430S on lenovo.com after chatting with a representative. Someone with more knowledge please confirm these things below - there is no clear info on the site (only the kind of verbiage that says "depending on model")... I am not familiar with IBM/Lenovo laptops...

Thunderbolt - only if Windows 7 Professional is chosen for OS (can be used to connect storage devices OR as DisplayPort?)
Two USB 3.0 ports
Two additional bays for hard drives - can't find any info on this
Optional DVD burner - is Bluray burner available? Website did not give me the option.
1600x900 pixel 14" HD+ display

Reviews note "dull" colors - not an issue for me, I need this mainly for capturing live video via Blackmagic Intensity Shuttle.

Thank you,
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