Best Cubase Thunderbolt option - Avid HD Native?

So I have an interesting conundrum about to come to fruition.
Here are the facts of my setup followed by the question.

-I am upgrading to the new Darth Vader edition Mac Pro.
-Most of the time I run cubase 7 in Windows 7 using a bootcamp partion because of Cubase’s radically superior performance in a Windows environment as opposed to a Mac environment. (To stave off questions, I use a Mac Pro because other parts of my business require me to use Pro Tools and Final Cut X in OS X)
-I have for years used an RME RayDAT card with great success and very low latency/processor strain with Cubase in Windows.
-My front end is an Apogee Symphony I/O connected to the RME card via lightpipe.

My problem is that there doesn’t seem to be any viable solutions to keeping my RME card. The most touted PCIe/Thunderbolt box is the one from Sonnet, but they don’t support Windows (only OS X). I can’t use the Apogee Thunderbolt box because they also only work in OS X and I need the dual boot ability.

I have begun to look at getting the Avid Thunderbolt HD native card as an option. My main concern is that although Avid says it will work with Cubase using the Avid ASIO driver, will it give me the same performance/latency as my RME card? If it DOES this would be a no-brainer purchase for my because I know the performance in protools will be unmatched. I just can’t give up any performance/stability in Cubase because it is my main composing tool.

Anyone have any experience with the Avid HD native (pci or thunderbolt) with Cubase in Windows?

OR does anyone have any advice on a solution I haven’t considered yet?

great stuff

I’d say, give the MOTU 828X a try:

It has lightpipe, and MOTU’s Mac drivers have been second to none.

Agree about all device motu, currently using 3 and love the drivers. I don’t think this is being shipped yet though.

Thanks for the suggestions. Yeah I’ve used MOTU stuff for years. Have several 828’s and used the PCIe 424 card for a long time on my main computer. The firewire stuff obviously doesn’t come close to competing with PCIe based cards though. Dunno if this will change with the 828x though. And I know from my own testing that even the MOTU PCIe stuff doesn’t perform quite as well as RME’s PCIe based cards or Apogee’s. backed this up a couple of years ago with their own independent testing as well.
I haven’t had experience with UA, but it seems probably in the same class MOTU. Excellent stuff, but not quite as bleeding edge as RME or Apogee for raw native performance and ultra low latency (through a DAW-not just using it’s own internal mixer).

I actually did find a fallback solution. The magma thunderbolt chassis for PCIe cards works with windows and os x. I still would love to know if anyone has used the Avid HD native thunderbolt card (or even HD native PCIe card assuming they are basically the same thing) with Cubase and what the results regarding performance were like. Since I use Pro Tools as well, this would be my preferred solution as long as there is no performance hit using it with the ASIO drivers in Cubase.


Because I always felt that MOTU was better on the Mac side, where RME was better for Windows. But I haven’t really put that to the test, just my impression from different machines over the years.

Since Thunderbolt is essentially PCIe over a display port, I’d expect the 828X’ performance to be on par with the PCI-424, which is pretty bloody good for OSX.

From what I have heard and read, Apogee and UA aren’t all that great at low latencies. No first-hand experience, though.

RME is ridiculously good on both mac and pc. The whole thunderbolt thing could change things a bit with the 828x though. It will be interesting to see how they perform. The problem is the pre’s and converters in the 828 are usable, but not great. I’m sure a 2408 thunderbolt or something similar that would allow for large digital I/O is in the works though so we’ll see. That way one could choose the converter’s/pre’s (I know the the 828 has 2 optical, but I need 4)

I think right now my options have come down to the RME card in the Magma TB chassis or an HD native TB box. I actually found just the avid box with no interface on ebay, so I will see how it works out once I have my Mac Pro and let you know.

Just as a quick follow up. I purchased an 8-core Mac Pro trashcan in July and ran pretty extensive stress tests using the VI and DSP test sessions provided at

The interfaces tested were:
Avid Thunderbolt Native
Apogee Symphony (thunderbolt box and USB)
RME RayDAT card in a Magma TB chassis.

All the thunderbolt options had pretty similar performance. The AVID and the RME were the best and very close to each other with the RME edging out the AVID by a plugin or two.

USB performance was expectedly not as good as thunderbolt, but not bad.

I decided to keep my RME PCIe card and run it in the Magma TB box.

I just Purchased the Motu 828x and I am using it in Windows 8 system. Works really well and I would highly recommend it