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USB-C Hubs and Dedicated Graphics

Hey Techs,

I feel like I’m in a weird limbo here. My laptop is starting to not be able to keep up with projects–I’m doing a lot of video editing as part of my program in school, and I enjoy it enough and think I’m getting to the point where I could try freelancing.

As far as I can tell, my system is struggling primarily because of the CPU, an i7-6700HQ. I’ve got 16GB of RAM and a GTX 1060 (6GB), as well as a Samsung 960 Evo as my only drive.

My plan to upgrade was to invest in an “Ultrabook” because I really do want a smaller (~13") form factor to be able to take my laptop with me on filming/photography projects or to class. At the moment, I use a Chromebook I got for free and it is frustrating to work with at times. The idea was, I could get a really portable laptop and use an external GPU (with all my peripherals connected) when I’m at home via Thunderbolt 3.

It does seem like even U-series processors from 10th Gen are generally faster than the 6700HQ, but I don’t have much context on “how much better” that would be in Premiere Pro. So, I could get a better CPU, upgrade to something like a 2060 or 2070 in an eGPU enclosure, and have an overall much better system with reasonably convenient ability to upgrade the GPU if it’s aging.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like any Ryzen 4000 laptops will have Thunderbolt 3. That architecture would definitely be a lot better for video editing and it received a lot of praise upon release. I’d be happy to be on the red team if I could, I appreciate that they’re a genuine competitor again.

So, I was wondering…

  1. Can a display connected via a USB-C hub utilize a laptop’s dedicated GPU? (I’m using a 43" 4K TV as my monitor at home, so 60hz without any sync tech is my upper-limit.)
  2. Are there any Ryzen 4000 laptops that are a good fit for my situation? ~13", portable, apparently 32GB (or ideally 64GB???) of RAM for Premiere Pro?
  3. Bonus question: Is it possible for Ryzen 4000 to support TB3? If so, is there any chance it might on some laptops?

Thanks, take care of yourselves in these crazy times!

Those specs are very respectable for an editing laptop, 2-3 years ago. They’re definitely acceptable today.

Are you running out of ram? That’d be my first guess.

Small or powerful. Not both.

Editing on a u sku? No way. Get the H series.

Check out the zephyrus G14. It might be able to do everything you need, without an enclosure.

Yes.

It’s possible, but not likely. Intel still has to certify the device, and they’re being sore losers and dragging their feet. It’s also expensive.

Zephyrus G14.

Thanks for the response!

Like I said, as far as I can tell the i7-10 U series is all better in basically every way than my current CPU, which you say is “acceptable today,” so I don’t understand why I couldn’t have small and powerful here. Relatively.

Again, as far as I can tell, it’s better than what I’m working with currently.

I like the G14, but it’s larger than the class of laptop I’m interested in and weighs more than twice as much as most “ultrabooks.” It might sound like I’m being a stickler here, but that weight makes a really big difference when I’m traveling with just a carry-on, for example. (Not something I am expecting to do right now, but something I’d like to be able to do.)

Edit: I ended up deleting a project that was really bogging my system down, I am just throwing a bunch of random stuff in the timeline and it looks like it’s plausible RAM is the issue here. I’m around 10-12GB used out of 16, and my CPU is at ~40% with a few other random programs open. (youtube, a simple photoshop project that’s sitting around, several other tabs)

I had a bunch of images and text layered over video in that project. Adding several more images to this didn’t seem to have much of an effect, the CPU and RAM usage stayed about the same but I do feel like I noticed more CPU spikes to ~50% but those were really short.

RAM isn’t the issue until you get to 15.8 of 16 used, unless your editor won’t automatically use all the memory it needs. Check the settings maybe?

If you’re getting the same ram usage in different levels of ‘intensity’ for lack of a better term, you might need to play with the settings.

Yeah, that’s a reasonable point. I should try to figure out if there’s any adjustments I can make and try to find some ways to “bottleneck” my system with with Premiere Pro to see which components are lagging behind.

I’ll try investigating that more specifically. Maybe I actually have some time before there’s growing pains.

In the meantime, I’m not trying to heckle you, but I am wondering if you disagree that 10th-gen i7 U series chips are stronger than my i7-6700HQ? I haven’t done a ton of research and I’m not sure it’s even possible to find apples-to-apples comparisons between the two chips since they’re pretty far apart in launch dates. My assumption is mostly based on comparing Passmark’s scoring of the chips.

Edit: My laptop is a MSI GS-63VR, it’s one of those thinner 15" gaming laptops that got popular around that time. I have reapplied thermal paste and undervolted the CPU to get a little extra performance out of it but it’s using that type of cooling solution if that affects your evaluation of the chip’s power in context. The fans have failed and been replaced by an aftermarket shop here in Taipei.

Might wanna look into the Asus amd powered 8 core laptop that densetsu has
https://forum.level1techs.com/t/post-what-new-thing-you-acquired-recently/149881/2673?u=mutation666

Thanks for that reference. It does look like a nicely built laptop, but I do have sympathy for their grievances. I’ll see if I can find one on a show floor here and give it a test run and see how the size and weight compares to my bag, etc, in person.

He is pretty good with doing small tasks so if there is a benchmark or something you want run he would probably do it.

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Indeed. If you need anything like that @zovc, let me know.

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I appreciate it, I’ll send you a message when I figure out what I want you to test in Premiere Pro. And, I’ll try to make it as easy to configure as possible. (ideally a project and whatever files you need all compressed together.)

In the meantime, if you’re able to do some random testing with a USB-C hub, that would be appreciated. General I/O performance, how does the system run on USB-C power? Are you able to use GPU acceleration on a display connected to a hub? Especially HDMI through a hub, since that’s what my TV uses.

I went to an Asus ROG shop here in Taipei and looked at the G14, I do think the size is okay. But every 14" model (at least locally) has 8GB of RAM soldered on and only the most expensive model (with the extra weight and power drain of their Anime panel thing) has a 2060. So, I would be settling for 8GB soldered-on RAM and a 6GB 1660 dedicated GPU. Having that as my GPU for the foreseeable future is less than desirable.

Supposedly(?) the RAM slot can accept a 32GB stick, though.

Ok. I do have a USB-C hub, so I’ll check that out later.

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I’ll be doing troubleshooting of this on my own, but an observation I made while working on my current project:

Rendering, my CPU goes up to ~80-90% utilization, which is to be expected. The workload ideally should utilize as much of the CPU as it can to get done as quick as possible.

My iGPU is at about 50% utilization, where as the 1060 is at like 5-15% utilization. I can’t check until this render finishes, but I’m almost certain I have CUDA acceleration enabled–it’s the default option and I don’t ever need or want to change it.

I’m not stressing the system too hard editing this as it’s just cutting organizing raw footage for the team to review, but it does seem like editing burdens the RAM more than the CPU at a glance.

Wow. I’m color-correcting some footage and it seems like my video card is actually the bottleneck.

Some jargon, might not make sense but I’ll try to explain:

I’ve got two adjustment layers over a clip, my raw footage. (4K, 30fps, 100MB bitrate) I applied some correction to the original clip, but my subject moved in a really animated and my ISO/Exposure was on auto and it shifted in the middle of the take.

I’m trying to use two adjustment layers, one before the shift and one after the shift, and I’m trying to transition between them during the movement. So, there’s “apply default transition” set between the two clips. Trying to start the clip causes my computer to become unresponsive and with task manager open, my GPU is at 100% utilization.

Hey, did you ever get around to testing your I/O on your laptop via a USB-C hub?

Are you able to use your GPU for an external display via HDMI with a USB-C hub? (Maybe it’d require a DP-to-HDMI cable?)