Switching from Win to Mac - Thunderbolt External Drive Question

Long time Infuse Pro user. I currently stream .MKV files via an Ethernet-connected Win 10 PC (32TB of internal drives) to Infuse on a 4K ATV. We are buying an iMac and I want to retire the Windows box.

Any issue with buying a Lacie Thunderbolt 3 Big2 array (https://www.lacie.com/products/big/2big/) and connecting it to an iMac via Thunderbolt for .MKV file playback? The Mac would be connected to our network via Ethernet.

On paper I don’t see any issues (Thunderbolt spec is impressive), but I’d love feedback from anyone using a Mac + external Thunderbolt storage to make sure I am not overlooking a “gotcha”. This is my first time back in Mac land after many, many years.

Many thanks for anyone who can add their insights!

I stream from both an iMac and a WD MyCloud. The iMac handles serving just fine. As to the thunderbolt external drive it may be a bit overkill unless you have other needs for thunderbolt. I have 4 external desktop drives connected to a USB 3 hub on the iMac and there is zero problems with speed, every things streams flawlessly, even the big 4K files. As a side note, this is over a wireless connection to the iMac but the router is only about 6 feet away from the iMac open air. I used wireless just to keep the cable clutter to a minimum around the iMac.

You know, I didn’t even consider that Thunderbolt would be overkill… I got it in to my head I need the thru-put of an internal drive and/or something like Thunderbolt, and that USB3 would lead to dodgy playback. Considering our house is fully wired w/ Ethernet, it seems like I could get away w/ USB 3 connected drives and a quality hub? If so, that’s pretty slick and I really appreciate you chiming in. Anything else I should be aware of w/ running Infuse via Mac?

Thx again NC Bullseye.

I have used both a powered USB 3 hub as well as a non powered one with the same results. The key is to using Desktop drives that have their own power adapter. That keeps things from loading the USB up on the iMac. I will say one thing, think about getting a quality UPS for the iMac and drives. That keeps the world happy when you get power glitches and short term outages. I run an APC Smart UPS 1500 and it connects to the iMac too via USB and will let the iMac shut down in an orderly fashion if the power goes out for longer than the UPS can survive. You probably don’t need the level of the 1500 since mine also keeps the router, DSL, cordless phone, security cameras and a few other must haves powered.

As far as setting up the iMac, just don’t forget to set up SMB sharing in the network control panel and doing a “Get Info” on the drives and folders you want to share and check the “Shared Folder” box.

You may also want to set up a new user for media with read only permissions for Infuse unless you want to also be able to delete files from Infuse. I personally prefer to do all file maintenance from the iMac instead. That’s just a personal pref though.

Agree re: the powered drives and the UPS… I have all my PC equipment plugged in to Furman rack units. Thanks for the other setup tips as well.

Though I can’t leave Windows totally behind for work purposes, the rest of my family prefers Apple products. I have to admit I was pretty impressed w/ the 2019 iMacs when we went to demo them… while getting myself up to speed on the OS it dawned on me that it may be a nice platform to run w/ the ATV and infuse (my Windows box is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster @ this point). The geeky part of me was excited to try out Thunderbolt… but USB3 is certainly more cost effective!

Appreciate your time and insights on all of this!

Have you concidered buying a NAS instead of a raid diskdrive? You can configure the NAS to run in RAID as well and you can directly integrate it to your network via Ethernet. Streaming to aTV Infuse via SMB just works great and no need to boot up the iMac to stream a movie.

Synology or QNAP are the manufacturers of choice.

Instead of spending € 1549 (the 28TB Lacie TB 3 Big Array) I’d go for the NAS. Minimum 4 bay, better 6 or 8 bay for later extension.

I have a DS414 with 3*10TB + 1 3TB (streaming of 4K material works without any buffering)

the 3 * 10TB are running as RAID5 giving me an 15TB Volume where 1 disk can fail and be recreated.
the 3TB is a single disk volume which I use for TimeMAchine backups

You’ll find complete packages (4 bay DS418 NAS + 4 * 10TB disks for abt 2k €, but buying a naked NAS and separate disks will result in cheaper price

Thanks. I hadn’t actually, but you’ve given me something to consider. So what is the typical workflow when ripping a disc? Rip it to the local drive on the Mac and then move the resulting file (MKV in my case) to the NAS? I have never set up NAS before, but it seems relativity straight forward.

Re: the Lacie… no doubt the Big2 is a bit of an extravagance. Fortunately I work for a company that can get them at cost, which makes them a bit more appealing. Still, both of you make great points about alternative setups. This is a pretty great forum. :slight_smile:

You will get the most bang for your buck if you stick with the iMac as your server and hang a few healthy sized hard drives on it to get started with. NASs are great but unless you have a strong need for serving files to multiple computers or running ancillary programs like a mail server or security cameras you’ll be fine starting out with the iMac as your media server. Later if you determine that a NAS is what you really want then many NASs can take advantage of the external hard drives you put on the iMac and you just move them over to the NAS.

If I can help out on the conversion to iMac from PC let me know. That’s what put bread and butter on the table for a long time before retirement.

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Thanks NC Bullseye! Up to this point I’ve had my PC workstation act as a media server and I think that strategy will work best for the new iMac. I have several 8TB external USB3 drives so I am going to do as you suggest and start there. The NAS options or Lacie / CalDigit / OWC Thunderbolt direct-attach RAID options are slick, but after some research they seem overboard for my use (which amounts to playing back MKV files via ATV Infuse). If I run in to storage/performance issues, I will revisit them down the road.

Looking forward to the iMac… seems as if making the transition from PC to Mac is no where near as daunting as it used to be. My Office 365 files should translate w/o issue, and so should all of my MKV and other media files. That said, if I run in to any Infuse head-scratchers that a deep Google search or RTFM can’t solve, I may hit you up. Thanks for offering.

I sincerely appreciate you both for responding to this thread… your posts have been enlightening and have helped me budget accordingly!

I have an iMac Pro with a Lacie Thunderbolt 3 Big2 array and streaming off it to infuse on an apple TV works perfectly. Whilst overkill for streaming it is an incredibly good external HD system and being raid it safeguards your data. I keep all the video’s on it as I only have a 1TB SSD in the iMac pro.

Excellent! Thanks for posting… that’s great to know.

I was thinking of re-purposing the farily new x4 8TB Barracuda drives currently in my PC by putting them in an OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad 4-Bay USB 3.1 C Storage Enclosure (OWC Mercury Elite Pro Quad RAID Ready 4-Bay Enclosure). They’d be Mac formatted of course, and set to Raid 0 (I back up to external drives on a rotation). It’s worth a $200 expense to get the use out of those Barracudas.

I still really like the looks/specs on that Lacie drive though; if my enclosure doesn’t work out, I will take a look @ Lacie.