I’ve been eyeballing the Ultrastudio 4K for my color rig for a while not.  It’s nice because it has thunderbolt, so I can use it on set or in the studio, and it has 4K which I’m starting to see more and more around town.  What’s not nice is that it has terribly loud fans, if product reviews are to be believed.

This week a 4K project fell in my lap, so it was time to stop eyeballing and pull the trigger.  I decided to go with the Decklink 4K Extreme.  It offered everything I needed for a UHD output, and it gave dual 3gbps, which my FSI monitor could use to display a 4K image on a 1080 screen.

I wanted to make this an external thunderbolt card, but all of the single card thunderbolt expansion bays I could find had only single slots on the back, which is no good for the 4K Extreme’s daughter card housing the UHD HDMI ports.  After a lot of searching I finally found Akito Thunder2 PCIe Box.  Not only was it the cheapest single slot expansion box, it was the only single slot that offered a second port.  The only downside is that it was rated for 4x PCIe, where the more expensive boxes could output 8x.

When I got my Decklink and the Thunder2, I was dismayed to find that the cables Blackmagic shipped with the decklink were so thick that I felt like I would damage the main board if I were to bend them in a way to connect the daughter board to the main board.  The solution ended up being 2x 270 degree HDMI connecters.  Chaining them together allowed the cables to connect in a tension-less way.

I have to say, I’m really happy with this build.  It’s more powerful than an Ultrastudio 4K, cost around the same amount, it’s quieter, and it sits on a desktop with ease.

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