Thunderbolt Control Center vs Intel Thunderbolt Software
Intel has migrated the utility to manage Thunderbolt devices in Windows. There are no clear information about this change like most Thunderbolt related topics so I’d like to start a discussion. If you recently bought a Windows system with Thunderbolt Control Center preinstalled, please share the model and when you bought it. Most systems bought prior to late 2018 use the older Intel Thunderbolt Software. The latest Thunderbolt Control Center is officially available through the Windows Store only.
The first question I had was whether there’s an advantage in using the newer utility. I found that out the hard way with an Early 2018 Razer Blade Stealth. This system was running Intel Thunderbolt Software 126.96.36.1990. If you search for “Thunderbolt Control Center” in Windows Store, you can easily find it. Successfully install it is another task all together. You’d most likely encounter an error message stating it couldn’t be installed. The underlying reason is your system is missing Thunderbolt DCH drivers. This can be remedied by downloading the latest DCH drivers from Intel website [1.41.654.0]. Again, to install them successfully is not straight forward.
After a couple of weeks, I finally figured out a way to cleanly remove Intel Thunderbolt Software and its older drivers then switch to Thunderbolt Control Center and newer drivers. It’s still a work in progress as the procedure may not be the same for all systems. The good news is I could install Thunderbolt Control Center on a 2018 Mac mini in Boot Camp. I’d like to collect more information before sharing the steps. If you have experience with this process please share your finding.
If you have a Thunderbolt 3 Mac and would like to install Thunderbolt Control Center, give the steps a try. Boot Camp drivers provided by Apple include a very outdated (8/22/2016), non-DCH Thunderbolt driver. If you were to install the Thunderbolt Control Center software prior to having DCH Thunderbolt drivers it will give an error code 0x803fb005.
To install the needed drivers, go to Intel website and download the latest [1.41.654.0] version. Unzip then open Device Manager to locate the Thunderbolt device. It’s best to hot-plug a Thunderbolt 3 device so that you can see it.
Right-click then select “Update Driver”. Point Device Manager to the 1.41.654.0 Thunderbolt DCH driver folder and it would be good.
Windows should detect new DCH drivers and install the Thunderbolt Control Center for you at this point.
Here are some screen captures of this utility. I was able to hot-plug different Thunderbolt 3 devices without encountering BSOD on a 2016 15″ MacBook Pro. At one point I had all four Thunderbolt 3 ports connected.
You can see Apple set the Mac firmware to “No Security (SL0)” so that all connected Thunderbolt devices at boot can be used. I have macOS 10.14.5 Beta 3 on this MBP so it likely upgraded the NVM firmware of the Thunderbolt 3 controllers to 41.0. Slightly different version in macOS System Information Thunderbolt tree at 41.1.
I wonder if this would effect eGPU detection with the EFI bootloader?
might see if I can get these new drivers installed on my 2017 this weekend.
@eightarmedpet I have been using a late 2016 15″ MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt Control Center and there’s no noticeable difference in terms of Thunderbolt detection through EFI boot loader. This piece of software is helpful when we need to flash the Thunderbolt 3 firmware of the enclosure. Not very useful for most Mac users in Boot Camp otherwise. Also worth noting is that I heard Apple may release a Thunderbolt firmware tool for macOS.
Thunderbolt Control Center is much more beneficial on a Windows system. I tried replacing Intel Thunderbolt Software with Thunderbolt Control Center on several machines and ran into plenty of issues. There are different files and folders that Windows uses to automatically install Intel Thunderbolt Software and drivers. Even when you uninstall the software in [Add or remove programs] and drivers in [Device Manager] Windows can still re-populate these.
In order to prevent Windows from doing so, we have to remove all related files in C:\Windows\System32. Once they’re gone we can uninstall the old Intel Thunderbolt Software and drivers for good. It’s helpful to have a connected Thunderbolt 3 device so that the hardware component stays active and shows up as “Base System Device” in [Device Manager]. Right-clicking this device would let you manually install the DCH drivers [1.41.654.0]. Last step is to download Thunderbolt Control Center from Microsoft Store.
Somehow the system seems to retain/remember Thunderbolt devices that were connected/approved. This information must be stored on the Thunderbolt 3 controller itself. The example below is my X99 test bench which has an ASUS EX3 Alpine Ridge AIC.
Attracted to this forum by your posts, I apologize for highjacking you discussion. However, you seem to know what you’re talking about and show the first screenshots of the Device Manager I’ve ever seen!
I run a MacPro 6.1 (Late 2013), Apple Thunderbolt display, a LaCie 2Big TB2 external HDD (with the LaCie drivers installed), a Transcend JetDrive 855 TB external storage, and a Sonnet Echo Express III with a Sonnet TB-compatible 10Gbe and an M.2 NVME card installed (connected via the Apple TB3/TB2 adapter).
All software is up to date.
Under MacOS everything works like a beauty.
I also have a BootCamp partition with Windows10 installed. Under Windows, the display works, the Echo Express is recognized, and the10Gbe card is fully functional. However, the LaCie 2Big, the Transcend TB and NVME/PCI cards cannot be accessed.
I do not believe they show up as dysfunctional in the Device Manager.
In Device Manager, Thunderbolt shows as working normally, but also shows as “No driver installed”.
Question 1: Is it normal that the Thunderbolt device has no driver installed?
Question 2: Why is it that that the TB display, the Echo Express and the 10Gbe cards work, while TB external storage doesn’t? Does it need storage drivers as opposed to display and 10Gbe drivers?
Question 3: What do I need to do to fix this?
Sorry once again, and thanks for your help!
Pending: Add my system information and expected eGPU configuration to my signature to give context to my posts
@johns The Mac Pro 6,1 firmware effects how Thunderbolt connection works in Boot Camp Windows. If you search in our forum and other places, you’d see eGPU in Boot Camp is not possible with this Mac. I don’t currently have a Thunderbolt 2 device to test/confirm what works and doesn’t work unfortunately. Like may others, I have given up on running Windows with Thunderbolt devices on this trashcan.
On another note, I was upgrading my X399 Threadripper to Windows 1903 this past weekend. All went well and the TITAN-RIDGE AIC remains working with this system. I decided to uninstall Thunderbolt Software and replace it with Thunderbolt Control Center. It worked great too. Hot-plugging works with non-eGFX devices. A reboot is needed to get eGPU going like before.
2018 Mac mini. Install of DCH driver and control center was quick with no issues.
I did notice that the thunderbolt firmware update utility doesn't work with the new driver/control center.
"Thunderbolt(tm) service doesn't exist"
Likely need to rollback to the earlier software to update egpu enclosures. If that's even possible without a clean install.
Gigabyte has released a DCH Thunderbolt driver installer package [1.41.648.4] on GC-TITAN-RIDGE support page. I believe this should help getting Thunderbolt Control Center installed on Macs in Boot Camp or any TB3-capable computers. The version is a bit older than the one on Intel website [1.41.654.0].
@rsb_fox Once you have Thunderbolt Control Center on the system, it’s very hard to get Intel Thunderbolt Software running. Windows will complain this version of Thunderbolt Software is obsolete. You may have to perform a system restore or clean install of Windows.