2020 Macbooks seem to have a new widespread issue with USB 2.0 devices getting disconnected

Broko Fankone

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Jun 14, 2020
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Recently got my first MBP (2020 10th gen model, 13 inch) and I've been experiencing a strange problem.

At random times the USB devices connected to the mac though a usb-c hub would just lose connection and stop working all at the same time. This happened with two different USB-C hubs (both expensive, one of them is Satechi which was recommended in many threads), so I am leaning towards ruling out the hubs being at fault.

I'm connecting a few things in the hub - HDMI for an an external monitor, USB audio interface (powered by the mac) and a mouse. When the issue occurs, the mouse and the USB audio interface stop working, but the HDMI connection continues to work without issues, each time.

There is no 'USB device using too much power' notification anywhere. I tried looking through the console logs and found errors, but I cannot identify them and understand which one might be related, or to know if any error was logged at all.

The issue happens at random moments and there are no steps to reproduce it. It seems to be happening more often when at least two usb devices are connected at the same time.


I love this MBP but I've never had such an issue with my windows laptop, which usually has all of its USB ports in use by the same devices I put in the hub (except monitor cable - using display port on the win laptop).

Currently, I've taken the USB audio card out of the hub and into a different usb-c port through a single usb to usb-c adapter, to check if the issue will happen again. But it happens randomly and rarely so I might not see it anytime soon if it would persist.

Any ideas what could be the reason? Can the mac be cutting power to them due to electrical issues without showing the power notification?

Also, could anyone point me into the direction of what kind of errors should I look for in any of the logs? There is too much flow of information there and I can't pinpoint the exact second this issue occurs.

edit: forgot to mention I have already reset the SMC and the issue occurred again afterwards, so that did not help


EDIT: HERE IS A COLLECTION OF REPORTS BY OTHER USERS:

 
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NoBoMac

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There is no 'USB device using too much power' notification anywhere.
Even so, would not rule out.

Do your hubs have their own power sources?

Different scenario, but for example...

I've got a simple 3-port USB-A to USB-C hub which consumes/provides 15w to the ports. It has a USB-C power in port that comes from my wall charger. Occasionally, I forget I have the hub plugged in when using more than one drive and will plug my phone into the second port on the wall charger. That will pull enough power such that the charger is providing just enough less power where the drives stop and get the "drives were not properly ejected" message vs anything about power consumption.
 

Broko Fankone

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Original poster
Jun 14, 2020
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Even so, would not rule out.

Do your hubs have their own power sources?

Different scenario, but for example...

I've got a simple 3-port USB-A to USB-C hub which consumes/provides 15w to the ports. It has a USB-C power in port that comes from my wall charger. Occasionally, I forget I have the hub plugged in when using more than one drive and will plug my phone into the second port on the wall charger. That will pull enough power such that the charger is providing just enough less power where the drives stop and get the "drives were not properly ejected" message vs anything about power consumption.
The hubs are powered by the mac, I am currently using this one: https://satechi.net/products/type-c-multi-port-adapter-with-ethernet-v2

And my previous one is almost exactly the same, but from another brand (iStyle).

After reading through the reddit thread that I added to OP, it seems others are experiencing the same issue, but it is perhaps not widespread. The OP of that thread got a full replacement for his MBA and the issue persisted. Apple then offered him a full refund after not being able to figure out what the problem was. Very discouraging, to say the least. I wouldn't want a refund since I am generally very happy with the machine, but I'd like to find a solution.

One potential solution would be to buy a self-powered dock, although if it doesn't resolve the problem I would have spent so much unnecessary money on trying to solve it (both hubs set me back quite a bit, but I have sold the first one at half price at least).

edit: another thread in apple forums suggesting a dock has fixed the issue: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/251284586

I am not enthusiastic about spending so much on a dock but I might try it if it's the only solution. : (
 
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NoBoMac

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Dumb question: running the USB-C power cable through the hub?

Could not find anything on the Satchi website, but in general, these type of hubs are capped on how much power they deliver. Usually about 15w. So, wondering if the USB audio interface might be an issue.
 

Broko Fankone

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Original poster
Jun 14, 2020
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I'm running the power over another usb-c port. Have not tried running it through the hub even once, since I don't really have a reason to do that (only 2, max 3 of the 4 ports are being used).

Do you think running the power through it might resolve this? I am not sure if that would make the hub "powered" as a big docking station can be.

Another issue I have not mentioned here (but much more common) is that I can see tiny sparks when touching a USB cable to the corpus around the ports WHEN there is a powered device already connected to the mac. So if the hub is connected to the mac with the monitor or audio card and I touch the power cable to a different port - there are tiny sparks. The same happens the other way around, if the power cable is connected and I touch the hub with monitor/card already in the hub.

This is very weird and I checked my socket and power strips - they are all properly grounded and the strips are Legrand ( a decent brand, can take a load of 3000W+).

I researched the issue as much as I could and what's weird is that I see no sparks whatsoever at my GF's desk - with almost the exact same setup (same speakers as well). But we found out that her socket is not grounded and an electrician said I'll only see sparks over a grounded socket.

Tomorrow we'll ground a few sockets and I plan to try moving the monitor and speakers to a different outlet and power strip, to see if that will help with the sparks. But as far as I understood it, they occur because of some difference in potential between the devices and how much power they use.

Currently, I simply plug the hub, then the charging cable, then the cable into the power supply, and that produces no sparks. The mac has been running great otherwise and has shown no damage because of this.

I wonder if the USB losing connection can be related, but when they do lose it - they remain powered. So if it was a defence mechanism by the mac itself, I would expect 1) an error to be shown as a notification and 2) the audio card to lose power. But they remain powered and I see no error, so I think it's some kind of a bug, or something VERY specific with the electrical systems that me and the other (apparently few) people that have the issue with loss of USB connection. So far, I've also only seen people report this with 2020 mac laptop models.

EDIT: BTW, someone in reddit told me to flip the USB hub around so the usb cable is flipped when plugged in. He/she said they had the same problem and doing this resolved it... Very strange, but I tried it. Currently have the hub flipped around and connected 1 HDMI and 3 usb devices into it. If this is the fix, I'll be shocked, haha.
 

Broko Fankone

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Jun 14, 2020
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Wow, thanks for sharing this thread. It's the most in-depth description of the issue I have seen. And it makes full sense.
 
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Fishrrman

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When you put up a post as long as the OP, don't expect folks to read all of it.

The hubs you have are NOT "powered" hubs (with their own power supply), is this correct as per your previous postings?

In that case, I suggest that you start using a POWERED hub with its own power block. I'll bet most or all of the random disconnects will then... disappear.
 
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Broko Fankone

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Apologies for trying to present as much detail as possible for a potentially widespread issue on 2020 models. Anyone interested in the issue will read it, I am not here to force anyone into doing that though. There are multiple threads linked and a huge reddit thread that explains it. 2020 macbooks have issues with 2.0 USB devices whereas the older models do not have such a problem. I don't think buying a very expensive dock is a solution when older macbooks work fine with the same usb-c hubs that cause new problems now.

Ultimately I might shell out the money for a TB3 dock, but it seems like an unnecessary expense given that a 2016MBP has no issues under the same conditions.
 

jerryk

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Have you tried powering your audio interface via a powered USB-A hub? Also, which Audio interface our you using? I had an issue with an Mackie ONYX Blackjack and replaced it with an Audient that has it's own power adapter. But my guess is a powered USB hub would have powered the Onyx Blackjack just fine. This was on Windows PCs. 500 mA@5V is not a lot of power.
 

Broko Fankone

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I'm using Rubix 22 @500mA.
But if you read the reddit threads you will see the exact same issue happens to others that are only using mice and keyboards as USB 2.0 devices.

The only solution that others claim can work for the time being is to use a usb adapter or hub/dock which presents all USB 2.0 devices to the mac as USB 3 devices. It's a very weird problem and it's definitely not an isolated case.

"Transparent proxies take the USB 2.0 input and present it as USB 2.0 to the MacBook Pro. The Mac or Catalina then will do something wrong and the USB 2.0 devices will freeze / become unresponsive at some point (minutes or hours after being attached)."
 

jerryk

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I'm using Rubix 22 @500mA.
But if you read the reddit threads you will see the exact same issue happens to others that are only using mice and keyboards as USB 2.0 devices.

The only solution that others claim can work for the time being is to use a usb adapter or hub/dock which presents all USB 2.0 devices to the mac as USB 3 devices. It's a very weird problem and it's definitely not an isolated case.

"Transparent proxies take the USB 2.0 input and present it as USB 2.0 to the MacBook Pro. The Mac or Catalina then will do something wrong and the USB 2.0 devices will freeze / become unresponsive at some point (minutes or hours after being attached)."
Making it look like a USB 3.0 device could cause a change in the amount of power delivered. The USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 specs differ on the amount of current delivered. More specifically, the USB 2.0 spec provides 0.5A@5V. The USB 3.0 is 0.9A@5.0V. so a higher amount of current is available.

You can read up on it here, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Low-power_and_high-power_devices

There it says:

High-power devices (such as a typical 2.5-inch USB hard disc drive) draw at least 1 unit load and at most 5 unit loads (5x100mA = 500 mA) for devices up to USB 2.0 or 6 unit loads (6x150mA= 900 mA) for SuperSpeed (USB 3.0 and up) devices.

So it is possible (probable?) the electronics inside the USB-C dongle is sending different amounts of current to USB 2 and USB 3 ports.

Also, I looked at your Rubix 22 spec sheet. It looks like it has a dedicated power input in the back of the unit. You might grab a USB power supply/charger you have and plug it into that port, flip the Power Supply switch to get power from the supply/charger, and see if that fixes the issue. My guess is they put this ability to use an external power source in the device to get around the limitations of USB 2 power, especially if you are using the phantom power for a mic.
 
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Broko Fankone

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Jun 14, 2020
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Yeah, it does have a 5V DC, but even if it solves the issue I wouldn't be able to do the same for mice/keyboard peripherals.

Currently, I'm trying a different setup: USB-A to USB-C adapter for the audio card on a single port, and then HDMI + mouse receiver (it's a logitech lightspeed model) on the apple's official dongle that has usb-a,usb-c and hdmi.

If I can avoid getting a TB dock it'd be the cheapest option.
 

jerryk

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Yeah, it does have a 5V DC, but even if it solves the issue I wouldn't be able to do the same for mice/keyboard peripherals.

Currently, I'm trying a different setup: USB-A to USB-C adapter for the audio card on a single port, and then HDMI + mouse receiver (it's a logitech lightspeed model) on the apple's official dongle that has usb-a,usb-c and hdmi.

If I can avoid getting a TB dock it'd be the cheapest option.
If you take away the current draw from the interface it leaves power for the mouse and keyboard. This sounds like what your current set up does by splitting the power to the adapter/dongles through 2 different USB-C ports. So you are likely getting 0.5A@5V on each of the adapter/dongles.
 

Broko Fankone

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Jun 14, 2020
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If you take away the current draw from the interface it leaves power for the mouse and keyboard. This sounds like what your current set up does by splitting the power to the adapter/dongles through 2 different USB-C ports. So you are likely getting 0.5A@5V on each of the adapter/dongles.
Sure, we could presume that's the case. But then why would the issue occur at random times, like after 2 days of no issues at all? Today it occurred when the sound was not even being used and I was just scrolling a web page.
Furthermore, if the usb does cut power - how come the devices remained fully powered? Both the card and the mouse remain with their lights on, it's the connection that stops working. IDK, sounds weird and I've never seen anyone talk about such an issue on 2016-2019 models.

I am hoping for this to be a software bug, tbh, one that can be fixed by an update. Power-related issues get their own errors and notification in the system and I have none of these.
 

jerryk

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Sure, we could presume that's the case. But then why would the issue occur at random times, like after 2 days of no issues at all? Today it occurred when the sound was not even being used and I was just scrolling a web page.
Furthermore, if the usb does cut power - how come the devices remained fully powered? Both the card and the mouse remain with their lights on, it's the connection that stops working. IDK, sounds weird and I've never seen anyone talk about such an issue on 2016-2019 models.

I am hoping for this to be a software bug, tbh, one that can be fixed by an update. Power-related issues get their own errors and notification in the system and I have none of these.
Power usage of something like an audio amp is not constant. Heck even a mouse power usage varies.

But, the randomness is strange. My guess would be that they cumulative consumption is right on the edge. And a little bit up and the new load cannot be met.

Also, it could be the new units are more sensitive and could be fixed by upping limits in software as long as something does not burn out.

FWIW, I am having no issues on my 2020 MBP 13 with external keyboard, monitor, and mouse. I have the $1799 model with the 4 TB3 ports and usually run it plugged in. I have not tried with my Audient ID4 or Onyx Blackjack interfaces. However, the machine is destine for the soundbooth when they finish some recordings, so I should try it soon. BTW, which DAW software are you using?
 

Broko Fankone

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That's why I find it strange since nothing in particular is going on that would suggest more power is being used. Plus, I can blast the speakers and play videos and whatnot, and it would not happen. IDK, it could also be related to some imbalance in my electrical system at the apartment which triggers the mac to stop the devices, but then why would they remain powered and why wouldn't the HDMI be cut off too?

My idea was to use this as a portable studio as well so I really need the USB devices to work. I'm using Ableton 10, btw. And it's quite enjoyable to use the mac for it, although at this price I really expected more stability and no issues like this. My other machine is a gaming acer laptop and it has never done anything like this so far, being connected to the exact same power strip and same peripherals, but without a usb hub (it has some individual USB2 ports).
 

jerryk

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That's why I find it strange since nothing in particular is going on that would suggest more power is being used. Plus, I can blast the speakers and play videos and whatnot, and it would not happen. IDK, it could also be related to some imbalance in my electrical system at the apartment which triggers the mac to stop the devices, but then why would they remain powered and why wouldn't the HDMI be cut off too?

My idea was to use this as a portable studio as well so I really need the USB devices to work. I'm using Ableton 10, btw. And it's quite enjoyable to use the mac for it, although at this price I really expected more stability and no issues like this. My other machine is a gaming acer laptop and it has never done anything like this so far, being connected to the exact same power strip and same peripherals, but without a usb hub (it has some individual USB2 ports).
I assume the HDMI is hooked up to some display unit that is plugged in. So it is likely that that unit (TV, Monitor, receiver) provides the power. The MacBook just needs to provide data. Still it is strange you are seeing these issues. I still suggest your try a powered USB hub even if nothing is showing in the logs.

FWIW, based on your comments I tested my MBP in our recording booth/closet and it seemed to work fine with Audient ID4. However, we are doing voice over narrations for video courses, which is much less strenuous than what you are doing. I used Audacity as the DAW. When I move this machine in there permanently we will switch to Audition as the DAW.
 

Broko Fankone

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Jun 14, 2020
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Well, all the people who claim they solved the problem did it with powered TB3 docks. The one that was recommended is this: https://www.caldigit.com/ts3-plus/

And I admit it's not a bad idea to have one, although it's quite expensive and not something I would normally buy if the dongles are working fine.

Do you know if a dongle that is used as passthrough for charging becomes powered when the power cable goes through it? I've never used dongles before and they don't specify this. In theory, if it gets powered the problem could potentially be solved. But from the looks of it and the bigger reddit thread, people are getting this issue specifically with USB 2.0 devices, specifically on MBP 2020 and MBA 2020 models, who all come with USB 3 support. It sounds like a new issue and I think it makes sense that it is not the powered hub in particular that solves the issue, but a hub/dock which presents USB 2 devices as USB 3 devices to the machine.

Regardless, if it's a power issue then making the machine believe these are USB 3.0 devices could still be dangerous to it in other ways, so a powered dock could at least take care of that by removing the strain from the laptop.

I might end up ordering the caldigit TS3+ next week, we'll see. Kinda want to wait and see if there will be more information about this issue. If it really is widespread, it could get more popularity and potentially an alternative and more reasonable solution other than spending 200-300$ just to have some usb devices attached.
 

Supra Mac

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Jan 5, 2012
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Texas
Thanks OP for posting.

I have the same issue. I am running 10 gen model. Using the apple multiport mini dock. USB going to a USB 3 hub and from that hub a USB 2 hub in the monitor. I have removed the USB 2 hub, was running mouse and keyboard, to see if that will fix it. I am now running, mouse, keyboard, printer and DAC to speakers to the single usb 3 self power hub. Will follow up on how it goes.

My previous setup has no issues on my work windows laptop, HP elitebook.
 
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Raikal

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Sep 7, 2014
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I have the same problem with a CalDigit USB-C Pro Dock, should be pretty similar to the TS3. Never had these issues with the 16” or the Windows laptop I got from my company, so it’s seems to be something with the new 10th gen MacBooks
 

Broko Fankone

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Original poster
Jun 14, 2020
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Thanks for posting, it definitely looks like the issue is common and pretty much exclusive to 10th gen models and potentially older models that updated to Catalina (although in that case the reported issues are different, like USB ports completely not recognizing devices).

Unfortunately I read a LOT of horrible reviews about the TB3 Plus dock, which apparently has a very strong coil whine. I was dissuaded from buying it for the moment, as that kind of noise pollution is out of the question for me (the point of the mac is to also have a quiet machine). Also, some user in reddit claimed the dock messed up his MBP 16" ports in some way. Others claim some ports stop working in a few months, etc. It's far too expensive for such issues to be acceptable.

So I'll have to look into another solution.

@Supra Mac - by apple multiport mini dock do you mean this: https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MUF82AM/A/usb-c-digital-av-multiport-adapter ?

My gf has that and I am currently trying it out to see if the problem would persist. I've connected my audio card to a single USB-A to USB-C adapter and then my HDMI and mouse go into the apple multiport hub. So far I've not had the issue happen in several hours, but it can happen at any time in between a few days, so it is early to say if it helped.

EDIT: It happened again 5 minutes after I wrote this. :(

Should we start returning these macs? I'm definitely not OK with having such a problem :/
 
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Supra Mac

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Jan 5, 2012
163
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Texas
Yeah that is the one. I'm using an anker 3.0 hub but just had to covert with 2.0 extension cable due to interference with the mouse transmitter.

See your edit, guess its only a matter a time for me.
 

Supra Mac

macrumors regular
Jan 5, 2012
163
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Texas
You can try flipping the connector, as mentioned. I have an extension cable and found this in the box. Will give it a shot. Probably has this because its a cheap cable?

IMG_5083.jpg
 
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Broko Fankone

macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 14, 2020
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Already tried flipping the connector and it did not resolve the issue. I am returning this macbook for replacement in a couple of days when I have some spare time.

Either this get fixed, or I am going to go for a refund.

This morning the issue happened twice in the span of 5 minutes. For me, this is defective and unusable and I will not be buying more docks or hubs to "fix" it. There should be an easier solution without having to spend so much on specific docks - which by the way can have all kinds of issues themselves.
 
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