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musique

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 10, 2009
222
5
My 2012 MBP kicked the bucket this summer and I was waiting for the Apple announcements of late October to decide on a replacement. After much soul-searching and intense budget-shuffling, I decided on a 2015 MBP that should arrive tomorrow. (My local Best Buy has the new 2016 MBPs on display and it is one beautiful and sexy piece of gear.)

The network I'm on has an Apple AirPort Extreme (803.11ac equipped) as well as 1 Gigabit Ethernet. Because the MBP has no Ethernet port, I’m looking at purchasing an adapter to connect it via Ethernet. As I understand it the speeds the MBP could achieve to get on the network are:

  1. IEEE 802.11ac = 500 Megabits/sec
  2. USB 3 = 5 Gigabits/sec
  3. Thunderbolt 2 = 20 Gigabits/sec

But these are theoretical. It seems that the Thunderbolt 2 port has the fastest speed, but will it make a difference on the 1 Gb Ethernet network? Will the USB port provide the same throughput?

So my question is: Which one of these options will give me the fastest network connection?
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
22,963
8,746
USB3 connector should do the job.

Get one that also has extra USB ports on it.
 

musique

macrumors regular
Original poster
Apr 10, 2009
222
5
Thank you all for the rapid feedback. I am looking at the USB3 to Ethernet adapters online and see a lot of brands with which I am not familiar. Is this a fairly standard accessory? Any recommendations or will almost anything work.

(There are several by a company called Anker that have both Ethernet and three USB3 ports.)
 

Weaselboy

Moderator
Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
32,186
11,871
California
Thank you all for the rapid feedback. I am looking at the USB3 to Ethernet adapters online and see a lot of brands with which I am not familiar. Is this a fairly standard accessory? Any recommendations or will almost anything work.

(There are several by a company called Anker that have both Ethernet and three USB3 ports.)
They are fairly common and standard unless you are looking at some off brand junk. That Anker one on Amazon has a bunch of good reviews from MacBook users, so I think you would be good with that one
 

Howard2k

macrumors 68040
Mar 10, 2016
3,265
2,499
I'm kind of wondering what you mean by "fastest network connection".


fast1
fast/
adjective
superlative adjective: fastest
  1. 1.
    moving or capable of moving at high speed.
    "a fast and powerful car"
    synonyms: speedy, quick, swift, rapid;
2.​
(of a clock or watch) showing a time ahead of the correct time.
"I keep my watch fifteen minutes fast"

net·work
ˈnetˌwərk/
noun
  1. 1.
    an arrangement of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines.
    synonyms: web, lattice, net, matrix, mesh, crisscross, grid, reticulum, reticulation;
    plexus
    "a network of arteries"

2.
a group or system of interconnected people or things.
"a trade network"
synonyms: system, complex, nexus, web, webwork
"a network of friends"


con·nec·tion
kəˈnekSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. 1.
    a relationship in which a person, thing, or idea is linked or associated with something else.
    "the connections between social attitudes and productivity"
    synonyms: link, relationship, relation, interconnection, interdependence, association; More


  2. 2.
    NORTH AMERICANinformal
    a supplier of narcotics.
    "she introduced Jean to a number of her male drug connections"



(sorry)
 

curmudgeonette

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2016
582
493
California
MI decided on a 2015 MBP that should arrive tomorrow.

2. USB 3 = 5 Gigabits/sec
3. Thunderbolt 2 = 20 Gigabits/sec

But these are theoretical. It seems that the Thunderbolt 2 port has the fastest speed, but will it make a difference on the 1 Gb Ethernet network? Will the USB port provide the same throughput?

There was someone benchmarking the latest MBP's and comparing to an iMac:

Using WiFi, both were about the same speed. The iMac's Ethernet was faster than WiFi. The MBP with a USB to Ethernet adapter however was slower than WiFi. My theory is that the extra step of USB to Ethernet was slowing things down.

So - as your getting a 2015, I recommend the Apple TB2 to Ethernet dongle.
 

thats all folks

macrumors 6502a
Dec 20, 2013
675
750
Austin (supposedly in Texas)
There was someone benchmarking the latest MBP's and comparing to an iMac:

Using WiFi, both were about the same speed. The iMac's Ethernet was faster than WiFi. The MBP with a USB to Ethernet adapter however was slower than WiFi. My theory is that the extra step of USB to Ethernet was slowing things down.

So - as your getting a 2015, I recommend the Apple TB2 to Ethernet dongle.

Apple is still selling the same stupid USB 2 to 10/100 Ethernet adapter that was introduced for the Air way back when. which, as you pointed out, is now slower than regular WiFi. there are though plenty of excellent USB 3 to Ethernet adapters that deliver full Gigabit speed.
 

Guy Mancuso

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2009
862
43
Thank you all for the rapid feedback. I am looking at the USB3 to Ethernet adapters online and see a lot of brands with which I am not familiar. Is this a fairly standard accessory? Any recommendations or will almost anything work.

(There are several by a company called Anker that have both Ethernet and three USB3 ports.)


I have that one . Seems to be working good too
 

alex0002

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2013
495
124
New Zealand
I've used a j5create USB-3 to gigabit ethernet adapter to push a VM into a VMware datacenter, which needs a decent sustained speed and it didn't let me down. I've also seen them used to give a small server an extra interface.

This wasn't the exact model I used, but it should do the job.
http://www.j5create.com/our-products/ethernet-adapters/jue130.html

But depending on what your needs are, wireless might be fast enough.

Regarding which is faster - as long as the interface is working as intended, then gigabit ethernet is gigabit ethernet and both the USB-3 and Thunderbolt models should give you gigabit ethernet speeds.

Do you have any special requirements like jumbo frames?
 
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cerberusss

macrumors 6502a
Aug 25, 2013
928
362
The Netherlands
Make sure to pick one that doesn't require extra drivers for Macs. Personally, I want it to as be stable as possible and don't want any third-party device drivers on my Mac.
 

Creep89

macrumors 6502
Mar 9, 2012
311
405
Especially after a new release of MacOS this can get really frustrating if new drivers are required because the older ones do not work anymore.

I suggest you to NOT buy an adapter with a Realtek 0x8153 ethernet chip. Sometimes the adapter does not wake up from sleep requiring you to reboot the MacBook. At this point I do not know whether it is an issue with the Late 2016 MacBook Pro or something else.
 

curmudgeonette

macrumors 6502a
Jan 28, 2016
582
493
California
So - as your getting a 2015, I recommend the Apple TB2 to Ethernet dongle.

I reiterate, because the OP is getting a 2015 MBP with the combined DisplayPort / Thunderbolt 2 port, the only sensible solution is: Apple Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet Adapter (MD463LL/A). Why would you get anything else?

Regarding which is faster - as long as the interface is working as intended, then gigabit ethernet is gigabit ethernet and both the USB-3 and Thunderbolt models should give you gigabit ethernet speeds.

A USB interfaced adapter likely cannot saturate gigabit Ethernet. To send a packet, the data has to be passed through the Mac's USB driver stack, then sent across USB in it's entirety, processed by a cheap slow microcontroller in the adapter, and only then finally transmitted on Ethernet. With a Thunderbolt interface, the data can be directly DMA'ed to the transmitter.
 

alex0002

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2013
495
124
New Zealand
A USB interfaced adapter likely cannot saturate gigabit Ethernet. To send a packet, the data has to be passed through the Mac's USB driver stack, then sent across USB in it's entirety, processed by a cheap slow microcontroller in the adapter, and only then finally transmitted on Ethernet. With a Thunderbolt interface, the data can be directly DMA'ed to the transmitter.

Someone has already done that comparison and it appears that the USB-3 devices can saturate gigabit ethernet just as well as the Thunderbolt interface.

Both work pretty much the same in terms of speed. Using iperf, I was getting 111-115 MB/sec transfers on both. However, the Thunderbolt does not disconnect under heavy load.

Obviously there can be quality issues with cheap adaptors and that might be a good reason to go for a known item from Apple. On the other hand, I've never had disconnect problems with USB-3 interfaces pushing several GB of VM into a datacenter, so perhaps his main problem was an out of date driver (review was from 2013) as suggested in the comments on that page.

Plus the USB device can be used on more different machines than the Thunderbolt interface, if that's a consideration. It might be an issue for some people, but others just use one machine and never share interfaces and adapters.
 
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xraydoc

macrumors demi-god
Oct 9, 2005
8,702
2,866
192.168.1.1
I used the Apple Thunderbolt 2 to Ethernet adapter on my previous machine. While USB3 likely provides the same effective speeds, I didn't have to worry about drivers, nor use up a USB port, by going with the Apple TB adapter.
 
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