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UrbanSoban

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 9, 2021
5
0
So, I'm thinking about making the switch to the fast world of M1 MacBooks. As we all know, (a lack of) connectivity is an issue.

CAUTION! This will be a very long and complicated post. But perhaps, if anyone can provide some more insight or useful feedback, it could also help others with such tough decisions that have cost me 2 nights' worth of sleep so far.

So, what I need in terms of connectivity for the M1 MBP 16 GB 1TB is:

1. To charge the computer,
2. USB A- and C-type 3.1 Gen2 ports to connect to iPhone, iPad, small USB audio interface (Focusrite Scarlett 2i2o) and external HDD/SSD,
3. HDMI or Display Port connection for a 4K 60 Hz 32'' display,
4. (Optionally but ideally) Gigabit Ethernet

A) One way (and the cheapest) of going about it would be to play plug in an out the relevant cables and adapters all the time depending on the need. So for regular work, just charge the computer with Apple's own provided power supply through one port on the MacBook, and connect the display to another via a USB C - HDMI adapter or cable (like THIS: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Thunderbolt-compatible-MacBook-Surface-more-0-9m-gray/dp/B07CL2RHX5 ). Then, if other peripherals were required (i.e. an external sound card or disk, iPhone sync), I'd have to 'sacrifice' one of the two connections and unplug it. You get the idea...

B) A slightly more expensive solution to the above would be to use the Apple Multiport adapter (not an elegant solution at that because you have that white thing dangling off your sleek aluminium beauty) in one of the MacBook's ports, which would take care of the charging/HDMI issue + 1 extra USB-A slot. Does anyone know which standard is the current Multiport USB-A slot and whether it can provide power to external devices (such as MIDI keyboards or audio interfaces) or accommodate such things as a Gigabit Ethernet USB-A adapter (like THIS: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/2724571630609/dp/B010SEARPU )? In this way, the other port on the laptop would be free for a slightly relaxed scenario as per point A) above.

C) A non-powered USB-C hub into the second free port on the MBP/A. The problem here is finding one that ticks all of the boxes. Two examples are: THIS: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/00135757/dp/B079NWWLCY (with Ethernet but only 2 A- and 1 C-type USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, also quite ugly looking) and THIS: https://www.amazon.de/-/en/Connection-Integrated-Anthracite-Aluminium-IB-HUB1428-C31/dp/B084CJX344 (with 2+2 USB configuration but no Ethernet, though a nice look). The question here is how much power these can deliver to connected devices (because I know that when plugged in directly into my 13" MBP 2013, even a large MIDI keyboard like THIS is indeed able to function normally), I guess power is reduced when passing through a dongle. Also, I don't know if a dongle like this can 'daisychain' a simple adapter like the abovementioned USB - Ethernet adapter. And I guess passing video data (for a HDMI 4K 60Hz output) by connecting a USB to HDMI cable/adapter is completely out of the question...

D) If option C does not work as I'd like it to, there are externally powered 12V DC solutions such as THIS https://www.amazon.de/-/en/StarTech-com-3-Port-10Gbps-Powered-Supply/dp/B081QLZGCN. I guess this rather expensive device should provide enough power for any external USB device, yet I do know for a fact this particular model does not support the connection of a HDMI adapter for video, so on top of it, I would indeed require the Apple Multiport adapter. The cost of the two combined is approaching affordable Thunderbolt 3 dock/hub territory. But I still don't know what's going on with Ethernet, i.e. whether it is possible to plug an adapter in it (like you could with Thunderbolt docks).

E) Then there's the 'hybrid' option. Something like THIS https://www.amazon.de/-/en/dp/B0799...URWUBDYHWC&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it . And while this and all similar devices tick almost all of the boxes (HDMI/Display Port 4K 60Hz, USB, Ethernet, some even have card readers, they are 20V DC powered), there are considerable downsides to all I have found: they are relatively expensive, usually a bit dated, an unappealing vertical look, AND ONLY USB 3.0 5 Gbps, not 3.1 Gen2 like those I mentioned above).

Now, you may wonder why I haven't touched on the gazillion-in-one USB hubs and docks (cabled or flush) that abound on Amazon and other similar sites? Because of the passthrough power delivery issue! As you might know, apparently, there's some sort of an engineering fault plaguing the latest Intel and especially M1 MacBooks (both Air and Pro) that can result in such 3rd party dongles/hubs frying the internals (motherboard) of the computers, which then have to be repaired or replaced altogether, a big hassle especially with built-to-order units. It can even be reputable brands such as Anker that can be the 'culprit' (even though the real culprit here is actually Apple's engineering that messed it up somehow). That said, at the time of writing, no such horrors reported for Thunderbolt units or Apple's own dongles such as the Multiport Adapter. Now, with some of these devices, you CAN bypass power delivery to the MacBook by simply connecting the hub/dock to the computer (and not to any other power source) and letting the computer power it as is the case HERE https://www.amazon.de/Hyper-HD-G212-GEN2-USB-C-12-in-1/dp/B08GPP52X8 , however they replied their device would have limited functionality. The concern here is whether the MacBook itself could handle such a load (imagine frying your MacBook through power output overload) and if and how anything connected to such a huge bus-powered unit would actually function. Then there's the Thunderbolt option. Finding a unit that has the correct ports for my needs is hard outside the realm of docks that do everything and will set you back 30% of what the baseline M1 MBA costs, which is ridiculous. And even with these units, I'd be wary of passthrough power delivery (because you can never be too careful with a +2000 euro computer), but apparently there is no way to turn that off - I doubt these massive and expansive all-in-one solutions can be powered from the computer alone, but if you connect them to a mains power supply unit, there is no way of preventing them from feeding power to the computer...

This is the end of my Nobel Prize novel. Complicated, right? If ANYONE could share ANY ideas about this, it would be much appreciated.
 
Last edited:

cupcakes2000

macrumors 68040
Apr 13, 2010
3,905
5,356
I would at least wait until the higher end versions of the machines are available before any investment in one, especially if io is an important aspect. They should at least match the 4 tb/usb ports on the current versions, whilst (dubious) reports suggest some other port changes.
 

abhi182

macrumors regular
Apr 24, 2016
173
120
A2119 is what has worked best for me.
While that short cable is a bit of an issue, I can live with it on a fixed desktop setup.

The way mine is setup:

- Single cable from MBA to A2119
- A2119 to 4k60 monitor + Power + USB A cable
- The USB A cable goes to a TP Link USB 3 hub (non powered) mounted behind monitor which has about 6 peripherals connected including a gigabit ethernet

As for your power overdraw worry
a) I think if the load is excessive, the OS will disable the port
b) You can add up the power draw from peripherals in system information. For me, the total power draw is less than 1000mA as most of the peripherals are low draw items except the ethernet peripheral

In case you do have high draw equipment, you can always hook them to the 2nd port via a C to A cable
The setup usually takes about 5-8 seconds to be up after connection. Most of the said delay is because of the HDMI switching delays
 
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Quackers

macrumors 68000
Sep 18, 2013
1,938
708
Manchester, UK
I bought a Caldigit TS3+ and have had no problems so far. I have not heard of any problems with them either.
I appreciate they are a little steep in price but they offer quite a number of expansion ports.
 
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jdb8167

macrumors 601
Nov 17, 2008
4,788
4,517
I bought a Caldigit TS3+ and have had no problems so far. I have not heard of any problems with them either.
I appreciate they are a little steep in price but they offer quite a number of expansion ports.
I have a Caldigit SOHO USB-C dock and haven't had any problems. So far, I've only used it with the M1 MacBook Air's power adapter for pass-through power though.
 

UrbanSoban

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 9, 2021
5
0
I would at least wait until the higher end versions of the machines are available before any investment in one, especially if io is an important aspect. They should at least match the 4 tb/usb ports on the current versions, whilst (dubious) reports suggest some other port changes.
Thank you for you reply.
 

UrbanSoban

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 9, 2021
5
0
A2119 is what has worked best for me.
While that short cable is a bit of an issue, I can live with it on a fixed desktop setup.

The way mine is setup:

- Single cable from MBA to A2119
- A2119 to 4k60 monitor + Power + USB A cable
- The USB A cable goes to a TP Link USB 3 hub (non powered) mounted behind monitor which has about 6 peripherals connected including a gigabit ethernet

As for your power overdraw worry
a) I think if the load is excessive, the OS will disable the port
b) You can add up the power draw from peripherals in system information. For me, the total power draw is less than 1000mA as most of the peripherals are low draw items except the ethernet peripheral

In case you do have high draw equipment, you can always hook them to the 2nd port via a C to A cable
The setup usually takes about 5-8 seconds to be up after connection. Most of the said delay is because of the HDMI switching delays
Thank you so much! I’m almost certain this is the route I will be taking. Which TP Link Hub model do you have, if I may ask? So you’re saying that the Gigabit Ethernet (any brand you could recommend?) adapter has no issues in terms of power supply or data transfer speeds even if connected in this daisychain manner? Have you ever tried syncing and charging the iPhone through this arrangement or do you connect to the other port? In your experience, does this daisychain provide enough power for external SSD or 2.5” HDD drives? Truth be told, I can live with the A2119 solution and not complicate life for the time being given that this scenario leaves 1 slot on the computer available, which is where each of my existing peripherals could go whenever needed (I currently have no scenario where I would need, say, a fast external drive and USB DAW interface at the same time). Thanks again!
 

UrbanSoban

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 9, 2021
5
0
I have a Caldigit SOHO USB-C dock and haven't had any problems. So far, I've only used it with the M1 MacBook Air's power adapter for pass-through power though.
Thank you very much for your feedback!
 

UrbanSoban

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Feb 9, 2021
5
0
I have a Caldigit SOHO USB-C dock and haven't had any problems. So far, I've only used it with the M1 MacBook Air's power adapter for pass-through power though.

Your reply is much appreciated. The SOHO Hub will likely be available for purchase in Europe this coming March.
 
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