Mac Mini 2018 External Drives Disconnecting (TB3)

Stephen.R

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2.4Ghz and USB3.0 issues
.... are you saying that the comments were about just poor wifi performance or are you suggesting that wifi being on causes the tb3 ports to have intermittent disconnections?

because the second sounds quite unlikely if not impossible.
 

Ploki

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.... are you saying that the comments were about just poor wifi performance or are you suggesting that wifi being on causes the tb3 ports to have intermittent disconnections?

because the second sounds quite unlikely if not impossible.
Is it really? interferences can cause errors in digital connections if strong enough, the cable is copper in any case
 

Stephen.R

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Is it really? interferences can cause errors in digital connections if strong enough, the cable is copper in any case
The problem stated by OWC and noticed by several people in system info report is under powered ports.

I’m not an electrical engineer but I think any consumer wireless radio would be hard pushed to create interference over a wired connection.
 
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30YrsMac

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Jan 23, 2020
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I'm confused why having Wifi on would cause the drives to disconnect though?
I have noticed on Apple laptops that shutting off wifi gives a huge increase in battery time, therefore, Wi-Fi uses tons of power. Maybe the entire Mac mini is underpowered by it’s Power supply.

that said. I have had visits from cellular engineers to my little mac shop amd sure enough we found external DVD burner putting out enough rf interference to hamper cell calls up to 100 feet away. (they actually came for another idiot who took down half of hollywood with a cellular boost device setup incorrectly. I won’t say what he did so others won’t get any funny ideas.) lol.
 

30YrsMac

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Jan 23, 2020
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And consider this. “This device must accept all interference and create non” which is still a law in the USA and elsewhere. (Despite those stickers disappearing)

Why? Because it’s a sick world outside the gates. Ergo, there are vans that run around every major city in the world detecting radiation as small as a woman leaving a chemo session shutting down the Holland tunnel or other in nyc a decade back.

if the right signal is picked up..a jet dumps an emp on the whole city and kills every single electronic device not in a military hands. Including every car computer.

those copper traces are very similar to antennas. Maybe that’s why Wi-Fi is doing this.
Once again, Apple let the design team trump the damn engineers (who don’t quit). The Mac mini should have external antennae. Even if that’s in a plastic bumper around the damn exterior to keep it external and not internal. Then maybe my rev 1 Apple magic Bluetooth keyboard would not disconnect every five minutes like it didnt with the 2014 mini I replaced with my new and apparently soon to be returned 2018 mini?
 

Stephen.R

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So, interestingly, one of the known not-supported devices for the 2018 Mac mini is the OWC Envoy Pro line - and I've noticed that they now show it as incompatible with any 2018 or 2019 MacBook Pro and the 2019 Mac Pro.

I wonder if that's an indication of weird behaviour in the TB3 controllers Apple is using, or they are using...
 

Stephen.R

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The problem stated by OWC and noticed by several people in system info report is under powered ports.

I’m not an electrical engineer but I think any consumer wireless radio would be hard pushed to create interference
Well so much for that theory.

As stated above, the OWC product page lists a bunch of current model Macs as incompatible. Their "sales" staff person I chatted to basically had no information about it, but the technical staff came through with this nugget of depressing news:

There is an incompatibility between those particular machines and the unit, the wifi card inside clashes and causes random disconnects of the drive. Since the cable isn't removable, there is no way to move the unit far enough away from the machine to avoid this.
I asked about turning off Wifi as a possible solution, and he responded:
No, the card still can give off occasional signals that will cause the disconnects, so it's not recommended regardless.
I remembered that the previous (when only the Mac mini was listed as incompatible, and it was believed to be power related) suggestion was that the Envoy Pro could be used if daisy chained via a TB3 device with it's own power supply, so I asked if that was a viable solution - using a device with a longer/changeable TB3 cable and then daisy chaining from it.

His response was:
It's a viable option, but you really need a good 3-5 feet away, so your base Thunderbolt 3 unit has to have a pretty good cable.
 

QuietGamer

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Nov 23, 2014
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@Stephen.R I can share my experience with you. I ordered 2 OWC Envoy Pro TB3 drives during the Black Friday sales for my new Mini setup. 1 1 TB for CCC and 1 480 for Parallels Win 10 . I had constant disconnects with the 1 TB drive and the other was fine while using WiFi and contacted OWC about this issue. They said the 1 TB must be faulty and cross shipped a new drive. +1 for OWC customer service. 👍

With only the 480 connected it started to randomly disconnect. Hummm something is not right. It was not disconnecting before. Strange. 🤔

I then recalled a mention in a forum post about turning off the Wifi to fix the problem. I'll give this a shot. Over the next few days I had to reconfigure my home network to get a Lan connection to my Mini. ( Erro Pro ) During this time the new drive arrived. I hooked everything up, Lan, the new 1 TB and the old 480. Turned off the WiFi. I have not had a single disconnect since. 😬

During the troubleshooting phase I noticed that as long as I was not surfing the web I had no disconnects. As soon as I started to send data via WiFi the disconnects started happening. That lead me to believe that the Wifi signals may indeed be the issue.

Hope this helps you and maybe someone else with these issues.
 
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Stephen.R

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Hope this helps you and maybe someone else with these issues.
Thanks for the detailed description.

It definitely seems to tie in with what they're saying, but unfortunately it rules it out as a viable product for me. While my main use would be connected to a Mini - I do occasionally need to use it with a 2018 MBP15 when I'm not at home, and being unable to use Wifi from the MBP would definitely be a huge issue in that scenario.

For now I'm using an M2 in a USB 3.1G2 case. Most tasks I need it for don't really suffer much, but the extra speed would have been nice when doing multi-VM operations.