Multi USB 3.0 Connections to One USB-C Port

honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
This post can apply to any Mac which has USB-C ports, but I recently purchased a 2018 Mac Mini, and the number of USB 3.0 ports decreased to only 2, whereas it has 3 USB-C ports that I am not currently utilizing. I am currently using a USB 3.0 hub that is connected to one of the USB 3.0 ports on the Mini, and it works fine, but I would like to take advantage of the USB-C speed.

With that in mind, I just saw this:


My question is if I connect any of my USB 3.0 peripherals to any of the 3 USB 3.0 ports on that device, which then plugs into one of the USB-C ports on the Mini, will I see a dramatic increase in speed for that connected device? Also, if I have 3 USB 3.0 devices connected to those 3 uSB 3.0 ports, will there be any speed degradation for any of those USB devices?
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
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if I connect any of my USB 3.0 peripherals to any of the 3 USB 3.0 ports on that device, which then plugs into one of the USB-C ports on the Mini, will I see a dramatic increase in speed for that connected device? Also, if I have 3 USB 3.0 devices connected to those 3 uSB 3.0 ports, will there be any speed degradation for any of those USB devices?
You're sharing one USB-C port between 3 different devices. Maximum speed is a combination of the port and the device capabilities so devices will not speed up if they're connected to a USB hub that happens to have a USB-C connection to the computer. Conversely, if all 3 devices are using a lot of bandwidth simultaneously, they'll all slow down because they're sharing the one upstream port.
 

roadkill401

macrumors 6502
Jan 11, 2015
438
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I wonder how a USB3.1 port that runs at 10gb/s will divide out data speed to multiple connected devices. Like a usb3 hub plugged into a usb3 port will allow each port on the hub to transfer data for a segment of time, then pass the data bus to the next port. So the maximum speed is 5gb/s but your device won't get that constantly.
Where the ponderance comes in is with usb3.1 and 3.2 in they have a much higher transfer rate, but would it allow still for just a single device to access the data channel at any given time (thus running at the data rate for that connected device) or allow for multiple devices to aggregate their data together up to the total available bandwidth of the connector. I don't think this is the case, so effectively, the usb3.1 and 3.2 ports will act like a usb3 port.
 

wardie

macrumors 6502
Aug 18, 2008
409
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I would like to take advantage of the USB-C speed.
USB-C isn’t a speed it is a physical connector type. As is USB-A which is the other two sockets. The difference is what they support. To quote apple:

“Four Thunderbolt 3 (USB‑C) ports with support for:
- DisplayPort
- Thunderbolt (up to 40 Gbps)
- USB 3.1 Gen 2 (up to 10 Gbps)
- Thunderbolt 2, HDMI, DVI and VGA supported using adapters (sold separately)
Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)”

What I think you mean by the “extra speed” is maybe taking advantage of the Thunderbolt 3 speed or the USB 3.1 Gen 2 speed over the USB-C sockets?

The amazon hub you linked doesn’t to that I’m afraid it appears to be limited to USB3 (up to 5 Gbps) from the Amazon description, even plugging it into the USB-C port. Therefore any devices on the hub have to share that bandwidth.

Personally I use a few USB-C to -A adapters which I use to provide more USB3.1 ports as needed, you could do that to plug your USB3 devices in. They are cheap.
 

honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
What I think you mean by the “extra speed” is maybe taking advantage of the Thunderbolt 3 speed or the USB 3.1 Gen 2 speed over the USB-C sockets?
Yeah, that is what I was hoping for.

The amazon hub you linked doesn’t to that I’m afraid it appears to be limited to USB3 (up to 5 Gbps) from the Amazon description, even plugging it into the USB-C port. Therefore any devices on the hub have to share that bandwidth.
Yeah, that seems to be the case. I'll just stick with my USB hub.

Personally I use a few USB-C to -A adapters which I use to provide more USB3.1 ports as needed, you could do that to plug your USB3 devices in. They are cheap.
If external, slim drive enclosures with USB-C ports were not so expensive, I would get at least 2 of them, as I have Samsung 850 Pro 512 gig SSDs enclosed in 2 nice, slim Orico external USB enclosures, which I use for my SuperDuper! backups. But each of them contain a partition on which I have movies and TV series.
 

djc6

macrumors 6502a
Aug 11, 2007
639
153
Cleveland, OH
A thunderbolt dock will be able to provide multiple USB 3.1 connections at full 10Gbps speed off a single USB-C port using thunderbolt:


I haven't seen a vanilla usb-c (thunderbolt) to four usb-a 3.1 10Gbps dock, they all have random other ports. But no reason it couldn't exist since thunderbolt can do 40Gbps.

That said, they are expensive and usb-c to usb-a adapters are cheap. I prefer the style with a couple inches of cable on them (like the one apple sells), the usb-c ports are real close together. You can't really fit two of the compact/bar-style adapters next to one another.
 
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Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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"This post can apply to any Mac which has USB-C ports, but I recently purchased a 2018 Mac Mini, and the number of USB 3.0 ports decreased to only 2, whereas it has 3 USB-C ports that I am not currently utilizing."

You have 6 -- count 'em, SIX -- "USB3 ports" on the back of the Mini.
2 are in USBa format, and 4 are in USBc format.

BUT THEY ARE ALL USB3 PORTS.
(shouting intentional)

Just use them.
 

honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
"This post can apply to any Mac which has USB-C ports, but I recently purchased a 2018 Mac Mini, and the number of USB 3.0 ports decreased to only 2, whereas it has 3 USB-C ports that I am not currently utilizing."

You have 6 -- count 'em, SIX -- "USB3 ports" on the back of the Mini.
2 are in USBa format, and 4 are in USBc format.

BUT THEY ARE ALL USB3 PORTS.
(shouting intentional)

Just use them.
BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY PERIPHERALS WITH USB-C CONNECTORS (SHOUTING APPLICABLE AND INTENTIONAL, AS IS ALL CAPS). Hence, how can I use the USB-C ports?

I believe 1 + 1 still equals 2, so without USB-C connectors, cannot use ANY of those 4 ports. Hopefully, you can grasp that.
 
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getrealbro

macrumors 6502
Sep 25, 2015
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... so without USB-C connectors, cannot use ANY of those 4 ports...
I use one of these adapters...
to attach this USB 3 hub (with three USB 3 ports and an SD & Micro SD slot) to one of the four USB-C ports on my 2018 Mini.

GetRealBro
 

honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
I use one of these adapters...
I stated above that I already have a USB hub, so why would I need that? Makes no sense!

to attach this USB 3 hub (with three USB 3 ports and an SD & Micro SD slot) to one of the four USB-C ports on my 2018 Mini.

GetRealBro
Does me no good. Again, my USB hub works fine.
 

Fishrrman

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Feb 20, 2009
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BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY PERIPHERALS WITH USB-C CONNECTORS (SHOUTING APPLICABLE AND INTENTIONAL, AS IS ALL CAPS). Hence, how can I use the USB-C ports?

You spend $9 and buy these:

Geeezzz.... ;)
 
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honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
BUT I DON'T HAVE ANY PERIPHERALS WITH USB-C CONNECTORS (SHOUTING APPLICABLE AND INTENTIONAL, AS IS ALL CAPS). Hence, how can I use the USB-C ports?

You spend $9 and buy these:

Geeezzz.... ;)
I DO NOT NEED THAT!!! As I have stated a few times, I already have a USB 3.0 hub with 8 USB ports. Getting a hub like you suggest would do nothing for my situation, as again I state, NONE of those devices have USB-C Connectors. About the only purpose it would serve is that I would be utilizing the USB-C ports n the Mini, yet that's not necessary.

Man, difficulty understanding that? Again, 1 + 1 = 2! :cool:
 

chrfr

macrumors G3
Jul 11, 2009
9,563
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I DO NOT NEED THAT!!! As I have stated a few times, I already have a USB 3.0 hub with 8 USB ports. Getting a hub like you suggest would do nothing for my situation, as again I state, NONE of those devices have USB-C Connectors. About the only purpose it would serve is that I would be utilizing the USB-C ports n the Mini, yet that's not necessary.

Man, difficulty understanding that? Again, 1 + 1 = 2! :cool:
Even though your devices don’t have USB-C connectors, connecting the devices directly to the computer will always give the best USB performance. You can easily connect your non USB-C devices to USB-C ports with those inexpensive adapters.
So, if performance is critical, get some adapters and connect your devices right to the computer. If not, then your hub is a perfectly fine option.
 

Fishrrman

macrumors Core
Feb 20, 2009
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The OP seems to think his USBa connectors cannot connect to USBc ports.
If that's what he wants to think, let him think it.
I'm outta here.
 
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Stephen.R

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Nov 2, 2018
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so why would I need that? Makes no sense!
It would allow each device to use a full 5Gbps connection directly to the computer. If they connect via a hub which itself is only USB 3.0, they're all sharing the 5Gbps connection from the hub to the Mac mini.

Also, if your devices have removable cables, personally I'd find cables with the same device-end plug on one and a USB-C plug on the other, rather than using adapters, but that's just me.
 

theluggage

macrumors 601
Jul 29, 2011
4,645
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The OP seems to think his USBa connectors cannot connect to USBc ports.
No, OP is asking whether he'd get better performance plugging his devices into a USB-C hub like the one he linked to rather than his existing USB-A 3.0 hub (Spoiler: no, but...).

My question is if I connect any of my USB 3.0 peripherals to any of the 3 USB 3.0 ports on that device, which then plugs into one of the USB-C ports on the Mini, will I see a dramatic increase in speed for that connected device?
No. Certainly not that device. Most such "USB-C" hubs are exactly equivalent to a USB 3.0 hub plugged into an old-school USB 3A port (well, they can add charging and DisplayPort/HDMI but that's not important right now).

Also, if I have 3 USB 3.0 devices connected to those 3 uSB 3.0 ports, will there be any speed degradation for any of those USB devices?
Yes - but the same goes for your existing USB hub. All USB 3.0 hubs (or USB 3.1 gen 1, which is essentially the same thing) - whether they use a "USB 3 A" or "USB-C" connection to the computer - share a single 5Gbps connection with the computer between however many devices you plug in - so you can't have 3 devices all getting 5Gbps at a time.

If you want to optimise your existing set-up then prioritise your devices and connect the ones that need high speed or low latency (external SSDs, audio interfaces, high-speed SD readers for video/photography etc.) directly to the Mac, either to the two USB-3 ports or, using the USB-A to USB-C adapters that people have linked to, to the any of the USB-C ports that you're not using for displays. That way they're all getting full USB 3 speed (but nothing faster). Then use your existing hub for the 'don't care' devices like mice, keyboards, printers, thumb-drives, regular card readers etc. Sure, you are using up your USB-C/TB3 ports for boring old USB 3, but its still more efficient than connecting everything to a single USB 3 socket. Whether you'll see a noticable difference with your devices is highly questionable, but you'll sleep better at night and some devices have "latency" issues or compatibility problems with hubs.

(I've spent a lot of time whining about USB-C ports on laptops where you have to cart around otherwise unnecessary hubs or adapters, but even I don't really see the problem on the desktop).

Now, if you want to use the "extra speed" of those USB-C TB3 ports, then you want either:

A Thunderbolt 3 hub - like the CalDigit TS3+ - although that gives you lots of stuff like ethernet, DisplayPort and laptop charging that you don't want and costs a lot.

A Thunderbolt 3 to USB 3.1 adapter/hub like this: https://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/USB-3.0/Hubs/thunderbolt-3-usb-3-1-hub~TB33A1C - looks like a regular USB-C hub but isn't (...but probably the Caldigit is still better value).

Maybe A "real" USB 3.1 gen 2 hub like this: https://www.lindy.co.uk/usb-c4/4-port-usb-3-1-gen-2-type-c-hub-with-power-delivery-p11211 - big "beware" on this, but a man in a pub told me that true USB 3.1g2 hubs can actually share the extra bandwidth of the faster 10Gbps USB gen 2 between multiple 5Gbps 3.1g1 devices (...i.e. each device can't have more than 5Gbps, but the total over all devices can be more than 5Gbps). Maybe others here can confirm it (I'm taking it with a pinch of salt at the moment).

Finally, remember rule 1: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Are you having speed/latency problems? I wouldn't expect any night-and-day improvements from the above, and there's lots of factors that can affect the speed of your peripherals.
 

honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
The OP seems to think his USBa connectors cannot connect to USBc ports.
If that's what he wants to think, let him think it.
I'm outta here.
THAT IS NOT THE CASE AT ALL!!! I know a connector such as you posted above exists, and even the hub I initially asked about has a USB-C on one end, and multiple USB-A ports on it. And I also know such devices do not provide any speed increase. The only way to do that is for the device to have a USB-C connector for it, and then use a USB-C to USB-C cable. The only devices I have which that is a possibility are my 3 Samsung SSDs. They are currently housed inside nice, slim Orico enclosures, which have USB-B connectivity.
 

Stephen.R

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Nov 2, 2018
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The only way to do that is for the device to have a USB-C connector for it
That isn't quite true. USB Type-A connectors can also carry a USB3.1Gen2 10Gbps signal, and despite what Apple's spec page says about the Mac mini's type-A ports being 5Gbps, myself and others have had devices register as 10Gbps using those ports.
 

honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
No, OP is asking whether he'd get better performance plugging his devices into a USB-C hub like the one he linked to rather than his existing USB-A 3.0 hub (Spoiler: no, but...).
Thanks you! Yes, that is exactly the case. I guess some folks can't read, and do not understand that 1 + 1 = 2!

Finally, remember rule 1: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Are you having speed/latency problems? I wouldn't expect any night-and-day improvements from the above, and there's lots of factors that can affect the speed of your peripherals.
Yup, and I also believe in the KISS philosophy: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

As it is, right now, I have 3 USB-B devices connected to the hub: my Apple Extended keyboard, my Canon PIXMA MX890 Printer, and a DVD drive (shut off 99.9% of the time). For the 2 USB-B ports on the Mini, I have the hub plugged in, and the little receiver for my Logitech M525 mouse. I am not noticing much, if any, speed issues with all that. When I do my SuperDuper! backups, I plug one of my external USB-B Orico enclosures to one of the ports on the hub, and the other external USB-B Orico enclosure into the "free" USB-B port on my mid 2017 Mac Book Air (both of those enclosures house Samsung 512 gig 850 Pro SSDs). When I do the backups, I am actually doing other things (cleaning our place, ie, multi-tasking), so don't really need it to be fast. One thing for sure, though, is that such backups take about a 1/3rd of the time on the Mini than on the Air. When each of those backups are done, I then switch the connections for the enclosures, and do the backups again (to their respective partitions, of course).

But even if I were to purchase a similar enclosure with USB-C connectivity on both "ends", the Mac Book Air has a Thunderbolt 2 port (along with the 2 USB-B ports). Hence, any speed increase would be realized on the Mini only.

Again, though, as you say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I guess if I wanted to watch a TV series or movie that is on the third partition for either of those external SSDs, then I might need USB-C connectivity for "better" viewing (I use VLC for such activities). But I don't do much of that.

Hence, I'll just leave things the way they are. Thanks for all the information. Definitely educational!
 
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theluggage

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Jul 29, 2011
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As it is, right now, I have 3 USB-B devices connected to the hub: my Apple Extended keyboard, my Canon PIXMA MX890 Printer, and a DVD drive (shut off 99.9% of the time). For the 2 USB-B ports on the Mini, I have the hub plugged in, and the little receiver for my Logitech M525 mouse.
Those things probably aren't even USB 3 - just USB 2.0 (1/10 of the speed of USB 3.0). You're worrying about nothing.

The only way to do that is for the device to have a USB-C connector for it, and then use a USB-C to USB-C cable.

The important difference is not the USB-C connector/cable but that both the port on the computer and the port on the device must support "USB 3.1 gen 2" (10 Gbps) which you absolutely can't tell from the type of connector. USB-C ports don't always support 3.1 gen 2 but some USB 3 A ports do - I've never heard of a peripheral that supports 3.1 gen 2 having a USB 3 B connector but its not impossible.

Also bear in mind that your Samsung SSDs are only rated at a bit over 5Gbps, the SATA III interface they use tops out at 6Gbps, and regular USB 3.0/3.1 gen 1 is 5Gbps (and none of those usually get close to those speeds in real life) so while USB 3.2gen2 might make them a smidge faster its probably not worth bothering unless you get super-fast NvME SSDs (in which case I'd say 'in for a penny, in for a pound' and get Thunderbolt enclosures).

However - connecting any USB device directly (or with a USB-A-to-C adapter, or a B-to-C cable) to the Mac -where possible - is always preferable to using a hub where they have to compete for the same bandwidth and can suffer from added latency. In your case, with the sort of things you are connecting, it is really not worth the effort and it may just be more convenient to use the hub, but if you (say) wanted to connect 2-3 of your SSDs and use them together I'd use USB-C to USB-B cables to connect them to the USB-C ports.
 

honestone33

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Those things probably aren't even USB 3 - just USB 2.0 (1/10 of the speed of USB 3.0). You're worrying about nothing.
I am not worried! Don't understand where you got that from. Given that everything is working fine, how/why can I be worried? Geez!

Also bear in mind that your Samsung SSDs are only rated at a bit over 5Gbps, the SATA III interface they use tops out at 6Gbps, and regular USB 3.0/3.1 gen 1 is 5Gbps (and none of those usually get close to those speeds in real life) so while USB 3.2gen2 might make them a smidge faster its probably not worth bothering unless you get super-fast NvME SSDs (in which case I'd say 'in for a penny, in for a pound' and get Thunderbolt enclosures).
FINALLY, a sensible post! And especially given that those external SSDs are being used about 99% of the time for my backups, which I run while doing other things, and thus do not need such tasks to be super fast Hopefully that is simple enough for folks to understand.

However - connecting any USB device directly (or with a USB-A-to-C adapter, or a B-to-C cable) to the Mac -where possible - is always preferable to using a hub where they have to compete for the same bandwidth and can suffer from added latency. In your case, with the sort of things you are connecting, it is really not worth the effort and it may just be more convenient to use the hub, but if you (say) wanted to connect 2-3 of your SSDs and use them together I'd use USB-C to USB-B cables to connect them to the USB-C ports.
True, but again, everything is working just fine, the way things are. Yeah, it would be nice to take ?advantage? of utilizing the USB-C ports on the Mini, but it's certainly not a high priority at this time, nor necessary.

Again, remember the two excellent says: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid.
 
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