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Question about USB Type-A ports on Mac mini (2018)

repoman27

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 13, 2011
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Has anyone checked to see if the USB Type-A ports on the Mac mini (2018) support Gen 2 (10 Gbit/s) link rates?

I understand that Apple's tech specs state:

  • Two USB 3 ports (up to 5 Gbps)

However, the new Mac minis utilize the Intel CM246 chipset, which supports up to six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports. If you check System Information under Hardware > USB > USB Device Tree, you will see USB 3.1 Bus listed three times. Two of the USB 3.1 eXtensible Host Controllers (xHCI) are provided by the Titan Ridge Thunderbolt 3 controllers, and the Host Controller Driver is listed as "AppleUSBXHCITR". The third is provided by the Cannon Point CM246 Platform Controller Hub (PCH) and the Host Controller Driver is listed as "AppleIntelCNLUSBXHCI". There is absolutely nothing to indicate that a 10 Gbit/s link rate would not be supported—other than Apple's tech specs.

Any chance some kind soul with a Mac mini (2018) and a USB 3.1 device (anything that can establish a SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps link), could try plugging it into one of the USB Type-A ports and checking System Information to see what the speed is listed as (either "Up to 5 Gb/sec" or "Up to 10 Gb/sec")? The fine folks at my local Apple Store weren't too keen on letting me test with their floor model...

(And if this question has already been asked and answered, please point me in the right direction; my searches didn't turn up anything definitive.)
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
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It does indeed say "Up to 10Gb/sec". Unfortunately the only 3.1G2 devices I have are a pointless (and kind of buggy) SATA case (pointless because it doesn't really need the G2 speed to hit the SATA limit) and a really buggy NVMe case. I can't yet get the NVMe case to even mount the device (a "PCIE Bridge" shows up but it never runs the SSD itself - which also often happens on a TB3/USB-C port).

I'll keep trying but yes I believe those are in fact 10Gb/sec ports not 5Gb.
 
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F-Train

macrumors 65816
Apr 22, 2015
1,460
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NYC & Newfoundland
I've had a Samsung T5 connected to both the USB-A and USB-C ports. My recollection is that the former was slower.

Right now, I'm using a different computer. If nobody responds to your query by tomorrow morning, I'll try the T5 on USB-A, check what System Information says and maybe do a Black Magic speed test.

Here is my Black Magic result for a 500GB T5 using USB-C:

t5.png
 
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Stephen.R

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Nov 2, 2018
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I had similar results (Corsair SATA SSD in a gen2 case) connected to the type-a port. I think this isn’t great to test this particular issue because sata tops out at 6Gbps anyway - you won’t see much improvement.
 

repoman27

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 13, 2011
450
92
It does indeed say "Up to 10Gb/sec". Unfortunately the only 3.1G2 devices I have are a pointless (and kind of buggy) SATA case (pointless because it doesn't really need the G2 speed to hit the SATA limit) and a really buggy NVMe case. I can't yet get the NVMe case to even mount the device (a "PCIE Bridge" shows up but it never runs the SSD itself - which also often happens on a TB3/USB-C port).

I'll keep trying but yes I believe those are in fact 10Gb/sec ports not 5Gb.

Well I'll be... That's good news.

I've had pretty good luck with relatively inexpensive enclosures based on the ASMedia ASM1352R bridge chip, which offers dual SATA ports and RAID functionality. With a pair of 500 GB Samsung SSD 850 EVOs in RAID 0, I was able to clock 902 MB/s sequential read and 854 MB/s sequential write speeds in AJA System Test.

The drives individually were able to hit up to 529 MB/s read, 498 MB/s write over a USB 3.1 10 Gbit/s connection, versus hitting a brick wall at 434 MB/s when connected via 5 Gbit/s USB 3.0. So even fast SATA drives can still gain a little from the extra bandwidth that USB 3.1 offers.

Which NVMe case do you have (sounds like it might be one to avoid)?
 
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Stephen.R

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Nov 2, 2018
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They’re all Orico cases and they’re all terrible. I’m returning them once I get a bunch of OWC gear to replace them.

I have an Orico 5-bay disk array (not raid) that works fine, but their 3.1gen2 stuff is garbage (also have a 3.1gen2 hub from them - at best it shows up as USB2, mostly it just doesn’t show up)

I’m pretty much resigned to using USB for keyboards, printers and mice now.
 

repoman27

macrumors 6502
Original poster
May 13, 2011
450
92
They’re all Orico cases and they’re all terrible. I’m returning them once I get a bunch of OWC gear to replace them.

I have an Orico 5-bay disk array (not raid) that works fine, but their 3.1gen2 stuff is garbage (also have a 3.1gen2 hub from them - at best it shows up as USB2, mostly it just doesn’t show up)

I’m pretty much resigned to using USB for keyboards, printers and mice now.

Good to know. I had my eye on a couple Orico enclosures because the prices are fantastic, but apparently they may be a little too good to be true.

One more question, does your mini have the 10 GbE option?
 

potatis

macrumors 6502a
Dec 9, 2006
824
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I think I read in another thread that the A ports are likely to be 10Gbps speed. The 2018 Mac mini also have different internal write speed depending on size of ssd (around 6-700 for the 128GB model and twice for the 256GB etc), so that would affect speed of file transfers in one direction, but not the Blackmagic speed test of course.
 

Stephen.R

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Nov 2, 2018
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Good to know. I had my eye on a couple Orico enclosures because the prices are fantastic, but apparently they may be a little too good to be true.

One more question, does your mini have the 10 GbE option?
I bought them because there’s not much choice here (Thailand) and they seemed to be ok (first purchase was the 5bay array, then I figured I had a dud unit/cable).

They’re cheap and they look nice, but they just aren’t reliable even when they do work.

And no, I didn’t get 10GbE.
 

roastable

macrumors newbie
Oct 17, 2020
8
1
I'm fairly certain that the Type-A ports are only 5Gbps as my Sabrent NVMe enclosure is only assigned a 5Gbps link while connected to the Type-A but 10Gbps when connected via Type-C. These are using both of the included cables with the enclosure (C to A and C to C). I've considered the possibility that the C to A cable might just be a 5Gbps cable but I'm doubtful because my hackintosh produces some interesting results on its confirmed Gen 2 ports.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68030
Nov 2, 2018
2,729
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Thailand
They definitely used to report as 10Gb/s in System Information.app; however it's entirely possible that was a bug, or it's not stable and a subsequent software update has disabled the G2 speeds for those ports. I can confirm I now see it connecting as 5Gb/s with a device that reports as 10Gb/s when connected to the USB-C/TB3 ports.
 
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