Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter on Mid-2015 MacBook Pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jds10011, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. jds10011 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2017
    #1
    Advance apologies if this has been covered before; I didn't find it, but please point me in the right direction if I've missed it. I've also posted this on Apple's Support forums with no replies.

    As many folks have purchased the new MacBooks with only USB-C/Thunderbolt, I am trying to accommodate new devices/cables meant for the new MacBooks with my existing MacBook Pro Mid-2015 (last year's model). I have purchased the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter (http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MMEL2AM/A/thunderbolt-3-usb-c-to-thunderbolt-2-adapter?). I also have an Apple-branded Thunderbolt 2 cable (male<->male). This allows me to connect the adapter to my Thunderbolt 2 port, and it is stated on the Apple Store page for the adapter that "As a bidirectional adapter, it can also connect new Thunderbolt 3 devices to a Mac with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port and macOS Sierra."

    Yet, when connected as described, I clearly end up with a male USB-C (Thunderbolt 3) cable end. Already, I have had several folks appear with a USB-C flash drive, and others appear with a USB-C cable connected to their iPhone. Clearly, I cannot connect these devices, as I have two male USB-C ends. I went into the Apple Store, and was told "try checking Monoprice for a coupler." Not only does this not sound great, but they don't seem to carry a coupler. Furthermore, I would like such a device to support Thunderbolt, not just USB-C: I'm sure any day now someone will show up with a Thunderbolt 3 device (perhaps a display, or external HD) without a removable cable, which I'll likewise be unable to connect to.

    Help?
     
  2. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #2
    I will try to help, although I have not seen any thunderbolt 3/USB c devices in the wild yet.

    The thunderbolt adapter is bi-directional, and will connect thunderbolt 2 computers/devices to thunderbolt 3 devices/computers.

    The key is that both devices have to be thunderbolt.

    USB-c (although using the same plug) is not thunderbolt 3. The port on the new Apple MacBook Pro is smart enough that it can switch between USB-c and thunderbolt 3 as needed. This does not apply to other devices however, including the Apple adapter.

    If people are bringing USB-c devices to you, for devices you can replace the cable, you need a USB 3 to USB c cable instead of a USB c to USB c one and not mess with thunderbolt adapter at all. Something like this:

    https://www.anker.com/products/A816...mMtFReCUhqJgSI_Me5JyMvkg3swF6YQAFcaAp1X8P8HAQ

    Here is just a dongle adapter:
    https://www.amazon.com/AUKEY-USB-C-...UTF8&qid=1484069187&sr=1-9&keywords=USB-c+hub

    For devices where you can't swap the cable, things are very messy right now.

    You could try to pair a USB-c dock with the previous adapter cable. If you can find one with an ac plug it may be more useful as I think USb-c provides more power than USB 3. (If someone can please confirm? I am not positive.)

    https://www.amazon.com/Plugable-non...TF8&qid=1484070032&sr=1-4&keywords=USB-c+dock

    Another expensive option would be to buy a thunderbolt 3 docking station (with USB-c ports) and pair it with your thunderbolt 1/2 adapter. I am not sure of the eta on these thunderbolt 3 hub device.

    http://www.caldigit.com/thunderbolt-3-dock/thunderbolt-station-3-lite/

    In any case, I would order from somewhere with a good return policy, as these devices and adapters are fairly new, and may have issues/bugs that need to be fixed by the manufacturers.

    It would be helpful to know what business you are in where people might bring USB-c devices and expect you to hook them up to your computer, vs just bringing their laptop with the correct ports to you in the first place.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 10, 2017 ---
    Here is one more USB-c hub.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01AX6J7P4/ref=psdc_778660_t3_B01FKMN1BW
     
  3. jds10011 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 10, 2017
    #3
    This I vaguely get, although there are a lot of little niceties such as the surprise that Thunderbolt 2 can carry minidisplayport only if it isn't sourced from a Thunderbolt 3 adapter.

    I'm not terrifically clear on how I would even know if a device someone shows up with is Thunderbolt or USB-C, aside from hoping the manufacturer has this information on their website (in English). Obviously, I can make some guesses, but even reputable folks like LaCie don't make this clear.

    The tiny one is definitely the wrong way - it would let me use my flash drive on a computer with USB-C. I have nothing to connect it to on my computer (or their device, unless I'm then going to use an A->A male->male cable). The cable itself is useful only to the point where their device has a USB-C jack. Even just for phones, I'm not too interested in carrying a wide assortment of cables in the hopes that I can hit the one they've got (since they've only brought a cable ending in USB-C). Also, I still don't have a solution for connecting their USB-C flash drive to my computer.

    Many of the hubs/docks I've seen just have a male thunderbolt/USB-c sticking out, which I don't have a way to get to. I can't tell if the Plugable unit actually accepts Thunderbolt 3 as an input, or if they're saying it expects USB-C. The Caldigit looks like it can, though goodness knows if it will take it from my adapter, and the unit isn't even out yet. Requiring AC power is not thrilling either, but passable in a pinch. I'm not entirely clear if this would actually support USB-C devices if not being fed by a computer with a combination USB-C/Thunderbolt port, though.

    The short answer is AV and tech support ("the guy who can make it go") for things that approximate a conference (people can't run back across the country for whatever they don't have). The most common issue is they've either assumed the entire world uses the same laptop, and therefore haven't brought it, or that they have brought it but not the charger, and it's on 3% battery. The latter I've been solving by keeping a wide range of power adapters (just had a guy the other day show up with a presentation on a MacBook with no battery that was on the original firmware where you needed the actual original 1st generation T-Connector MagSafe (at least until you do the firmware upgrade, which he hadn't). Yes, I have one of those chargers in my bag still, and I can rustle up a PowerBook G4 charger if needed, though I couldn't find my VGA adapter for a random iBook G4 when it was most recently called for...
     
  4. treekram macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Location:
    Honolulu HI
    #4
    The Mini Displayport (Thunderbolt 2/Displayport) connector on the 2015 MBP does not carry the USB signal. To connect a USB-C USB 3.1 (Gen1/2) flash drive to the 2015 MBP, you'd need a cable/adapter that goes from USB-A to USB-C and then you'll get USB 3.1 Gen1 speeds.

    The Apple Thunderbolt 3 to 2 adapter, according to the specs, only carries the Thunderbolt signal so the only thing you can connect to with what you described is a Thunderbolt 3 device with a female connector. Just using the cable you have you can connect to a Thunderbolt 2 device with a female connector. This all assumes that the male-to-male cable you have is a true Thunderbolt 2 cable, not a Mini Displayport cable (both types of cables will have the same type of connectors).
     
  5. jds10011 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2017
    #5
    Have you seen such a cable/adapter with the right gender? I am vaguely told that part of the USB-C standard is that a female end is never allowed to exist on anything that isn't a computer/hub/dock/etc.

    Understood. What about a Thunderbolt 3 device with a built-in cable? I seem to have the right adapter but no ability to plug into it. It seems rather like it would have been much kinder to make the adapter require a cable in both directions, or at least offer such a version (I can see that the current version might appeal to someone with a new machine, although frankly I prefer not to have the dongles visible everywhere.
     
  6. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #6
    What phone uses a USB-c on one end and a unique connector on the other?
    Here is what I would do for extra phone cables:

    A simple USB A to micro cable will work with most phones other than Apple. Adapt the ends to either USB - c or USB mini as needed. iOS device could use a USB lightning adapter as well with the same cable.

    USB-c adapter
    https://www.amazon.com/TechMatte-Connector-Resistor-Approved-Standard/dp/B0151RKYBG

    USB-mini adapter
    https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-com...=1484073552&sr=1-3&keywords=USB+mini+to+micro

    Apple lightning:
    https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics...3779&sr=1-1&keywords=Apple+micro+to+lightning

    One cable with adapters should cover 4 phone plugs, which is practically all of them. You also might want an Apple USB to 30 pin cable even though apple switched to lightning 5 years ago. (An adapter would work as well, but you can find whole cables cheaper than the adapter.). Pair the cable with a universal ac power adapter (for example anker with iq technology) for fast charging almost any device.
    https://www.amazon.com/Anker-4-Port...F8&qid=1484074349&sr=1-2&keywords=Anker+power

    I linked two caldiget devices in my other post, the thunderbolt 3 station (using your thunderbolt port and adapter) is not available yet, but the USB station is in stock if you care to try it with an USB 3 cable and converter to USB-c male. (Still it's expensive, $150 + adapters just to try and read a USC-c flash drive.)

    https://www.amazon.com/CalDigit-USB...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=8676FZBDMHGXJ47CE0MP

    Hopefully your work is buying all this extra equipment you need to support these conferences. If not, I would wait on the thunderbolt 3/USB-c equipment until it becomes a lot more prevalent and cheaper.

    At some point I am sure a simple USB-c gender changer and converter to USB-a will be manufactured by someone just for cases such as using a new flash drive in old computer.
    --- Post Merged, Jan 10, 2017 ---
    To clarify, here is the setup I was thinking to see if you can use this to read USB-c flash drive with your usb3 computer.

    Caldiget usb-c hub
    http://target.georiot.com/Proxy.ash...coding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=8676FZBDMHGXJ47CE0MP

    USB-a to USB -a cable
    https://www.amazon.com/Ugreen-Trans...F8&qid=1484075497&sr=1-6&keywords=USB+3+cable

    USB-a to USB-c adapter
    https://www.amazon.com/AUKEY-USB-C-...&qid=1484075647&sr=1-8&keywords=USB-c+adapter
     
  7. jds10011 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 10, 2017
    #7
    Apple is already selling phones this way, and I'm sure other manufacturers have similar cables available. I just want to be prepared for someone who shows up with the new random phone that I can't connect to, and has brought their cable for their machine/charger, which is USB-C.


    I think I found a possibility (and for $7 I'll try it): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01C43FUIW

    This also ought to solve the phones, perhaps?


    Sorry, still being dense. The USB-C drive has got to go into the USB-C hub, but I'm not too clear how I'm using these cables/adapters.
     
  8. Richdmoore macrumors 68000

    Richdmoore

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Location:
    Troutdale, OR
    #8
    First of all, Apple iOS devices manufactured in the last 5 years use Lightning. Previously, they used a 30 pin connector since the very first iPhone.

    The cable included in the iOS device' box is a USB 2 to lightning cable. Alternatively, apple sells an USB-c to lighting cable and a USB 3 to lightning cable.

    (Of course, for a 30 pin connector iOS device, Apple included a 30 pin to USB 2 cable.)

    All other smart phones come with some variant of USB, usually USB-micro, rarely USB-mini for older phones or recently the new USB-c for a few models.

    Of course there may be an oddball phone someone makes, but I am not aware of any.

    That adapter you linked to looks like exactly what you need to hook up your USB-3 computer to a USB-c flash drive. I would try that before worrying about expensive hubs.

    I have no idea if the converter above can be used with a phone charger, as the phone and charger "talk" with each other to figure out the max safe charge rate. If they can't figure it out, they usually default to a very slow but safe charge rate.

    Apple & android use different methods for determining how to fast charge, I would get a deticaded charger that understands both methods and not bother trying to charge from a computer.

    For charging unknown client phones. I would get a couple of USB 2 to lightning cables, a USB 2 to 30 pin cable, a couple of USB 2 to micro cables, a USB micro to mini adapter, a USB micro to USB c adapter, and finally a smart charger like the anker 6 port 40w charger.

    (You probably have some cables already laying around, so just but what you still need.)

    Be aware that to ensure compatibility, all lightning cords should be MFI certified.
     
  9. treekram macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
    Location:
    Honolulu HI
    #9
    In doing a quick look on Amazon, I didn't find a USB-A male to USB-C female cable (it might exist but doesn't look to be common). But it looks like you found a connector that should work.

    What you said about a USB-C female to USB-C female (Thunderbolt 3) brings up a good point about the Apple adapter. While Apple says it's bi-directional, it clearly is made to connect to the new MBP's rather than older MBP's with Thunderbolt 2 (because F-F Thunderbolt 3 USB-C connectors don't seem to exist). That being said, I think that most Thunderbolt monitor manufacturers will have the female USB-C connector rather than an attached cable.
     
  10. jds10011 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2017
    #10
    Monitor manufacturers -- probably. Portable HDs and other such devices, maybe, maybe not. But, again, how do I know which of these devices are Thunderbolt and which are USB-C anyway, unless the manufacturer happens to be clear on their website?
     
  11. treekram macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2015
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    Honolulu HI
    #11
    A good rule of thumb is that, given a device with a USB-C connector, if the manufacturer doesn't mention Thunderbolt, it's USB 3.1 (likely Gen2).

    I took a quick look and there were a couple of Thunderbolt 3 external drives (LaCie Bolt3 and Sonnet Thunderbolt 3 Pcie flash drive). The Sonnet has an attached cable, the LaCie has USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. So yes, there could be a situation where an external device couldn't readily attach to what you have now. You have a couple of options - wait or look hard for a F-F Thunderbolt 3 adapter or buy a docking station with at least 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports. StarTech makes one for $199 (the literature says that both 2 USB-C ports are Thunderbolt 3-capable).

    True Thunderbolt 3 devices (outside of docking stations) are not all that common and unless you know that you will have a specific need, you may just want to wait at least a little while to see what adapters come out.
     

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