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TrancyGoose

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Jan 13, 2021
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So I have the M1 MB Pro 2020, 13 inch.

And there are two ports stated as Thunderbolt / USB 4.
Now, I watched this very helpful video, and at the end the guy explains that a lot of stuff does not matter for mac and blah blah blah, it's just marketing.


So. my confusion is, when considering a hub, do I need to ensure that it has a thunderbolt 4 cable or any peripheral used, has to have thunderbolt cable for best performance and not regular USB c?

I got to say, I am very confused!

My main concern is having USB A connectivity and HDMI, and I went with something from a trusted brand on ali, Orico hub. I am now thinking should I have gotten a thunderbolt hub or USB c hub? :D
 
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cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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You can use any compatible connector (ie, one that fits) with the correct cable (look at the specs of the cable to ensure it works for the medium you need) . Then you are able to use tb 1 2 and 3 and usb 1 2 3 and 4.
 
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TrancyGoose

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You can use any compatible connector (ie, one that fits) with the correct cable (look at the specs of the cable to ensure it works for the medium you need) . Then you are able to use tb 1 2 and 3 and usb 1 2 3 and 4.
Thanks for responding. So what i am looking for in a good quality USB-C to USB-C cable? They all say on amazon that they are of good quality! :))) Anything you can recommend?

Also, from what I understood, the USB-C hub will not act as a thunderbolt hub, even if plugged into one of my ports? Correct? This is the USB hub I am going for: Orico from Aliexpress I picked the 3rd, 6 in 1 option, brand I used before on windows and worked well, without costing a ridiculous amount of money. Will I be ok with it as an average user?

And for example, if I were to get an SSD, for example, a Samsung T5, will a cable matter for transfer speed?

Sorry for so many questions, I have been out of Mac game for a few years, and my last one had Thunderbolt 2 with the display port cable. So now i am trying to play catch-up.
 

casperes1996

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Jan 26, 2014
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USB4 and Thunderbolt are roughly the same thing.
The USB Implementors Forum are the ones who made this all rather confusing

USB-C is just the physical layer. The connector and the port. The speed and protocols can be a wide range of different standard through the USB-C connector.

If what you're plugging in isn't high speed peripherals anyway it's completely irrelevant, but a USB-C port could be anything from USB 3 5Gbps, USB 3 10Gbps, USB 3 20Gbps, Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) or USB 4 (40Gbps). All these have longer names, but nobody can remember all that off top their head. Like the 20Gbps USB is called "USB 3.2 gen 2x2".

But if you're connecting a monitor, mouse, keyboard and HDD, it hardly matters. It's only really important for super high speed SSDs or such.
 
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KPOM

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Oct 23, 2010
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So I have the M1 MB Pro 2020, 13 inch.

So. my confusion is, when considering a hub, do I need to ensure that it has a thunderbolt 4 cable or any peripheral used, has to have thunderbolt cable for best performance and not regular USB c?

I got to say, I am very confused!

My main concern is having USB A connectivity and HDMI, and I went with something from a trusted brand on ali, Orico hub. I am now thinking should I have gotten a thunderbolt hub or USB c hub? :D
If all you need are USB-A and HDMI, then any USB-C to USB-A/HDMI adapter should work. USB4 is backward compatible with USB 3.

As for Thunderbolt, it is most useful for connecting docking stations with lots of ports, 5K or 6K displays (most displays on the market are 4K or less), fast external hard drives, etc. The M1 Macs technically have Thunderbolt 3 ports, but Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 4 docks and cables will work just fine (Thunderbolt 4 requires support for 2 external displays).
 

joevt

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Jun 21, 2012
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Thunderbolt 4 requires support for 2 external displays
Point of clarification: Saying that a host computer supports Thunderbolt 4 requires that the host computer supports 2 displays over a single Thunderbolt port. The M1 Macs don't meet this requirement. Another requirement for the Thunderbolt 4 name that the M1 Macs is missing is support for 8K.

A Thunderbolt 4 device can be used with a Thunderbolt 3 or Thunderbolt 2 Mac even if they cannot be said to support Thunderbolt 4.

A Thunderbolt 4 cable is required to work with everything.
A Thunderbolt 4 host is required to work with everything.
 

cupcakes2000

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Apr 13, 2010
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Thanks for responding. So what i am looking for in a good quality USB-C to USB-C cable? They all say on amazon that they are of good quality! :))) Anything you can recommend?

Also, from what I understood, the USB-C hub will not act as a thunderbolt hub, even if plugged into one of my ports? Correct? This is the USB hub I am going for: Orico from Aliexpress I picked the 3rd, 6 in 1 option, brand I used before on windows and worked well, without costing a ridiculous amount of money. Will I be ok with it as an average user?

And for example, if I were to get an SSD, for example, a Samsung T5, will a cable matter for transfer speed?

Sorry for so many questions, I have been out of Mac game for a few years, and my last one had Thunderbolt 2 with the display port cable. So now i am trying to play catch-up.
That hub is usb not thunderbolt. You’ll only be able to plug usb stuff through it, even though it’s plugged into a thunderbolt port.
I can’t comment on the brand, I have never used it. Most hubs are fine for basic use. You do have to be aware of bandwidth limitations though. Using usb 3, one port on the mac is capable of a maximum of 10gbs. Plugging a hub into it means that everything plugged into that hub shares that limit. One ssd, a not crazy resolution monitor and some peripherals (maybe even spinning backup drives) will likely not really be too much of an issue for it.
However - 2 or three high performance ssds, for example, would be wasted by using them through the hub, especially if used often amd at the same time.
The best performance for fast drives will always be direct to the port on the mac though.
Cable wise, (and also the actual hub, thinking about it) it’s advisable to ensure that it’s compatible with what’s often referred to as usb3.1 SS-10. Usb3.1 is the version that is capable of high speeds and the SS-10 means super speed 10gbs, which ensures it’s the highest speed they’re capable of. Other wise you may artificially limit the bandwidth to 5gbs or even lower. Don’t be tempted to buy a TB3 cable thinking it’s a better option because it has a higher spec, it likely won’t work with a usb hub even though the connectors are the same.
 

joevt

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Jun 21, 2012
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Plugging a hub into it means that everything plugged into that hub shares that limit. One ssd, a not crazy resolution monitor and some peripherals (maybe even spinning backup drives) will likely not really be too much of an issue for it.
For a USB-C hub, video (the DisplayPort type sourced by a GPU) uses separate lines than the USB data. For a modern USB-C hub like the CalDigit SOHO, you have two lines of DisplayPort 1.4 (8.1 Gbps per line, actually 12.96 of data total) and one line of USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps each direction, actually 9.7 Gbps of data). The CalDigit marketing ninjas imply that "INDEPENDENT VIDEO & USB LANES" is a benefit and something special about their hub. But all USB-C hubs have that. And it's the opposite of a benefit - because you can't increase data bandwidth by reducing video bandwidth and you can't increase video bandwidth by decreasing data bandwidth. USB4 and Thunderbolt solves that. They use two lines in each direction of 20 Gbps each (40 Gbps total in each direction) and they mix data and video on the same lines.

In summary:
  • USB-C:
    • USB-C with max USB 3.1 gen 2:
      • transmit 12.96 Gbps of video + 9.7 Gbps of data (22.66 Gbps total)
      • receive 9.7 Gbps of data.
    • USB-C with max USB 2.0:
      • transmit 25.92 Gbps of video + 480 Mbps of data (26.4 Gbps total)
      • receive 480 Mbps of data
    • A USB-C hub usually does not have a choice between the above two except in some USB-C displays.
    • USB-C with max USB 3.2 gen 2x2:
      • transmit 19.4 Gbps of data (no video)
      • receive 19.4 Gbps of data (no video)
      • I don't know if macOS supports this. I don't know if any USB 3.2 gen 2x2 hubs exist.
  • Thunderbolt:
    • 4) Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps, 20 Gbps per line):
      • transmit 40 Gbps of video and/or data
      • receive 40 Gbps of data
      • video is usually limited to 34.56 Gbps, but the Apple Pro Display XDR may use up to 37 Gbps.
      • data cannot exceed 31.5 Gbps for discrete Thunderbolt and is usually limited to ≈ 22 Gbps
    • 5) Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gbps, 10 Gbps per line):
      • transmit 20 Gbps of video and/or data
      • receive 20 Gbps of data
      • video is usually limited to 17.28 Gbps
      • data cannot exceed 16 Gbps unless a Thunderbolt 3 controller is being used
    • Video takes precedence over data.
Thunderbolt 3 has the unfair advantage of 20 Gbps per line compared to USB-C 3.2. In all cases 40 Gbps (total) Thunderbolt is superior to USB-C.
Comparing 20 Gbps (total) Thunderbolt to USB-C is more fair:
  • Each has some advantage but 20 Gbps Thunderbolt is more flexible.
  • USB-C with max USB 3.1 gen 2 can transmit slightly more video + data.
  • USB-C with max USB 2.0 can transmit more video.
  • Thunderbolt can transmit and receive more data (a bit less than USB 3.2 gen 2x2 though because of Thunderbolt overhead).
Looking at the above, you may see that Thunderbolt could use a new feature because of the problem of transmit bandwidth loss due to video:
  • asymmetric link width. Currently Thunderbolt is limited to two lanes in each direction. But what if it could allow 3 lanes in one direction? That would allow 60 Gbps in one direction. Then it would be able to do DisplayPort 2.0 UHBR 13.5 Gbps link rate. Or it could use that bandwidth to read or write to a disk faster (would require a PCIe 3.0 x8 or PCIe 4.0 x4 link to the Thunderbolt controller). Maybe the link could change, depending on the type of transaction? If doing a lot of reading than set 3 lanes for receive. If doing a lot of writing than set 3 lanes for transmit. Maybe allow 4 lanes in one direction. The USB 2.0 lines or the Side Band lines can be used for the opposite direction.
 

TrancyGoose

macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jan 13, 2021
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For a USB-C hub, video (the DisplayPort type sourced by a GPU) uses separate lines than the USB data. For a modern USB-C hub like the CalDigit SOHO, you have two lines of DisplayPort 1.4 (8.1 Gbps per line, actually 12.96 of data total) and one line of USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbps each direction, actually 9.7 Gbps of data). The CalDigit marketing ninjas imply that "INDEPENDENT VIDEO & USB LANES" is a benefit and something special about their hub. But all USB-C hubs have that. And it's the opposite of a benefit - because you can't increase data bandwidth by reducing video bandwidth and you can't increase video bandwidth by decreasing data bandwidth. USB4 and Thunderbolt solves that. They use two lines in each direction of 20 Gbps each (40 Gbps total in each direction) and they mix data and video on the same lines.

In summary:
  • USB-C:
    • USB-C with max USB 3.1 gen 2:
      • transmit 12.96 Gbps of video + 9.7 Gbps of data (22.66 Gbps total)
      • receive 9.7 Gbps of data.
    • USB-C with max USB 2.0:
      • transmit 25.92 Gbps of video + 480 Mbps of data (26.4 Gbps total)
      • receive 480 Mbps of data
    • A USB-C hub usually does not have a choice between the above two except in some USB-C displays.
    • USB-C with max USB 3.2 gen 2x2:
      • transmit 19.4 Gbps of data (no video)
      • receive 19.4 Gbps of data (no video)
      • I don't know if macOS supports this. I don't know if any USB 3.2 gen 2x2 hubs exist.
  • Thunderbolt:
    • 4) Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps, 20 Gbps per line):
      • transmit 40 Gbps of video and/or data
      • receive 40 Gbps of data
      • video is usually limited to 34.56 Gbps, but the Apple Pro Display XDR may use up to 37 Gbps.
      • data cannot exceed 31.5 Gbps for discrete Thunderbolt and is usually limited to ≈ 22 Gbps
    • 5) Thunderbolt 2 (20 Gbps, 10 Gbps per line):
      • transmit 20 Gbps of video and/or data
      • receive 20 Gbps of data
      • video is usually limited to 17.28 Gbps
      • data cannot exceed 16 Gbps unless a Thunderbolt 3 controller is being used
    • Video takes precedence over data.
Thunderbolt 3 has the unfair advantage of 20 Gbps per line compared to USB-C 3.2. In all cases 40 Gbps (total) Thunderbolt is superior to USB-C.
Comparing 20 Gbps (total) Thunderbolt to USB-C is more fair:
  • Each has some advantage but 20 Gbps Thunderbolt is more flexible.
  • USB-C with max USB 3.1 gen 2 can transmit slightly more video + data.
  • USB-C with max USB 2.0 can transmit more video.
  • Thunderbolt can transmit and receive more data (a bit less than USB 3.2 gen 2x2 though because of Thunderbolt overhead).
Looking at the above, you may see that Thunderbolt could use a new feature because of the problem of transmit bandwidth loss due to video:
  • asymmetric link width. Currently Thunderbolt is limited to two lanes in each direction. But what if it could allow 3 lanes in one direction? That would allow 60 Gbps in one direction. Then it would be able to do DisplayPort 2.0 UHBR 13.5 Gbps link rate. Or it could use that bandwidth to read or write to a disk faster (would require a PCIe 3.0 x8 or PCIe 4.0 x4 link to the Thunderbolt controller). Maybe the link could change, depending on the type of transaction? If doing a lot of reading than set 3 lanes for receive. If doing a lot of writing than set 3 lanes for transmit. Maybe allow 4 lanes in one direction. The USB 2.0 lines or the Side Band lines can be used for the opposite direction.
Thank you for this! I wish I understood even 20% of it! Lol. But I really appreciate it. :)
Bottom line is, if I need to connect an HDMI monitor that is 1080p, a portable SSD like Samsung T5 and occasional midi keyboard or USB flash, maybe charge a phone, I will be fine with a USB 3.1 hub, or should I have gotten something more pricey for my needs? I can now see that I do not need a Thunderbolt hub.
 
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joevt

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Jun 21, 2012
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Thank you for this! I wish I understood even 20% of it! Lol. But I really appreciate it. :)
Bottom line is, if I need to connect an HDMI monitor that is 1080p, a portable SSD like Samsung T5 and occasional midi keyboard or USB flash, maybe charge a phone, I will be fine with a USB 3.1 hub, or should I have gotten something more pricey for my needs? I can now see that I do not need a Thunderbolt hub.
USB 3.0 is fine. You probably can't tell the difference between 450 MB/s (USB 3.0: 5 Gbps) and 1000 MB/s (USB 3.1 gen 2: 10 Gbps). The T5 can only go up to 540 MB/s (with USB 3.1 gen 2) which is not much better than 450 MB/s.

USB-C is fine. 1080p is very low res and can easily be done with two lanes of DisplayPort 1.2 - up to at least 1080p 120Hz, 1440p 60Hz, 4K 30Hz. The M1 Mac also supports DisplayPort 1.4 which has 50% more bandwidth than DisplayPort 1.2.

Older USB-C hubs support USB 3.0 and two lanes of DisplayPort 1.2.
Newer USB-C hubs support USB 3.1 gen 2 and two lanes of DisplayPort 1.4.
 
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TrancyGoose

macrumors 6502
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Jan 13, 2021
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USB 3.0 is fine. You probably can't tell the difference between 450 MB/s (USB 3.0: 5 Gbps) and 1000 MB/s (USB 3.1 gen 2: 10 Gbps). The T5 can only go up to 540 MB/s (with USB 3.1 gen 2) which is not much better than 450 MB/s.

USB-C is fine. 1080p is very low res and can easily be done with two lanes of DisplayPort 1.2 - up to at least 1080p 120Hz, 1440p 60Hz, 4K 30Hz. The M1 Mac also supports DisplayPort 1.4 which has 50% more bandwidth than DisplayPort 1.2.

Older USB-C hubs support USB 3.0 and two lanes of DisplayPort 1.2.
Newer USB-C hubs support USB 3.1 gen 2 and two lanes of DisplayPort 1.4.
thank god, cause I got this in the 6 invariant and it turns out it is actually 3.1 and can go up to 4k on 30 fps. which I do not need, I'm using a gaming monitor from MSI I used before, so native 1080p will be fine, tested with my sister's hub, the resolution does look poor in comparison to m1s own screen, even though its 144hz. Thank you, you have been great.
 

alien3dx

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Feb 12, 2017
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Thank you for this! I wish I understood even 20% of it! Lol. But I really appreciate it. :)
Bottom line is, if I need to connect an HDMI monitor that is 1080p, a portable SSD like Samsung T5 and occasional midi keyboard or USB flash, maybe charge a phone, I will be fine with a USB 3.1 hub, or should I have gotten something more pricey for my needs? I can now see that I do not need a Thunderbolt hub.
should be okay normal cheap 30 buck usb hub.using usbc c hub for 3 years now .
 
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