Understanding USB-C and charging the MacBook

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by BeyondtheTech, May 6, 2016.

  1. BeyondtheTech, May 6, 2016
    Last edited: May 6, 2016

    BeyondtheTech macrumors 68020


    Jun 20, 2007
    Ok, so for those in this forum with a 12" MacBook, has it been confusing enough to figure out what other options there are in charging it with an adapter and cable other than the one provided by Apple?

    When news first broke that the new MacBook would have a USB-C port to charge, bloggers surmised that it would be more easily powered or charged with any USB-C adapter, even another drawing power from another computer.

    I bought a USB-C to USB-A cable and tried charging my MacBook with 10W and 12W iPad adapters. It either didn't charge at all, or the battery drained more slowly than if it wasn't connected to a charger. Made sense, since the original adapter is 29W, it's just not getting enough juice to keep the status quo.

    Forget charging from another computer, 5W-10W is the most power you'll get out of a computer.

    Amazon started selling adapters from companies like Anker that provide Power Delivery (PD), Quick Charge 3.0 (QC 3.0) and other various higher-wattages or methods with either USB-C or USB-A ports, but the descriptions and/or the user reviews are either sketchy or ambiguous to determine if they will charge the MacBook either slowly or at all. Some manufacturers were bold enough to claim that if it can charge your USB-C ChromeBook, it should be enough to charge your 12" MacBook.

    The only one I found was just released this week that states it will charge your MacBook at the full 29W: http://www.amazon.com/Anker-Premium-Charger-PowerPort-Delivery/dp/B01D8C6ULO


    But of course, it's nearly the same cost as Apple's own 29W adapter.

    Has anyone else tried alternate methods of powering or charging their 12" MacBook? Does it only work well with USB-C cables? Will USB-A to USB-C solutions work at all? How about USB-C car chargers?

    Other than Apple's solution, it doesn't seem so cut and dry as early articles stated, all of whom never bothered to follow up on their notion that charging with USB-C would be easier than the old MagSafe-style adapters.
  2. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    You need to be careful with USB-A to USB-C connections. USB-A wasn't designed with high power in mind, so people were blowing out the USB-A ports when trying to charge from computers or older USB-A power adapters. It needs a 56ohm resistor, which basically limits you to 12W charging.

    For the best experience, stick with USB-C chargers and cables. Google sells them. Monoprice and others have the cables.
  3. Brookzy, May 6, 2016
    Last edited: May 6, 2016

    Brookzy macrumors 601


    May 30, 2010
    Adding further complexity, apparently the Anker USB-C charger won't work when connected to Apple's Multiport adapters, nor does it support fast charging on the iPad Pro.

    (If anyone has information to the contrary I would be glad to hear it as presently this is stopping me from buying the Anker charger!)

    It's all a bit of a mess...
  4. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    The 5-12w chargers will charge the computer with a usb-c to usb-a cable, but very slowly, and you're right, they may not keep up when the computer is in use. Still, I've been charging my rMB for most of a year from one connected primarily to the usb outlet I have built-in above my kitchen counter. I don't care if it takes 6-10 hours to charge because it'll often just sit there all day or overnight.
  5. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    Adding to this thread, as I've found my original 12w Apple iPad chargers to do a decent job charging my 2016 rMB. I mean, you're not going to do any real work on this thing and expect the charger to keep up, but if you turn off the rMB and let it charge overnight, you'd be in good shape by morning.

    I'm thinking the 12w charger plus a $10 USB-A to USB-C w/PD Anker cable is a good back-up/emergency charger, and may even be useful enough to take on an overnight trip. The $49 that Apple charges for a 29w charger is just hard to swallow, even though I realize it's a quality component.
  6. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    I recently did a two week vacation trip with my Macbook and exclusively used my Anker USB C to A cable and an Anker two-port (2.4A ea) charger. Never had an issue maintaining charge; I'd leave it plugged in and it'd be fully charged each morning.

    (why'd I bring a computer on vacation? I used it to backup photos from my cameras and also sync them out to the cloud via hotel wifi as a second layer of backup)
  7. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    Ya, that's what I was thinking too. I inadvertently ordered the older version of that Anker cable, but it appears to work fine, and was Benson-approved.

    Plus, the 12w Apple charger is always good for iPhones/iPads on my trip and of course the 29w can only charge the MacBook. Unless you get that USB-C to Lightning cable? But your still looking at $25 (1m) vs. $10 for a more common USB-C to USB-A, and I prefer to bring 10ft Lightning cables on trips.
  8. youbzh macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2013
    I received an Aukey Quick Charge 3.0 charger two days ago, when I use the rMB it doesn't charge or it gains 1% every 30 minutes, and I haven't measured how fast it charges when the computer is off, but it does work as long as you have some time. I'll try to post measurements if I ever do them :)

    Also, I've used a the adapter in the link below and it does charge through it (using the Apple or the Aukey charger).
  9. Maccotto macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2012
    Sorry guys for stupid question but :can USB c hub and similar recharge macbook and work the USB/hdmi/etc in the same time?
  10. ShionoyaTamaki, Jun 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016

    ShionoyaTamaki macrumors 6502

    Oct 9, 2011
    To make sure a charger works at full speed with a macbook you need to double check it supports PD (power delivery) at 15v/2a, macbook actually uses 14.5v/2a (it is often not listed in product description so you might have to dig or contact manufacturer.)

    Something like this works with the macbook and other phones.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 20, 2016 ---
    Yes, it is possible to use hdmi/usb-ports while charging. It is usually called pass through charging. Example http://www.hootoo.com/ht-uc001-usb-type-c-hub-charging-hdmi-apple-pd.html
  11. ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    To me - the cost of Apple's USB-C charger / cable is well worth it. I spent nearly $1,500 on a MacBook - last thing I want is worry about some third party charger not properly charging it while I travel.. or worse yet - causes damage, as was reported with a number of cheapo USB-C cables. And for what - saving $20 bucks?

    Not to mention, Apple's 29W USB-C charger is small, beautifully designed and works with Apple's international plugs (which is a major bonus for travel). And you will be able to use it for years, as it's likely to work with numerous future generations of Apple's MacBooks (and iPads/iPhones).
  12. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    Yes, one does need to be careful, but there are enough known-good solutions today that this isn't the issue it was months ago. Provided of course that you're not buying random lowest-price stuff off of ebay. ... and let us not forget that Apple had some issues with their cable at one point too...

    One clarification though: don't assume cost is always the reason. I can easily afford the $80 for a second charger and cord, but find them inelegantly bulky. For me it's simply more convenient to carry the shorter & less bulky Anker cable and a single shared charger. I've also had success with this one when I wanted to have more charging ports or was travelling internationally.
  13. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    I never said I was considering using an aftermarket charger. Rather, I'd like to take advantage of OEM accessories that I already own, at the expense of faster charging. For a secondary/back up charging solution, an existing 12w charger+$10 Anker cable feels a lot better than $80 for an Apple solution.

    And as mentioned above, it's probably half the size. And charges other iDevices, something that is frustratingly missing from Apples $49 brick.
  14. ctyrider, Jun 21, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016

    ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    That is true, but an important difference here is that the issue with the original batch of Apple's USB-C cables was "potential failure of the cable due to design issue".. Which is quite different than a cable frying your laptop.

    I happened to have purchased an extra set of Apple's USB-C charger/cable with my 2015 MacBook, and Apple sent me an extra pair of "fixed" USB-C cables a few months later (as part off their recall). So I now have 4 Apple's USB-C cables, and I never had any issues with the original ones.. So I am set with USB-C cables for a while.

    There is a reason why it's half the size - it's doesn't have the power output capacity of Apple's 39W charger, and it's really designed to charge smartphones.. rather than laptops.

    And Apple's USB-C bricks can charge iDevices just fine. You just need USB-C Lightning cable, which Apple has been shipping with their latest iPads. I assume upcoming iPhone 7 will also ship with USB-C cable/charger in the Fall.
  15. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    Right, that's never been in question. Keep in mind, most people have spare OEM 10w/12w chargers laying around, so it's not an incremental cost.

  16. ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
  17. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
  18. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
  19. ctyrider macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2012
    Correct - not "included" with, but it got released as a fast charging option for iPad Pro.

    And I mentioned it in response to your comment implying that it's not possible to use Apple USB-C brick to charge iDevices, which is clearly not true :)

  20. BeatCrazy macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2011
    It's only true if you invest $29 in a USB-C to Lightning cable, vs. $10 on a USB-A to USB-C, which was my point in all this.

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