USB Ports "blew out" while unused. Thunderbolt dock to replace them?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by townsend2005, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. townsend2005 macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2012
    I've got an early 2011 MBP 13" with a Apple-replaced logic board. A couple days ago, I got the dreaded "USB device drawing too much power" message while nothing was plugged in! And now my USB ports are dead, after only 3.75 years of owning this machine! Disappointed...

    Anyway, I realized I could add some USB ports via a Thunderbolt Dock.

    Do you guys know if the USB traveling over Thunderbolt will work through my Thunderbolt Port, or will it be blocked by the now-dead, onboard USB controller?

    Other ideas for a USB workaround? I kind of want to avoid TB, since it's probably going the way of firewire. I'd rather buy USB 3 peripherals, rather than throw money after this thing, but I realize this was a lot cheaper than a logic board replacement.
  2. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    Thunderbolt won't go down the FW path, because it's far more versatile. You can even add in a desktop GPU via Thunderbolt and get about 85-90% of its full performance.

    Thunderbolt is also far more expandable than FW with docks, plus you won't lose any bandwidth since it's hard to saturate it.

    You can buy a Caldigit TB dock and get full USB 3.0 speeds. I've one and run an external SSD off it, getting 420MB/s in reads and writes.
  3. steve23094 macrumors 68020


    Apr 23, 2013
    You think? I would say it's already on it's way. No other manufacturers have picked it up and the new USB standards have closed the gap. It seems to be following the exact same trajectory FireWire did, good for some stuff but ultimately a niche product.

    I recently bought an external TB drive, but the extra expense probably wasn't worth it. The most technically advanced solutions don't always win the market share race.
  4. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    The new USB standards still does not allow for versatile expansion options such as adding in an eGPU, or daisy-chaining via a dock.

    Thunderbolt can operate as a true, powerful expansion bus, which should allow it to support network connectivity, USB 2 and 3 and FireWire, and even external video cards thanks to adapters. Basically, anything that can be used with a PCIe expansion slot could work as a Thunderbolt device. No matter what you want to be able to plug into your Mac, you’ll be able to do it, so long as there is enough interest from third-party adapter and device manufacturers.

    And I think there's enough interest. Look at the docks from Caldigit and Belkin. Look at the PCIe chassis from Sonnet and Akitio to stick in a full desktop GPU. You can't do that over USB.
  5. Skika macrumors 68030

    Mar 11, 2009
    Thunderbolt was never set to compete with usb.
  6. FumbleDuck macrumors member

    Jan 9, 2015
    Holy cow! I never knew such a thing was possible but it makes total sense. being able to plug in an external GPU would be very handy. Thanks for letting me know, I will keep an eye on that.
  7. alex0002, Feb 20, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015

    alex0002 macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2013
    New Zealand
    Just as a matter of interest, how many Thunderbolt and Firewire devices do people here own?

    1 x Mac (a Macbook Pro 13 inch late 2011).
    1 x Internal storage upgrade: Crucial M500 SSD.
    0 x Thunderbolt devices.
    1 x FW 800 G-drive.
    0 x FW 400 devices.

    Plus too many USB devices to count.

    Thunderbolt is nice in theory, but I haven't been tempted and I can see USB3.1 killing the Thunderbolt storage market. 800MB/s external storage at affordable prices sounds good.
  8. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    USB 3.1 won't kill the Thunderbolt expandability market, because you can't daisy chain a monitor and other peripherals via a USB dock.

    And you can't add an eGPU over USB either, but it can be done over TB.

    I own two Pegasus R6 12TB RAID bays and also a Sonnet IIID PCIe-TB2 chassis with a GTX 780 Ti in it. I also have a Caldigit TB dock with two USB SSDs (Transcend JetDrive 960GB) hooked up to it operating at full speeds.

    I own a lot of Macs and speedy peripherals, because I'm a software dev for one of the largest companies in the Silicon Valley (can't name it for NDA reasons) and also a cinematographer when I'm not writing code.
  9. townsend2005, Feb 20, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015

    townsend2005 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2012
    I've skimmed reviews of the available Thunderbolt docks and there are concerns about the overall USB 3 speeds; still faster than USB 2, but far slower than all the gushing press releases (as we would expect).

    I thought USB would be the most common and dependable option, but...

    I still don't really understand the need for TB, unless you have a Macbook Air.
    It's expensive as a convenience-docking station.
    Seems like constant video editing would just push the CPU too far without proper (desktop) cooling.
    The GPU thing is cool, but I'd rather hobby-build on a raspberry pi or something else. Might as well do hackintosh if you're going to build a custom GPU enclosure!!
    I'm a musician, and even the TB audio interfaces are nowhere near the latencies that TB advertises. TB might be a highway, but the manufacturers are still producing slow cars to drive on it.
    I built an i7 for video editing, and I would never want to put a laptop cpu through all that, without the proper cooling!

    Anyway, as it is, of the reasonably-priced TB docks available, nearly 4 years after TB release on Apple products, are currently offering:
    Three USB-3 ports (I SHOULD have two of these still working...)
    Ethernet (exists)
    Audio (noisy, and exists)
    Separate mic jack (ok...)
    HDMI (I already own a TB to HDMI)

    I'm sketchy on the details, but I think more than one of these docks WON'T drive two monitors at once, either. (via HDMI and the TB daisy chain) I mean--- that's just crazy! We're **4** years out from mass deployment!

    Yjchua, this is not terribly exciting, wouldn't you say? It looks like you have a setup that works great for your needs -- which wouldn't be remotely possible without TB. So that's great, especially if you need to pull the laptop and go remote, plug in and get your power. But the whole reason I'm speculating on all this is whether to buy a dock which I think will last TWO machines or just one. And obviously, this has nothing to do with Apple or Intel, but just the hardware developers....

    (On another note, I think I bought my 2011 13" at the absolute wrong time: shipped with an optical drive, a future port which still has yet to reach maturity, and two now-broken USB 2 ports! At least the OS can upgrade!)

    So basically - I'm glad to have a cheaper option than replacing the logic board, but I"m basically paying a couple hundred for some USB ports, and not much else... I'm pretty sure this dock will be tied to this machine and probably die with it.

    For the consumer, scale beats niche every time. But anyway, like I said, this is cheaper than a new logic board - and there seems to be no alternative!
  10. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    I do serious on-site video editing on my 15" rMBP. It runs really well, with only minimal throttling.

    On my Transcend JetDrive connected to my Caldigit dock, it gets about 350MB/s in writes and 410MB/s in reads. When connected natively to my USB 3 port, it gets 380MB/s writes and 425MB/s reads. So I don't see any slowdown at all.

    There is no need to build a custom eGPU enclosure. Sonnet IIID and the Akitio Thunder2 are some examples of PCIe enclosures to stick in an eGPU.

    Hackintosh is too much trouble. Updates are more likely than not to break it, and updates are an absolute must to me for security (all my work is encrypted with at least XTS-AES128, with most being AES256). Driver issues too.
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009

    Hope this doesn't sound overly simplistic, but....

    - Have you tried rebooting the MacBook?
    - Have you tried the "SMC reset"?
    - Have you tried a PRAM reset?
    - Last ditch, but have you tried an OS re-install?
  12. alex0002 macrumors 6502

    Jun 19, 2013
    New Zealand
    The focus of my comment was on storage and USB3.1 can provide better than 800MB/s. There are just a few external Thunderbolt storage devices faster than 800MB/s. LaCie have the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 and there are a few others. From the page I could find on the Pegasus R6, it might be getting up there too.

    How big is the market for significantly faster than 800MB/s external storage devices and how many are willing to pay the price to get those speeds?

    But of course, we haven't seen the limit in USB speeds either.

    I accept that Thunderbolt has a place in the external GPU market, but how big is that market and is that enough to sustain Thunderbolt in the future?

    Because if the storage market can't support Thunderbolt, there isn't a lot left other than those external GPU users.

    Daisy chaining might sound like a nice idea, but it adds cost to every device in the chain. Some sort of star based topology where a Hub/Switch can be added would have been better.

    Regarding the original problem described by the OP, I'd try all the reset options, including this one where the owner disconnected the battery for 5-10 minutes.

    Hardware failure of more than one port would appear to be quite rare.
  13. yjchua95 macrumors 604

    Apr 23, 2011
    GVA, KUL, MEL (current), ZQN
    It's not just the eGPU market; it's the PCIe peripheral market.

    SATA controllers (there are limitations with hard drive controllers over USB), audio interfaces, eGPUs...these are just some examples. Oh, and expansion docks too. USB isn't as versatile when it comes to expansion docks.
  14. townsend2005, Feb 21, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015

    townsend2005 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2012
    I did the PRAM and SMC resets immediately.
    Also ran the AHT, but it looks like that is just a memory tester?
    I'm loath to do an OS re-install... especially since I don't have access to my USB HDD backup!! I did my dutiful software update.

    That was the first time I saw something about the battery -- thanks for the tip; I missed it in my original research. (I just tried it, but didn't work....)

    I'll take another look at the Caldigit. Also, I didn't realize the PCI solutions were plug and play, especially for the laptop eGPU. (But jeez, the price!)

    Taking another look at the Mac Pro reminded me of one of the strongest cases for TB, which is the lack of the ePCI. So for that reason, they might have a reason to hold on to it for some time to come.

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