Why no Thunderbolt to USB 3 hub/converter

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by lloyd709, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. lloyd709 macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2008
    The only device I can see on the market that will give you this is using the Sonnet Tempo Thunderbolt to ExpressCard adaptor and then use a USB 3.0 ExpressCard. This at least proves that it must be technically possible. If I use one of these though I won't be able to connect to a screen at the same time - unless I'm missing something.

    Is there sort of technical problem with Thunderbolt tripping company's up on this. I've been waiting for about a year for someone to bring something to market and no one has. A couple of companies have been sporting pictures of thunderbolt docks for many months now but nothing tangible has come from them.

    What's the problem? There must be problem because there must be a massive market just waiting for one of these.
  2. geoffreak macrumors 68020


    Feb 8, 2008
  3. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    I think the problem is simple.

    I think people are willing to spend no more than $19 or $29 for such an adapter of hub.

    Apple has done so for Ethernet and for FireWire. Perhaps they might do one for USB 3.0. they certainly have the capability.

    With component costs being what they are, I don't think there are any companies other than Apple who would or could build such a product. There simply is not enough margin to do so.

    For example, from the various take-apart videos and pictures available of the Ethernet to Thunderbolt dongle, it is clear that it is a complex project. Few other than Apple have the ability to make something similar at low cost, or are able to subsidize the product.
  4. AZREOSpecialist macrumors 68020


    Mar 15, 2009
    Why would you want a USB3 hub via Thunderbolt when today's MacBook Pros have several USB3 ports - to any of which you can attach a hub?
  5. asdad123 macrumors regular

    Jun 16, 2010
    I would really appreciate one for my TB display (just an adapter, not a dock. I only have one USB 3.0 HDD)
  6. lloyd709 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 10, 2008
    For one reason not everyone has a new macbook pro or want's to buy one!!

    For a second reason - not wanting to start another topic - some people still have software that only runs on Rosetta - and hence tied into Snowleopard (that can't run on USB3 equipped MacBook pros!!
  7. dusk007 macrumors 68040


    Dec 5, 2009
    The problem is easily explained.

    As you said yourself it requires an PCIe USB3 card.
    A hub wouldn't be much different.
    You need a USB controller cheap no problem.
    You need a thunderbolt controller not cheap at all.
    You need a quite complicated set up so those work together.

    The Apple TV has a logicboard inside that competes with any Apple TV to deliver those functions. The one in the Seagate goflex takes the area of an HDD. Look at thunderbolt devices. Compare that to USB devices that fit on a fingernail.
    They have quite expensive logicboards in there with not so cheap chips on them. Making a Thunderbolt to USB 3 hub is possible but not worth it. Just too expensive and very few people are willing to pay for it.
    Most people today have USB 3 and would rather get a USB hub for a tenth of the price.
    Doing anything with Thunderbolt is only worth it if the device is expensive. Like a full blown dock that offers a lot more than just USB ports.
    Or a display that costs 1000 bucks anyway.
    Or an expensive raid nas drive.

    All the external Thunderbolt HDDs that exist charge about 100$ for the Thunderbolt in it. That is about what you could expect as a price for a such a hub.
    Especially if all you want is to connect the one external HDD you own to a fast port you won't pay for a hub that costs more than your external drive. It is more likely people use Gbit LAN or suffer USB 2 until they get a new notebook.

    Thunderbolt is a bad product because it is just too expensive for all the small stuff as in single devices and this won't change anytime soon. That is what we have cheap USB 3 for. USB requires little space, small controllers and almost no money.
    It sucks that the 2011 MBP didn't have USB3 which is why wouldn't have bought one.

    I think the best option is Displays that come with thunderbolt support. Asus is launching one and others will follow. A decent external display you might need anyway and the added thunderbolt costs shouldn't be too bad. You get USB 3.0 on the display.
    I don't know what it costs but it will probably be cheaper than the Apple one but also not as cheap as comparable alternatives.
  8. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    Not everyone has "today's MacBook Pro".
  9. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    A thunderbolt hub that offers USB 3 is certainly possible for any generation Mac with a thunderbolt jack.

    The beauty of the hub...less or no dongles.

    I want just one wire leaving my rMBP...have 4 right now.

    Apple should offer one as they already have it...just need to put it in a simpler box.
  10. ThePreditor macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2012
    Because I like my 17" MacBook Pro. But clients give me USB 3 drives sometimes. A thunderbolt to USB 3 adapter would be quite useful.
  11. beamer8912 macrumors 65816

    May 30, 2009
    That's an interesting conundrum. Thunderbolt but no USB 3.0. I can see how an adapter would be appreciated, but it's a bit of a niche market since there are only a couple years of thunderbolt but no USB 3.0.

    I wouldn't expect apple to make one since they're really pushing TB. I really think they want all other ports to disappear leaving just two TB ports necessary to run all your equipment.
  12. g4cube macrumors 6502a

    Apr 22, 2003
    You do know that a USB 3.0 drive will work fine in a USB 2.0 port, right?

    It will just be slower, but still functional.

    There are also ExpressCard USB 3.0 adapters for the lone slot on your 17" Macbook Pro, and I believe the CalDigit, LaCie, or Sonnet drivers, too.
  13. ThePreditor macrumors member

    Aug 2, 2012
    Right, but speed is the issue here, so USB 2.0 is next to useless for me when transferring 500GB worth of footage in a timely manner.
  14. importraverxx macrumors regular

    Aug 1, 2010
    firewire 800? i have a 15" late 2011 too and its perfectly fine. I use fcp x daily on it. Get a G-Drive and you good to go. Or if you wanna swap drive then get a firewire 800 enclosure, its like 30 bucks.
  15. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    The price of Thunderbolt controllers is so high that a company would have to price such an adapter at a higher price than what most customers are willing to pay. They know they wouldn't sell much, so the lack of economy of scale would make it even more expensive.

    We were in the same situation with FireWire not too long ago. We would have needed a Sonnet Tempo + FireWire ExpressCard + Thunderbolt cable which sums up to around 300$.

    Apple decided to make Thunderbolt to FireWire / Ethernet adapters just to sell more rMBPs. I doubt the adapters themselves are profitable at all, when you see just a Thunderbolt cable is 49$ and iFixit claims the price is justified by all the active components it has. Even 3rd party Thunderbolt cables are almost as expensive.

    Apple just made sure you can buy a rMBP even if you need Ethernet or FireWire, but they probably don't care about those who won't buy a new computer and just need adapters. All new MacBooks have USB3, so a Thunderbolt to USB3 adapter would only benefit users who own older Macs.

    If the adapter had to be priced at 29$ and wouldn't be profitable, Apple would have no interest in investing time into making it unless it would encourage people to buy new Macs, which it wouldn't. It would have to be profitable by itself to justify investing time in making it.

    Now the question is: Would you buy a $99 Thunderbolt to USB3 adapter? Apple and other companies predicted the answer would be no for pretty much everybody, so that's why such an adapter doesn't exist.

    Now of course Thunderbolt controllers become cheaper with time and Thunderbolt will be coming to PCs so there's still hope in the future.
  16. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    because there are macs with TB but not usb3...

    not everyone has the latest
  17. lugesm macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    Any UPDATES on this ? ? ?

    Corning has announced 100M Thunderbolt cables, and Apple has introduced a 0.5M Thunderbolt cable and several adapters for Thunderbolt to xxx.

    But, I still cannot find an offering by anyone for a Thunderbolt to USB-3 hub . . . unless you consider the highly expensive Belkin docking station. At $400 that's just plain foolish.:(
  18. Ploki macrumors 68030

    Jan 21, 2008
    It's 299$ now, and its supposed to be out in a few weeks I believe.

    And I think OWC is rumored to sell one...

    but everything is vaporware for now. :/
  19. lugesm macrumors 6502a


    Sep 7, 2007
    Thanks for the update. Still a pretty steep price, but it looks like a very useful product.
  20. biallystock macrumors member

    Jun 2, 2009
    Still says $399! and just to connect a $79 drive!

    Even if you could get it. The Belkin Thunderbolt hub has been on pre-order for over 8 months now. Should be out in time for the Thunderbolt farewell party.

    Only in Appleland does this pretend to make sense.
  21. Ploki macrumors 68030

    Jan 21, 2008

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