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SeeYa32 Level 1 (10 points)

As we all know, the early 2011 13" and 15" Macbook Pros do not have the expresscard slot 34 that the 17" does. I realize there are cards that you are able to plug into this expresscard slot in order to achieve USB 3.0 standards. So with only a SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity), a Thunderbolt port, a firewire port, and no ExpressCard/34 slot, how can I get USB 3.0 to my Early 2011 15" Macbook Pro? Or is it even possible? I realize the ideal option would be to use Thunderbolt, but at the time of this writing, that is way above my budget for simply connecting an external hard disk drive (or hopefully a solid state drive) to my laptop.


(Also, I have found that there is no official support for Intel motherboard USB 3.0 integration, which is why no Intel Mac has native USB 3.0. But it's been 10 years since USB 2.0, can't we get an update that doesn't cost $500+?)

MacBook Pro (15-inch Early 2011), Mac OS X (10.7.3)
  • sig Level 8 (35,785 points)

    " I realize there are cards that you are able to plug into this expresscard slot in order to achieve USB 3.0 standards."


    Where did you get that info from? If the Mac is not set for usb 3.0 then nothing you plug in will change that. You want usb 3.0 then wait unitl it becomes available like everyone else.

  • wjosten Level 10 (94,210 points)
  • Jerimiah40 Level 1 (0 points)

    This is incorrect, it is absolutely possible to get a USB3.0 ExpressCard.  LaCie even makes one that is guaranteed to be compatible with Mac, as wjosten linked to below.


    To reply to the original question though, it should theoretically be possible to do it through the Thunderbolt port.  As far as I know there isn't currently a Thunderbolt to USB3.0 adapter of any kind, but I'm sure there will be in the near future.  I also know that there is a Thunderbolt to ExpressCard adapter available on the market (Manufactured by a company called Sonnet), which would allow you to use the USB3.0 card mentioned ealier.


    Hope this helps!

  • whitewater2 Level 3 (665 points)

    I can see Apple upgrading their USB2.0 to 3.0 at some point in the future, but not any time soon. USB 3.0 devices just do not take a lot of market share, so the increased price of updating the hardware (that gets passed onto the consumer) is not worth it. Apple never believed that USB 3.0 would take off, and it really hasnt. But seriously, they should take the hit and just upgrade their new products to USB 3.0. Its the same physical shape and size, why not?


    They fully adopted and implemnted Thunderbolt, and for truly faster performance and data integrity checking they want you to go to Thunderbolt. Even that is slow to take off. Thunderbolt will be on non-Apple products also, so if that ever really fully takes shape then thunderbolt will be the way to go. See this article for PC with both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt coming.



    Products manufactured today are still USB 2.0 for the most part, just because of current product out there versus manufacturing cost.


    You can buy and use a USB 3.0 device, as it it backwards compatible with USB 2.0, just not at the 3.0 speeds.

  • eww Level 9 (52,980 points)

    For MBPs that don't have ExpressCard slots, USB 3.0 will never be an option unless someone makes a Thunderbolt-to-USB 3.0 adapter (I have no idea how technically feasible that is). And for MBPs that don't have ExpressCard slots OR Thunderbolt, USB 3.0 is out of the question.

  • John Galt Level 8 (45,953 points)

    I woudn't hold your breath for USB 3.0:

    Anyone disappointed by the absence of USB 3.0 in MacBook Pro needs to appreciate that Thunderbolt, which even graces the 13-inch model, blows the doors off USB 3.0.


    Regardless of what you read elsewhere, Thunderbolt is flat-out amazing. The second-generation Intel Core CPUs, especially the quad-core Core i7, have the headroom to drive much faster I/O. Apple demonstrated Thunderbolt by showing Final Cut Pro, its high-end video and film editing software, working in real time with four simultaneous streams of HD content fed by a Thunderbolt storage array. Up to six Thunderbolt devices can be daisy-chained together, all through the tiny Mini DisplayPort connector.


  • iRod_Shuffle Level 1 (5 points)
  • schang42s Level 1 (145 points) question is why do you need a 3.0 usb port? although it's nice to have, i would say 2.0 is sufficient...


    ...if you do achieve usb 3.0, then I'm betting on your internal fan whirling at critical speeds... (just a theory)

  • eww Level 9 (52,980 points)

    Looking at the page for the Sonnet adapter you've linked, I see that Sonnet doesn't list USB 3.0 among the kinds of cards that can be used with it (SxS, SDXC, CF, FW800 and eSATA). Do you think that's an oversight on Sonnet's part?

  • SeeYa32 Level 1 (10 points)

    By all means I would agree USB 2.0 to be "sufficient"...


    ...But is that Apple? Does Apple only strive to be "sufficient"? Granted, if Thunderbolt ever really takes off, USB 3.0 would be obsolete. With regards to the fans needed to maintain 3.0 speeds, why in the world would my fans be at critical speeds? It's only a modification of the bus; no additional external energy need be created...


    ...but then again I am no expert on the matter, given my question. If indeed my fans would be at critical speeds, that might be true of my current setup. However, with implementation of the new 3.0, Apple would theoretically also modify  the hardware. For instance, my old desktop computer needed no additional fans on the USB 3.0 board.


    Once again: no expert. If USN 3.0 cannot be achieved, I would like to know why technically.

  • OrogenousZones Level 1 (0 points)

    Okay, so Thunderbolt blows the doors off of USB 3.0.  I'd sure like to be able to charge my iPad when it's plugged into my Macbook Pro.  How does Thunderbolt answer that?  Having both would be nice, no?

  • John Galt Level 8 (45,953 points)

    ...  I'd sure like to be able to charge my iPad when it's plugged into my Macbook Pro.  How does Thunderbolt answer that?


    10W is specified for power, identical to the existing iPad AC adapter:


  • eww Level 9 (52,980 points)

    OrogenousZones wrote:


    Okay, so Thunderbolt blows the doors off of USB 3.0.  I'd sure like to be able to charge my iPad when it's plugged into my Macbook Pro.  How does Thunderbolt answer that?


    Thunderbolt doesn't have anything at all to do with that, nor does the speed of USB 3. Your USB 2-equipped Mac will charge your iPad just fine, and USB 3 wouldn't charge it any better or faster.

  • OrogenousZones Level 1 (0 points)

    Eww, that is not correct. USB cannot charge an iPad.  iPhone?  Yes, but aniPad requires 10w of power which USB 2.0 does not carry.  Actually the tech specs for USB 3.0 I believe have it at 5.4w, so ix-nay on USB 3.0 as well.


    Apple Tech Support explained on the phone to me that my iPad is not charging when connected to my MacBook Pro's USB port preciesly because USB 2.0 doesn't have the power to do so.



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