I have an Apple Thunderbolt display and really love it - only that the USB ports are only USB 2!

I have read this question, but is there any new development on connecting a USB 3 drive to a thunderbolt port on the Apple Thunderbolt monitor?

I could buy an external thunderbolt hdd instead, but the difference in price between USB 3 and thunderbolt drives is quite substantial. Also, I did not find any affordable thunderbolt housings.

Any suggestions?

  • 2
    Apple uses USB 3.1 (also called USB-C) which is not the same as USB 3. It is not backward compatible to Thunderbolt. But if you can wait few months new product will appear on the market to solve that at reasonable price.
    – Ruskes
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:23
  • In the newest models. I have a late 2013 MacBook retina and as far as I know it has 3.0. And I don't think I need 3.1 for external sub 3.0 hdd.
    – Rainer
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:25
  • USB 2 while it can support some specific USB displays does not have the capability for full display support because the USB 2 is to slow. USB 3 vs Thunderbolt again is that the Thunderbolt drive is very fast (as fast as your build in SSD), that is why the price difference. USB-C is even faster and more versatile then Thunderbolt, that is why Apple is now offering it as single plug on 2015 models.
    – Ruskes
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:33
  • Why I am looking for an adapter from thunderbolt to usb 3 is to connect a usb 3 hdd via the adaptor to the thunderbolt port on the Apple thunderbolt monitor.
    – Rainer
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:36
  • USB 3.1 and USB-C are not the same thing. USB-C is a specific type of reversible plug for USB (just like USB standard-A and micro-B). USB 3.1 as implemented by Apple is USB 3.0 renamed to 3.1 Gen1, and is backwards compatible with USB and USB 2 (while the USB type-C connector is not, because it is physically different from USB/USB2/USB3 ports). USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps) is not faster than Thunderbolt v1 (10Gbps), let alone Thunderbolt v2 (20Gbps). USB 3.1 Gen2 at 10Gbps is equivalent to Thunderbolt v1, but no Apple devices have this port.
    – tubedogg
    Jun 1, 2015 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


I have a USB/eSATA 3 4-bay hard drive enclosure hooked up to my Mac mini (late 2012) via the Kanex KTU10 Thunderbolt to eSATA + USB 3.0 Adapter. It's currently connected to the eSATA port on the enclosure, but the KTU10 supports USB 3 as well. It's been hooked up since mid-March and I have had no problems with it.

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