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I have an older Macbook Pro (8,2 - Late 2011). It doesn't have a usb 3.0 port, only USB 2.0 ports. I have an Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock with a WD External HD, USB 3.0.

I was expecting to see USB 3.0 type speeds, but only get transfer rates around 35MB/s, which looks like USB 2.0.

Can a MacBook Pro that only has USB 2.0 ports realize USB 3.0 transfer rates when connected to a Thunderbolt Dock that has USB 3.0 ports and an external usb 3.0 hard drive?

  • According to an Amazon Reviewer, "blue=USB3, white=USB2". What color does this Elegato glow when you plug in a USB device? – ThePCpenguin Jun 19 '16 at 21:38
  • What are you using to calculate that transfer? That seems awfully slow for even USB 2.0 (480 MBbps). Also, according to Elgato Support, the dock will provide USB 3.0 on MBP with only USB 2.0 ports – Allan Jun 19 '16 at 21:55
  • I don't see a glow, white or blue. Do you have a link for the review? I'm using BlackMagic Disk Speed Test, its reporting 35 MB/s (480 Mb/s). – Patrick Cullen Jun 19 '16 at 22:35
  • Thanks Allan for the Elgato link. It reads "You can use these fast USB 3.0 ports, even if your Mac only has standard USB 2.0 ports." I'm not sure it clears things up. It seems to imply that you would get the faster speeds, but it could also be interpreted to mean simply that it will work (albeit at usb 2.0 speeds). – Patrick Cullen Jun 19 '16 at 22:51
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    Thunderbolt is an extension of the PCIe bus, not USB. So, you can add a USB 3.0 port to a machine that doesn't have them. However, based on your speeds, you are getting USB 2.0. Are you going directly from the dock to the Passport? Did you install the Utility Software? – Allan Jun 19 '16 at 23:28
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The device you're mentioning, the Elgato Thunderbolt 2 Dock, provides USB 3.0 ports. As commented by someone else, Thunderbolt is a PCIe extension and thus is not limited by the USB 2.0 bus of your laptop. As such, it is possible for USB 3.0 to be something that is offered by a dock like what you mention.

USB is a feature offered (typically) by the Intel chipset and tends to be driven these days off of one of the PCIe lines from the CPU. Your computer tends to have a controller that translates the PCIe line to a USB interface (in the CPU's supporting Intel chipset) and would support only the specification that it came with. For example, a MacPro3,1 (2008) uses an Intel chipset that supports USB 2.0 devices.

An easy upgrade for those machines is to install a PCI Express card to gain support for USB 3.0 similar to what you'd do with the Thunderbolt dock, i.e. a USB 3.0 controller that sits on the PCIe bus. Of course, any devices on the PCIe bus needs to be recognized by the operating system and thus requires drivers. However, drivers for some USB controllers (e.g. the FL1100) are supported by macOS / OSX 10.8+ and will just work.

Of course, the USB connector does slightly differ between 3.0 and previous specs; the 3.0 connector has a few extra pins that are key to the higher speeds.

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Yes. Install the Elgato Utility Software and after a reboot you should see USB 3 speeds.

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