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As we all know, the MacBook and MacBook Pro do not have Ethernet ports.

Apple makes a Thunderbolt Ethernet adapter (which requires no driver), but with the change to USB Type-C, this is no longer an option without an additional adapter.

Now Apple sells a USB-C Ethernet adapter made by Belkin, but according to the reviews it appears it requires a 3rd-party driver. I've also looked around on Google about this and other adapters, and I'm getting conflicting information on support for Ethernet over USB without 3rd-party drivers.

Does macOS have the ability to support USB Ethernet adapters without 3rd-party drivers, or is searching for one a wild goose chase?

  • This adapter works great for me without any third party drivers. – JMY1000 Dec 15 '17 at 3:14
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Yes - the vast majority of ethernet adapters work - especially USB-C since they are generally very new, a little more pricey and use the standard types.

The Belkin you listed is both plug and play when the OS is booted, it also works at netboot from the hardware / EFI / firmware so it's truly driverless on the new Mac.

I personally am liking the Belkin adapters and all the thunderbolt 3 dock stations from the likes of OWC / Belkin / Elgato as well. Tripp lite and some others are on the market - but I've not had great durability of Tripp in a work setting, so the cost savings there aren't panning out over time over the higher end products for us. Light home use might be perfectly fine with less pricey adapters so YMMV.

Also - a general guideline if Apple is selling the adapters in their stores - they are likely best of the best. If they are selling them online, chances are they are best of the best or at least very good fit and need no drivers either.

  • Hmm, I wonder why a few of the reviews mention having to install driver updates on that Belkin USB C one. Could you checked that no non-Apple kexts were installed for it by running kextstat | grep -v 'com\.apple' in Terminal? – Alexander O'Mara Dec 15 '17 at 3:10
  • Ah, after looking into it some more, it looks like there might be an optional driver that you don't need to install. Thanks for the info! – Alexander O'Mara Dec 15 '17 at 3:28
  • @AlexanderO'Mara I know there's no drivers since I will erase a Mac SSD and then network boot using that adapter to do internet recovery or netboot recovery without any OS even loaded / storage wiped entirely. You had good reason to ask based on the writings you researched though. – bmike Dec 15 '17 at 19:44
  • If it is built by Belkin, I can pretty much guarantee it isn't the best of the best. Their USB serial adapter I bought was shorted out and shut off my computer when I plugged it in. Their Wi-Fi access point had to be rebooted several times a day because it stopped passing traffic. The negative reviews on Apple's website confirm that this product is no better than their usual—flaky gigabit mode, overheating, lots of DOA copies, driver problems requiring reboots, etc. So IMO, the correct question is: Are there any non-Belkin USB-C adapters that don't need drivers? – dgatwood Mar 2 '18 at 17:38

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