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Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Definitely check the cables. I got a CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock (85W Charging, 7X USB 3.1 Ports, USB-C Gen 2, DisplayPort, UHS-II SD Card Slot, LAN, Optical Out) back in July, plugged it into the new 2018 MacBook Pro with the cable that came with it, and it didn't work.
Was that the short cable? I got one with the longer cable, and it's been OK so far (knock on wood).
 



I did some testing with the OWC USB-C dock, and I am not entirely satisfied. First, I had to install extra drivers to get the ethernet port to work. Using the headphone jack requires the sound output settings to be modified in System Preferences (i.e. the MacBook Pro does not automatically switch).

The biggest disappointment is that I was unable to connect to my external Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with this dock using Apple's Thunderbolt 2-3 adapter. I get the "cannot use Thunderbolt accessory" message in Mojave. What I really don't understand is that the dock does not show up as a Thunderbolt device in System Information but rather is listed as a USB 3.1 bus, which makes me wonder about available data transfer speeds. I have not tested with a monitor. Maybe these issues are common to other docks (I know that a Startech dock I tested also required the same ethernet drivers).

At this point, I think I will send it back.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I did some testing with the OWC USB-C dock, and I am not entirely satisfied. ... The biggest disappointment is that I was unable to connect to my external Thunderbolt 2 enclosure with this dock using Apple's Thunderbolt 2-3 adapter. I get the "cannot use Thunderbolt accessory" message in Mojave. ...
Despite using the same connector, USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are very different things. As a prime example, Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook has a USB-C port that is not a Thunderbolt 3 port and can't begin to do what Thunderbolt 3 can do. And a USB-C dock can't begin to do what a Thunderbolt 3 dock can do.
 


Despite using the same connector, USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are very different things. As a prime example, Apple's 12-inch Retina MacBook has a USB-C port that is not a Thunderbolt 3 port and can't begin to do what Thunderbolt 3 can do. And a USB-C dock can't begin to do what a Thunderbolt 3 dock can do.
I totally missed that distinction. I was fixated on the number and kind of ports (and the price). Back to the search then.
 


Modern (USB 3 +) USB cables have two bus groupings for transferring data - SuperSpeed and classic USB 2.0. With USB Type-C alternative mode passing through DisplayPort (DP) at 4K video specs, the DP traffic is assigned the whole SuperSpeed bus (4 pairs of wires). Only the separate USB 2.0 bus is left, so you end up with USB 2.0 on the ports of the monitor. Apple's LG 4K Ultrafine display has the same issue.

If you used a separate Type-C to DisplayPort cable to hook to the monitor's DP input, then that would free up space on the SuperSpeed bus. (Likewise, if hooked to one of the monitor's HDMI ports for video). However, you'd have a multiple-cable hook-up to 'dock' the laptop. If you require USB 3.0 on the downstream ports, that's the only option.

I looked up the manual online. It is kind of odd they don't mention this but do mention that the USB ports don't have any USB traffic if you put the ports into High Power mode for charging. That's a slightly different issue. However, it's indicative that the ports aren't USB 3.0 all the time.
OK, this sounds like my issue. I hadn't heard the Apple/LG has the problem also.

I'm anticipating getting a Thunderbolt 3 dock in the near future. So if I connect the monitor to it via DisplayPort and also connect the monitor's USB-C to it, hopefully that will allow those monitor ports to run at USB 3 speed.

I'll have to check that high power mode you mentioned too. Thanks!
 


I'm hoping someone in the community might help me out here. I have a Samsung T5, which, of course, has a USB-C port with the appropriate, and detachable, USB-C cable. What I would like to do, if this is possible, is connect the T5 to one of the DisplayPort/Thunderbolt 2 ports on my late 2013 MacBook Pro. Is there such a USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 cable?
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm hoping someone in the community might help me out here. I have a Samsung T5, which, of course, has a USB-C port with the appropriate, and detachable, USB-C cable. What I would like to do, if this is possible, is connect the T5 to one of the DisplayPort/Thunderbolt 2 ports on my late 2013 MacBook Pro. Is there such a USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 cable?
Unfortunately, no. Thunderbolt 2 is based on DisplayPort, not USB, and is equivalent to a PCIe card slot. You can connect a Thunderbolt 2 dock that has an internal USB controller and USB ports, or you could add a USB PCIe card to a Thunderbolt expansion box, but the Thunderbolt 2 port doesn't have a USB controller built-in, so there's no such thing as a simple "adapter" cable to convert between the two connection types.

Similarly, a Thunderbolt 3 device, such as Samsung's X5 SSD, does not work when connected via a USB cable to a non-Thunderbolt port (not even at a slower speed).
 


Unfortunately, no. Thunderbolt 2 is based on DisplayPort, not USB, and is equivalent to a PCIe card slot. You can connect a Thunderbolt 2 dock that has an internal USB controller and USB ports, or you could add a USB PCIe card to a Thunderbolt expansion box, but the Thunderbolt 2 port doesn't have a USB controller built-in, so there's no such thing as a simple "adapter" cable to convert between the two connection types. Similarly, a Thunderbolt 3 device, such as Samsung's X5 SSD, does not work when connected via a USB cable to a non-Thunderbolt port (not even at a slower speed).
Thanks for the reply, Ric. I guess I'll go the Thunderbolt 2 dock then.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Thanks for the reply, Ric. I guess I'll go the Thunderbolt 2 dock then.
I would actually recommend something else instead: getting a Thunderbolt 3 dock plus Apple's Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. That way, you get maximum possible performance now and in the future (when you might have a Thunderbolt 3 system). This would, for example, let you use a Samsung X5 SSD that you couldn't use otherwise with the older computer.

So far, I like the CalDigit TS3 Plus dock I got... at a higher price than I see on Amazon now.
 


I would actually recommend something else instead: getting a Thunderbolt 3 dock plus Apple's Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter. That way, you get maximum possible performance now and in the future (when you might have a Thunderbolt 3 system). So far, I like the CalDigit TS3 Plus dock I got... at a higher price than I see on Amazon now.
I just looked at it on Amazon, via the link you provided of course, and will be purchasing it as soon as I finish this reply. Thanks again. :)))
 


I just looked at it on Amazon, via the link you provided of course, and will be purchasing it as soon as I finish this reply. Thanks again. :)))
I like these hubs but I had to send one back because it caused OS errors when trying to charge USB peripherals. Earlier in this thread someone mentioned they had problems with the supplied Thunderbolt cable. I did not have another cable to test for that issue. The replacement has been solid so far.
 


The replacement has been solid so far.
Wouldn't you know it. Soon after posting this I saw a couple of the "USB Accessories Disabled" warnings from macOS, so apparently the problem with the CalDigit hub persists. I was going to recommend this model to a colleague, but now I am not sure I want to risk being blamed.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I've talked about Thunderbolt problems before, and here's a clear description of one Apple bug that should now be resolved, though similar ones apparently remain:
SoftRAID said:
FAQ: Disappearing Disks
We now know that a problem in the macOS system software is the cause of disks ejecting while in use. This problem is fixed from macOS 10.12.2 onwards.

We strongly recommend that you upgrade to macOS 10.12.2 or any later macOS version if you have encountered this problem. If you are unable to upgrade, you can use the instructions below which prevent the problem in most, but not all, configurations.
...
Important Note: If you have upgraded to macOS 10.12.2 or later and your disks are still being ejected while in use, we want to hear from you. Please collect a SoftRAID Tech Support Report and send it to our support engineers so we can determine if it is a new problem.
 


I've talked about Thunderbolt problems before, and here's a clear description of one Apple bug that should now be resolved, though similar ones apparently remain...
I am still having this problem. I woke up my computer this morning to see a “disk not ejected properly” error message for an external drive I have connected directly to the laptop’s Thunderbolt port. macOS 10.14.2
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
An update on USB-C ("USB-C: Universal Confusion") and issues of quality, security and more:
TidBITS said:
USB Group Moves to Validate USB-C Devices for Safety and Security
The industry group that manages USB 3.0 has launched an authentication program for USB-C in an effort to block inadequate cables and malicious devices from connecting to computers and mobile devices that support the compact, reversible connector. This group’s leadership includes Apple, Intel, and Microsoft, making it likely the standard will receive wide adoption.

Some inexpensive cables that don’t meet the USB-C spec for carrying high-wattage power have started fires or destroyed computers. Less dramatically, some subset of cables and adapters from little-known suppliers don’t perform as promised, can’t carry high data rates or power, or fail to work consistently.

Malicious USB hacks abound as well, and flaws in the USB “stack,” or the low-level software that manages USB on host hardware, has revealed the potential for exploits that can exfiltrate data or compromise a computer, phone, or tablet. Simply plugging in a USB cable or connecting to a USB charger could enable a malicious device embedded in the cable or charger to hijack data or take over a device.
 


I am still having this problem. I woke up my computer this morning to see a “disk not ejected properly” error message for an external drive I have connected directly to the laptop’s Thunderbolt port. macOS 10.14.2
I'll add a "me, too." I have a 2TB Samsung 860 EVO in a Satechi USB-C enclosure that I set up for Time Machine on my wife's new MacBook Air. It's dismounting itself with alarming frequency, which makes it useless for its intended purpose.
 


I am still having this problem. I woke up my computer this morning to see a “disk not ejected properly” error message for an external drive I have connected directly to the laptop’s Thunderbolt port. macOS 10.14.2
I see this problem sporadically with discs connected to my OWC Thunderbolt 2 dock from my 2017 iMac, via an adapter to one of its Thunderbolt 3 ports, under macOS 10.13.6. I believe I first saw the ejection issue under the previous version of macOS 10.13. The disks are USB.
 


I had this [disk disconnection] problem with externally connected hard drives off of an OWC eSATA card. The only fix I found was not to let the computer go to sleep in the energy control panel.
 


I just ran across an AppleInsider article about a new Corsair/Elgato Thunderbolt 3 dock announced at CES last week. Key features:
  • Rear-facing ports:
    • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports - one providing up to 85W of power for an attached computer
    • Two USB 3.1 gen 2 (10 Gbit/s) type C ports
    • Gigabit Ethernet
    • DisplayPort
    • 3.5mm amplified analog audio output
  • Front-facing ports:
    • Two USB 3.1 gen 1 (5 Gbit/s) type A ports
    • 3.5mm headset (analog microphone input, amplified audio analog output)
    • SD and microSD slots (UHS-II compatible)
  • Support for dual 4K 60Hz displays or a single (Thunderbolt) 5K 60Hz display
  • Includes a Mac menubar utility to eject/undock all devices at once
  • Audio output supports up to 96 KHz / 24 bit resolution
Pre-order price is $350 at Amazon. Shipping date is unknown at this time.
 


I've talked about Thunderbolt problems before, and here's a clear description of one Apple bug that should now be resolved, though similar ones apparently remain:
My OWC Dock (into which are plugged several USB drives) disconnects every day - always around lunch time. As my monitor loses signal - it's also connected via the dock - it's clearly a Thunderbolt issue. It's very annoying and whilst I've never had any data corrupted, you cant help but feel it's like playing Russian roulette.
 


My OWC Dock (into which are plugged several USB drives) disconnects every day - always around lunch time.
There is also the scenario with these Thunderbolt docks when you do want to dismount all of the connected drives and take your laptop elsewhere and avoid those "disk not ejected properly" messages.

For my new MacBook Pro and the connected LaCie 2big (connected via USB 3), I found that I also had to sleep the laptop before disconnecting from the dock, or else I was getting an intermittent problem where the drive would not mount when reconnecting to the dock (blinking light on drive requiring a power cycle to be able to mount).

I pieced together an Automator workflow from detritus I found on the web to unmount the drives and then sleep the laptop. This seems to work for now, but I am not confident it is the optimum solution.
 


What does OWC say [re unexpected/unwanted disconnects]? The only way I found to get rid of the "disk not ejected properly" message is to go to Energy Saver and set Disk Sleep to Never.
 




Most. Confusing. Branding. Ever.
Apple Insider said:
USB 3.0 & USB 3.1 merger into USB 3.2 branding by overseers further confusing USB-C

Announced as part of Mobile World Congress, the USB-IF is absorbing the prior USB 3-based specifications into USB 3.2, making all three versions use the same name but under three different generations.

What was previously referred to as USB 3.0, and at one point USB 3.1 Gen 1, will instead have the technical name USB 3.2 Gen 1, due to being the earliest of the three generations, reports Toms Hardware. USB 3.1, also known as USB 3.1 Gen 2, is being renamed USB 3.2 Gen 2.

To add to the confusion, the unreleased USB 3.2 will not follow the expected convention of being called USB 3.2 Gen 3, but instead will be known as USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. The odd numbering change is in reference to its maximum data transfer rate of 20Gbps, which it achieves by using two 10Gbps channels, namely double the amount of channels used by USB Gen 2.

The spec names have nothing to do with the physicality of the connector. USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 can connect with the rectangular USB-A or the USB-C connector. USB 3.2 gen 2x2 is limited to USB-C only. Thunderbolt 3 branding and naming remains unchanged.

For marketing purposes, USB-IF suggests a slightly more logical naming scheme. While USB 3.2 Gen 1 should be called SuperSpeed USB, Gen 2 is to be termed SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps, with the inclusion of the speed to denote it as faster than Gen 1. USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 is being given a similar marketing term of SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Most. Confusing. Branding. Ever.
It's idiotically, absurdly confusing - apparently no one involved has the slightest clue about how to communicate clearly.

At this point, I think the only sane way to describe these USB 3 devices (which we all have to do) is like this, ignoring the massive confusion and changes involved in the USB-IF’s sub-version/naming insanity:

speed USB 3 connector with power delivery

So, I have a bunch of 5Gbps USB 3 devices with Type A, Type B, Micro-B and Type C connectors. They work with different USB ports via adapter cables.

I also have 10Gbps USB 3 devices with Type C connectors, and these work with different USB ports via adapter cables (but only at 5Gbps when that's all the port supports).

And USB dock/charger ports support Power Delivery of varying amounts, e.g. a CalDigit TS3 Plus dock offers 85W power delivery via its Type C port.

Some so-called "USB" connectors support alternate modes that aren't actually USB protocols - DisplayPort, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, etc.* - and this can be massively confusing. For example, a single MacBook Pro Type C port can support 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 devices but only 10Gbps USB 3 devices, while a MacBook's identical-looking Type C port also supports 10Gbps USB 3 devices but not Thunderbolt 3 devices at any speed.

For alternate modes, I think we have to say something like:

40Gbps Thunderbolt 3
(presumes a Type C connector, the only option; leave out reference to "USB")

or make the combination clear:

40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 / 10Gbps USB-C

or

DisplayPort over Thunderbolt 3
(where an adapter cable switches the port to an alternate, non-USB mode)


(* For what it’s worth, it was also possible to send video over USB prior to USB-C, not through an "alternate mode" but rather via "isochronous streams" - see: Implementing and comparing video over USB.)
 


It's idiotically, absurdly confusing - apparently no one involved has the slightest clue about how to communicate clearly. At this point, I think the only sane way to describe these USB 3 devices (which we all have to do) is like this, ignoring the massive confusion and changes involved in the USB-IF’s sub-version/naming insanity:
speed USB 3 connector with power delivery
...
Here's a rather immodest proposal for color-marking the various types of cables. Please correct me if I've got anything wrong in this confusing mess.

With USB-C 3.2 looming on the tech horizon with at least three possible different names for data speeds, the whole USB-C naming system is becoming a complete disaster for Apple, I.T. support and consumers. In most cases, only the Thunderbolt 3 cables are clearly marked, with charge and USB 3.0, 3.1 and now 3.2 cables often not marked at all. I have seen charge cables with melted ends after being used to link large tablets to computers, and I believe other techs have reported damaged ports from similar incorrect cable usage. Here’s my immodest proposal for simplifying cable naming / marking conventions:

Charge cables

USB-C 2.0 and 3.0 charge cables transmit 60-100w of power and sync phones and small tablets, but can’t transmit audio, video or data to monitors, hard drives or computers.
  • green tape: USB 2.0 low wattage rated up to 60w
  • blue tape: USB 2.0 Apple charge cables rated for 100w

USB data cables

USB-C 3.0, 3.1 and now 3.2 cables transmit HD video, 60-100w of power and move data at 5 Gbps (3.1 Gen 1), 10 Gbps (3.1 Gen 2) and 20 Gbps (3.2 2x2) They can also do Target Disk Mode at slower speeds than Thunderbolt 3.
  • yellow tape: "USB 3.1 Gen 1" 5 Gbps (a.k.a. USB 3.0 “Fast Charge”)
  • orange tape: "USB 3.1 Gen 2" 10 Gbps
  • red tape: "USB 3.2 2x2" (should be named "Gen 3") 20 Gbps (a.k.a. “SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps”)

White tape

USB-C Thunderbolt 3 provides 40Gbps data transmission to external devices or computers (including Target Disk Mode), as well as audio, HD video and 100w of power.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here’s my immodest proposal for simplifying cable naming / marking conventions...
... USB-C Thunderbolt 3 provides 40Gbps data transmission to external devices or computers (including Target Disk Mode), as well as audio, HD video and 100w of power.
I think that cables are yet another layer in this mess, compounding the problem even further. I was talking about ports/connectors (and the controller circuitry behind them) and not even addressing the additional problems with cables, e.g.
  • active vs. passive Thunderbolt cables (different speed and power capabilities)
  • long vs. short Thunderbolt cables (different speed capabilities)
  • Thunderbolt/USB-C power capacity differences among identical-looking cables
  • power-only (charging) vs. power+data cables
  • video adapter cables (various capabilities and issues)
  • etc., etc.
all of which is separate from the other basic issues I was talking about. I'm not sure even a complicated color-coding system could sort out such a gigantic mess. We probably need a different approach... which might start by constructing a matrix or database of all the different variables.
 


I'm a simple Mac user who on rare occasions has resorted to hacks. With the new proposed USB standards, I'm getting lost. Sometimes I feel like I'm left in the distant areas of Mongolia. These new USB standards will take some time to understand. I have a Mac Pro 5,1 (late 2012), just wish there were a PCIe card that had Thunderbolt ports....
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
just wish there were a PCIe card that had Thunderbolt ports..
Unfortunately, there isn't any for the Mac Pro, and I don't think there ever will be any for older computers.

For what it's worth, though, I did find one from HP for specific HP computers:
B&H Photo said:
HP Thunderbolt 3 PCIe 2-Port I/O Card (3UU05AA)
Expected availability: 3-5 weeks
For the HP Z8 G4 & Z6 G4 Workstations
For the HP Z4 G4 Workstation
2 x Thunderbolt 3 / USB Type-C Outputs
2 x DisplayPort Inputs
And Gigabyte has one for specific Gigabyte motherboards that incorporate a special "Thunderbolt header" (not present on Mac motherboards):
Gigabyte said:
40 Gb/s Intel® Thunderbolt™ 3 Certified Add-in Card

The GC-TITAN RIDGE is compatible with GIGABYTE motherboards of that include a Thunderbolt™ header on below:
Intel platform: Z390/H370/B360-series

* Supported status may vary depending on motherboard specifications.
* Support for Windows 10 64-bit with RS3 or later.
ASRock has a similar product that also needs to be connected to a Thunderbolt header on the motherboard (and to DisplayPort connectors):
ASRock said:
Thunderbolt 3 AIC
  • Step 1. Align and install ASRock Thunderbolt 3 AIC into PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot on the motherboard.
  • Step 2. Connect ASRock Thunderbolt 3 AIC to the onboard Thunderbolt header with TBT Header Cable.
  • Step 3-1. Connect ASRock Thunderbolt 3 AIC with DisplayPort IN (A) and DisplayPort Port (B) by the supplied DisplayPort Cable.
  • Step 3-2. Connect ASRock Thunderbolt 3 AIC with Mini DisplayPort (A) and DisplayPort Port (B) by the supplied Mini DisplayPort to DisplayPort Adapter Cable.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Most. Confusing. Branding. Ever.
Confusing? You mean like how this is what these geniuses came up with?
Tom's Hardware said:
Forget USB 3.0 & USB 3.1: USB 3.2 Moving Forward
Both USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 are to be considered generations of the USB 3.2 specification. USB 3.1 Gen 1 (formerly known as USB 3.0), which offers speeds up to 5 Gbps, will be rebranded into USB 3.2 Gen 1 while USB 3.1 Gen 2, which supports communication rates up to 10 Gbps, will be called USB 3.2 Gen 2 moving forward. Since USB 3.2 has double the throughput (20 Gbps) of USB 3.1 Gen 2, the updated standard has been designated as USB 3.2 Gen 2x2.
 


I’m not a technophobe, nor am I a knee-jerk get-off-my-lawn type when new “kids” show up in my computing neighborhood, but my eyes glaze over when I consider the state of USB 3.x.?! and related phenomena such as the USB-C ports on newer Mac laptops. This kind of thing really needs to be clear, easy to understand, and fairly idiot-proof, and recent USB 3 specs and designations are not.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
If we wait long enough, maybe this USB 3.1/3.2 mess will get straightened out, as a future USB standard further merges with Thunderbolt:
Ars Technica said:
Thunderbolt 3 becomes USB4, as Intel’s interconnect goes royalty-free

Fulfilling its 2017 promise to make Thunderbolt 3 royalty-free, Intel has given the specification for its high-speed interconnect to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the industry group that develops the USB specification. The USB-IF has taken the spec and will use it to form the basis of USB4, the next iteration of USB following USB 3.2.

Thunderbolt 3 not only doubles the bandwidth of USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, going from 20Gb/s to 40Gb/s, it also enables the use of multiple data and display protocols simultaneously. We would expect the USB4 specification to be essentially a superset of the Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 specifications, thus incorporating both the traditional USB family of protocols (up to and including the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2) and the Thunderbolt 3 protocol in a single document. Down the line, this should translate into USB4 controllers that support the whole range of speeds.
 


How much of this mess (on the Apple side at least) derives from the decision to make every port a USB-C port, reducing their number to a max of 4, requiring yet more dongles and USB hubs to perform basic operations? I must cherish my 2015 MacBook Pro, the last model that actually had 8 real ports for each appropriate function. Did I mention it's the last one that had MagSafe... the one differentiating feature that made Apple laptops vastly superior to any other? And I thought I was having a tough time just keeping all the varied USB cable connectors straight.
 


Here's a rather immodest proposal for color-marking the various types of cables. Please correct me if I've got anything wrong in this confusing mess....
So while it may be very satisfying to complain about how poorly USB-C has been implemented and comment on how difficult it will make corporate and personal I.T. support, the reason I posted my proposal for marking the various types of USB-C cables with colored tape is to see if we can come up with systems to simplify and organize cable marking. We have some very experienced folks here on MacInTouch and might be able to set a good example for cable manufacturers at the very least, and at best, who knows what we might accomplish?

I've done mostly corporate Mac support for nearly 30 years and have already had issues doing both remote and in-person support for systems using USB-C cables. Setting up cable marking systems for the various types and speeds of cables should greatly simplify support and reduce costs for purchasing and deploying cable and adapter hardware.

Here's an example of how such a system would work in a support call. After an unsupported or unauthorized move of remote corporate customers you get a call saying, "I've hooked all the cables back up, but my USB-C monitor isn't getting signal, my 2017 15" MacBook Pro isn't charging, and my external USB dock isn't working." Just think how easy it would be to tell them, "Use cables marked with orange or red for your monitor, use cables marked with blue for your charger, and use any cables not marked green or blue for your external USB hub." The alternative would a long, frustrating call delving into cable types, possible markings by manufacturers, and trial-and-error testing of all these peripherals.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
...the reason I posted my proposal for marking the various types of USB-C cables with colored tape is to see if we can come up with systems to simplify and organize cable marking.
As I suggested before, I'm not sure that simple color labels can handle all the complexity involved here, unless you restrict the collection of cables within your own organization to a very small subset of the possibilities. Otherwise, it might be simplest to just attach text tags to the cables, identifying all the relevant attributes, e.g.
  • data speed (Gbps) or none (charging only)
  • USB only or Thunderbolt 3
  • power-handling (Watts)
  • optical or copper
  • active or passive
  • alternate modes (e.g. HDMI 1.4b, DisplayPort 1.2, 4K@60Hz, etc.)
 


Interesting direction for Thunderbolt and USB-C: convergence in the USB-4 specification. Wonder if it will bring a single cable type. But nice to know Apple chose wisely in interfaces this time, if not in cable multiplicity.
 


I’m not a technophobe, nor am I a knee-jerk get-off-my-lawn type when new “kids” show up in my computing neighborhood, but my eyes glaze over when I consider the state of USB 3.x.?! and related phenomena such as the USB-C ports on newer Mac laptops. This kind of thing really needs to be clear, easy to understand, and fairly idiot-proof, and recent USB 3 specs and designations are not.
I have a 2016 MacBook Pro with four Thunderbolt/USB-C ports. I have not really had problems with all of the various protocols and speeds so far. USB-C connectivity is not hard, in that you are looking for a physical connection, and all of my connections are simple physical connections to external devices like cameras and backup hard disks except I do have the LG/Apple monitor that connects to a Thunderbolt port that has charge, USB 2, plus two video streams. I could see how building your own monitor connection could really be complex and a pain. I just plugged in the cable that came with the monitor and it just works. I use the Apple brick plus cabling for charging my computer.

I turned an old leather CD player portable pouch into my cable container. It has two sides with zippers, so on one side I have my USB-C/Thunderbolt cables. They are fairly simple. I did buy a a couple of USB-C/Thunderbolt cables with specific USB physical connectors, such as to a USB connector with the ridge in the middle [USB 3.0 Micro-B] and another cable to connect to my iPhone. And I have one USB-C dongle to standard USB connection. Not very many special USB-C cables needed. When I purchased the Samsung T5, I picked up a short cable which fits in the external T5 case.

The second pocket has all of the various connectors that plug into the standard USB connectors or into the dongle from the first pocket. This second pocket has a rat's nest of so many different cables. So many various USB connector ends to connect to my camera, to charge up a mouse, to charge up my keyboard, to charge up my bluetooth car hands-off device, to charge up and/or connect to my headphones. There is some duplication of cable connectors but not much. Almost as bad as having a specific oil filter for every car. The problem with so many USB connectors long predates USB-C and Thunderbolt.

As far as dongles, I really do not carry very many. Note that it is not terribly costly to get a little USB3 adaptor to USB-C (they are about 1/2 inch or less long) for each of your existing USB cables , thus converting all of them to USB-C connectivity, and not use a dongle cable. It is the USB 2/3 connector mess that requires lots of cables. And I really like being able to power my MacBook Pro from either side.
 


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