Does the Macbook Pro 2018 have USB ports or require a USB-C hub?

Does the Macbook Pro 2018 have USB ports or require a USB-C hub?

Lenovo USB-C Hub

Yes. It has 4 USB-C ports. You must also get the Lenovo USB-C Hub, 7 In 1 Type C Adapter With USB-C PD Power Delivery, 4K HDMI, SD/TF Card Reader, 3 USB 3.0 Ports Compatible For USB-C Devices for the Macbook Pro 2018.

Related: Why I bought a Macbook Pro 2018

In total there are 5 ports in a Macbook Pro 2018.

  • 4 USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports. 2 on each side.
  • 1 Headphone Jack (3.5mm) port.
  • No other ports!

Let us go through some key concepts to understand why you must buy a USB-C hub for your Macbook Pro.

  • Port vs Cable vs Protocol
  • USB 3.1 vs USB 3.0 vs USB 2.0 vs USB 1.1 vs USB-A vs USB-B vs USB-C
  • Backward compatibility
  • Thunderbolt 3 vs USB 3.1

Cable vs Port vs Protocol

Port is a socket (or hole) in a device (Computer, Laptop, Printer or Musical Instrument).

Cable is a wire that connects two devices by plugging into their ports. E.g, Cable connects a Laptop to a Printer.

Protocol is a set of rules or procedures for transmitting electronic data between two devices.

USB Cable Types USB Port on laptops (and other devices) Protocol Version Found in

USB Type A

USB-A cable

USB Type A port on a laptop

USB-A port on a laptop

USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 Majority of computers and laptops still have USB-A ports and support USB 3.0 and older protocols. E.g, Flash cards, USB keyboards, etc.

USB-B Connector

USB-B Cable

USB-B port in a music keyboard workstation

USB-B port in a music keyboard workstation

USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0 Printers and Musical instruments often have USB-B ports. The other end of these cables are usually USB-A or USB-C.

USB-C Connector

USB-C Cable

USB-C Port

USB-C Port on Macbook Pro 2018

USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3 Latest laptops have USB-C ports. The protocol is either USB 3.1 or Thunderbolt 3.

Backward Compatibility

If a laptop supports USB 3.1 protocol it can still accept data from another device that supports USB 2.0 or older versions. This is called backward compatibility.

Thunderbolt 3 vs USB 3.1

When a device exposes a USB-C port, it either runs the Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.1 protocol. Macbook Pro 2018 runs the Thunderbolt 3 protocol. Thunderbolt 3 protocol is capable of accepting 40 Gigabits per second (Gbps), versus 10 Gbps for USB 3.1 protocol. If you connect a Macbook Pro 2018 to another Macbook Pro 2018 via a USB-C cable, the transfer will happen 4 times faster than a Macbook Pro 2018 connected to a laptop transmitting in USB 3.1. The Thunderbolt 3 cable can also supply up to 100w power from an adapter. The Macbook Pro 2018 power adapter/charger is 87w.

This brings us to:

What is a USB-C hub and why do you need it?

I have many devices and USB-A cables lying around. My Roland FA08 88 Key Workstation has a USB-B port. I had bought a Belkin USB-B to USB-A cable, to connect my music workstation to my 2016 Macbook Pro. All my flash cards connect to my laptop using USB-A interfaces. My headphones and couple of remotes have USB-A cables attached to them. I’m sure it is a similar scenario for most people. So, there are two options.

Option 1: Buy USB-C to USB-A or USB-C to USB-B cable

I can plug in 4 at a time as my Macbook Pro 2018 has 4 USB-C ports.

USB-A to USB-C cable.

USB-A to USB-C cable.

USB-C to USB-B cable

USB-C to USB-B cable

Option 2: Buy a USB-C Hub

Existing cables plug into the Lenovo USB-C Hub. The Lenovo USB-C Hub plugs into the Macbook Pro 2018.

Lenovo USB C Hub, 7 In 1 Type C Adapter With USB C PD Power Delivery, 4K HDMI, SD/TF Card Reader, 3 USB 3.0 Ports Compatible For USB C Devices

Lenovo USB-C Hub, 7 In 1 Type C Adapter With USB-C PD Power Delivery, 4K HDMI, SD/TF Card Reader, 3 USB 3.0 Ports Compatible For USB-C Devices

 

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