Plugable’s USB 3 Hubs and OS X

USB 3 support is still evolving on OS X. Below is a listing of the known issues affecting our hubs on OS X:

1. Updates specific to certain models of Apple computer are available that affect “USB 3 reliability.” Applying all updates from the App store on your USB3 Mac is recommended for best results, and seems particularly important on the following new models:

  • 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pro.
  • Mac Mini with USB 3.0
  • iMac with USB 3.0

Since many OS X updates are model-specific, we are unable to provide a listing of all relevant updates for your system. Apple’s built in Software Update via the App store is the recommended method to check for updates for your system. Sample updates relevant to particularly affected models are below:
http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1603

This update is recommended for all 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012) and Mac mini (Late 2012) systems.
It includes all features and updates from OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.2 plus system-specific enhancements and fixes for Late 2012 systems.

http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1609

This update includes graphics performance and reliability enhancements and improves compatibility with some USB devices.
This update is recommended for all Mac notebooks introduced in June 2012.

http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1542

This update is recommended for MacBook Pro (mid 2012) models.
The update includes fixes that improve graphics stability, external display support, and USB 3 device support.

2. VL812 based USB3-HUB7-81X 7 port units with firmware version 8571 are recommended for OS X users.

Units with v8564 are still shipping, which will have the following issues on OS X:

  • May not detect some USB Mass Storage devices connected to the hub.
  • USB Mass Storage devices connected to the hub before the hub is connected to the Mac are not detected. This issue also appears when you reboot your Mac and have to unplug/replug your USB 3 storage devices for them to be detected.
  • Ports 1-4 do not work if the AC power supply isn’t connected. If ports 1-4 do not work, please check your power supply and make sure the green light is lit.

Please see our Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrades blog post for details on how to perform this upgrade on a USB 3.0 capable Windows XP or later PC (or from a BootCamp partition on your Mac). Please contact support@plugable.com if you do not have access to a Windows XP or later PC with USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 does not work), or a BootCamp partition on your Mac (Parallels and other virtual machines do not work, only BootCamp).

3. VL811 based USB3-HUB81X4 4 port units with firmware versions prior to firmware v983/rev3198 may have an issue where USB storage devices connected to the hub do not resume from sleep properly. Please see our Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrades blog post for details.

4. Apple’s super drive does not work when connected to a hub.
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2801

The SuperDrive is designed exclusively for use with MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini’s that do not have a built-in optical drive. The SuperDrive must be directly plugged into the computer’s USB port, and cannot be used if connected to a USB hub.”

This is because the SuperDrive requires 1100 milliamps of power, substantially more than allowed by the USB specifications that hubs are designed to meet. As a result, the Apple SuperDrive will only work when connected directly to your Mac.

5. USB Audio devices (especially 5.1 and 7.1 USB sound cards and recording input devices) have been reported to have a variety of issues when connected via the hub. Details on this issue are in this thread on our support forum.

6. Other troubleshooting and information regarding OS X USB 3.0 Support are discussed on Apple’s support page here.

Please be aware that troubleshooting may be time consuming and we may not be able to resolve issues other than #2 and #3 above.

5 comments on “Plugable’s USB 3 Hubs and OS X”

  1. Jeff Reply

    Thanks for the great support in examining and resolving these issues. This kind of support makes me prefer Plugable as a vendor.

    • Jeff Everett Jeff Everett Reply

      Thanks for the kind words Jeff!

      For benefit of anyone else reading this and interested in updates, I’ll post additional details as comments to this post as the situation evolves, so please feel free to sign up for email notifications to comments for email updates.

      We don’t use customer email addresses for anything besides what you sign up for πŸ™‚

      Jeff Everett
      MCITP Enterprise Support Technician
      Plugable Technologies

  2. Andy Reply

    So, what’s the current status on VL812? I’s been almost 3 weeks since this post but still no follow up on the firmware update. And would I, if I buy today, even need any updates? I mean, you said “with firmware versions prior to 8571”, that implies units with version 5871 have no problems, is that so? And if so, is there a chance I will receive a unit with an earlier version?

    Also, one other question. You sell a 4 A power supply with this hub, that’s obviously not enough to provide 900 mA to all 7 ports. Not that that’s too important to me, but to make sure, will the hub work OK and provide full power to all ports if a connect a different, say, 8 A power supply?

    Thanks

    • Andy Reply

      Oh, and one other thing. It isn’t clear whether VL812 suffers the same out-of-sleep problem as pre-update VL811?

    • Jeff Everett Jeff Everett Reply

      Hi Andy-

      We’ve finally posted the update tool suitable for both our currently available hubs: http://plugable.com/2013/01/29/via-usb-3-0-hub-firmware

      Now that we have this update utility available I anticipate being able to more easily update to newer firmware versions as they are released.

      To be clear about known issues on, yes, we are aware of other issues with the 812 running v8571 such as the USB audio issues mentioned in #5 above. There have also been a very few sporadic reports of USB Mass Storage devices that were still not detected on this latest available version. These issues are part of the reason we are still recommending against Mac customers purchasing these hubs at all.

      Next, we cannot recommend using any power supply other than the one included with the unit. Both cost and regulatory concerns are involved with power supplies above 5v4a. Using a power supply like you’ve described would likely reduce the life of the hub or actually damage the unit, so this is definitely something we cannot recommend. Most users have a mix of high and low power devices (and some with their own power supplies such as printers, many external hard drives, etc) so in most cases this is not an issue. That said, this is something we’re looking into as we understand per port power availability is an important purchasing decision.

      Lastly, the issue with drives resuming from sleep was exclusive to the VL811 based units: we haven’t seen it on the VL812.

      Hope this helps!

      Best wishes-

      Jeff Everett

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