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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Connectivity for New MacBook Air

Connectivity for New MacBook Air
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ghporter
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Dec 23, 2021, 02:32 PM
 
We’re looking at replacing my wife’s Late 2008 13” Aluminum MacBook (a Unibody with removable battery and an Intel Core2 Duo 2GHz CPU) with a latest version MacBook Air. The Al MacBook has its RAM maxed out and I’ve put in a large SSD, but running El Capitan, the poor thing has substantial issues “keeping up.”

The issue I face is that there are two USB ports and a MagSafe charging port on the Aluminum MacBook, which also has a slot-loading optical drive, while the Air has two Thunderbolt/USB4 ports, and that’s it.

So since we are good users and have Time Machine running all the time, we need to connect external stuff, like a USB3 external hard drive for Time Machine. And maybe mort than one other USB2/USB3 device might come into play as well, like an external DVD drive for starters. So I’ve been looking at options. Honestly, there are way too many for me to sift through anytime before the heat death of the universe…

Do commonly available (and often generic) USB-C hubs work OK with Thunderbolt/USB4 ports? She spends much of her computer time seated at a desk, so a “docking port” sort of gadget would be a good choice for her. That would let us avoid needing a bunch of separate devices to keep track of and/or lose. I found this one on Amazon which looks promising, particularly for traveling with. Having an Ethernet option is always good.

I’d appreciate any advice here.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego
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Dec 23, 2021, 03:15 PM
 
USB-C is a subset of T-bolt, so everything USB-C is fully compatible with T-bolt. I’ve never had any problems.

I have an Anker hub with Ethernet and three USB3 ports. I’d link it, but it looks like they stopped making it.
( Last edited by subego; Dec 23, 2021 at 03:52 PM. )
     
reader50
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Dec 23, 2021, 06:41 PM
 
You could consider a used (late) 2013-1015 13" MBP. That gets you MagSafe, an SD card slot, 2x USB3 standard ports, and 2x TB2 ports. Native Windows booting. No on-board ethernet after 2012 unfortunately. And no USB-C. But 2015 or earlier avoids the funky keyboards, as well as the touch bar.

Going back to 2012 (non-Retina) gets you the Ethernet jack, and removable battery. Though OS support officially stops at Catalina. Later OSs require unofficial installations. It also drops you to one TB-1 port.

note: 4 cores in the 13" MBP did not happen until the 2018 model. With the funky keys, etc. If you need the cores, you might as well get the latest M1 version.

I don't have enough USB3 hub experience to offer advice.
     
ghporter  (op)
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Dec 26, 2021, 03:12 PM
 
I went with the new machine. Used MBPs were available, but not much less expensive, and would not arrive for quite a while.

So I’m probably going to order that hub/docking station and see how things go.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
subego
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Dec 26, 2021, 07:28 PM
 
Congrats! She’ll love it!

The only real advice I can give is to consider her approach to “dongle theory”.

The hub you linked means she doesn’t need a dongle for HDMI, SD cards, or Ethernet, but that makes it kinda large, so it’s less portable. Edit: it also has the pass-through charging port.

The kind of hub I have is smaller, but I need to carry a card reader and an HDMI dongle (it has Ethernet).

Which is better really depends on things like how the laptop gets used, whether it gets moved around a lot, how often she uses HDMI or SD cards, and what kind of system she has for carrying around miscellaneous laptop garbage.

Here’s the current Anker version of what I have. Looks even more svelte than mine and includes HDMI. Same price as the hub you linked.

https://smile.amazon.com/Anker-Upgra...ps%2C74&sr=8-4
( Last edited by subego; Dec 27, 2021 at 09:48 AM. )
     
ghporter  (op)
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Dec 27, 2021, 02:23 PM
 
The gadget turns out to be quite slender. Maybe a bit more than an inch wide, less than half an inch thick, and 4+ long. It also comes with a little fabric sleeve for travel.

We’re going to dive into setting up the MBA a little later. First, we’re going to review what’s on the old machine and weed out old documents and so on. Then on to the new machine!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
ghporter  (op)
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Dec 28, 2021, 11:43 AM
 
So far, the dongle/dock is working great. It lets us hook up things like the USB stick with my (ludicrously long) WiFi password on it, and it helped speed up the migration from my wife’s old MacBook by using Ethernet instead of WiFi.

I underestimated the dimensions a bit. It’s more like 1.5” wide and 6+” long. But it’s still pretty small, and should be easy too pack with as tiny as the MBA is.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
   
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