Are USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt compatible, is there an adapter presently on the market? If not can I upgrade my USB 2.0 to 3.0 on my Macbook?

I currently have a Macbook Pro 13' and have USB 3.0 1 TB external hard drives for my media needs. I would like to be able to use the speeds of Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 when moving things around. I have searched for an adapter without success, so if there is nothing currently available could I upgrade my USB ports?

  • Asked by Joshua T from South Abington Township
  • 2-Jan-2012
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6 Answers from the Community

  • Best Answer:

    In short the answer is no, there is no adapter at present.

    I agree though, there needs to be an adaptor, USB 3.0 is widely available, and affordable. I cannot afford thunderbolt drives, but I already own usb 3.0 drives, but i cannot utilize their speeds. An adaptor for my Macbook Pro would be hugely needed.

    • Answered by Jacob V
    • 3-May-2012
  • The Kanex Thunderbolt Adapter has arrived. Thunderbolt to USB 3.0 with eSATA or Ethernet and priced at $80.

    • Answered by Thomas W from Denver
    • 29-Jun-2014
  • As of Jan 2014 Kanex is working on a thunderbolt to USB 3.0 adapter. Hopefully it will be reasonably priced. Just search for "Kanex thunderbolt adapter". Other options are Belkin and Caldigit docks but they do much more and are $200-$300.

    • Answered by Den S from Oakland
    • 12-Jan-2014
  • If you have a thunderbolt port that you can connect a Belkin Thunderbolt Express docking (or similar) station that has 3 x USB 3.0 ports and then you will be able to enjoy the USB 3.0 speeds.

    • Answered by Fernando Jose P from Amsterdam
    • 7-Feb-2014
  • My mbp USB ports have become unreliable and as I use my mac for my work I've invested in a Belkin Thunderbolt Express Dock. it gives me 3 x USB 3 ports, 2 x Thunderbolt ports, audio in and out (3.5mm jacks) and Ethernet. Downside is it's not Bus powered but saves me buying another mac for a while.

    • Answered by Graham H
    • 22-Jul-2014
  • If your drive is truly a USB 3.0 drive, it can run in USB 2.0 mode only with your MacBook unless you get an interface converter. If you have an Express Card port, you can get ExpressCard to USB 3.0 adapters that will run the USB 3.0 drive at its full speed. There are Thunderbolt converters available, but they can be pretty expensive, and/or only operate at USB 2.0 speeds.

    The other option is to get the Seagate GoFlex Pro series of drives that allow you to switch the drive from USB 3.0 mode to FireWire 800 with an inexpensive adaptor. I've used these drives and interface adaptors, they work quite nicely, and the FW800 version is noticeably faster than the USB 2.0 mode while farlewss expensive than any Thunderbolt adaptor I have seen.

    • Answered by Tom R from Cupertino
    • 3-Jan-2012