Some new MacBooks appear to be suffering from USB problems

MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2020)
(Image credit: Future)

It seems that some people who are using the MacBook Pro 13-inch (2020) and MacBook Air (2020) are encountering problems when plugging in USB 2.0 accessories via a hub or adapter.

According to MacRumors, the problem seems to be quite widespread, with frustrated users complaining about it on the MacRumors forum, Reddit and the Apple Support forum.

It appears that devices connected via a hub would suddenly stop working, and it seemingly affects all kinds of devices such as mice, keyboards and audio devices.

Because modern MacBooks only come with USB-C ports, if you need to plug anything in that doesn’t use USB-C, you have to use an adapter or a hub.

Users are reporting that these devices stop working at random times, and seems to happen more often if more than one USB device is plugged into a hub.

Some are also reporting that their MacBooks become unresponsive as well as the USB devices disconnecting.

USB 2.0 woes

Over on Reddit, a user has found that this problem seems to be affecting USB 2.0 devices and not USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 devices, and seems to be related to how those devices are handled in macOS Catalina. Whether or not this is a hardware or software problem is unclear at the moment. Hopefully it’s a software issue that can be fixed with an update.

We’ve contacted Apple to find out more about this issue. Some people have reported that their affected MacBooks have been replaced, but the issue persists with the new laptops as well.

The aforementioned user noticed that using a CalDigit Thunderbolt hub solved the problem, due to the way it takes “the USB 2.0 input, terminates it, and presents it as a fresh input that is USB 3.0 to the ‌MacBook Pro‌. Everything is good in this scenario.”

CalDigit’s USB hubs are great devices, but they are also pretty expensive, so hopefully Apple is working on a fix that means people can use their more affordable USB hubs again. We’ll update this story as soon as we hear back from Apple.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. He’s personally reviewed and used most of the laptops in our best laptops guide - and since joining TechRadar in 2014, he's reviewed over 250 laptops and computing accessories personally.