So I have this Macbook Pro 17 inch from 2011, you know…from when Apple seemed to give a shit about making well built and powerful laptops. It’s the same one I repaired the graphics card on by putting the motherboard in the oven on high, several times. Anyway, it’s an i7 with a nice big screen which is great for when I’m programming and still really beefy even when compared with modern Apple laptops. So I want to hold on to it as long as I can. The only problem is that it has no USB-C port.
Without a USB-C port I find there’s a few bits and pieces I can’t use without also hauling around an adaptor. I hate having to carry a support team worth of crap just for a laptop. So here’s how I added USB-C to my Macbook. First thing you’re gonna need is one of these…
It’s a USB-C female to USB3 male adaptor. Although my laptop also doesn’t have USB3, fortunately USB3 is backwards compatible with USB2.0 which therefore means this USB-C adaptor is quite happy to talk to my USB2.0 port. Easy way to prove that, plug it in and try it. So anyway, first step is to cut this little bastard open. Get the hacksaw/Dremel and cut it open until you have the following…
Now, put some bandaids on (because we both know you didn’t even try to cut it open the proper way and just hacked at it until it was done and now you’re bleeding everywhere) and separate the USB3 plug from the circuit board. I used a hot air gun for this, but it can be done with a soldering iron too. It’s just more difficult.
So, put some aloe on those burns (we both know you tried to do it with the soldering iron instead of using the correct tool for the job and have now burnt the shit out of yourself) and take a look at the USB3 plug you just removed.
You’ll notice one side has 4 tabs and the other has 5 tabs. Those 4 tabs are required for USB2.0 compatibility and the other 5 are fancy pins that are used for USB3 to help it achieve those faster speeds. Anyway, forget those. We only care about the 4 USB2.0 tabs. So, on the USB-C and circuit board, locate the solder points for those and solder a wire on to each pad. The other end of those wires need to be soldered to their relevant pins directly on the motherboard of your Macbook. In the image below I’ve highlighted the 4 pins to attach to…
Just pick whichever of the 3 usb sockets on the motherboards is easiest and solder it up. Now, cut or file a slot into the side of the Macbook chassis and slot that USB-C socket in. Job done. Now you can use some USB-C devices with your Macbook. Don’t get too excited though. You won’t be powering anything major with it, but a mouse, phone, SDCard reader etc. will work fine.
11 comments on “Adding USB-C to a Late Model 2011 Macbook Pro…sorta” Add yours →
I’m curious why didn’t use the USB-C female to USB3 male adaptor as is. What additional functionality did you achieve by this technique. Was it simply to not have to fiddle with an adaptor each time?
Yeah that’s exactly what it was. I often lose or someone would borrow the adaptor. It was easier to just have it built in and not worry about it.
Very Nice Marcel.
Please add a picture of what it looks like from the outside ! 🙂
This is a stupid question but does it still retain the ability to plugged either way (a la lightning cable)?
Yup. Still works.
from when Apple seemed to give a shit about making well built and powerful laptops. It’s the same one I repaired the graphics card on by putting the motherboard in the oven on high, several times.
What ? Well built -> I had to shove my laptop in the oven to reflow it.
You make no sense.
You sir, won the internet with this productive contribution. He says “seemed” btw.