USB 3.0 was added to the 2013 Mac Pro. For the rest of us, who are still rocking the older gear, adding a dedicated USB 3.0 card isn’t something Apple want to offer. There are a few of dedicated USB 3.0 cards for the Mac Pro, such as
- HighPoint RocketU 4-Port 1144C at an eye watering £137
- the CalDigit FASTA 6GU3 at £120 (ouch!)
- or the Inateck KT4004 at about $26 (but only available in the USA as far as i can tell).
However, other Inateck USB 3.0 cards are also available in the UK, and although the cards over here do require an external power supply, they are easy to fit and better still, they are based on the FL1100 FRESCO Logic chip. This is the same device used in Apple’s new Mac Pro machines so no drivers are required for Mountain Lion or Mavericks – it just works™ – it’s the cheapest way to add USB 3 to a Mac pro I have found.
The bits you will need to add USB 3 to a Mac Pro for under 25 quid
- Inateck Superspeed 4 Ports PCI-E to USB 3.0 Expansion Card – a whopping £18.99 from Amazon
- StarTech 12 inch 15 Pin SATA Power Male to Female Extension Cable – £5
- Dremmel or a file (only minor surgery required)
Step 1 – Prepare the power lead
Getting power to the board requires a 15pin SATA feed. This is based on the standard power connector used by SATA disks. A simple 12 inch (which is plenty if you are going to pick up the power from the drive bay nearest the back of the machine) lead should suffice.
The drive bays have a combined SATA power and data connector as they are intended, obviously, for hard disks. In order to get the extension lead to plug in we need to do a little surgery. Enter the Dremmel – or a file…
As shown above just trim away the shoulder from one end of the male connector. This will not prevent a proper and secure location of the connection, because there is still the shoulder at the other end, and the tiny lip/key on the other end of the connection edge itself. Once you have doctored the lead correctly, and removed any debris.
Step 2 – Fit the male end into the drive bay SATA power socket
Take the side panel off the Mac using the lever at the back. Pull out the drive caddy for the fourth drive bay (I’m assuming your aren’t already using it, otherwise you will have to work out how to get power from the CD/DVD drive with molex adaptors).
Now take the extension lead male end (the one you just modified) and plug it into the hard drive bay power feed. Make sure you have the remaining large shoulder/locator on the outside of the connector (the yellow wire) and the orange one on the innermost side. It should fit snug and secure. Leave the other end dangling for now.
Step 3 – Fitting the card into a PCI slot
Firstly, undo the two securing bolts that hold the expansion slot covers in place. If this is the first time, you may need a posi/philips head screwdriver to loosen them. Then, slide out the cover plate (the second one up from your graphics card if you have nothing else installed).
Now, plug the female end of the extension lead into the card’s SATA power connector
And gently push the card into the PCI slot.
That’s it – now just secure the expansion cards by refitting the expansion slot cover securing plate you removed at the start of Step 3.
Replace your side panel, and close the lever on the back of the machine, and that’s it – well done – you should be ready to go!
Step 4 – Testing all is well
Boot this baby up! There are no drivers to install, so the boot process should be as normal. Log in, and click on the Apple logo at the top left of the screen and choose About This Mac. Click the More Info… button to open a window showing you your basic system information. Click on the System Report… button.
Then in the next window expand out the Hardware section, and highlight the USB item as shown. You should now see at the top of the USB Device Tree your USB 3.0 objects. Plug in a USB 3.0 device and enjoy.
This tutorial was created using my Early 2008 Mac Pro (veritable Antique) and I have seen no issues with sleep/waking from sleep while having various USB 3.0 devices connected.