How to add USB 3 to a Mac Pro for under 25 quid

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

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.

Inateck KTU3FR-4P

Inateck KTU3FR-4P USB 3.0 Expansion Card showing the FL1100 Chip

The bits you will need to add USB 3 to a Mac Pro for under 25 quid

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…

Modify the SATA power lead

Modify the SATA power lead being careful not to damage the connector itself.

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.

Fitting the extension lead

Fitting the extension lead to the hard drive bay SATA power socket.

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).

Remove cover plate

Remove cover plate

Now, plug the female end of the extension lead into the card’s SATA power connector

Connect SATA cable to USB 3.0 card

Connect SATA cable to USB 3.0 card

And gently push the card into the PCI slot.

The card fitted and almost ready to go

The card fitted and almost ready to go

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.

About This Mac

About This Mac (Mavericks)

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.

USB 3.0 added to your Mac pro for under 25 quid

USB 3.0 added to your Mac pro for under 25 quid

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.

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24 Responses to How to add USB 3 to a Mac Pro for under 25 quid

  1. H G May 18, 2014 at 18:03 #

    Hi, thanks for this, I have an early 2008 Mac Pro which I’m looking to upgrade a bit, and as my new external hard drives have USB 3.0 ports I was looking to add that connectivity. Can I ask, why do I need to get the additional cable when the Inatek seems to come with cables? Also can I power 2 of these using the SATA power from a hard drive bay? Any other upgrades you can suggest for this model would be much appreciated. Perhaps an SSD for the OS before I upgrade to Mavericks? New graphics card. BTW I’m not a techie but just trying to get most out of my existing kit. 🙂

    • steve August 3, 2014 at 21:16 #

      Hey… My Inatek card didn’t come with a cable – if you can find one with the right chipset that comes with the right cables to pick up power, then good for you! There’s no reason why you couldn’t drive a couple of these cards off a single SATA power outlet. Regarding SSDs, I’ve been running a Samsung 840 (250Gb) for several months, and it gets a good hammering. No issues whatsoever. I mounted it into a 3.5inch Icy Dock drive caddy (about 20 quid).

  2. cameron June 11, 2014 at 17:26 #

    Hi there, this is a great tutorial thank you. Do you know if this card is supported on a mid 2010 Mac Pro running Lion 10.7.5

    Thank you for your time.

    Cameron

    • steve August 3, 2014 at 21:18 #

      The Chipset is supported by the OS natively, so yes, it should work fine – not that I can guarantee it of course ;-), but I’d personally risk the 20 quid or so on the card to find out.

  3. Jason Dixon July 1, 2014 at 13:51 #

    Great article – just installed the Inateck in my 2008 MP and it’s working a treat. I’d have struggled with the correct cable if it wasn’t for this piece. Thanks!

    • steve August 3, 2014 at 21:19 #

      Glad it helped Jason! Have a great week!

      • Dietrich October 27, 2014 at 14:06 #

        Hi Steve,

        do you think an 8 inch cable will be sufficient?
        Because the 12″ at Amazon.de is a whopping €85…

        thx,
        Dietrich

      • steve December 4, 2014 at 12:24 #

        I’m pretty sure the lead I used was less than 12 inches long! The only way to check is to get the back off your mac 🙂

  4. Stuart P October 8, 2014 at 12:55 #

    Hi, great tutorial, can you tell me where I can connect the power supply if I am using all 4 of the internal bays for drives already?
    Thanks

    • steve December 4, 2014 at 12:27 #

      Hi Stuart – the only thing I can think of would be to get a supply off the CD/DVD drive molex connectors. There must be a lead for that on Amazon 🙂

  5. Dietrich October 23, 2014 at 16:19 #

    Hi Steve,

    thx for helping us out!

    It is really appreciated.

    Could you please tell me if this is the right card?
    http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00HJ1DULE/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=A5JH7MGCI556L

    And I don’t know about the cable,
    at Amazon Germany, the one you suggested cost a mere €85! auch.
    http://www.amazon.de/StarTech-com-Extension-Extender-SATAPOWEXT12-Electronic/dp/B00LK1YHES/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414077415&sr=8-1&keywords=StarTech+12+inch+15+Pin+SATA+Power+Male+to+Female+Extension+Cable

    But does the cable has to be 12inch?
    Because I can find another one, that is much cheaper, but it is ‘only’ 8 inch.
    Do you think it will be ok to fit this one in the Mac Pro?
    http://www.amazon.de/StarTech-com-SATAPOWEXT8-Power-Extension-Cable/dp/B0083TU7EE/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1414077470&sr=8-3-fkmr1&keywords=StarTech+12+inch+15+Pin+SATA

    thank you sir!

  6. Robbie October 28, 2014 at 13:13 #

    Steve, your a star!! I ordered the card and lead from Amazon UK using your links and they came in two days, lead first. I doctored the lead as per your instructions and fitted it, but when the card arrived the following day it had two leads included. One of the old 4 way molex drive connector to two SATA sockets. The other lead was similar to the one I bought except that it was a two way one. Handy spares.

    Very quick to do the whole job and worked first time. I can now use my LaCie Thunderbolt/USB 3.0 drive as an Aperture database that can be used on the macPro and also my Macbook Air.

    Thank’s again.

    • steve December 4, 2014 at 12:23 #

      Glad it helped!

  7. Robbie October 28, 2014 at 13:50 #

    Just a quick note. The two SATA leads supplied with the card are a bit short for this purpose anyway. So ordering the lead listed is still a good idea.

  8. Dave December 4, 2014 at 12:28 #

    Hi, this is great news – thanks for posting!

    I already have 2 internal HDDs will there be enough power ports available?

    • steve December 4, 2014 at 12:29 #

      Yep – there are 4 ports for HDDs in the aluminium mac pros

  9. Dave December 4, 2014 at 12:42 #

    Sorry – working on an early 2008 mac pro

  10. Dave December 4, 2014 at 12:42 #

    Great. thank you

  11. Richie Hatch December 6, 2014 at 17:36 #

    Hi ye

    Does this card mean I wouldn’t need the cable at all…???

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Optimized-Inateck®-Ports-Expansion-Version/dp/B00HJ1DULE/ref=pd_cp_computers_2

    Thanks

    Richie

    • steve December 10, 2014 at 10:47 #

      I wish I had time to check!

  12. Kevin December 29, 2014 at 19:42 #

    Hi Steve,
    Thank you so much for this article.

    I have followed your instructions step by step, The computer does not show the card under the USB section but instead it shows the card under the PCI Card section. in the driver installed column it says no. Is there any suggestion to solve this?

  13. Kevin December 29, 2014 at 20:21 #

    Hi there Steve,
    i think i’ve solved the issue. There is a Windows version and a mac Optomized version of the USB 3.0 card. It seems that the one I bought was the windows version:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00B6ZCNGM?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00

    I have now purchased the 7 port version of the Mac Optomized version below:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ports-Optimized-Inateck-Expansion-Version/dp/B00E3ONS94/ref=sr_1_27?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1419883644&sr=1-27&keywords=inateck+usb+3.0.

    Again thank you so much for your help.

    Thank you also to Dietrich for his comment that helped me realise the error I made.

  14. Artak January 6, 2015 at 02:38 #

    Thanks Steve!!

    I found Inateck-kt4004 with no any additional power with same controller, but how i can find person who can ship it to Armenia ? ((((

  15. AB April 1, 2015 at 19:18 #

    Hello Everyone

    FYI it’s hard (but possible) to use a couple of long SATA power cables and to run them through the case into the drive-bay area (where there is a spare SATA slot, unless you are running two disk-drives), I had to use a scalpel to trim some excess plastic off the side of my cable though to get it to fit through a small gap at the front left of the case. This is good if you want all of your 4 drive bays to be free.

    There are some USB3 cards that do not require to be powered by a SATA power cable, notably this one from Inateck http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ports-Inateck-PCI-E-Expansion-Version/dp/B00HJ1DULE/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1427911160&sr=8-5&keywords=usb+3+mac
    I’d be interested to know if there is any speed difference between a powered USB3 card or not…. I suspect that if you are using external drives that are themselves powered then there is no difference in speed, so this is something you might want to consider.

    also, what I think is really worth mentioning is that USB3 seems to drastically impair the bluetooth signal… This seems to depend on the wiring of whatever device you are lugging in to the UB3 ports, and how well shielded it is, but personally I found that my bluetooth apple magic mouse was unusable when using my LaCie 2big drive through USB3…..
    If you are using a wired mouse and keyboard then no need to worry really… But I really value the magic mouse…
    The bluetooth (and Wifi) has never been great on the aluminium Mac Pro’s and my remedy for this was to buy an external bluetooth adapter. I purchased the Iogear bluetooth 4.0 USB micro adapter and I have this attached to a long USB extension (so the USB bluetooth adapter is placed as close to my mouse and keyboard as possible) that is plugged into one of the Mac Pro’s USB2 ports.
    This is the bluetooth adapter http://www.amazon.co.uk/IOGEAR-GBU521-Bluetooth-Micro-Adapter/dp/B007GFX0PY
    This bluetooth adapter uses the Broadcom BCM20702 chipset, so is supported by Mac OSX (so, no drivers are needed)…
    Note that to make the bluetooth adapter ‘live’ you have to tell your Mac to use a different bluetooth device by signing up as an Apple developer (no worries about this), downloading Hardware IO tools, and then installing the Bluetooth Explorer app. In this app you can then go to ‘HCI Controller Selector’ and then select the ‘Broadcom’ bluetooth rather than the Apple bluetooth.
    The app states that it will not remember these preferences, but this isn’t true – it remembers and uses the USB bluetooth adapter from then on. Note that you have to pair your bluetooth devices with the new USB bluetooth adapter before they start working.
    Sadly fitting a USB bluetooth4.0 adapter does not suddenly allow new features like Continuity and Handoff…. For these features you need a WiFi AC card such as the one MacVidCards sells..
    Personally I have no interest in using Handoff and Continuity, but I do think the USB bluetooth 4.0 solution is a really worthwhile solution..

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