USB 3.0 on Macbook Pro 2011

Lucky enough to have a Macbook Pro 17″ with an ExpressCard/34 slot? Then you’re not lucky enough to have built-in USB 3.0. We can fix that! You need to spend about 10 to 15 USD. Interested? Read on! It took me months just to find this post which gave me a 10 minute solution.

  • First, purchase the ExpressCard/34; It needs to be based on a NEC chipset, uPD720202. aliexpress.com or eBay are your best bets.
  • Install this kernel extension; this is not created nor hosted by me, don’t come here complaining :P
    [Update Jul 27 ’15: this link is broken on the other end. No surprise to me though. That’s why I already added a shadow copy of the file to this article months ago, please see below]
  • You must activate the ‘kext-dev-mode’;
    Shell commandsudo nvram boot-args="kext-dev-mode=1″
  • OS X 10.11 El Capitan has increased security on system files, you will need to disable this ‘rootless’ mode. OSXDaily has an excellent article on how to disable System Integrity Protection.

Reboot and enjoy!

(disclaimer: This is how it worked for me after months of googling and trying. Don’t give up easy :P)

Edit: shamelessly this destroyed my continuity activation done a few months back. Be careful!

Edit 2: After running the 2.0 version of the Continuity Activation tool my problems were solved.

Edit 3: For posterity, I placed the kext on my blog for download here, just in case.

Author: Remon Pel

WebDeveloper though not WebDesigner

23 thoughts on “USB 3.0 on Macbook Pro 2011”

  1. Hi Remon,Thank you for the post! I have seen the post you cited, however, it doesn’t seem that everything works properly there. Didn’t you install any drivers? What card exactly are you using? What cards have you tried? What model of Macbook do you have – late or early 2011?Regards,Dima. PS Look forward to reading your report on RAID0

    1. The Drivers I installed can be found in the second-bullet-line (“Install this kernel extension …”)
      The card I’m using is also listed; Any ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 card based on the NEC uPD720202 chipset is ok.
      I also tried the AKE NECXG BC628 and that one does NOT work.
      Mine is a Late 2011, but the hardware in both Early and Late are virtually identical. Most notable differences are;

      • Late has all SATA-III, whereas the Early model PERHAPS has one SATA-II port (optical bay)
      • Discrete graphics in Late is AMD6770M whereas the Early has AMD6750M

      On a final note; the RAID0 did not work out :(
      Yes; you CAN run 2 SSDs in RAID0 and have awesome speed, but unfortunately, according the software, the RAID0 is then “unpartitionable” and therefore a Recovery partition cannot be created. This means no “Find my Mac”, no “Back to my Mac”, no “Safari only Guest mode” and no handy Diagnostics start-up. This all made me put the two SSD’s in FusionDrive and accept the loss of (quite some) speed.

      1. Hi, Friend (I’m using google translator)!

        Thank you very much for your help. After two years finally through your download files and your information I was able to make the PCI Express Card Nec work on my Macbook Pro 2008.
        I just could not measure the speed of the board, but it’s working.
        Thank you very much

        Alberto
        (Brazil)

      2. Hi Remon,

        You told you used (any) ExpressCard on NEC uPD720202 chipset for Macbook 2011. But I saw some complains on web that such card could stuck in (older?) MacBook. I wonder if that possible on older versions with ExpressCard slot.

        1. Yes, I have vague recollection on that as well. I also remember in other situations, the card would come out entirely instead of the usb cable, which is bad if the machine is powered on. I would prefer stuck over too loose any day, but I can understand that is it undesirable. Not all cards are created equally, some are constructed better and don’t have this problem, but I really cannot say which is which. One could think this problem exists for cheap cards and not for expensive ones, but I can tell from experience; the price is not an indication :)

  2. hi Remon, thanks for your good work, but it seems like the kernel extension link is broken,is it possible that you revise it/share again, please?regards

    1. The link to the kext is broken indeed. This is – however – not up to me to fix; the file is hosted n Google Drive, it is not my file as explained in this article. But lucky for you and everyone else, I am a cautious man; I already added a copy of the kext here, please see the ‘edit 3’ line in the article :)

  3. Hello Remon, Many thanks for your original posting. I have now upgraded to El Capitan (10.11.2) and this no longer works for me. I wondered if you have also upgraded and experienced the same?

    1. I do not know, unfortunately. I have stopped using the USB3.0 interface when I realized I cannot boot from it. The planned hobby project involving a USB3 hub and 4 USB3-to-SATA bridges (to create a poor-mans RAID storage device) has been halted.

      The problem is most likely the new Root-less mode of OS X. You should try disabling it (boot to recovery, open Terminal and do

      Shell commandsudo csrutil disable

      ) and then attempt the above again. When you re-enable csr, you will loose USB3 again.

  4. Hey man, your are the best!! Al fin he podido dar utilidad a la ranura express card de mi macbook pro y también me has hecho ahorrar mucho dinero. Y de una forma tan sencilla!!!!!Thaks a lot!!!!BEST REGARDS

    1. [Rough Translation for non-spanish speakers, my Spanish is not great: Finally I have a use for the ExpressCard slot in my Macbook Pro and it also saved me a lot of money. And it was quite simple.]

      My pleasure :)

  5. Thanks for taking the time posting this for others.  This was the only driver which worked for my generic eBay specials (I tried three other kexts).

    I now have two MBP with USB 3.0 at a total cost of $14!

    Cheers!

    PS.  I didn’t have to use the dev-mode (OS X 10.9.5, Late 2011 17 MBP)

  6. Thanks to this site managed to install NEC 720202 in my macbook pro 2011 with El Capitan.

  7. I’m having problem with the driver like this

    and i think it’s because of Kext Wizard it used to show a name of HD

     

    it happened after i tried to install CAT 2.0 for CSR 4.0 i got Panic Kernel so i re-install El Capitan from internet recovery to get out of Panic Kernel and it still working fine. But after i tried to do CAT again i got the same Panic Kernel but this time i use DiskmakerX and cause the problem

    Do you have any suggestion?

    1. Sorry, but I don’t know how to help you. I haven’t used any tool to install the kext, I just downloaded the kext, added the boot-arg, booted to single user mode to disable SIP, copy the kext to the correct folder, reboot to normal mode and it worked. Wish I could help you out, but unfortunately, I no longer have the hardware to replicate the procedure to confirm these steps :(

  8. Thanks, this worked very easily for me.  I have a flush mounted twin USB 3 card labelled uPD720202 which had been working OK in my late 2011 17″ Macbook Pro till MacOS upgrade to Sierra (can’t recall what previous version was).

    My actions were:

    Disable System Integrity Protection: Boot to recovery (CMD + R), enter  csrutil disable; reboot  in Terminal
    Download Kext from this page and follow instructions for OSX Yosemite.
    Switch off, insert card, restart.  That’s it

    Transfer of 4.85 GB folder containing 4 video files from fast USB stick to internal SSD now takes 21 seconds = 1850 Mbits/sec which is the specified maximum speed of the stick so I don’t know how much faster the card could go.  The same transfer using USB2 port took  134 seconds = 290 Mbits/sec which seems slow.

  9. Thank you for your tutorial. It has worked fine for me with Yosemite.

    Although having it stuck in the expresscard now haha.

     

     

  10. Thank you for this! I do have the same chipset and followed the directions. However, the desired outcome was a fail. I can power the devices plugged in to the expresscard but the applications are not able to detect the attached devices.

    ExpressCard:

    Name: pci1912,15
    Type: USB eXtensible Host Controller
    Driver Installed: Yes
    MSI: Yes
    Bus: PCI
    Slot: PCI Slot 3
    Vendor ID: 0x1912
    Device ID: 0x0015
    Subsystem Vendor ID: 0xffff
    Subsystem ID: 0xffff
    Revision ID: 0x0002
    Link Width: x1
    Link Speed: 2.5 GT/s

    1. Sorry that it doesn’t work for you. There’s not much I can do about it. The details suggest the USB interface is working, so I have no idea why you can’t get a device to be recognised. In System Information, there is a USB panel that lists (in tree form) all USB hubs and devices, do you see the USB hub (the card) there? I found this thread; https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/usb-3-0-card-on-the-cheap.1238494/ where a user mentions problems with a USB3 card with the same Device/Vendor ID (pci1912,15), and refers to a patched kext here: https://www.insanelymac.com/forum/topic/236209-lacie-usb-30-drivers-are-here-for-os-x/?page=8#entry1856809 but in all fairness; I cannot confirm this will help, the card (1912,15) is not mentioned there, and I really REALLY don’t know what they have patched in there.
      Base on the device ID (0x1912 0x0015), I can see this is a Renesas Technology Corp. uPD720202 USB 3.0 Host Controller, so definitely NEC720202 based. The driver has support for 0x00151912, as confirmed by the Info plist in the kext package. So there really is no reason this should not work.
      I did read somewhere that USB Hubs on the card are not supported, so if you used that, try a direct connection. Try something simple, like a keyboard and see if that works. As for beyond that, I’m out of ideas :(

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