Cheap USB-C hubs cause Bluetooth and WiFi problems on the MacBook Pro

Bluetooth and WLAN problems with current MacBook models as well as series of the Pro series are repeatedly reported by users in forums and specialist magazines. In addition to speculation and rumors, there are also solid indications of the cause of the interference and dropouts in radio traffic: insufficiently shielded USB-C hubs. The distributors for the Thunderbolt 3 connection on the MacBook (Pro) either have too much technology inside that is not properly shielded, or cables that act as antennas and transmit interference signals, so that Bluetooth and WLAN dropouts occur. What you can do about it and what professional solutions there are for other problems, I have summarized for you here.

The problem with the router: USB 3.0 device interferes with WLAN and DECT

If the Bluetooth keyboard and the wireless mouse only work with intermittent interruptions or if the WLAN signal keeps falling off, a better shielded USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 hub can help!
If the Bluetooth keyboard and the wireless mouse only work with intermittent interruptions or if the WLAN signal keeps falling off, a better shielded USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 hub can help!

Apple MacBook Pro - USB-C hub causes interference

If you repeatedly notice Bluetooth and WLAN dropouts on your MacBook or MacBook Pro, then work on it for a while without USB-C accessories. If there are no problems with the wireless connections, the hub, dongle, adapter and co. Are to blame. The errors mentioned can occur, especially with inexpensive accessories, because the cables used are not shielded enough. As with the router problems in the post linked above, ferrite cores could help here - capsules that are clamped around the cable to prevent (or "capture") interference signals and thus prevent interference. A selection of ferrite core models can be found with this Amazon search.

Possible solution: Use the right Thunderbolt 3 port

If you don't want to spend any more money on ferrite cores or a new dongle for the time being, you can first try to use the hub, card reader or other accessories only on the right connection of the MacBook Pro. For some users this should have helped; sometimes only to contain the dropouts and disconnections with WLAN and Bluetooth, but at least. If you don't like this interim solution because you often have to upload or download larger amounts of data without the connection crashing, then you can't avoid buying a new, better-shielded USB-C hub.

Counselor: Bluetooth Problems on the Mac - 4 Measures to Help!

High quality, well-shielded Thunderbolt 3 hub

If you want to get rid of your problem-causing hub and replace it with a problem-free model, then it is very important that the cable for the connection between the interface on the laptop and the gadget is properly shielded. In addition, the technology in the hub should ideally be shielded so that it does not disrupt and interrupt radio communication via WLAN or Bluetooth. In various forums and in specialist magazines, I have been able to identify the following USB-C hubs for the MacBook Pro as problem-free solutions:

  • Adam CASA A01 - Thunderbolt 3 hub with HDMI, USB 3.0, SD card reader, USB-C (charging via USB-C PD 60W possible), Gigabit Ethernet
  • Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Dock - offers headphone and microphone connection, USB-A 3.0, Gigabit-Ethernet, Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort and power connection
  • i-tec Thunderbolt 3 docking station - SD card reader, USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, USB-C, HDMI, power, headphone or headset connection

Professional solution: Deactivate AirDrop and AirPlay

The Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL) feature anchored in the macOS operating system, which is used, among other things, for AirDrop and AirPlay is used, is also cited by some users as a cause of problems with the radio connection. I would only recommend deactivating the function for data exchange between Apple devices and between the Apple MacBook and compatible third-party devices if the solutions and devices shown above are of no use. How this works using terminal commands or the WiFriedX app, the shows this thread in the Apple Community. You can find information about WiFriedX and the download of the menu bar extension with this link.

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2 thoughts on “Cheap USB-C hubs cause Bluetooth and Wi-Fi issues on MacBook Pro”

  1. Hello, thanks for your article. For over a year, I have found the i-Tec Thunderbolt 3/USB-C Hub to have issues with Macbook 16 Intel and M1, with UI interference. Can you tell me if this hub is affected? Thanks in advance

    1. So I can only report from the Sonnet Echo 11 TB 3 Dock. It runs on my MBP M1 Max without any problems. As far as the other docks mentioned are concerned, unfortunately I can't give any experiences because I don't use them. That OWC TB3 Dock Apparently it works with the M1 Macs too, from what I've read so far.

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In the Sir Apfelot Blog you will find advice, instructions and reviews on Apple products such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, iMac, Mac Pro, Mac Mini and Mac Studio.