Adding a USB 3.0 Expresscard/34 to your MacBook Pro

One of the best uses I found for the ExpressCard/34 slot on my Early 2011 17″ MacBook Pro is in the form of a USB 3.0 expansion card. My computer has three USB 2.0 ports and an empty ExpressCard slot (thank you Apple!). So with this Startech device I’ve added an extra USB 3.0 port, and preliminary tests show it’s up to 3x faster transferring files to my USB 3.0 hard drive.

Where to get them:

You can use any expresscard/34 USB 3.0 adapter that has the µPD720200 or µPD720202 (uPD720200 or uPD720202) controller, and in fact there are some very cheap ones on eBay these days too, including ones that are entirely flush (i.e., they don’t stick out at all so you can leave them in all the time) and have two ports instead of just one. There are some Mac-specific cards too, but the hardware is identical and you pay extra for the privilege.

Startech USB 3.0 Expresscard/34 adapter

The problem…

Most of these generic (or Windows) cards will not work out of the box though, and all the instructions I found on the internet for getting them to work are a colossal headache and flawed. I even thought of titling this post “omfg usb expresscard mac how-to” because it would probably get more traffic that way from all the frustration that’s been caused.

The problem is, there are no native Mac drivers for these generic cards. Previously the best workaround was to create a USB boot disk loaded with FreeDOS and some utilities to re-flash the card with a vendor and device ID that made it look like one of the Mac-specific cards, and then use the driver for that Mac-specific card. This is perfectly fine, and may actually be preferable if you can get it to work. The thing is, building a bootable USB disk in Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks for FreeDOS was next to impossible (at least for me).

Instructions for installing generic drivers for generic USB 3.0 adapters on Mac OS X

Earlier in 2013, a fellow named Zenith432 created a generic driver for USB 3.0 interface adapter cards such as the one I tried to get working (called GenericUSBXHCI.kext). Simply download this file, then enter the following into Terminal to complete the install:

  1. open /System/Library/Extensions/

Drag and drop the GenericUSBXHCI.kext into this folder. It will ask you to authenticate with your Mac OS X admin password. Then enter the following three line into Terminal.app:

  1. cd /System/Library/Extensions/
  2. sudo chmod -R 755 GenericUSBXHCI.kext
  3. sudo chown -R root:wheel GenericUSBXHCI.kext

Restart, and your new USB 3.0 expresscard/34 adapter should now be working!

NOTE: The generic driver used in this post does not work with Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite, as of the Public Beta. The developer still appears to be active, but no idea yet if/when Yosemite compatibility will come. If you are rely on these drivers and are considering upgrading to Yosemite, know that they do not yet work and you will no longer have USB 3.0 access to your devices.

Explore posts in the same categories: Elegant Mac, Technology

85 Comments on “Adding a USB 3.0 Expresscard/34 to your MacBook Pro”

  1. Dbh Says:

    Dear Community. The Google Drive Link does not work anylonger. Could someone PLEASE reupload the file? I am very interested in getting my card working and searched through the whole internet… Thanks.

  2. HELPUS Says:

    HEY “srhardy”

    THE LINK DOES NOT WORK ANYMORE IS ANYBODY THERE TO HELP US????

  3. heifon Says:

    This kext (http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/files/file/150-patched-appleusbxhci/) should work for those of you that are posting that the other kext is no longer available:

  4. Kenneth L. Says:

    I was able to get my new GMYLE expresscard 34 dual USB 3.0 card to work in my MBP 2010 15″ model, using

    http://petesentme.com/tutorials/how-to-add-usb3-to-macbook-pro

    however, it only worked at the 480 Mbps speeds, not at “super speed”.

    In addition, the GMYLE card would not power my external WD 1Tb USB 3.0 hard drive – only thumb drives (SSD). I’m now just using at extra USB ports and it will power my USB cooling fan – gives me extra ports anyway and is flush mounted.

    Any help on how to get Super Speed working on this card?

  5. Kenneth L. Says:

    Ok – on the third try, the GMYLE did finally power the WD “My Passport” external USB 3.0 hard drive by just plugging it into the card (which had to be in the slot during boot-up; the card, not the hard drive).

    Apparently, it is on the “edge” of having enough power to run it.

    It also showed up under the “Super Speed” USB Bus instead of the “Hi-Speed” USB bus and claims to have 5 Mbps speed, but I will now test the transfer speeds.

    Thanks for all the comments on this thread prior to mine – they greatly helped.

  6. Kenneth L. Says:

    Transferring 19.5 Gb of audio files took about 4-1/2 minutes; this is about 580 Mbps real-world speed. This it at least 2 to 3 times faster than USB 2.0 on my older MBP. Not too shabby…

  7. Kenneth L. Says:

    This is what shows up under System Information for PCI Bus using the GMYLE card in my 2010 MBP 2.5 GHz ExpressCard 34 slot and using the MultiBeast kext installer (Generic USB driver):

    Type: USB eXtensible Host Controller
    Driver Installed: Yes
    MSI: Yes
    Bus: PCI
    Slot: PCI Slot 3
    Vendor ID: 0x1b21
    Device ID: 0x1042
    Subsystem Vendor ID: 0x174c
    Subsystem ID: 0x2104
    Revision ID: 0x0000
    Link Width: x1
    Link Speed: 2.5 GT/s

  8. Kenneth L. Says:

    This is what the system information reports under the “USB” peripheral for the connected USB 3.0 compliant WD “My Passport” 1 Tb external drive. Note that nearly all of the 900 mA available current in consumed to run this drive using the GMYLE dual-port USB 3.0 34-slot card:

    USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Bus:

    Host Controller Location: Built-in USB
    Host Controller Driver: GenericUSBXHCI
    PCI Device ID: 0x1042
    PCI Revision ID: 0x0000
    PCI Vendor ID: 0x1b21
    Bus Number: 0x0e

    My Passport 0748:

    Product ID: 0x0748
    Vendor ID: 0x1058 (Western Digital Technologies, Inc.)
    Version: 10.19
    Serial Number: 575841314138325435383431
    Speed: Up to 5 Gb/sec
    Manufacturer: Western Digital
    Location ID: 0x1d200000 / 1
    Current Available (mA): 900
    Current Required (mA): 896
    Capacity: 1 TB (1,000,170,586,112 bytes)
    Removable Media: Yes
    Detachable Drive: Yes
    BSD Name: disk2
    Partition Map Type: GPT (GUID Partition Table)
    S.M.A.R.T. status: Not Supported

  9. Kenneth L. Says:

    Copying the same 19.5 Gb of data (mp3 files) to the same external drive took about 13.5 minutes using a USB 2.0 port. This confirms that the USB 3.0 on the GMYLE card (Express34 slot) is about three times faster on the same laptop versus the built-in USB 2.0 slots.

  10. srhardy Says:

    broke the link, sorry here is the new one

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7k1XCw3-hTceHJCcDB4cDREb1E/view?usp=sharing

  11. Kenneth L. Says:

    BTW – I am running Yosemite 10.10.3 with the GMYLE card discussed above and it does work. I can even eject the card and re-insert the card and it will function without a re-boot.

  12. OB1 Says:

    I’m running a late 2011 MBP on OSX 10.8.3 with a Renesas Electronics USB 3.0 Host Controller card that was working under 10.6.8 but can’t get it to work now. It say the driver is loaded, recognizes the card as a USB controller but does not access any drive that is connected to it.

    I have reinstalled the generic driver several times and also tried using Kext Utility to install the driver. Now, when I boot up or shut down, I see all of the loading info…

    Please help.

    ExpressCard:

    Driver Installed: Yes
    MSI: No
    Bus: PCI
    Slot: ExpressCard
    Vendor ID: 0x1033
    Device ID: 0x0194
    Subsystem Vendor ID: 0xffff
    Subsystem ID: 0xffff
    Revision ID: 0x0003
    Link Width: x1
    Link Speed: 5.0 GT/s

  13. PinoiRyder Says:

    I have followed the instructions and still not able to have the ssd card or ssd drive recognized.. nothing is showing..

    running on late 2008 Macbook Pro with Yosemite 10.10.3 installed.
    Using GYMLE express card USB 3.0

    Type: USB eXtensible Host Controller
    Driver Installed: No
    MSI: No
    Bus: PCI
    Slot: ExpressCard
    Vendor ID: 0x1b21
    Device ID: 0x1042
    Subsystem Vendor ID: 0x174c
    Subsystem ID: 0x2104
    Revision ID: 0x0000
    Link Width: x1
    Link Speed: 2.5 GT/s

    i followed the instructions to the teeth..

  14. Mahir Demir Says:

    I have installed it on MacBook Pro Late 2008 running Maverick. Used the Kext Utility applications and it all went smooth, no problems whatsoever. Tested the speed with a Hitachi Touro USB 3.0 HDD and transferred a large video files with an average speed of 88 MB/sec. Just for comparison, I transferred the same file using the USB 2.0 port and I got a speed of 30 MB. So, I just tripled the read speed and now I can edit directly from the external hard drive, no need for copying the files first. Not bad for $6, right? 🙂

    Thanks for all the info man, you have been very helpful.

  15. zanrek Says:

    Did what you described on the page… didn’t worked… The card was still on the computer for 2-3 months.

    Later, I made some maintenance with Onyx software (http://www.titanium.free.fr/), and I dont know if there is a cause, but the card began to work (icon on top of screen), and devices began to work with (mouse, iPhone, android phone etc…)

    For those who have problems, you could try this? (I ran all the clean features of onyx).

  16. zanrek Says:

    Oops forgot to tell about my setup :

    Mac book pro late 2008

    Os X 10.9.5

  17. Chris Says:

    Hi all,

    is there an update for El capitan available? Since the upgrade the controller still shows, system report looks alright, the drive seems to be powered but is not shown in finder. Any ideas?

    Thanks in advance
    chris

  18. Marco Says:

    Hi everyone,

    I was using an expresscard (NECXG – AKE BC628 – USB 3.0) on Mavericks and then on Yosemite. I reinstalled 10.10 on a SSD and I am unable to find the driver I need. Does anyone could help me?

    By the way, I first wanted to install 10.11 El Capitan but I looked impossible to run the expresscard for now, any news?

    Thanks a lot for your precious time.

  19. Ball Says:

    THANK YOU SRHARDY!

    I was having an awful time getting my µPD720202 to work with Yosemite and was about to flash a different ID (or attempt to) when I found these comments. Hopefully this gdrive doesn’t disappear like the previous one!

  20. thsgod Says:

    Hello srhardy,

    Thanks to your driver for 10.10, my cheap NEC card worked like a charm.
    However it stop working after the system updated to 10.11. Could you please share with us the driver for 10.11? And how to make it work in 10.11.
    Thanks a lot!

  21. TF Says:

    Thank you so much! I’ve had the same StarTech card for a couple of years now and had given up until I recently found it. Very happy that this works now.

  22. Kris Woodward Says:

    Can someone please help me! I’m going a bit mental trying to find info.

    Will any type of “USB 3 – Express Card 34” with “Any type of External drive attached” work as a bootable drive?????

    I’m running a mid 2009 macbook pro (5,2)

    I’m trying to create a clone of my operating system 10.5.8 onto an external drive so I can install El Capitan on my main internal drive.

    In Theory if I can boot from a USB 3, express card 34 this will be quicker than the firewire option I already use.

    I’m aware there are “filemate SSD” options but I’d prefer to boot from an external drive via USB 3.

    I currently have a Lacie USB3 Porsche Drive Hooked up to a Lacie Express Card 34.

    I have installed drivers in two different operating systems – 10.5.8 & Yosemite
    Both read like this ;

    Type: USB eXtensible Host Controller
    Driver Installed: Yes
    MSI: No
    Bus: PCI
    Slot: ExpressCard
    Vendor ID: 0x1033
    Device ID: 0x0194
    Subsystem Vendor ID: 0xffff
    Subsystem ID: 0xffff
    Revision ID: 0x0003
    Link Width: x1
    Link Speed: 2.5 GT/s

    Does : MSI – NO mean It’s not bootable or am I missing something?

    Any help would be REALLY APPRECIATED!!!
    I’m willing to take my laptop anywhere to get this working as it’s holding me up installing X2 SSD internal drive.

    To cut a long story short I need to run my 10.5.8 from a boot drive the fastest way I possibly can! all research points towards this option?

    Cheers!

    Krisso

  23. fredrok Says:

    Got the kext file into the extensions folder, a little lost on how to enter the 3 lines into the terminal app, do I press enter after each one? it asks for a password. Sorry, newbie here.

  24. John Says:

    If you copy the lines and paste them they are being executed without you pressing Enter. If you write the commands yourself you have to press Enter. Nothing would really happen if you press Enter more than necessary, just a few empty lines in the terminal. When you are asked for your password you should enter the account’s password. I am not sure if it would work if your password is empty.

  25. Krisso Says:

    Ok have done some more research and apparently with my 2009, 17 inch, 5,2 it’s apples EFI Driver not communicating with card. So…

    how much work would be involved in making the USB 3 express card (any type) bootable with a mac 5,2 under any operating system (preferably El Capitan)

    would it be a kext addition,?
    Flash of card of some sort?
    Or much more?

  26. HobbyMan Says:

    Hey, guys,
    For OS El Capitan 10.11 I have used the file for 10.10 and followed exact instructions in the file. MacBook Pro early 2011.
    After rebooting the NEC expresscard started perfectly functioning in USB3 mode.
    The link to the file is in srhardy’s message:
    http://www.spaceman.ca/blog/?p=288#comment-74409

  27. Carlos Salido Says:

    Updated to el capitan, no work anymore.

  28. Carlos Salido Says:

    Worked for me macbook pro 13 inch early 2008 yosemite 10.10.3, using srhardy (Thanks again), but this time after install el Capitan 10.11 , does not work for me.
    I used the link http://www.spaceman.ca/blog/?p=288#comment-74409, and tried 3 times but nothing happened.
    Any suggestions, please?
    Thanks in advance.

  29. Ball Says:

    Has anyone managed to get this to work with boot drives, or know a device which works with boot drives?

  30. CASCA Says:

    See the forum:
    http://www.tonymacx86.com/macbook-pro/178845-gmyle-expresscard-usb-3-0-osx-10-11-el-captain.html

    worked fine for me Gmyle USB 3.0

  31. wellington Says:

    Not sure about other versions but can confirm everything works fine on elcap, including hotplugging the card etc, with latest version from rehabman’s branch.
    RehabMan-Generic-USB3-2015-1215.zip aka GenericUSBXHCI.kext 1.2.11

    download at
    https://bitbucket.org/RehabMan/os-x-generic-usb3/downloads

    Should be obvious but don’t forget to disable SIP before installing or it won’t work, being an unsigned kext… Google csrutil for instructions.

  32. wellington Says:

    Dump if anyone’s interested. Not sure what’s up with the interrupts but haven’t noticed ill effects from it, and this MBP is from 2007 so you def notice if it slows down hehe.

    nyakontot@YE-OLDE-PRO~> Downloads/xhcdump running | ccat 01:45:27
    Found a device of class GenericUSBXHCI: IOService:/AppleACPIPlatformExpert/PCI0/AppleACPIPCI/RP03@1C,2/IOPP/pci1912,15@0/GenericUSBXHCI
    Darwin 15.3.0
    Kext Version 1.2.11
    Vendor 0x1912, Device 0x15, Revision 0x2
    USBCmd RS Y HCRST N INTE Y HSEE N LHCRST N CSS N CRS N EWE Y EU3S N
    USBSts HCH N HSE N EINT Y PCD N SSS N RSS N SRE N CNR N HCE N
    DNCtrl 0xffff
    CRCr CRR Y
    Config 32
    MFIndex 2744
    Last Time Sync xHC 101971968 milliseconds CPU 102349348684981 nanoseconds
    Using MSI
    Legacy Owner[Bios,OS] NN, SMIEn[Event,HSE,OSOwn,PCI,BAR] NNNNN, Chg[OWOwn,PCI,BAR] NYN
    # Configured Endpoints 0
    # Interrupts: Total 16683670, Serviced 16683670, Inactive 0, Offline 0
    # Spurious Transfer Events 6
    Port 1 PortSC CCS N PED N OCA N PR N
    PLS RxDetect PP Y Speed Unknown PIC Off LWS N
    CSC N PEC N WRC N OCC N PRC N PLC N CEC N CAS N
    WCE N WDE N WOE N DR N WPR N
    PortPmsc U1 0 U2 0 FLA N PortLi LEC 1124
    Port 2 PortSC CCS N PED N OCA N PR N
    PLS RxDetect PP Y Speed Unknown PIC Off LWS N
    CSC N PEC N WRC N OCC N PRC N PLC N CEC N CAS N
    WCE N WDE N WOE N DR N WPR N
    PortPmsc U1 0 U2 0 FLA N PortLi LEC 0
    Port 3 PortSC CCS N PED N OCA N PR N
    PLS RxDetect PP Y Speed Unknown PIC Off LWS N
    CSC N PEC N WRC N OCC N PRC N PLC N CEC N CAS N
    WCE N WDE N WOE N DR N WPR N
    PortPmsc L1S Invalid RWE N HIRD 50 us L1Slot 0 HLE N TestMode Disabled
    Port 4 PortSC CCS N PED N OCA N PR N
    PLS RxDetect PP Y Speed Unknown PIC Off LWS N
    CSC N PEC N WRC N OCC N PRC N PLC N CEC N CAS N
    WCE N WDE N WOE N DR N WPR N
    PortPmsc L1S Invalid RWE N HIRD 50 us L1Slot 0 HLE N TestMode Disabled
    Interrupter 0 iman IP N imod I 40000 ns C 0 ns erstsz 1 erdp DESI 0 EHB N

  33. urgno Says:

    Used the srhardy driver
    http://www.spaceman.ca/blog/?p=288#comment-74409

    on Yosemite 10.10.5 with StarTech ECUSB3S11
    worked perfectly !

    Toshiba Canvio 1TB in usb worked around 30mb
    now works at over 100mb !! yuppy !!

    http://s23.postimg.org/hl8nznsm3/usb2.png
    http://s23.postimg.org/4id1ge2e3/usb3.png

    Big Kudos to srhardy

  34. tropie Says:

    Hello,
    I’ve installed on my Macbook pro late 2011 (El Capitain 10.11.5) usb3 works! not at full sped but about 80MB/s (toshiba canvio 500GB HD and CLS ssk express card with NEC µPD720200 chipset)
    thanks to HobbyMan and srhardy
    http://www.spaceman.ca/blog/?p=288#comment-74409
    Is it this the maximum that this port can reach?
    thanks to all

  35. urgno Says:

    @tropie
    no, I tested the ECUSB3S11 port on my mbp 17 (Early 2011)
    with a samsung ssd evo 850 and the transfer rates were around 200MB/sec

Comment: