In part 1 of this series, “A Very Personal MacBook Pro Disaster,” I told the story of a family 2018 MacBook Pro whose USB-C ports, all ports, were behaving erratically with an external display and attached HD and SSD devices. It was under warranty and went in for repair.
In part 2, “A Very Personal MacBook Pro Disaster, Part 2,” I told more of the experience I had with my local Apple retail store. The experience was very positive, both at drop-off and pick-up. You’ll want to read about that.
In part 3, “A Very Personal MacBook Pro Disaster, Part 3,” I described the process of—and hurdles encountered—setting up a MacBook Pro that has a new logic board. There were many issues.
Space Gray Docking Maneuver
Soon after this 2018 MacBook Pro was purchased, I followed the same path that I did with the 2015 MacBook by buying an inexpensive Other World Computing (OWC) USB-C Dock—because we don’t have any Thunderbolt 3 devices. That Dock has worked perfectly with the MacBook for four years. However, as I found out, this Dock is better suited to just the MacBook and not MacBook Airs and Pros.
That’s because, as Apple describes it, “MacBook models introduced in 2015 or later have a single USB-C port. This port doesn’t support Thunderbolt devices.” A pure USB-C dock, then, is appropriate. It supports USB-A/C devices as well as gigabit Ethernet and DisplayPort.
So if you buy a MacBook Air or Pro that supports Thunderbolt 3, you really need to use OWC’s Thunderbolt 3 Docks. It has, I am told, drivers that are better suited to the high end MacBook Air/Pros with Thunderbolt. Even of you don’t use Thunderbolt devices. (There’s a 12 and 14 port model.)
Other Worldly Assistance
I was connected to Dan T. at OWC. He was brilliant in assisting with the return of the USB-C Dock and simply charged me the added, incremental cost of a 14-port Thunderbolt Dock. It arrived overnight.
And that’s when the family MacBook Pro failed. (No connection, I believe.)
Fast forward to the end of my Chapter 3.
Now, with everything checked out, it was time to connect all the external devices: Display, drives, printer, keyboard, and trackball. To do all that, we had just taken delivery of an Other World Computing 14-port Thunderbolt Dock.
Nothing worked. That is, every external device we connected failed in some way.
Extensive variable isolation proved that the (repaired) MacBook Pro’s ports were perfect and the OWC Dock’s ports were defective.
Back to Dan T. at OWC with a technical analysis and report. This time, at my request, he had an OWC technician bench-test a replacement unit off the shelf to certify it. That took an extra day, and so we had a second Thunderbolt 3 Dock in two days, well before I was able to return the defective unit. Which I later did with OWC’s supplied pre-paid UPS label.
Upon connecting the second Thunderbolt 3 Dock to the repaired MacBook Pro, every external device worked perfectly, including HDs and SSDs connected to the extra USB-C ports. And external display. And everything has been perfect since July 22.
- Variable isolation is of paramount importance. It takes a lot of testing to isolate which port or device is defective. Take extensive notes. Provide them to the manufacturer in a coherent, literate report. This takes time and patience, but it’s essential.
- Buy AppleCare for peace of mind even if you doubt the value proposition.
- Have at least two backups of your Mac. Use Time Machine plus at least one other method by your favorite developer.
- Keep good records of all your apps that require licensing. Create a directory called System Support and put everything you know about your Mac in there.
- Apple and Other World Computing provide fabulous customer service. You can trust these two companies to stand by their products. Kudos to the Apple store at Park Meadows Mall and to Dan T. at OWC.
- Be patient. Be polite. Be thorough.
And so the saga comes to a close. My hope is that this story will be of help to any reader suffering similar calamities.