As sleek and powerful as the latest generations of MacBooks have been, they also have a fatal flaw for some users: Lack of ports. If you want to plug almost anything into your MacBook, you’re going to need an external hub or dock of some nature, and this was a sacrifice that countless Apple fans were willing to make. Unfortunately, carrying around a large accessory isn’t the only sacrifice that some MacBook owners were making, as reports have begun to spring up in recent months of laptops being bricked by third-party USB-C hubs.
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“It seems there is potentially an issue with M1 Mac’s and USB-C Hubs, possibly specifically related to power delivery capable ones,” Redditor Delarado noted in December. Hundreds of users responded to the post, and it turned out that the M1 model was not the only one being bricked by USB-C hubs. One user with a 2020 Intel MacBook Air reportedly experienced the same issue, as did an owner of the 2019 13-inch MacBook Pro.
One user described the experience of his MacBook dying as it happened, and several others have corroborated his story: “The screen flashed for a brief second and then went black. Everything died, the Macbook refused to turn back on, I tried all the reset commands and got into contact with Apple first thing the next morning. They advised me that I needed to ship it back to them for return.”
That Redditor also documented the experience of shipping his M1 MacBook Air to Apple for repairs, and once they received the laptop in the mail, they examined the paperwork and discovered that Apple had to replace the Touch ID, Logic Board, and I/O board in order to bring the MacBook back to life. In other words, it appeared as though USB-C hubs capable of delivering power were permanently killing some MacBooks.
The good news is that Apple has released a macOS update to specifically address this issue. Late last week, Apple rolled out macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, and if you haven’t installed it yet, you should do so as quickly as possible, especially if you use a USB-C hub. Here are the release notes from Apple’s website: “macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 prevents MacBook Pro (2019 or later) and MacBook Air (2020 or later) models from incurring damage when they are connected to certain third-party, non-compliant powered USB-C hubs and docks.”
We always recommend that everyone install new updates as soon as they become available in order to keep their devices up-to-date with the latest security patches and bug fixes, but this is certainly far more pressing. If you don’t want to risk killing your MacBook, you should install the newest update immediately. In order to initiate the process manually, head to System Preferences > Software Update > and click on Update Now.