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Thunderbolt 3 ITX Motherboards (+ Hotplug)

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RESEARCH:

ITX Motherboards and their respective JHL (Thunderbolt 3) chips:

> ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 ITX/ac :: JHL6240
> ASRock Z390 Phantom ITX/ac :: JHL6240
> ASRock Fatal1ty Z370 ITX/ac :: JHL6240

> ASRock Z490 Phantom ITX/TB3 :: JHL7540
> MSI MEG Z490I UNIFY ITX :: JHL7540

> Gigabyte Z390 Designare ATX :: JHL7540
> Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Xtreme ATX :: JHL7540

> ASRock X570 Phantom ITX/ac :: JHL7340



JHL7xxx are the newest generation of Thunderbolt 3. They all have 4 lanes of PCIe. JHL6xxx is the first generation of Thunderbolt 3, with three variants: JHL6240 supplies 2 lanes for 20Gbps across one port, JHL6340 supplies 4 lanes for 40Gbps across one port, and JHL6540 supplies 4 lanes for 40Gbps across two ports.

What does this all mean? I think Thunderbolt 3 on Hackintosh's will not see hotplug on JHL6xxx chips; some devices might not even connect via JHL6240 due to having only 2 lanes of PCIe.

For Thunderbolt 3 hotplug, you need a JHL7xxx chip. Finally in June 2020 we will see some ITX motherboards with a JHL7xxx chip! Hopefully by mid-2021 we will see USB4 adoption which should widely bring stable Thunderbolt 3 to most Hackintosh's.

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2020-05-08 EDIT: The weakest single-socket Alpine Ridge chip, the JHL6240, supplies a maximum of 1.2 watts of power. Compare that to the weakest single-socket Titan Ridge chip, the JHL7340, which supplies 58% more power at 1.9 watts!

JHL 6xxx Chips: https://thunderbolttechnology.net/sites/default/files/18-241_ThunderboltController_Brief_HI.pdf
JHL 7xxx Chips: https://thunderbolttechnology.net/sites/default/files/18-241_Thunder7000Controller_Brief_FIN_HI.pdf
Notice the difference in implementations across the Alpine Ridge chips, whereas the Titan Ridge chips are all 4-lane.

We've learned that the TB3 port needs continuous power for macOS to properly utilize it, but I have a hunch that the number of PCIe lanes has much to do with it as well. For some with TB3 chips with 4 lanes of PCIe, all that's required is the correct SSDT path-patch, and either setting Thunderbolt Force Power to Enabled in their BIOS, or if the option is unavailable, to hex edit their BIOS accordingly.

Others, as CaseySJ has shown, can flash the firmware on their TB3 chips to enable full macOS functionality with the correct SSDT path-patching (ex. RP05, RP21, etc). Nonetheless, 85% of TB3's functionality (allowing hotplug, daisy-chaining devices) is achieved by simply using the correct SSDT and BIOS settings -- IF their board has a 4 lane PCIe TB3 chip. Enabling the remainder TB3 functionality (Thunderbolt 3 Local Node / Bus) requires flashing the firmware on the TB3 chip, which I and most users wouldn't do. To be fair, on my real Macs I've never used any of those modes either -- my common case use is plugging in a TB3 SSD or audio interface.


TL;DR: Let's hope more manufacturers make ITX boards with JHL7xxx chips, and let's hope USB4 brings true TB3 native functionality to all!

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2020-05-11 EDIT: Added ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX/TB3 -- ASRock support confirmed it contains a JHL7340 Thunderbolt 3 chip.

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2020-05-21 EDIT: Added MSI MEG Z490I UNIFY ITX -- contains a JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 chip.

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2020-08-06 EDIT: Edited ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX/TB3 -- I purchased this motherboard last week and it actually contains a JHL7540 Thunderbolt 3 chip! Full-power chip! Very likely has nearly-native TB3 functionality. I can confirm the chip supports hot plug with a TB3 dock but I don't have another TB3 device to test. Unknown if a UAD Apollo or TB3 Display would hot plug or even work at all (my gut says both likely would).

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Original Post:

Hello,

I'm currently rocking an ASRock Z270 ITX/ac on macOS 10.13.4. I'm wondering if there's a motherboard out there that "natively" supports Thunderbolt 3 hotplug?

Especially interested in finding an ITX board that supports Thunderbolt 3 hotplug with their on-board chip. Does it exist?

I've looked across countless threads but can't seem to find anyone who can confirm that Thunderbolt 3 hotplug works, whether they use an on-board controller (as I do) or a PCIe card. What's the skinny? Only on ATX boards? Only with a PCIe card? No one has TB3 hotplug at all?

Thanks!!
 
Last edited:

Jamesbond007

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Hello,

I'm currently rocking an ASRock Z270 ITX/ac on macOS 10.13.4. I'm wondering if there's a motherboard out there that "natively" supports Thunderbolt 3 hotplug?

Especially interested in finding an ITX board that supports Thunderbolt 3 hotplug with their on-board chip. Does it exist?

I've looked across countless threads but can't seem to find anyone who can confirm that Thunderbolt 3 hotplug works, whether they use an on-board controller (as I do) or a PCIe card. What's the skinny? Only on ATX boards? Only with a PCIe card? No one has TB3 hotplug at all?

Thanks!!

As far as I know, "native" Thunderbolt 3 hotplug (I suppose what you mean is, it works after installing MacOS without doing anything more, correct?) does not work on current motherboards. Some kind of patching is needed, and even then it may not be completely functional.
 
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As far as I know, "native" Thunderbolt 3 hotplug (I suppose what you mean is, it works after installing MacOS without doing anything more, correct?) does not work on current motherboards. Some kind of patching is needed, and even then it may not be completely functional.

I put "native" in quotes because I meant after patching it works as if it's a real Mac.

Casey answered my question that their Gigabyte Z390 Designare does support Thunderbolt 3 hotplugging even after Sleep but only if you don't use the InjectAll USB kext. I'd consider that mobo to have TB3 "native" support (since it's fully functioning after patching).

I would not consider my ASRock Z270 ITX/ac to have "native" support since even after patching since I cannot hotplug Thunderbolt 3 devices. Only USB-C works hotplugged.

Personally I'm the most interested in if there's an ITX motherboard out there with either a JHL7540 or JHL7340 TB3 controller?
 
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Screenshot showing response from ASRock staff that the ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX/ac has a Titan Ridge chip
 

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I've done a lengthy search of motherboards today and here's my short list:

> ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 ITX/ac :: JHL6240
> ASRock Z390 Phantom ITX/ac :: JHL6240
> ASRock Fatal1ty Z370 ITX/ac :: JHL6240
> ASRock X570 Phantom X570 AMD ITX/ac :: JHL6240
> Gigabyte Z390 Designare ATX :: JHL7540
> Gigabyte Z390 Aorus Xtreme ATX :: JHL7540

JHL7xxx are the newest generation of Thunderbolt 3. They all have 4 lanes of PCIe. JHL6xxx is the first generation of Thunderbolt 3, with three variants: JHL6240 supplies 2 lanes for 20Gbps across one port, JHL6340 supplies 4 lanes for 40Gbps across one port, and JHL6540 supplies 4 lanes for 40Gbps across two ports.

What does this all mean? I think Thunderbolt 3 on Hackintosh's will not see hotplug on JHL6xxx chips; some devices might not even connect via JHL6240 due to having only 2 lanes of PCIe.

For Thunderbolt 3 hotplug, you need a JHL7xxx chip. I have yet to find an ITX motherboard with a JHL7xxx chip. Likely in Fall 2020 we will see USB4 adoption which will allow Hackintosh's to finally see stable Thunderbolt 3.

FWIW => Per Anandtech the ASRock X570 Phantom X570 AMD ITX/ac has the JHL7340 TB3 controller
 
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FWIW => Per Anandtech the ASRock X570 Phantom X570 AMD ITX/ac has the JHL7340 TB3 controller

Yes I did know that! Sorry I didn't update the thread. I contacted ASRock directly and they confirmed that the X570 Phantom is their only ITX board with a full-speed, full-power JHL7340 (Titan Ridge).

I recently built my second "real" Hackintosh (I use it daily for my business), and was very close to going with an AMD 3900x + ASRock X570 Phantom ITX, but the issues of Sleep in macOS with AMD CPUs, and the murky waters of potentially being unable to use certain Adobe or other CPU-path-specific programs led me to a more linear upgrade to the Intel i9-9900k + ASRock Z390 Phantom ITX.

The ASRock Z390 Phantom ITX board has the same JHL6240 (Alpine Ridge) Thunderbolt 3 chip as my previous board, the ASRock Z270 Fatal1ty ITX, but for some reason I've only gotten the Z390 to work with hotswap through a TB3 dock after Sleep. Before Sleep, they work identically.
 
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According to the MSI website, the MEG Z490I UNIFY ITX board also has the JHL7540 Thunderbolt™ 3 Controller. So, now we have two Z490 ITX boards with hot swappable Thunderbolt 3 and one X570 one. The MEG Z490I Unify has the more powerful dual port (tho only one used, apparently), 2.4 W version, while the ASRock Z490 ITX has the less powerful single port, 1.9 W one. Still not bad.
 
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Joined
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According to the MSI website, the MEG Z490I UNIFY ITX board also has the JHL7540 Thunderbolt™ 3 Controller. So, now we have two Z490 ITX boards with hot swappable Thunderbolt 3 and one X570 one. The MEG Z490I Unify has the more powerful dual port (tho only one used, apparently), 2.4 W version, while the ASRock Z490 ITX has the less powerful single port, 1.9 W one. Still not bad.

Wow true! Added to the list. Great find! Makes me want to buy... :clap:
 
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