USB Issues Can Be Caused by Different Things on Different Machines.
For 2010-2017 model Macbook Airs, there are two USB ports. The left one is run off the DC in board, the right one is directly on the logic board. Oftentimes, the left side port can stop working as a result of a bad DC in cable or bad DC in board. Replacing these will solve the problem. If the right side USB port is not working, then you most likely have a logic board issue.
Older Macbook Pro:
For Unibody Macbook Pros from 2008-2012, if a USB port is not working, it is typically a logic board issue – the ports are directly on the board. It can be an issue with the USB power delivery chip, or a USB hub chip – see below for examples. In rare cases it can be a dead MCP(the modern version of northbridge or southbridge) or PCH(platform controller hub, the modern MCP), at which point you are in for an unpleasant repair. Most of the time, you are dealing with an issue around the power delivery system.
Old vs. New
Retina Macbook Pro:
Most Retina Macbook Pros besides the A1425 2012 13″ model have a right side I/O board – this board can be non-functioning, or the cable that attaches it to the motherboard. Like with the air, the USB board can fail if you plug in a broken device, the cable dies if you get liquid on it. The left side USB port is a part of the logic board, so if there is an issue with that port, one must investigate a board level issue same as on the older Macbook Pros.
Touchbar Macbook Pro:
The touchbar Macbook Pros use USB-C. These ports are modular: not soldered to the board. When one is not working, it can often be as simple to fix as replacing that specific port. However, if it is the controller chip that is at fault – this is catastrophic. Since USB-C is utilized for charging as well as normal peripheral attachments, if USB fails on this machine, usually it stops charging entirely, and you have a dead machine.
Non touchbar 2016-2019 Macbook Pro:
This machine combines the worst of the old and the new when it comes to USB issues. The A1708 models solder the USB port to the board, and use USB-C for charging. It is always a board issue on this model, and if USB dies, you are unable to charge – and therefore stuck with a dead machine. No fun!
What Does it Cost to Fix USB Issues?
Basic DC in board problem: $75-$150 on the Macbook Airs, depending on whether it is DC in board, cable, or both.
Right I/O board problem: $200-$250 for the right I/O board depending on model.
Logic board repair: $200-$425 depending on the model and how bad it is. Liquid damage tends to cost more than non-liquid damage, and newer models tend to be more complicated than older models when it comes to USB issues.
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