Front panel USB C connection issues anyone have issues?


Posts: 9,414   +9,137
I just built a new PC with an ASRock Steel Legend X670E MB, and noticed something that I thought was odd given that USB C connectors are not polarized like USB A and other variants.

I also bought Sabrent's EC-SNVE USB C enclosure for NVMe drives and a Pcie Gen 3 2TB crucial drive for the enclosure. My case for this is Fractal's Define 7 Compact.

I plugged in the front panel C cable to the MB's front panel USB C connector, and the drive refused to power up. During the process, I noted that the connector on the end of the cable that plugs into the MB is not keyed. Anyway, after bringing up the PC (I'm running openSuSE LEAP Linux on it and I also run "Image For Linux" on it, too) I plugged in the EC-SNVE and it did not power up. The MB has a USB C connector on the rear panel, and I plugged in the EC-SNVE there, and it powered up fine and I could read/write from/to it perfectly in either of openSuSE or "Image For Linux".

I kind of figured, WTF? The rear port works and the front panel does not?? So I decided to reverse the connector on the cable from the front panel and see if that made a difference. And it did! After reversing the connector on the front panel cable and plugging it into the MB, the EC-SNVE enclosure worked perfectly.

And last year, I built my wife a PC with a Gigabyte X570 Aorus Elite MB and a Fractal Define 7 regular sized case. My wife has recently tried to use the EC-SNVE drive with Image For Linux to back up her PC, and the speed is just total crap. We have not yet tried reversing the connector for the front panel USB C connector, and also have not yet tried the drive in the rear panel connector on her system, but we will try the rear-panel USB C connector first, and if that works properly, we will then reverse the front panel connector plug.

So I am wondering: has anyone else had similar problems with recent builds that have front panel USB C connectors on the MB?

I am also wondering whether this is another connector fiasco like the 4090 - obviously, this time, the USB C connectors are not burning up, but if they are supposed to be inserted in only one direction to the MB, then why are they not keyed like all other MB connectors are?

I found that the MB connections for USB-C front ports are not symmetric. Unfortunately, it is possible to plug in the connector for a front USB-C port in reverse. If one happens to do that, like I did, a USB-C drive enclosure like Sabrent's EC-SNVE will not power up, however, it will not be damaged. I don't have any other USB-C peripherals, so I cannot say what might happen with anything else.

The solution is simple if you run into that problem. Take the connector out noting what way it was plugged in to begin with, flip the connector the other way, and plug it back in.

Again, IMO, whoever designed this connector should have made it so that it was keyed to only go in in the proper direction.
One more note for anyone interested. I bought a Silverstone GD09-c for another new build. There was no question with the front-panel usb-c cable in this case. It had a definitive fit in the proper direction, and as I suspected, the port worked properly.

Some manufacturers must be using different plugs for those front-panel usb-c ports. I'm a bit disappointed that my experience with the Fractal case was not as good as with the Silverstone case.
Any update?
The connector for the front usb-c seems dependent on case or case manufacturer. For instance, with the Silverstone GD09-c, the connector on the cable fit the connector on the motherboard so that it had a definite orientation and solid feel when it was connected, and it worked properly without further experimentation.

With the Fractal Define 7 series cases I own, the connector on the cable did not fit solidly in the connector on the motherboard and left me wondering whether it was correctly oriented. Further experimentation was required to see whether the port worked properly.