MSI Laptop USB-C Charger Design Problem
If you have a recent MSI laptop with a type-C port, this might be relevant to you.
I discovered that my Creator 15M laptop wouldn’t connect to some USB-C devices. Specifically, my USB-C hub and my phone would never get recognized by the port, but my external SSD (Samsung’s T5) would mount properly.
Weirdly, the devices that would not get recognized did receive power. The USB-C hub showed the indicator light for power, and my Note 20 Ultra showed a “Check your charger connection” warning, but no “Would you like to allow this computer to access your data” prompt.
I first thought this was some driver issue, and spent a couple of hours diagnosing with Device Manager, deleting USB controller drivers, re-installing the Nvidia driver (because the Device Manager mentioned something about Nvidia’s type-C policy controller), and so on and so forth. But then I realized it couldn’t be a driver issue because my phone connected fine with a type-C to USB-A cable. So it was a USB-C problem.
I tried calling into MSI’s support line, but the agent on the other end was extremely unenthusiastic. His response was (paraphrasing): “if the type-C port is outputting power, then it’s out of our hands.” Even though I tried explaining the symptoms, he just said it’s probably a compatibility issue and hung up.
Out of options, I sent a ticket via the MSI’s support website. The response finally solved the problem.
Turns out, it’s a design failure. MSI’s laptops’ USB-C ports do not support Thunderbolt (that I knew), but they also do not support power delivery or display output.
So because my type-C hub had a USB-C port for charging the device it was connected to, and a HDMI port for display out, it would not work with the type-C port on the laptop. Similarly, my Note 20 Ultra would not connect with the laptop because it supported USB-PD and the laptop didn’t.
I’m not sure how much of it is true, but it does explain the weird issue I’m having. It would also explain why the external SSD gets recognized, since it doesn’t need to support USB-PD. It’s weird that connecting a device that supports USB-PD to a port that doesn’t support power delivery would disable the data lines, but that’s what the reply from MSI’s support team implies.
This really sucks, because the Creator 15M has two type-C ports and two USB-A ports, but the type-C ports are so gimped and unusable they may as well not exist. It’s going to get annoying real fast as more and more devices and accessories support USB-PD. If this is something that they can fix via a software/firmware update that would be great, but as they clearly said it’s a design choice I doubt it’ll ever get fixed.