Best Thunderbolt cable

Cell Phones & Accessories

Thunderbolt, developed by Intel, is becoming increasingly popular as data transfer, video output and charging cables for Mac and PC users.

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Which Thunderbold cable is best? 

Thunderbolt cables have become the new standard for fast and reliable connection between a device and a PC or Mac. Compared to the fastest USB connections, Thunderbolt cables offer four times more speed for data transfer. 

There are different Thunderbolt cables available on the market that offer a variety of features, speeds, cable length and compatibility with ports. The Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable may be expensive, but its outstanding durability and compatibility with several types of ports and devices make it the best Thunderbolt cable on the market.  

What to know before you buy a Thunderbolt cable

Compatibility 

When buying the right Thunderbolt cable for your needs, make sure the cable is compatible with the type of port you have on your PC or Mac. Most Thunderbolt cables connect directly to DisplayPort, USB 3.1 and PCIe. Certain types of ports can only be connected using an adaptor. Keep in mind that different lengths of cables of the same product can have different compatibility with ports. 

Data transfer speed

The length of the Thunderbolt cables can also influence the data transfer speeds. Cheap or midrange Thunderbolt cables that are longer than 1 meter might not be able to deliver speeds of 40 gigabits per second, which is the upper limit for most Thunderbolt cables. 

Active or passive cables 

Active Thunderbolt cables are more expensive than passive cables and support data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps for up to 2 meters in cable length. Cheaper passive cables only support speeds of up to 20Gbps for a 1 or 2 meter cable length. To get 40Gbps from a passive cable, you will need a very short cable around 0.5 meters. 

What to look for in a quality Thunderbolt cable

Durability 

Durability is important for consistent and reliable performance from Thunderbolt cables. A cable that has a floppy fit can lead to a bad connection. High-end Thunderbolt cables offer features such as braided cables to minimize tangling tension when cables are inserted into the port. A snug-fitting Thunderbolt port is an indicator of the quality of the product. 

Cable length 

Some Thunderbolt cable products offer different cable length options ranging from 0.5  to 2 meters. Cables that are longer are going to be considerably more expensive. If you require an extra-long Thunderbolt cable, you might have to settle with significantly reduced data transfer speeds. 

Daisy-chain setup capability 

A daisy-chain setup allows multiple devices, such as display monitors, to be connected using the same cable connection. Users can use a daisy-chain setup to improve productivity or simplify desktop configuration by having fewer cables and a cleaner space. Not all Thunderbolt cables offer daisy-chain capability, so make sure you check for this feature before buying.  

How much you can expect to spend on Thunderbolt cable 

For a high-end Thunderbolt cable, you can expect to pay around $130. For a low-end to midrange Thunderbolt cable, expect to pay at least $25 for a 0.5 meter cable. 

Thunderbolt cable FAQ

How do Thunderbolt cables compare to USB Type-C cables?

A. Although Thunderbolt cables look similar to the USB Type-C cables, there are several key differences between the two. Thunderbolt cables offer data transfer speeds that are four times faster than USB Type-C cables. The charging capabilities of Thunderbolt cables are also better compared to USB Type-C cables. A thunderbolt cable is a step up from USB type-C cables in terms of native audio support, data speed and compatibility with multiple ports.  

Is the Thunderbolt 3 cable backward compatible? 

A. Yes, Thunderbolt 3 cables are backward compatible but require an adapter due to a change in the interface. The latest Thunderbolt 3 cables are compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and 2. Certain unique features of Thunderbolt 3 may not work when using adapters or docking stations. Thunderbolt cables can also be used with HDMI and DisplayPort. With the right adapter, Thunderbolt cables can also be used with displays that have a DVI or VGA port. 

What are the best Thunderbolt cables to buy?

Top Thunderbolt cable 

Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable 

Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable 

What you need to know: A high-quality Thunderbolt cable with high data transfer speeds and power delivery. 

What you’ll love: The Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable offers extra durability through a braided cable design. This product also offers compatibility with several types of ports, including USB 3.1 and DisplayPort, making it suitable for Mac and Windows users. 

What you should consider: This high-quality cable comes with a hefty price tag and is one of the most expensive products in its category. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Top Thunderbolt cable for the money

Nekteck Thunderbolt 3 Cable 

Nekteck Thunderbolt 3 Cable 

What you need to know: An affordable price, Versatile power delivery and Thunderbolt certification make the Nekteck Thunderbolt 3 a great value for your money.  

What you’ll love: This is a durable product from a trusted brand. The long cable length along with impressive data speeds make it suitable for use in a variety of applications. 

What you should consider: To use the product, the DisplayPort must be compatible with the cable. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon 

Worth checking out

Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Cable 

Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Cable 

What you need to know: A good quality cable that comes from a reputed brand with an affordable price. 

What you’ll love: The Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Cable offers three cable options and supports UltraHD display. It can be used in a daisy-chain setup, allowing it to be used for multiple devices. 

What you should consider: The DisplayPort connectivity is only offered in the shorter length cables, so make sure you buy the right length for your needs. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Ali Azhar writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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