5 Best Thunderbolt 3 Cables in 2021

By Robin Owens 11 days ago, Thunderbolt

The best Thunderbolt 3 cables on the market.

best thunderbolt 3 cable

This new type of connector is the result of a tight collaboration of Intel with Apple. In fact, the latter has already started putting it into every new model of laptop. The best Thunderbolt 3 cable can reach lightning speeds of passing the data through and can efficiently power not one, but several devices, with charging times being insanely short. However, even this description doesn’t give full credit to the technology.

Top 5 Best Thunderbolt 3 Cables

  1. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Cable - Our Choice
  2. Apple Thunderbolt 3 Cable - Affordable
  3. Anker Thunderbolt 3.0 Cable - Popular
  4. Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Cable - 2-year warranty
  5. Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable - Long cable

For those who still can’t wrap their mind around this technology, there is a helpful guide at the end to simplify the shopping. Others can simply look through the catalog of the best models and pick what they like.

1. Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Cable

Our Choice
best thunderbolt 3 cable

Connector Gender: male | Data Transfer Rate: 40 Gigabits Per Second | Length: 0.8m

  • ✚ Flawless dual 4K 60Hz video output
  • ✚ Thunderbolt 3 peer-to-peer 10Gbps networking
  • ✚ Reaches a 5Gbps transfer speed
  • ✚ Affordable
  • Restrictive 0.8m length

This is the best Thunderbolt 3 cable that maintains full USB-C functionality. It can be used as the latter with any computational devices and accessories.

In effect, it preserves the USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 data lines. If you need a charger, the standard 5A functionality through the USB-IF PD with a 100W max (5V-20V) is also there. As an electronically marked product, it also has the capability of reporting its use and potential.

2. Apple Thunderbolt 3 Cable

Affordable
usb c cable

Connector Gender: male | Data Transfer Rate: 40 Gigabits Per Second | Length: 0.8m

  • ✚ Allows sending data, connecting monitors, and charging devices
  • ✚ Reaching 5Gbps transfer speeds
  • ✚ Decent price
  • Underwhelming 0.8-meter length

This universal cable is great for an array of different tasks. You can connect various data holders and benefit from the quick transferring to handle large files.

You can also hook docking stations, monitors, and other such devices equipped with the necessary jacks. Where you have the Thunderbolt 3 ports, you can expect a 40Gb/s speed. Where USB 3.1 is the best option, 10Gb/s will be at your disposal.

3. Anker Thunderbolt 3.0 Cable

Popular
short usb c cable

Connector Gender: male | Data Transfer Rate: 40 Gigabits Per Second | Length: 1.6m

  • ✚ Data transfer, connectivity, and charging supported
  • ✚ Transfers at 5Gbps
  • ✚ Costs little
  • Questionable reliability

This USB type C cable can easily charge a high-powered laptop which is confirmed by the 100 W marking. It claims to be able to reach top speeds for sending data when connected to supported devices.

Real-life tests show that it really reaches high operational speeds for both reading and writing. The former averages at 17Gbps and the latter at 7.4 Gbps with an SSD carrier connected to a Thunderbolt 3 port. These results are pretty common among such cables.

4. Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Cable

2-year warranty
usb type c cable

Connector Gender: male | Data Transfer Rate: 40 Gigabits Per Second | Length: 2m

  • ✚ Allows attaching Thunderbolt 3 Hosts and Peripheral
  • ✚ Long reach with 2 meters
  • ✚ Protected by warranty for 2-years
  • Not suitable for Display Ports
  • Overpriced

Another great model that is performant and reliable, with many appealing benefits. Despite being quite long, it can still reach the blazing speeds this standard is famous for. This introduces great possibilities for connecting capacious storage devices and high-definition monitors.

Devices charge in the blink of an eye with 100 watts of power supported. Aside from that, you can chain half a dozen devices maintaining efficiency. Aside from being properly Thunderbolt-certified, this cable model also gives you some reassurance with a 2-year warranty.

5. Apple Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable

Long cable
thunderbolt to usb c cable

Connector Gender: male | Data Transfer Rate: 40 Gigabits Per Second | Length: 2m

  • ✚ Appropriate for monitors, storage devices, and charging
  • ✚ Speed up to 10Gbps
  • ✚ Long reach
  • Too expensive

This USB C cable can provide you with speed even when the ports are not compatible with this particular profile. Through a regular USB 3.1 jack, you can get a 10Gbs speed, and through a Thunderbolt-enabled one, the sky-high 40Gbs speed is possible.

Naturally, the Pro version supports everything the regular one could do, so charging gadgets and connecting monitors are no issue. For the latter, even the length is more appropriate, because with two meters you can reach across the room, not just your desk.

IMAGE NAME FEATURES
best thunderbolt 3 cable
Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Cable
Our Choice
  • Connector Gender: male
  • Data Transfer Rate : 40 Gigabits Per Second
  • Length: 0.8m
CHECK PRICE
usb c cable
Apple Thunderbolt 3 Cable
Affordable
  • Connector Gender: male
  • Data Transfer Rate : 40 Gigabits Per Second
  • Length: 0.8m
CHECK PRICE
short usb c cable
Anker Thunderbolt 3.0 Cable
Popular
  • Connector Gender: male
  • Data Transfer Rate : 40 Gigabits Per Second
  • Length: 1.6m
CHECK PRICE

How to Choose the Best Thunderbolt 3 Cable?

best thunderbolt 3 cable

How to Spot the Difference Between a USB-C Cable and Thunderbolt 3 Cable?

The best Thunderbolt 3 cable has to be the one following official specification. According to that, there has to be a special mark placed at least at one end of the cable. The absence of that means you’re looking at an ordinary USB-C. The mark has a bolt of lightning and a number three next to it, as you can see in the picture here.

Keep in mind that any manufacturer, when selling a true Thunderbolt 3, will write it in capitals and bold font to make sure you see the bait. If you can’t easily tell from the packaging or web page what you’re holding, it’s likely that item is a simple USB-C. When it comes to the cable itself, some manufacturers mindfully make the difference between the types of connectors more obvious, like Belkin. The different icons here are easily distinguishable.

Passive and Active Thunderbolt 3 Cables

As it often happens with advanced technologies, different variations appear with varying pros and cons. Here, you can find a passive or an active cable that have performance and price differences. A passive cable can perfectly operate at the maximum 40 Gbps speed but only when it measures less than half a meter. Every small length added to that pulls the speed down dramatically. Reach two meters and you will only have half the capacity left. Their only advantage is affordability but don’t be tempted to cheapen out if the length is inconvenient.

An active plug can maintain the blazing speed throughout its extended wire length due to a significant improvement. If you compare an active and a passive Thunderbolt 3 plug, you will see the former was elongated to fit a special transceiver. This is the piece of electronics that gives a kick to the signal to make sure the performance is maintained at any cable length. That, obviously, comes with a price.

If you’re as unlucky as to need both the velocity and the length, prepare for the expense. The simplest Thunderbolt 3 cable with 0.5m of length would cost you less than half of what the same brand will be asking for a 2m active.

FAQ

  • • Are all Thunderbolt 3 cables the same?

All such cables can normally do the same things but there is a particular difference. A cable can be active or passive, the former having a higher price. This is because a long Thunderbolt 3 cable can maintain its blazing speeds only when active. The longer your passive cable, the lower the speed falls. 

  • • How do I know which port is my Thunderbolt 3?

Normally, support of this connectivity profile is a big deal and you can find the mentioning in the manuals and specks of your device. If you happen to have several USB-C ports or can’t find particular information, there is frequently a small mark next to the port that supports the feature.

  • • Which standard connector type does Thunderbolt 3 uses?

For this protocol, manufacturers standardized the USB-C connector. This means that into a Thunderbolt 3 port you can plug both the new technology and the more regular USB-C jacks. The older Thunderbolt 1 and 2 versions had the Display Port connector as a standard.

  • • How long can a Thunderbolt 3 cable be?

The active type of cable can operate at the full 40Gbps speed even if it reaches 2m in length. For anything that overshoots this measurement, you need optical cables. There is also the passive type that is more affordable but with a catch. It can either reach half the speed at 2m or operate at the same velocity as the active ones but only when it measures 0.5m. 

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