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THE MIGHTY THUNDERBOLT MEETS VERSATILE USB TYPE C

 

Powerful I/O ports

As the interface between your computer and any peripheral, I/O ports are highly important. Here's why Thunderbolt is actually quite appropriately named. The Thunderbolt 3 basically accommodates the increasing quality of high resolution displays on large and smaller devices. The trend for devices to be portable, smaller and as light as possible means that connectivity often suffers as the ports and cables cannot keep up with the resolutions of up to 4K.

Using the new USB Type C connector, the Thunderbolt 3 considerably boosts the connective capabilities of smaller devices, resulting in superfast data transfer through the smallest of ports that maximize portability.

 

Thunderbolt, a bolt of lightning speed

An Intel product first launched in 2011 and intended to augment USB 3.0, Thunderbolt offered data transfer speeds up to 10 Gigabits per second. USB 3.0 managed speeds of only up to 5 Gigabits per second (or 640 Megabytes per second). Unlike USB, Thunderbolt had the ability to transfer multiple types of data: not only serial data to storage devices and peripherals, but also video data to displays. The added capability of daisy-chaining devices like hard drives to display monitors to your computer without any loss of performance makes the Thunderbolt one of the most powerful and versatile ports out there.

Apple featured a Thunderbolt Mini DisplayPort connector in their 2011 MacBook Pro, but the choice of other devices with a (production cost intensive) Thunderbolt port was very limited. Fast forward to 2016 and the situation has rapidly changed, with a wide range of Thunderbolt compatible peripherals on the market. Thunderbolt is no longer mainly the platform of choice by media professionals and Apple now offering a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter.

 

New USB Type C, the end of a flipping era

The USB plug is that familiar plug that plugs in wrong every single time, even though there should be a 50 percent chance of a correct plugin… Look forward to no more flipping over and over again to insert the USB plug correctly into your device. The new USB Type C connector is small and reversible, meaning it plugs in correctly every time. It is set to replace previous USB types including Micro USB and Type A.

The USB Type C also packs a bigger punch in power delivery. While the current transmission rates for the USB 2.0 and 3.0 are 2.5W and 4.5W respectively, the new USB Type C allows for 7.5W and 15W transmissions. With power delivery, the new USB Type C may transmit up to 100W — enough to keep most power-hungry laptops going – and going.

 

One USB Type C to charge them all

The powerful USB Type C connector lets you speed charge portable devices like phones and tablets. The connector you use to charge your laptop can now also be used to charge any USB Type C port device. It is theoretically even possible to charge your phone by plugging it into your tablet, or use a friend’s phone to jumpstart your own if your phone battery is flat. 

 

The best of both worlds: Thunderbolt & USB Type C

Good news: Thunderbolt 3 now uses the new USB Type C connector. No longer limited by the Mini DisplayPort adapter, the new USB Type C port makes Thunderbolt’s technology available to a much wider range of devices than merely Apple’s. Look for Thunderbolt ports with amazing bandwidth and daisy-chaining opportunities in Ultrabooks and notebooks and an increasing number of Thunderbolt-capable peripheral devices. This is great news for the USB Type C connector, too. On its own, the USB Type C is just another USB cable which is reversible and capable of delivering more power.

Note: not all USB Type C ports support Thunderbolt 3 as it runs on Intel processors. Most mobile devices like smartphones, tablets and other USB Type C peripherals may have the USB Type C ports, but without Intel chipset inside, they will not work without Thunderbolt controllers. So if you plug a USB Type C device into a Thunderbolt 3 port, it will work but won’t support Thunderbolt’s powerful features. Similarly, a Thunderbolt 3 peripheral plugged into a regular USB Type C port will work but won’t support Thunderbolt features. 

 

Uses of Thunderbolt

1. With the integrated DisplayPort, you need only a single cable to drive two (daisy-chained) 4K displays at 60Hz (4K is twice as big as 1080p) to your computer.

2. Mighty fast data transfer speeds: whether you use Thunderbolt to edit high-resolution 4K videos in one or even two hard drives or for standard storage purposes, Thunderbolt achieves superfast transfer speeds. Working with 4K applications, the speed can be785 Megabytes per second and 5 Gigabytes per second for standard applications, 8 times faster than USB 3.0 and 4 times faster than USB 3.1. The limitation is the number of drives in the enclosure and the combined read and write speeds of those drives, not the cable itself.

3. Never run out of ports or connectivity. Daisy-chain peripherals to the Thunderbolt port to connect – or simply charge.

4. The Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type C connector is a perfect match of power and versatility. Connecting multiple displays, achieving enormous transfer speeds and storage capabilities, and an external graphics card while charging your power hungry laptop - all through a single reversible cable.