Why should you pay extra for Thunderbolt 3? USB-C and Thunderbolt

thunderbolt 3 type c

We may be asked for a comparatively high price for thunderbolt interface. Let’s find out what special comes with Thunderbolt 3. What you are missing without a thunderbolt interface and what is difference between thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C.

Connecting devices to a PC is a mess from the beginning. USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Type C, Thunderbolt 2 and many confusing terms are there. Let me clear you that USB is the name of port, Type – C or type- A etc., are the physical structures of the port and numberics are basically the generation of the interface and Thunderbolt is the interface technology, which is clubbed with different ports for connection.

Thunderbolt is an interface which is developed by Intel and Apple, to provide lightning fast speed to peripherals connected to a PC. Thunderbolt 3 is compatible with USB Type C Ports and requires at least USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type C Port. It means every thunderbolt 3 port is a USB Type C port but every USB Type C port is not Thunderbolt 3.0 port. As thunderbolt 3 shares a USB Type C Connection, Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 doesn’t have any USB Compatibility as they uses Mini Display Port Connector. Thunderbolt 3.0 took the wired data transmission to the next level.

thunderbolt 3 type c
The Type C Thunderbolt 3.0 Port

Why you should pay more?

Thunderbolt 3.0 redefines the number of possibilities, you can do with a very small, single, reversible connector. Thunderbolt 3:

  • Gives you Max. Transfer Rate of 40GB/s, which is 6x more than Internal SATA 6GB/s Connection.
  • Gives you the freedom to connect Two 4K displays at once with a frame rate of 60fps
  • Delivers power of up to 100W for charging
  • Makes it possible to connect a graphics card externally
  • Have integrated 8 lanes of DisplayPort 1.2 and 4 Lanes of PCIe Gen 3
  • Can connect upto six devices with daisy chaining.

Isn’t it enough? You can also plug regular USB Type C devices. But exception comes when you are a very normal user, you don’t have to use external hard disks, external graphics, 4K displays etc, you can go with the regular USB Connections but do remember Thunderbolt and Type C is the future.

Very neat use of Thunderbolt Gen 3.0 can be seen in 16″ Macbook Pro. The machine only have Thunderbolt Gen 3 based USB Type C Ports. No ports other than these Thunderbolt 3.0 and 3.5mm Audio are available on that laptop. A massive 95W charger is also having Type C to Type C interface. You can plug in Pendrives, HDMI, Ethernet – all via USB Type C dongles or cables.

Thunderbolt 1, 2 and Now 3!

Here is a table, comparing the Thunderbolt technologies from Thunderbolt 1 to Thunderbolt 3.

——Thunderbolt 1nThunderbolt 2Thunderbolt 3
Max. Transfer Rate10GB/s20GB/s40GB/s
InterfaceMini Display PortMini Display PortUSB C Type
Thunderbolt 3 or Type C Port in Left
Gen 1 and 2 Thunderbolt Interface – Mini Display Port in Middle

Thunderbolt 3 Pinout

It uses a same connector as USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type C Ports uses. It have a total of 24 pins as below.

Thunderbolt 4 – What to expect?

Intel, at CES 2020, Officially announced Thunderbolt 4.0. It will be made available first with Tiger Lake Mobile Processors. Intel claims it would be 4 Times faster than USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, Which have max bandwidth of 20GB/s. It means Thunderbolt 4.0 is likely to have 80GB/s, Doubling the speed of previous Thunderbolt Gen 3. It is supposed to join other technology improvements like native WiFi ax band or Wifi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. Thunderbolt 4 is supposed to use superpowers of Type C USB Gen 4.

As more details of Tiger Lake Processors will come in light, it would be more easy to say more about Thunderbolt 4.0.

Related: Learn about USB Connections – Type C, USB 4 etc.


Author: Prateek

Technology Enthusiast, Computer Science Student

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *