Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Affordable Thunderbolt 4 Cables

Adam Engst:

The biggest problem with our advice was cost. Thunderbolt 4 cables, which offer full backward compatibility with USB 3 and USB4 over USB-C connectors, can cost well over $100 from trusted manufacturers, including Apple.

Industry stalwart OWC has now entered the fray, making our recommendation financially feasible. The company has released Thunderbolt 4 cables in three lengths at prices well below those from Apple and other makers[…]


With one of these Thunderbolt 4 cables, you can avoid the confusion that stems from the use of USB-C as the universal connector for Thunderbolt 3 and 4, USB4, and faster flavors of USB 3.1 and 3.2.


Update (2022-04-12): Gabe Weatherhead:

The quality of the OWC dock is superior to the CalDigit TS4. The OWC dock feels solid and heavy. It has a glass top panel with tight tolerances. On the other hand, the TS4 dock feels almost too light. The case has some slight flex to it. It’s not cheap but it also doesn’t feel high quality. I’d call it “fine”, as in “good enough.”

There was one other strange design decision with the CalDigit TS4: orientation. As you can see in the image above, all of the port labels are oriented for a horizontal dock while the logo is for a vertical orientation. This is minor except that CalDigit included optional rubber feet to use the dock in horizontal orientation. They slide in between the slotted case of the TS4 and look out of place. While my “DIY spirit” appreciates the option of making the dock work in two orientations, my “$400 lighter spirit” feels like it was an after thought that looks cheap.

Marcin Krzyzanowski:

a Thunderbolt 4 Pro Cable: $129
a HomePod mini: $99

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

Ghost Quartz

I can’t find anything on OWC’s site indicating that the 2m cable is active… I think the USB-C spec requires active cables for USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gb/s) and Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gb/s) at those lengths, no?

On the other hand, they say it’s certified and has an E-Mark IC, so it’s probably legit and in-spec. I suppose I am cautious because I have been burned by long-run HDMI cables that absolutely were not capable of carrying the maximum HDMI bandwidth despite the manufacturer’s claims otherwise. (The solution in that case was, unfortunately, an expensive optical cable.)

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