Wednesday, October 18, 2023

USB-C Cables Comparison

lumafield (via Hacker News, tweet):

Does Apple’s Thunderbolt 4 cable really warrant its $129 price tag? Or does a $5 cable get the job done just as well? We’ve used our Neptune industrial X-ray CT scanner to uncover the hidden engineering differences between them.


Overall, the Thunderbolt cable is a stunning piece of precision engineering.


Less than 1/10th the price of the Apple cable, the Amazon Basics USB-C to USB-C 2.0 Fast Charger Cable offers charging up to 60 W and data transfer speeds up to 480 Mbps.


The $5.59 NiceTQ USB-C cable claims to transfer data at up to 10 Gbps, lower than the Thunderbolt cable’s 40 Gbps but higher than the 480 Mbps claimed by the Amazon Basics cable.


Update (2023-10-24): Nick Heer:

Lumafield has not presented a useful way to pit the very expensive Thunderbolt cable against comparable alternatives.


I would have loved to see what makes Apple’s $130 cable different from, say, Monoprice’s $50 equivalent or a $20 Maxonar-branded cable. Both seem to have the same specs as Apple’s, and I think assessing the construction differences between those would be more useful. Perhaps Apple’s price tag is not pure markup; there is a surprising difference in the quality of power adapters, for example.

See also: ArsTechnica.

Update (2023-10-30): John Gruber:

Adam Savage has a video up on YouTube with more details, based on the same CT scans from Lumafield that are in the Twitter thread I’m linking to. Amazing stuff.

3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

Interesting seeing the difference in construction. I'd be curious to see the Apple USB-C charge cable.

"Despite being advertised as just a charging cable, its pins and wires are configured for USB 2.0 data transfer." I think all USB charge cables have to support this so the power adapter and device can negotiate the charging rate.

Kevin Schumacher

"Does Apple’s Thunderbolt 4 cable really warrant its $129 price tag?"
and then at the end
"Ultimately, we buy cables that meet our needs for data and power transmission, form factor, and longevity."

So a copout non-answer.

"Does Apple’s Thunderbolt 4 cable really warrant its $129 price tag?"

Lets compare it to non-Thunderbolt cables that don't do the things a Thunderbolt cable does but cost less...


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