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What is Thunderbolt 4? How is it different from previous generations? Which cables should I buy? Do I absolutely have to use the Apple Thunderbolt 4 Pro cable? Here you will find a brief overview of the features and benefits of Thunderbolt 4 and the appropriate cables that support this standard.
Thunderbolt 4 uses DisplayPort 1.4a, which supports data transfer rates of up to 40 Gbps. The cable you want to use to connect two devices must support this speed, otherwise the data transfer will work, but not as fast as it could be.
The Thunderbolt 4 interface is also based on USB-C in terms of connectivity. However, it differs from the previous generation in several aspects. It offers data rates of up to 40 Gbit/s, just as fast as Thunderbolt 3. It also enables the simultaneous transmission of two 4K video streams or one 8K video stream over one connection.
Apple offers a cable for these transfers which "Thunderbolt 4 Pro cable" is called and with a length of 1,8 meters it costs a mere 150 euros. A model with a length of 3 meters is to come, but that is not yet available.
The good news is that you don't necessarily have to use this cable. Although it is extremely good in terms of build quality, it ultimately supports the same specifications as other Thunderbolt 4 cables.
However – if you this video If you take a look at the Apple Thunderbolt 4 Pro cable, you will be surprised at what Apple has put into this cable. You will not only find multiple shielding, but also high-quality chips in the connectors.
Anyone who relies on quality and for whom the cable is vital in everyday work will probably be better off with the Apple cable. With the alternatives, you can't be sure that they will last in high-performance operation and offer maximum performance. The creators of the video put it this way:
For most customers, the cable may not be necessary, but for creatives who need high performance, there is currently no cable that can match the quality of the Apple cable.
However, if you count yourself among "most customers", you can save the money for the Apple cable and access the alternatives here:
Originally developed by Intel and Apple under the codename "Light Peak", Thunderbolt has been adopted by several PC manufacturers. Technically, it is a combination of DisplayPort and an interface based on PCI Express. Thunderbolt was introduced in 2008 as a high-speed connection standard between computers and peripherals. The latest version (Thunderbolt 4) has doubled its bandwidth capacity compared to Thunderbolt 3 and supports USB 3.1 Gen 2. This means faster data transfers and better energy efficiency.
Currently, Thunderbolt 4 can be found in the latest Apple MacBook Pro models and in the Apple Studio, but Apple will certainly be adding Thunderbolt 4 to other devices over time.
With Thunderbolt 4, Apple decided to stop developing Thunderbolt as its own standard and instead focus on making it compatible with USB 4. Therefore, Thunderbolt 4 does not bring new levels of speed, but allows better compatibility with USB 4 devices. Thunderbolt 4 makes all optional USB4 features mandatory for all devices. The connection remains the same, but with new cables (USB-C).
Here are the specs, which I copied from the Wikipedia page:
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.
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