Information and alternatives to the Apple Thunderbolt 4 Pro cable

Thunderbolt 4

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.

Do I need special cables for Thunderbolt 4?

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.

No question: The Apple Thunderbolt 4 cable is worth the money due to the high quality of workmanship, but most customers do not need this quality.

No question: The Apple Thunderbolt 4 cable is worth the money due to the high quality of workmanship, but most customers do not need this quality.

Apple's Thunderbolt 4 Pro cable

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.

Apple Thunderbolt 4 Pro Cable (1,8m)
  • Data transfer up to 40 Gbit/s
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer up to 10 Gbit/s
  • DisplayPort video output (HBR3)

Alternative Thunderbolt 4 cables

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:

Bestseller no. 1
Thunderbolt 4 Cable 1,2m/40Gbps,Maxonar TB4 USB C 4.0 Cable 100W Supports 1x8K 60hz or...
  • 40 Gbit / s: The data transfer speed for Thunderbolt 4 cables is up to 40 Gbit / s ...
  • 100W Power Delivery: Maxonar 1,2m(120cm) Thunderbolt 4 cable to 20V/5A 100W charging compatibility. The...
  • Single 8K or Dual 4K: Enjoy Ultra HD video resolution. Support crystal clear HD dual monitors with ...
Bestseller no. 2
Anker Thunderbolt 4 cable 70cm long, 8K display/40 Gbps data transfer/100W USB-C to USB-C...
  • SUPER FAST CHARGING: Supports a maximum charging speed of up to 100W with compatible chargers.
  • RAPID DATA TRANSFER: Transfers films, music and entire TV series with 40 Gbps within seconds.
  • IMPRESSIVE VIDEO QUALITY: Video transmission on one screen with 8K or simultaneously on two screens with ...
Bestseller no. 3
[Intel Certified]Thunderbolt 4 Cable 2m Maxonar TB4 Cable USB 4,40Gbits/100W,8K@60Hz,5K@60Hz,Dual...
  • 【Intel Thunderbolt-certified】 Maxonar Thunderbolt 4 cables have the official certification of Intel ...
  • 【Fast charging and data transfer】 The Maxonar Thunderbolt 4 cable with excellent ...
  • 【Certified for all uses】 The future-proof Thunderbolt 4 cable supports the latest ...
Bestseller no. 4
Spigen USB 4 cable for Thunderbolt 4 cable, USB-IF certified 100W charging 40Gbps data transfer...
  • High Speed ​​Transfer: Transfers a 5GB file in one second. The data transfer speed...
  • 8K High Resolution: Single 8K UHD display, dual 4K display combines the latest high-definition monitors and...
  • Fast Charging: Charge everything from phones to laptops with up to 100W Power Delivery. The charging...
Bestseller no. 5
ORICO cable for Thunderbolt 4, compatible with Thunderbolt 3/USB4, transfer rate 40Gbps, 8k@60Hz...
  • 【Cable for Thunderbolt 4】:Thunderbolt 4 has a maximum speed of 40 Gbps (20 Gbps x 2) and ...
  • 【Ultra high speed】: Thunderbolt 4 is fully compatible with the Thunderbolt 3 transfer protocol ...
  • 【Video experience in Ultra HD cinema quality】: This TB4 supports display on a single screen at ...

The History of Thunderbolt

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.

Thunderbolt 4 adapts to USB 4 and will no longer be developed separately in the future, but will run under USB.

Thunderbolt 4 adapts to USB 4 and will no longer be developed separately in the future, but will run under USB.

Specifications of Thunderbolt 4/USB 4

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:

  • Thunderbolt
    • 40 Gbps (like Thunderbolt 3)
    • 4 PCI Express 3.0 lanes (= 32 Gbit/s), e.g. for external graphics card (eGPU)
    • Thunderbolt Network - 10 Gbps Ethernet between computers
  • USB - Compatible with existing USB devices and cables
    • supports USB 4 with all functions
    • USB-C connectors and cables (small, rotationally symmetric)
  • DisplayPort - Compatible with existing DisplayPort devices and cables
    • 8 DisplayPort lanes (HBR2 (High Bitrate) and MST (Multi-Stream Transport))
    • supports two 4K displays (4096 × 2160 30bpp @ 60 Hz) and now one 8K display (7680 × 4320).
    • connects DVI, HDMI– and VGA displays via adapters
  • Power supply (based on USB Power Delivery)
    • up to an output of 100 watts
    • 15 watts for bus-powered devices
  • HUB support instead of just looping through. backward compatible.
  • Lowest latency for PCI Express audio capture
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4 comments

  1. Falk Kuebler says:

    No offense, but one could have written that a normal USB-C cable can also be used for video transmission. Unless it's supposed to be 40GBit/sec, which isn't the case for 99,9% of uses anyway.

    • Jen Kleinholz says:

      Hello Falk! No offense, but what is a "normal" USB-C cable? There are USB-C cables that are only used for charging and that otherwise support USB 2.0. Is that a "normal" cable? Or one that doesn't charge, but gets USB 3 speeds? I think you have to first talk about what a USB C cable is, because there are many variants.

  2. Falk Kuebler says:

    100 watts, 10 Gbps:

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005001400212927.html

    Practically only power (with 480mbps), but spectacularly cheap:

    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33002369577.html

    • Falk Kuebler says:

      PS:
      I have been buying from Aliexpress for a long time (my grandma always said: if you don't honor the million, you don't deserve the billion) and I have good experiences.

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