Did you buy the new MacBook or MacBook Pro? Maybe the Google Pixel? You’re about to enter a world of confusion thanks to those new “USB-C” ports. See, that simple-looking port hides a world of complexity, and the (thankful) backward-compatibility uses different kinds of cables for different tasks. Shoppers have to be very careful to buy exactly the right cable for their devices!
USB Type-C: Ports vs. Protocols
USB Type-C ports have become fairly common, with Google adopting them on their Pixel and Nexus computers and phones and Apple implementing them on the 12″ MacBook and now the new MacBook Pro. This is a physical specification for a 24-pin reversible plug and associated cabling. From now on, in this article, I’m going to refer to this physical cable and port as “USB-C”, since that’s the most common usage1.
USB-C allows for a variety of signals to pass through this port:
- USB 2.0 – Astonishingly, the earliest USB-C devices, including the Nokia N1 only supported USB 2.0 signals and power delivery. Pretty much every new computer supports at least USB 3.0 speed, but some USB-C phones and tablets are similarly limited.
- USB 3.1 gen 1 – Extremely similar to “SuperSpeed” USB 3.0, this is a 5 Gbps serial connection for all sorts of peripherals to use, from hard drives to network adapters to docking stations. It’s backward-compatible with “SuperSpeed” USB 3.0, “Hi-Speed” USB 2.0, and even the original USB 1.x from way back in 1996! This is the protocol used by Apple’s 12″ MacBook.
- USB 3.1 gen 2 – This confusingly-named specification doubles the maximum throughput of USB-protocol peripherals to 10 Gbps. It’s also backward-compatible with all previous versions of USB. Only the newest USB-C devices support this high-speed protocol.2
- Alternate Mode – The physical USB-C connector can also support other non-USB protocols, including DisplayPort, MHL, HDMI, and Thunderbolt. I’ll go into more detail below, but suffice to say that not every device supports every Alternate Mode protocol, and this will be tremendously confusing for buyers!
- Power Delivery – Although not a data protocol, USB-C also allows for up to 100 Watts of power delivery to connected devices. But here again, there are two different specifications and a multitude of different configurations that will be encountered.
- Audio Accessory Mode – There’s also a spec to have analog audio use this port.
The core issue with USB-C is confusion: Not every USB-C cable, port, device, and power supply will be compatible, and there are many different combinations to consider. The newest, most full-featured devices (such as Apple’s brand-new Touch Bar MacBook Pro) will support most of the different uses for the USB-C port, but typical older devices only support basic USB 3.0 speed and (if you’re lucky) Alternate Mode DisplayPort.
And it gets worse. Many USB-C peripherals are limited in various ways as well. Consider a simple USB-C HDMI adapter: It could implement HDMI over USB 3.0 or it could use Alternate Mode (native) HDMI. It could also use HDMI “multiplexed” with Thunderbolt Alternate Mode or even (theoretically) implement HDMI over Thunderbolt using an off-board graphics chip!3 Of these options, only the newest computers, like the MacBook Pro, would support all three. Can you imagine the consumer confusion when they purchase a “USB-C HDMI adapter” only to find that it doesn’t work with their MacBook or Pixel or whatever?
But the issue of incompatible cables is even more serious. Many companies, including my go-to source, Monoprice, are building USB-C cables of various quality and compatibility. If you’re not careful, you can neuter or even damage your devices by using the wrong cable. Seriously: Using the wrong cable can damage your machine! This should not be possible, but there it is.
Some cables with USB-C ports on both ends can only pass 5 Gbps data while others are compatible with 10 Gbps USB 3.1 gen 2. Other cables can’t be used for power delivery or are incompatible with Alternate Mode Thunderbolt. Check out the Monoprice 3.1 10 Gbps/100-Watt USB-C to USB-C, 3.0 5 Gbps/15 Watt USB-C to USB-C , and 2.0 480 Mbps/2.4 A USB-C to USB-C cables. Why do all these variations even exist?4
And then there are the cables with different connectors on each end: Monoprice sells an awesome USB-C to USB 3.0 10 Gbps adapter but also has one that only goes to 5 Gbps and another that’s limited to 480 Mbps USB 2.0. And they all look almost identical. What a nightmare for consumers!5
Note: I don’t mean to be picking on Monoprice here. I love their cables and just ordered over $100 of carefully-selected Monoprice USB-C cables. But their wide range of USB-C cables aptly illustrates the very real problem of incompatibility, so I’m using them as an example. Literally every vendor of USB-C cables, from Apple to Belkin to StarTech, has this same issue.
Now we turn to an even-more confusing topic: Thunderbolt 3. Mac owners, since the debut of the early-2011 MacBook Pro, have become accustomed to the Mini DisplayPort connector serving double-duty as both a graphics and data port. And they’ve also gotten used to the head-slapping experience of plugging a Thunderbolt cable into a basic Mini DisplayPort jack and finding it doesn’t work.
This same experience is repeated with USB’s new Type-C port:
- Not all USB-C device ports have the same capability – Many are data-only, some can do data and video, and a few can do data, video, and Thunderbolt 3!
- Thunderbolt 3 requires a special cable – Although it looks exactly the same as a regular USB-C cable, you need a special Thunderbolt 3 cable to use Thunderbolt 3 devices!
- Thunderbolt 3 devices look just like regular USB-C devices – Most ordinary devices with a USB-C cable are limited to 5 Gbps (or even less) of USB data but Thunderbolt 3 devices pass PCI Express data and boast 40 Gbps of throughput!
Thunderbolt 3 ports and cables ought to be backward-compatible with USB 3.1 Type-C cables, ports, and devices. But of course they will run at that slower speed and lack Thunderbolt connectivity in that case. Thank the maker for backward compatibility!6
So owners of Thunderbolt 3-capable machines like the new late-2016 MacBook Pro must be very careful when buying devices and cables to make sure they get the performance they expect. Most of Apple’s current USB-C accessories and cables will work with the new MacBook Pro (it’s backward-compatible) but might not deliver the full Thunderbolt 3 experience. And owners of the older 12″ Retina MacBook are even more at risk, since, although Thunderbolt 3 devices will plug right in, they will not function at all!7
Since Thunderbolt 3 can also include both data and video, it can be very confusing knowing whether a given computer, cable, and device are compatible. For example, a Thunderbolt 3 cable can support two 4K 60 Hz monitors or even a 5K display, while a USB-C cable is limited to just one 4K monitor.8
Note that there are both 40 Gbps and 20 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cables. And the MacBook Pro is not compatible with the first-generation Texas Instruments Thunderbolt 3 controller used in many early Thunderbolt 3 devices. Be very careful when buying!
With this insane level of “compatibility” for the new USB Type-C port, buyers must be very careful when purchasing cables and devices. Although it’s great that the industry is moving to a simple, durable, reversible port for data, video, and power, this mix-and-match device and cable situation is bound to frustrate consumers and cause technical headaches. Buyer beware!
You should also read my 2016 MacBook Pro USB-C/Thunderbolt Survival Guide. It’s the brighter/cheerier follow-up to this post!
Addendum: If It Fits, It Should Work
This article has received a ton of attention (Hacker News will do that), with many positive and critical comments. Among the chief criticisms is that I’m being alarmist and that the real-life situation for USB-C isn’t all that bad. And today, for the most part, this is true, because these people have USB-only Nexus phones and so on. But I feel that there’s a looming issue with the proliferation of uses for this “do it all” cable/port and that this will lead to the “nightmare” of my headline. Here’s why.
Electronics are no longer the realm of the geeks. Most computers, phones, tablets, and peripherals are purchased by people who are not technically savvy. They don’t know a protocol from an interface and really shouldn’t have to be bothered learning that “USB Type-C” is different from “Thunderbolt 3” or “USB 3.1”. They want to buy stuff, plug it in, and have it work. They judge compatibility by the shape and fit of the connector, not the specs or logos on the package.
Historically, the industry has done a pretty good job of this. After some initial teething issues, USB has become a real boon for average device users. Cables, devices, and peripherals all pretty much work. Although the experience of USB 3, Mini USB, Micro USB, and high-power chargers hasn’t been all that positive, the consumer expectation that “if it fits, it works” still holds true for the USB of today. Heck, I’m using a cheap swag USB cable right now! The core reason for this is that USB has always been both a cable and a protocol. Apart from power delivery (how many iPads are slowly charging on iPhone cubes?) USB has worked because USB is USB.
Now along comes a “do it all” cable that can literally be the only port on a device. Data, video, and power all share the same USB Type-C port. And Intel just kicked it into high-gear by adding a totally separate world of data and video support called Thunderbolt 3. It’s not realistic to expect that every port, cable, and device will work properly together, especially when it’s so much cheaper to build a basic USB 3.1 gen 1 or even USB 2.0 cable or device.
Starting now (since Thunderbolt 3 devices are shipping) we have a port that defies consumer expectations: Cables will not be compatible and devices will not support certain peripherals even though the port looks the same. This is the nightmare scenario: Consumers will pull “the wrong cable” from the drawer, store, or bag and will assume a peripheral or charger is broken when it doesn’t work. We’ll see frustration, returns, and misguided tech support proliferate.
This is the age-old push and pull of compatibility. We enhance compatibility only to raise consumer expectations that everything will just work. USB Type-C will never just work because USB-C is too many different things at once. This is the nightmare.
- Google tells me that this port is called “USB-C” 21 million times, “USB C” 12 million times, and correctly “USB Type-C” only 8.5 million times. Majority rules: “USB-C” wins. ↩
- Talk about a name designed by a committee! Who thought “USB 3.1 gen 2” was a good thing to call this? ↩
- I’m the guy who popularized the idea of an Apple Thunderbolt Display with an integrated GPU. ↩
- Why make a 2.0-only USB-C to USB-C cable? I guess it’s intended for a bone-headed device like that old Nokia N1, but at this point this useless/incompatible/worthless cable should probably cease to be sold… ↩
- Note that Monoprice incorrectly names every 5 Gbps cable “USB 3.0” and every 10 Gbps cable “USB 3.1”. Although it’s wrong, I think this naming is much more consumer-friendly than the official terms. ↩
- Note that this is a simplification: Thunderbolt 3 is really an “Alternate Mode” use of the Type-C port/cable, just like HDMI. But in practice, Thunderbolt 3 is a super-set of USB 3.1 for USB-C since no implementation of Thunderbolt 3 will be USB 2.0 only. ↩
- Apple has been pretty good about calling all non-Thunderbolt ports and cables “USB-C” and adding “Thunderbolt 3” where that protocol is supported. but it’s unconscionable that they’re no longer labeling the ports with some kind of icon! ↩
- Funny enough, USB-C Alternate Mode has different video compatibility than Thunderbolt 3: While Thunderbolt 3 supports HDMI 2.0, USB 3.1 can only do HDMI 1.4b. But when it comes to DisplayPort, USB 3.1 has the upper hand, supporting version 1.3 vs. version 1.2 in Thunderbolt 3. Support for these protocol levels is entirely dependent on the implementation of the port in a given machine. ↩
My (small) travel bag currently has at least 5 different cables with variations of USB and Lightning connectors. I am looking forward to the day where one type (USB C to C) will replace them all. Looking forward to this becoming reality as soon as possible, I actually have been avoiding the purchase of non-USB C devices since 2015.
My two cents about the confusion: Apple should have used USB C in their new iPhones (so people could now use the same headphones on both iPhone and MacBook Pro, and also charge with the same USB C-C cables, instead of requiring dongles or two types of heaphones). And in the new MacBook Pro product launch they should have called it USB C, like everybody else does, instead of calling it Thunderbolt. We already trust Apple as a brand to do the best under the hood, there is no need to also change the name of the connector, which is what people look at.
I’m actually glad Apple is calling it “Thunderbolt” since that’s the highest/fastest protocol supported on this port. It might help avoid confusion with consumers when the Apple “Genius” says “this isn’t a Thunderbolt port so you can’t buy a Thunderbolt accessory.” If Apple had just said “USB-C” (which, again, just refers to the physical port) we would have to consult compatibility matrices to know what’s compatible.
But I totally agree on the iPhone issue. If Apple implemented USB Type-C on the iPhone, we would all be enjoying our USB-C EarPods on our new MacBook Pros in bliss and comfort.
Given the vast variety of capabilities and consequent complexity introduced with USB-C and the recent Samsung Note7 fires (I am still not convinced it wasn’t due to USB-C – 100W maximum + quality issues with USB-C cables = risk), there is good reason to believe Apple didn’t want “less savvy” buyers to experience USB-C frustration. I’d say your average MBP buyer is going to be more capable than your average iPhone buyer – the first is a computing device, the 2nd is an information appliance (even I’d just want my iPhone to work).
So perhaps with iPhoneX or 8 or whatever they call it, this cluster will be sorted out. In the meantime, I’m happy with lightning cables for my 7+. I can bet you I’m not alone.
What’s confusing about this? How can devices be damaged by using the wrong USB-C cables?
I assume devices negotiate protocol, speed, and power transmission. Is that not the case?
Mikko Ahlroth says
The cables play a part in the negotiations, and there have been cheap cables that mess it up, frying devices: http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/4/10916264/usb-c-russian-roulette-power-cords
So in other words, everything works fine if you aren’t buying the cheapest possible cables you can find on Amazon.
Mikko Ahlroth says
Do you expect the public to realise that? Do you expect every corporate buyer for stores to do their due diligence? Maybe this is an easy thing for you but think of a non-techie person buying a cable and add all of these incompatibilities together. It’s a mess.
What incompatibility, though? If devices (and the cables themselves) negotiate protocols and power delivery, what incompatibilities are there?
As long as you get a cable that’s engineered correctly, won’t it just work? Maybe it won’t give you the data transmission speed you want or the amount of power you want, but it will still WORK, right?
Mikko Ahlroth says
Did you read the article? For USB-C there are 3.1 cables, 3.0 cables, 2.0 cables, Thunderbolt 3 cables…
I did read the article. It seems that you didn’t. That long list of stuff is a list of PROTOCOLS, not cables. There are a bunch of PROTOCOLS that can be used to transmit data/power through the same cables.
The cables seem to differentiate themselves by data speed and amount of power that can be transmitted.
So if you try to use the skinny little cable that came with your phone to connect your laptop to your TV, it will still work, right? You might not be able to get the data rate necessary to support 4K @ 60 FPS but it will still WORK.
Hel Thanatos says
There’s a good chance many cables won’t be engineered correctly… As well as ports. For some reason, people can’t follow standards and say “hmm. We should not use this transitor”.
USB-C being able to provide power both ways is just weird…
Mikko Ahlroth says
Except if you buy a cable that doesn’t support Thunderbolt or some other alternate mode. Or if you buy a cable that doesn’t support power transfer or doesn’t support the required wattage. Or if you buy a cable that doesn’t support the speed required by your usage.
How could one of these cables not support Thunderbolt? A cable is a collection of wires. Are you saying that some USB-C cables have more wires than other cables? Are they wired differently? There’s no indication of that in the article. What is it you’re trying to say?
USB-A has been able to provide power “both ways” for 20 years. It would be weird if USB-C couldn’t.
Mikko Ahlroth says
It says right there: “Thunderbolt 3 requires a special cable – Although it looks exactly the same as a regular USB-C cable, you need a special Thunderbolt 3 cable to use Thunderbolt 3 devices!”
This is partly correct it seems. Higher speed Thunderbolt 3 will require a cable built for higher speeds than USB-C so any regular USB-C cable won’t work. They will however work for lower speed Thunderbolt 3 usages. Apparently there will also be optical Thunderbolt 3 cables added into the mix. This post has more information: http://superuser.com/a/1024889
Yeah, no s***.
So it’s _exactly_ like I said, these cables differentiate themselves by data transmission speed and power transmission capacity.
You want faster data or more power, you buy a bigger, thicker, higher-quality cable. It isn’t rocket science and there aren’t any compatibility problems. You can still use your phone cable to charge your laptop, it’ll just take 20 hours. But it’s still compatible. It still works. This is what I’ve been saying from the outset.
Mikko Ahlroth says
Until it won’t work (not enough speed or power). The point here is that there are a lot of options and people will inevitably buy the wrong ones. That’s the entire point of the article.
That’s why I’m saying the article is misleading. You got confused already because after reading the article, you thought USB 2.0 required a different cable than USB 3.0, etc. It doesn’t.
There aren’t “a lot of options.” You want a better cable that supports faster data and more power, you just buy it. It’s two very simple differentiating factors.
It’s like you’re saying that buying an external battery for your phone is too hard because different batteries have different capacities. These are actually very simple things that people understand instinctively.
Mikko Ahlroth says
I didn’t say that. I said there are 2.0 cables. These are USB-C cables that support USB 2.0 data and power rates but not higher.
You can say that a person who buys the wrong cable is just stupid, personally I believe in making things simpler.
I don’t really see how that’s possible. You want to charge your phone and transfer data at USB 2.0 speeds, you only need a skinny little cable that’s cheap and easy to travel with. You want to power a monitor and drive it at 4K @ 60Hz, you’re going to need a big thick cable with heavy gauge wires and lots of shielding. Are you saying you want these two cables to be the same thing somehow? How would that work, practically?
Mikko Ahlroth says
Set a minimum data rate that satisfies most usages for a few years into the future. Your 4k60 picture can be transferred by a suitably small cable (look at the Thunderbolt 3 example) for short runs, like from a portable device to a display (but probably 10 Gbps data rate would suffice for most users already). Special applications and long runs are a different matter.
You can’t make the complexity go away but you can minimise it.
I said picture + power. How are you going to power a monitor with a skinny TB cable? Your idea just doesn’t work. People will have to figure out that faster data + more power = better cable. You think this is a really hard thing for people to understand but it isn’t.
Thunderbolt 3 cables are “active” – they have electronics embedded in them to allow the much-higher data transmission. And the USB 2 cables don’t have all the contacts connected. So there are physical differences between the cables.
I believe that the cables are backward-compatible, however. So you should be safe if you buy the most-expensive cables. But who’s going to do that when there are cables that look the same and cost literally 1/3 the price from the same vendor? People will assume that cables are cables and buy whatever and then be surprised when it doesn’t work.
Hunter Diederichs says
With regards to the Note 7 I can Guarantee you it had nothing to do with the 100W max of Power Delivery. By default, any USB PD brick outputs nothing by default same as it always has. When a device is detected via a transistor Pullup then it outputs 5V same as it always has. It is not capable of up to 3A instead of 1.5A, but the device only pulls as much as it needs the same as it always has.
For all the higher power states (9/12/15/20V) the device must explicitly request and control the voltage. The charger then needs to check the cable’s ID tag to make sure it’s capable of said voltage before it’s allowed to up the voltage. Because of how the signalling works over the CC lines it’s not something your device can do by accident or on mistake, and if it stops requesting a voltage the source drops back to 5V. Additionally, while Qualcomm Quick Charge and by extension Samsung’s Adaptive Quick Charge on type-C is dangerous to devices like USB hubs, this is not something it would affect because it doesn’t touch the CC pins.
Ah, I didn’t know about active TB3 cables, thanks. Presumably if you use a passive cable you will just get slower TB3 or it will fall back to TB2 or something, so it will still WORK, it just won’t be as fast as you might want.
We have this exact same “problem” already with HDMI cables. There are cheap HDMI cables that will only support 1080p, and there are new higher-quality, higher-spec cables that support 4K.
I assume people are able to figure this out.
What’s the alternative, make a different connector for every different version of HDMI that comes out?
Mark Barnes says
Nightmare? Really? Oh calm down. I’ve been using USB-C for quite some time with my Nexus 6P. Its no big deal at all. You’re just using scary words for attention.
Hunter Diederichs says
I think the point he’s trying to get across is that while you’re tech savvy and realize that the vast majority of consumers are stupid and won’t realize that intuitively. The idea of two things being the same is an assumption a lot of people make.
It’s not only a matter of my Grandma not knowing what cable to buy and getting the wrong one because “they both say USB-C and this one is cheaper” which will totally happen, it’s a matter of her going to Best Buy and the random kid they hired having no clue about tech stuff like this and handing her some random USB-C cable because they don’t have a clue.
Hunter Diederichs says
Or you could just buy USB-C headphones and use a USB-C to lightning adapter to connect them to your phone.
iOS supports both Audio Class 1 and 2 and the brand new Audio Class 3 is backwards compatible with at least Audio Class 2.
Which will be fine. This isn’t some new problem that’s specific to USB-C.
You can go to the store right now, buy a crappy USB cable, and only get USB 2.0 speeds with it because it’s crappy. It still works, it’s just slow.
You can go to the store right now, buy a crappy HDMI cable, and only get 1080p resolution on your 4K TV. It still works, but the resolution isn’t ideal.
Edit: You can also go to the store right now and buy a CAT5 or CAT5e Ethernet cable. It will still work with whatever you plug it into, but you won’t get CAT6 speeds.
Somehow we are all able to survive in this world. USB-C doesn’t change anything.
Hunter Diederichs says
You’re right. It doesn’t. I don’t have a problem with any of this personally. But the fact that it doesn’t change that tech standards are confusing for the average person doesn’t make it not confusing for the average person xD
Hunter Diederichs says
Yeah… It’s called click bait… And everybody does it because it works. Such is the way of life nowadays xP
Jimmy Hauser says
I am amused people are surprised by all this. We have been dealing with compatibility since the dawn of the computer age. Did you seriously think a brave new port was going to change that?
Amazon announced months ago that they were removing ALL non-compliant USB-C cables and devices.
Or maybe read the article and see how big the problem actually is ?
Benson Leung says
Hey Stephen :
There’s a lot of confusion out there, I agree, but even your selected “trusted source” of cheap cables Monoprice is causing serious confusion themselves, as evidenced by a misconception in your article.
Your article points out that some C-to-C cables “don’t support Power Delivery” based on what you gleaned from Monoprice’s product listings, but this is flatly not true…
All Type-C to Type-C cables must support a minimum of 3.0A current capability at *every* possible voltage level.
The 2 meter long USB 2.0-only C-to-C cable that comes with the MacBooks, for example, supports 3A. This most basic of cables is enough to support Power Delivery, meaning that it can support multiple voltage levels, from 5V, 9V, 15V, or 20V. The maximum power that cable may support following the PD spec is 60W (20V x 3A).
The cables that you see on Monoprice that claim to be “PD cables” are cables that support more than 3A. They are 5A cables that require a special identifier chip that the charger negotiates with.
However, Monoprice shouldn’t be calling these cables “PD cables” because that implies that cables that only support 3A can’t support PD; 3A cables definitely can support PD, but only up to 60W.
Furthermore, if Monoprice claims that cables only support 2.4A, then those cables are *out of spec* because the Type-C spec requires that C-to-C cables must be able to carry 3A.
Also, if they claim that cables only support 15W, that is flatly misleading, because any properly built 3A capable cable should be able to support higher voltage with chargers and devices that support higher voltage, therefore >15W.
Monoprice is spreading A LOT of confusion.
For heaven’s sake, drop the BS alarmism. You have vastly exceeded your allotted exclamation point quota. You have so overstated your case that you are doing more harm than good.
Nathan K. says
Benson, I would also like to point out on Monoprice’s page on the ‘13035’ 100w/5a stated cable has fundamental description errors. It claims 3ft in the product description, but 6ft in the tech specs. This leads me to question if this lack of attention to detail carried over into the eMarker — where a single bit being set incorrectly can result in major ID changes. (The USB-IF verifies data like this as part of their Certification program, as do I with the ‘analyses’ I perform.)
Also, people like Bob at Plugable informed me Thunderbolt 3 cables could operate as USB-C cables, but USB-C cables could NOT operate as Thunderbolt 3 cables. However from my limited understanding, the RF characteristics of these two (at 20gbps/1m length, at least) are the same.
How can Thunderbolt 3 cables even uniquely identify themselves? The eMarker data appears to be identical for USB-C and T3 both. (There is no “I’m a Thunderbolt 3” cable flag, like there is a “I am a USB3.1Gen1 (5gbps)” or “I am a USB3.1Gen2 (10gbps)” flag.
From my limited understanding, Thunderbolt 3 certification just involves Nyquist frequency checking. Is there a hard ‘DRM’ element too — custom VDM commands perhaps? Because of articles like this one, which I rely on for my own information, I simply cannot tell.
I agree this subject could be clarified. But to my mechanical engineering eyes, it’s as complicated as motor oil — as complicated (or as simple) as you want to make it!
Benson Leung says
I have no idea how TB3 cables work. Sorry.
Scritti Politti says
Or buy a phone that doesn’t call you stupid by being music-centric but lacking an audio output.
Hunter Diederichs says
It has an audio output… A digital one.
USB-A and B haven’t been able to provide power both ways. What do you mean by that? It’s always been A->B. There are some special exceptions like USB-OTG but that’s not been around for 20 years and it’s not for “power” as in charging, but for the use of peripherals on micro USB ports.
This is not really true, as it isn’t true that inexpensive cables will be bad. Unfortunately they need to be tested. If you wanna be safe without potentially tedious researching you can go with Apple or Google branded peripherals and cables. It’s true that those tend to be more expensive, but that doesn’t mean other expensive cables/accessories will be good too. Fortunately Benson Leung has tested many of them already. BTW his comment is now on top. Monoprice is feeding you very wrong information.
Which hasn’t happened by a long shot. Well known brands are still selling Qualcomm Quick Charge over Type C chargers, for instance, which break USB-C spec. AFAIK they only got rid of some A-C cables that had the wrong resistor, but that’s only the tip of the noncompliance iceberg.
There is no different power requirement for USB 2.0 Type C cables. They all should support 3A. Monoprice is breaking spec and also feeding wrong information to the author here. Pls refer to Benson Leung’s comment at the top.
It’s true that there is confusion, but it’s not so much because of the spec itself, but because many brands like Monoprice are breaking spec and have misleading product information. Many other well known brands like Anker, Choetech, Tronsmart, etc. have also broken or are still breaking spec, for example by putting Qualcomm’s Quick Charge in the C port. Likewise, big manufacturers like LG and Samsung do the same thing on their devices, though with the Note 7 being recalled Samsung AFAIK doesn’t have any spec breaking devices anymore.
Compatibility has always been a problem, but you don’t expect a standard to be incompatible with itself. Especially a standard calling itself “universal,” with a history of excellent compatibility within the same generation.
But when USB-C was first announced and I looked at the pinouts, the first thing I thought was that this was going to turn into a nightmare for IT. I should have written that thought into my blog so I would have a historical record of it. When Intel announced Thunderbolt 3, that only made it worse.
Kevin Sword says
Benson, thanks for the info. From your Amazon reviews I bought USB-C cables that are safe, thank you for the hard volunteer work. Hopefully now with the new MacBook Pro there will be stricter standards and testing, perhaps by Apple, so that they can do the work you’ve been doing but on a much larger scale, and consumers will know that they are buying a safe cable without looking at your Amazon reviews.
wow, that’s looks very “Plug and Pray” … 🙁
Andy Roid says
ha ha. That should be the new USB-C slogan
Hunter Diederichs says
It’s not that they’re incompatible. They’ll all work. Except alternate modes which are special. You have a USB 3.1gen2 external hard drive? It will work with a USB2.0 cable as long as it gets enough power. The data rate will be atrocious but the cable’s packaging will say that it’s USB 2.0.
USB 3.1gen2 is backwards compatible with USB 3.1gen1 is backwards compatible with USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 is backwards compatible with USB 1.0/1.1.
With regards to alternate modes, every certified alternate mode cable must explicitly state that they require an alternate mode and that not all laptops support it. Go to your local best buy and check out any of the USB-C to HDMI/VGA/DisplayPort adapters and you’ll see a warning on the box that they require the DisplayPort alternate mode.
Thunderbolt again is kind of weird, but it goes even farther than the average alternate mode in terms of labeling. Any thunderbolt 3 product has to be labeled specifically as a Thunderbolt 3 device and *NOT* a USB-C device specifically to prevent confusion like this (as well as build brand awareness for Intel). The only exception is if the device supports fallback to standard USB modes, like a thunderbolt external SSD that can also use standard USB 3.0/2.0.
Thank you very much for weighing in here, Benson. And thank you for your empirical work with USB Type-C cables! I am basing this on the specs and reading, not on the real-world situation. I believe you are correct about power delivery.
I see. I guess I didn’t know what Hel was talking about re: providing power both ways. Since we were talking about cables I thought he meant you didn’t have to plug a cable in a specific way to get power from point A to point B (which is true of any cable as far as I’m aware).
Another Guest says
Yes, there will be issues because the USB-IF did not require certification when they released the specs and requirements for using the Type-C connectors, male or female ones.
The article describes well the potential confusion, and matters are actually worse as the gentleman from Google documented when he was on a quest for suitable Type-C cables to use with several Google devices.
In a word, if there is a Thunderbolt logo beside, above, or below the Type-C connector, there are several assurances:
– capabilities for display, usb, and thunderbolt
– minimum power available: at least 15 watts (+5v @ 3amps)
There are two basic variations of power capable Thunderbolt 3 compatible Type-C to Type-C cables. One limited to 20Gbps speeds, and the other capable of 40Gbps performance.
A Type-C to Type-C cable can be something as simple as the two male plugs with shielded wire connecting the two.
What makes a good Type-C to Type-C cable is one that connects all the pins on each end correctly, has a marker chip inside, has the capability to handle 3amps with a voltage drop within limits, and most importantly, has the right RF performance so it can operate at minimum 20Gbps Thunderbolt speeds. The only active component within is the e-marker chip inside that describes capabilities. Unfortunately, there are some that handle only 3amps of current, and others that handle up to 5amps. The minimum PD spec requires +5v or +20v @ 3amps for 15w or up to 60w of power handling capability.
There are provisions for PD that require the passive cable to carry 5amps of power, for up to 100w if the hi-voltage +20v @ 5amps is available. Again, a marker chip is necessary to describe capabilities.
The better full Thunderbolt 3 compatible Type-C to Type-C cable has active components for the cable drivers that assure proper performance at 40Gbps. The question is whether they have 3 or 5 amps of current carrying capability.
Then there are optical cables which don’t have the ability to carry or deliver power to the connected devices.
Yes, there will be consumer confusion, but the USB-IF could have taken steps to minimize problems.
Looks like a Thunderbolt logo on the cable and the ports will go far to clarify things and assure compatibility.
Another Guest says
See my other post that attempts to clarify cable capabilities.
Also, Belkin has a cable identified as Thunderbolt 3 on the Apple Store website.
Hel Thanatos says
*USB Power Delivery v2.0
Franklin Yu says
It just extracts the protocol from the port. In the past, you know what protocol a computer supports, by looking at the ports it has. Now you know what protocol MacBook Pro supports by reading its specification. In the past, you need two USB ports, two Thunderbolt ones, two DisplayPort (if not merged with the Thunderbolt), and a power port to charge your MacBook. Now you only need two “everything” ports. (I know this is not technically equivalent since you can’t connect to two USB devices while charging, without an adaptor. But still better than only picking two ports from the list.)
So the main drawback is that, you can’t tell the protocol by looking at the ports. You have to remember it (or check it somewhere). This is hard for someone, but it can’t be a “nightmare”.
Scritti Politti says
No, it doesn’t. It has a proprietary serial port that requires a special decrypter and license. Not to mention that the phone already has a D/A converter in it, so why should EVERY listening device have to have a redundant one? So Apple can call you stupid, that’s why.
Hans van den Bogert says
> Funny enough, USB 3.1 Alternate Mode has different video
compatibility than Thunderbolt 3: While Thunderbolt 3 supports HDMI 2.0,
USB 3.1 can only do HDMI 1.4b. But when it comes to DisplayPort, USB
3.1 has the upper hand, supporting version 1.3 vs. version 1.2 in
Thunderbolt 3. Support for these protocol levels is entirely dependent
on the implementation of the port in a given machine.
Wait a minute?!. Shouldn’t USB 3.1 in the above snippet be replaced with USB-C. I don’t think the alternate mode is part of USB3.1.
Payden Keith Pringle says
We had this figured out. What is the difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports/cables when they are the same physical shape? Colors.
USB C should have a rainbow of colors to denote what goes where and what supports what.
This is a problem with a solution we already have and I don’t know why it isn’t being used.
Hunter Diederichs says
Umm… Lightning supports USB Audio Class 1/2/3 devices via their USB adapter… I don’t know what you’re talking about. That’s an industry standard that uses PWM digital audio…
Also the devices should implement their own DAC because Apple’s DAC is crap? Just like any other DAC in a mobile device that I’ve ever listened to.
You’re right. Thanks! I fixed that.
I wish Disqus let me “Feature” two comments. Thanks so much for adding this!
Hans van den Bogert says
Goes to show that it’s still confusing to us “initiated”
Another Guest says
This is precisely why I didn’t understand why people were excited about USB-C when it was first announced. Making a new type of port for no reason.
The thing about judging compatibility by the shape of the connector is absolutely true, and I’m not looking forward to having to explain to my parents why something doesn’t work when they connect it because they needed a different kind of nearly identically looking cable.
Scritti Politti says
You’re talking about USB, not Lightning. You have to pay Apple’s fees to license their Lightning connector just to GET to USB.
And if you want an external DAC, fine. The headphone jack never prevented you from having one. The continued issuance of this “better quality” excuse for the deletion of the headphone jack is plain stupid.
Hunter Diederichs says
Lightning is USB. You’re right about liscencing their electrical interface for it, but when all is said and done, lightning is just a fancy plug for USB 2.0/3.0 plus some extra stuff on the side.
That’s not the reason to delete it. The reason to delete it is that the headphone jack takes up a ton of space in the phone, requires high quality traces being run to it shielded from interference in the phone if you want decent quality, requiring even more room, and is a point that is incredibly difficult to waterproof effectively.
The fact that good quality digital audio will be technically better should just be icing on the cake.
Users want more and more and more stuff crammed into their phones. Altimeters, fingerprint scanners, haptics engines, etc. And all of these take up space. Eventually some of the old stuff has to go to make room for the new stuff.
gommer strike says
I would agree that the situation probably isn’t as dire as the article suggests, but then with standards in place, the OnePlus USB cable fiasco should never have happened(as explained extremely well by Benson, who spent a lot of time investigating this stuff).
RIP Benson’s laptop which was fried through this USB C cable testing.
Clunking Fist says
Mark, how well have your external hard drive, monitor, scanner and printer worked using that port on your 6P?
Rik Myslewski says
Y’gotta love the line in the opening paragraph, “Shoppers have to be very careful to buy exactly the right cable for their devices!”
Whoa, that’s never, ever been the case before, eh? I used to be able to plug a SCSI cable into a USB port, or a VGA cable into a FireWire 800 port — or, for that matter a FireWire 400 cable into a FireWire 400 port … oops … wait … no I couldn’t. Never mind …
Oh, and there are “cables of various quality and compatibility” out there in the Great Real Entire World™? Really? Do you mean that some fly-by-night outfits are making shoddy products? My, my, my, my … That’s never happened with any other cabling system, eh?
Okay, sure, there will be some confusion until this whole thing settles down, but it isn’t a “nightmare scenario” — it’s merely the early days of a new standard.
Chill and enjoy …
This feels like a hundred years ago, when Edison unveiled his cable selection that would be used with his safe DC urban electric system. There was much confusion then too
Can’t one just buy TB3 cables and they will work for everything? All USB-C devices, all TB3 devices?
Nathan K. says
Another Guest, I am aware of the Thunderbolt 3 cable variants. Unfortunately my investigations have revealed even Intel (responsible for doing TB3 certification) is missing some fairly obvious errors.
I will not cite the brand [as they voluntarily provided me the data privately], but some manufacturers are making “Thunderbolt 3” cables that would fail to meet their own specs.
IMPORTANT NOTE: TB3 and USB-C3.1Gen2 cables are physically identical (to the best of my knowledge). Only difference is TB3 cables MAY have had extra testing done to verify they work at higher speeds. So they are allowed to use the licensed symbol. [QC goes up….. in theory. I go on to disprove that below.]
Thunderbolt 40gbps cables are all “passive” and under 30cm length. This is because the technology physically does not exist to “wiggle the bits” (maintain signal integrity) intelligibly at longer cable lengths. [Think of it like trying to play jump-rope with a rope that is too long and too slack.] “Active” cables (with signal repeaters) are looking to fix this.
Thunderbolt 20gbps cables are SUPPOSEDLY (I don’t have spec data) capable of “wiggling” up to 2m. [Those 40gbps “passive” cables themselves are constructed identically, just cut shorter.]
USB3.1Gen2 (10gbps) cables, similarly, are only physically possible at cable lengths of 1m or less. Anything longer and the “bits can’t wiggle”. (You get data errors.) As cable wire technology improves, I’m sure this will get longer.
USB3.1Gen1 (5gbps) is the fastest cables go once you go longer than 1m. So almost all 2m cords can only operate at USB3.1Gen1 5gbps max. [Again, I need data. 40ghz scopes be expensive, yo.]
Finally with regards to power, you can take a 1m long cord that passes certification at 3a and “cut it down” to .5m, it will still pass at 3a, obviously. However, it MAY or MAY NOT pass at 5a now.
However when you EXTEND a cord to 2m you need to re-engineer it from scratch to carry enough power properly. Resistance goes up, you need thicker wires to compensate. [Longer length / thicker wire = same rating.]
I’ve found some makers screwed up the labeling, and marked 2m Thunderbolt 3 cable as “USB3.1Gen2” capable. This is a massive no-no. If any USB3.1Gen2 device/host combo tries taking up the 2m cable on that advertisement, such as say a hard drive, the data will be corrupted. Very bad news!!!
This is already a major problem with Dell laptops. Plugable actually published a study showing having WiFi (radio frequency) enabled on a Thunderbolt 3 Dell laptop was enough to corrupt the traffic and make TB3 devices error and disconnect!
Furthermore, some manufacturers are also SILENTLY bumping the power rating of the 40gbps cables in the eMarker to 5a. Again, same construction as 1m, but shorter cord at 50cm. So IR drop is naturally less. So they think it’s ok to just bump it up to 5a from 3a.
However, this is a fallacy. Cords need to be specially constructed for 5a at ANY length, not just meet the IR drop requirements. It has to match thermal too. Plus as a result of “silently” doing this (it’s not visible without using a Twinkie to prove the eMarker chip), this can cause problems with certain docks/devices that have glitchy behavior.
Again I can’t name the companies [data provided privately yadda yadda yadda], but there are products where if you connect a 5a cable to it, the product will freak out. The recommended workaround is to only use 3a cables. But what happens when a Thunderbolt 3 cable says 3a on the package, and 5a in the eMarker?
So I dock major points for cables properties not matching the advertised capabilities EXACTLY. This is the reason why. And I do not use the Thunderbolt 3 logo as a “guarantee” cables are good.
Hmm, I believe this issue stems from the fact that USB-C undergoes a few revision without having its “version no” known, something like HDMI, except we actually have 1.4 and the upcoming 2.0 and there’s labels on the cable saying its compatible with what and what.
But wouldn’t this issue be solved in the coming year? I always thought when they moved to USB-C, the cable will be compatible with everything? And with TB3, the connection hardware is moved to the device itself? (Hence cheaper cable unlike TB2)
Listen to Benson Leung … he’s the expert when it comes to anything USB-C (thank you, Benson, for your guides covering this topic!).
Tommy Peters says
Relax folks, the advent of USB in the 1998 iMac drew a similar response from the 9-pinners who were dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. On the bright side, not only would notebooks become thinner, charging adaptors will be uniform across the board. Hint. The charger of the (all USB-c) HP Spectre juices up the MacBook with no issues.
You hit the nail on the head – consumers are going to be confused and upset and likely even with research unable to properly select the correct cable. I’m having a retro moment and thinking about the color-coded plug-ends and jacks for audio equipment (pink, green, blue…). Once upon a time nobody had those, and when you had more than a few cables to route to your computer, you had to guess which one went where. Composite video and RCA jacks are also color-coded. I’m not saying color coding is the solution, but if the plugs and ports all look the same, then consumers need a visual reminder of what goes with what. The USB logos and monikers never worked. Anyway, this is a huge failure of the industry and particularly the chipmakers and spec writers to not consider the potential negative user experience and not come up with a reasonable solution. Nightmare, indeed. Might be too late and we need a Type D spec, which sucks, but OTOH it will let companies sell and market adapters for C-to-D and the tech economy will keep humming along…
Fabian David Tschopp says
And even then, at least USB 2.0/3.0 was fully compatible both ways, apart from speed and some dodgy devices. Not so with USB-C. In the worst case, the devices won’t even be able to tell you why what you plugged in doesn’t work. They should at least have implemented that into USB-C as a requirement… (aka “device rejection”).
The more I look into this, the more I’m confused. If I threw bunch of different types of Type-C cables into a bucket how can I tell what protocol does it support? There doesnt seem to be any standard in marking (symbol) for 2.0, 3.0, 3.1, TB3.
I bought a new MacBook Pro but have had a number of issues with some devices not working – I have a third party hub like device with HDMI out, ethernet, and an SD-card slot – the HDMI connector does not work, an SD card inserted says that it can’t be read. I have a different third part adaptor with HDMI out that works just fine.
I also have a third party USB-C to USB-A adaptor, that seems to work very well – though after having a small USB stick plugged into it for a while, the USB stick itself was super hot which is a worrying sign.
But even with Apple adaptors I have had an issue. Just today I tried using the official Apple Thunderbolt-3 to Thunderbolt 2 adaptor to connect to an external drive storage bay. It seemed to work at first but got slower and slower and then Finder just locked up trying to view contents of a folder. The drive still connects and reads just fine with my old MacBook Pro laptop that has Thunderbolt 2 ports.
Come on- in the past you had a chance at least to physically verify you had the right cable. No-one who had a SCSI device was going to imagine a USB-A cable was the same thing at all…
With USB-C there is no way to visually confirm the cable will work for what you are doing, even reading the specs may not be enough. I bought two adaptors from Amazon to let my output HDMI from a new MacBook Pro. Only one of them works; the other simply fails. Why? I don’t know, but this article probably holds the reason why (the varying ways HDMI output may actually be done by the adaptor). With your example of a SCSI to Firewire800 scenario, the cables would simply never fit so there was no question it would not work – now even if the cable will physically connect it may not work and you will not know why.
On a side note this extends even more to powering the laptop over USB-C – there are a number of devices that provide extra USB-C ports, usually only ONE of them is devoted to power. And because of the MacBook, most of those ports today are rated for 60W max, not the 87W the MacBook Pro 15″ charger puts out (even the new LG monitor produced in partnership with Apple is only 67W if you get the 4K model). I’m not sure what happens when you plug the 87W into a device that is rated for only 60W, my guess is it would probably work – but then your laptop would charge much more slowly (or perhaps not at all when under heavy load), ad again most people would not know why unless they were “very careful to buy exactly the right cable for their devices!”.
Mind you I am completely for USB-C as a universal standard, I think it’s absolutely the future and I like it as well as the Lightning connector. But we should all be very clear about the difficultly people will have moving over to it in the interim and what dangers there may be.
Are Thunderbolt 3 and USB are same?
Are their end have same shape?
This, my friends, is the issue I am trying to raise. Poor Shani here is confused just as I expected most people would be!
Shani: No, Thunderbolt 3 and USB are not the same, even though the ports they use look exactly alike. Re-read the article above. Hopefully your answer lies within.
This is hard for lots of non-tech people. My parents, my siblings, many of my friends, some of my developer friends even… Also, I could go and read the specs once, but having multiple devices and multiple cables all looking the same, as sure as hell I won’t re-read the specs every week. Nobody has time for that.
I mean, your device is burning down but the cable itself is delivering electricity so it should be working, right?
Drop it, man, you’re embarrassing yourself.
Like I said, buy a quality cable and your device doesn’t “burn down.”
That’s the case for a lot of things in life, not just USB cables.
I’m going to buy an expensive good quality cable, as always do. Many non-tech consumers, like my mom, my siblings, my neighbors… well…
Bob Knows says
Yeah, this article was much more helpful, informative, and just slightly less (/s) alarming. https://www.cnet.com/how-to/usb-type-c-thunderbolt-3-one-cable-to-connect-them-all/
Jeff Newton says
Does anybody make a TB 3 “extension” cable (TB 3 male on one end of the cable; TB 3 female on the other)? I want to connect a Firewire 400 audio interface to a TB 3 tablet computer, and don’t want 2 or 3 adapters dangling off the TB 3 port on it. Thanks!
And ACTIVE tb3 cables? Where are they?
None are released yet apart for the 2m one with the LG 5K’s (it supports 40Gbps and 85w charging, at >1m length, thus = active cable).
Philip Lacombe says
Still reads USB 3.1 on my screen 😉
you didnt even read the article
This is what I want to know. Everywhere I look, Intel and manufactures were promising active TB3 cables by 2016… yet none currently exist.
I really want to adopt this technology, despise the massive price, because it will allow me to move my PCs away from my work space (reducing fan noise and cleaning up my work-desk), but the maximum 2m cable length makes this impossible. I’m also extremely worried about the cost of these active cables if/when they do come out, since the current passive ones are already $50-100.
If I understand correctly, the video output of usb type-c has nothing to do with usb bandwidth?
Sanne v W says
I bought a LaCie USB-C external drive. It luckily has 2 cables. USB-C to USB-C and an USB-C to USB 3.0 cable. On the USB-C to USB-C cable is written on the plugs SS 10 so i assume it is capable of 10Gb/s with an USB protocol inside. A seperate Thunderbolt 3 to USB-C cable will cost 60€!
I am using the included USB-C to USB 3.0 cable and it is fine for now.
And then again because it is a platter inside, it won’t exceed 180MB/s (a few Gb/s) anyway i noticed.
It only gets interesting using a raid of ssd’s. When i copy between my internal ssd’s on my Mac Mini i notice 322MB/s for example (like 3 Gb/s) so that’s okay for the speed of USB 3.0.
I didn’t know that there were earlier lower USB-C types on devices and/or cables. Good to know.
Though i will only be using the included 3.0 cable or a thunderbolt to usb-c one and nothing else.
Mark H says
This is exactly why “Type-C” is a better name than “USB-C”: a lot of Type-C has nothing to do with USB. “Majority wins” is generally not the best way to demystify / clear confusion.
I have a 15″ late 2016 MacBook Pro. Looking for a 27″ monitor. I guess a 2K monitor since you can’t get 4K on a 27″ monitor w/MBP because Retinas display DPI (4K on 25″ monitors and below, yes. But you can get 5K on 27″ monitors) anyway.. to get full 2K and 60hz what cable types work with what monitor to get full features i.e. Sound control, charging capabilities, mirroring, clamshell, if I need adapters and or toggle combos that’s ok. Just something that works. Hopfully in the $400 range. From what I’m reading display port is the best way to go. So do I get a USB-C to DisplayPort cable. Does DisplayPort cables work with certain hdmi ports in a monitor or just USB-C to displayport and find a monitor with Displayports? Does anyone have specifics for what monitor and cables to buy that will work for MBP 15″ late 2016. Thankd
Jory Rock says
Have you found TB 3 extension yet? I am looking for this as well.
zubair kazi says
Nice article but it’s quite straightforward. Just buy cables with the Thunderbolt logo on it at all times.
Graham Winstanley says
Stephen, your article sums up the world of technology for me. Maybe it’s old age setting in but each new device I buy becomes a war of attrition rather than a joyful unboxing experience. It’s as if these companies assume we were all in on every stage of development and no explanation or user guide is necessary.
I hate this attitude of “Google it” or “search for a How-to on YouTube”.
Not all Thunderbolt 3 cables are active. TB3 supports passive cable with 40Gb/s with a max length of 0.5m. Longer cables are either active and support 40Gb/s or passive and then it goes down to 20Gb/s.
And this is were it gets even more confusing. According to caldigit TB3 active cables do not support neither USB 3.1 nor USB 3.0 but only USB 2.0. “(NOTE: Active cables do not support USB3.0 & USB3.1. Only USB2.0.)” which you can find here:
http://shop.caldigit.com/us/Accessories/Cables/TBT3-A10B-540 and here:
I don’t know if this is the case of other manufacturers and a general thing or only specific to caldigit. I haven’t been able to find more info on that.
Brett Russo says
I’ve solved this delemia, just send the money to buy only 40gb 100 watt cables for all USB-C devices. Use only the Apple charge cable to power MacBooks, don’t use dongles use USB 3 to USB C cables.
Darwin Foye says
Great article! I too am going through a dilemma of cable incompatibility.
I just purchased the new 27″ iMac 5K and am trying to connect my older Apple 24” LED Cinema Display as an external monitor (which has a Mini DisplayPort male connector). After talking with the so-called geniuses at the Apple Store, no one had a clear answer as to whether this can be done. Then I tried Apple’s tech support, and they too were confused. After great deliberation they claim the display cannot be connected to the Thunderbolt 3 port on the iMac. I’ve initially tried Apple’s Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adapter to no avail. Then tried two USB-C to Mini DisplayPort adapters from two different manufacturers (both from Amazon), and these too did not work.
Does any body have a solution?
Paul A C says
Just to clarify
Newer android devices, Google Pixel, Oneplus 5 etc, I have display docks like the anker USB display hub which worked perfectly fine on my HTC 10 £40 so not cheap, this same connector does not work on either the pixel nor the One plus 5, however Displaylink compatible devices WITH the app installed allow a HDMI connection to go through, with that being said the Displaylink devices freeze after around 8 mins on the stock kernel and from what i’ve seen, stock based custom roms even with custom kernels, doesn’t seem to be able to provide a stable enough power flow for continued usage.
is there anything that can be done to get the old ones working? Or is this just a hardware limitation?
“I have no idea [..]”, but I will quickly and relentlessly judge everyone and everything around me.
^^ Then, still, people wonder why I used to slap ’em around in high school..;)
Benson Leung says
#1 : My company (Google) and my team in particular were on the USB Working Group that defined the USB Type-C specification, and I have extensively studied the USB Type-C and Power Delivery specification, so when I make statements about how USB Type-C and Power Delivery work, it’s based on the fact that we helped invent those standards and we use them in all of our Chromebook and Android products.
#2 : My company does not do anything presently with Thunderbolt 3, and we were not involved in its creation, so that’s why I said I have no idea how TB3 cables work. Rather than talking speculatively, I spoke truthfully. I’m not an expert on Thunderbolt.
#3 : Admitting you physically assault, bully, and harass others is ballsy. Consider yourself reported for harassment.
Likely want ‘optical’ TB3 cables for such use. I contacted Corning, who currently do the TB1/2 ones, and they said likely late 2018 at the earliest!
Ridiculous, given TB was meant to be an optical connection in the first place and has now been put into the background in favour of shorter copper ONLY!
Hey, appreciate your article! A bit of a vent here (at “USB-C”, haha), but man, why are all USB-C hubs pass-through only? I have to date never seen a USB-C hub that features more than 2 USB-C port (one port, naturally, needs to connect to the source PC/power) which leaves you with only one USB-C port for another USB-C device.
So basically, the unspoken message from the manufacturers is, “hey, we only know how to make pass-through connections for USB-C!”. Hmm.
At the cost these USB-C hubs are coming at, if I have to daisy chain my 2 USB-C tablets (10-inch, 7-inch), my 2 USB-C phones (yes I have 2, don’t ask me why), my 2 USB-C external HDD units, and my USB-C portable monitor, I’m looking at like, $720 (if I pay about $90 per hub) worth of daisy-chained hubs. Expensive! And more importantly, ugly!!!
I think the ultimate USB-C expansion hub of 2018, is going to be the Belkin 12-outlet power strip. It’s sad, but it’s the only true place of support for all my USB-C devices.
And they call this progress?
My ex, Alan, bought a used computer and then took one of the cords off my machine and plugged it in. B/c it fit, he then went to use the printer, but it was broken. He then blamed me b/c it was my cord. I told him I did NOT tell him to use my cord, and he started swearing at me. After that outburst, I did NOT have s-x with him for a week. I did not miss that either. FOOEY on him!
Try a variation on what I did here years ago, with a USB-C to DP adapter:
The Truth is a Troll says
“Admitting you physically assault, bully, and harass others is ballsy. Consider yourself reported for harassment.”
Dishonest conclusion drawn from what was obviously a joke. You certainly *deserve* to be physically assaulted for deceptively misrepresenting someone’s remarks like that. Here’s hoping!
Nope, what we ended up with was USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C SuperSpeed+. Make sure you don’t plug into the USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 1×2, or USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 adapter . The spec writers have lost their fucking minds.