Cheap ThunderBolt CablesLast Updated: January 2nd, 2017
Shopping for an extra, longer or cheap ThunderBolt cable? For well over a year, Apple was initially the sole supplier of ThunderBolt device cables. Many of the first ThunderBolt drives that shipped did NOT include cabling in the box. That's starting to change as more ThunderBolt accessories and drives hit the market. Some, but not all manufacturers now bundle a ThunderBolt cable along with the device - but it's CRITICAL to make sure if it's included or not when purchasing a ThunderBolt device. Otherwise you'll face additional expense and delays using your new ThunderBolt drives, accessories and peripherals.
Apple Brand ThunderBolt Cable6.5 Feet - 2 Meter Apple ThunderBolt Cable
Cheap ThunderBolt Cable Options From 3rd-PartiesFor those wanting purchase not just white but a black colored, much tidier and shorter, or longer ThunderBolt cable -- you may find 3rd-party ThunderBolt cables as an alternate to Apple's white ThunderBolt cables. NOTE: Originally priced around a rather outrageous $50, Apple brand ThunderBolt cables in 2 lengths are now priced in the $25-$35 USD range. While initially more affordable than Apple brand solution, cheaper 3rd-party ThunderBolt cables hit the market undercutting Apple prices. But Apple has retaliated and may now be undercutting some of them! You'll need to check prices carefully to see who really does offer the best price on any given cable length. Do note that 3rd-parties are more likely to offer alternate and longer cable lengths other than the two fixed .5m and 2.0m offerings from Apple.
Accell TBolt Cabling
Kanex ThunderBolt Cables
.5, 1m, 2m, 3m Lenghts
StarTech ThunderBolt Cables
.5, 1m, 2m, 3m Lenghts
1.6 Feet Long
ElGato ThunderBolt Cable
Cheap ThunderBolt 3 CablesAs the ThunderBolt interface evolves to 3rd generation 40Gbps speeds, the quality of cabling is going to matter. Cheap ThunderBolt 3 cables are starting to appear on the market - tho note they have a SPEED-RATING specified. It's not uncommon to see ThunderBolt3 cables listed as '20Gbps' or '40Gbps' certified depending on how data intensive the peripheral device is on bandwidth. If you're pushing multiple Ultra 4K & 5K HD displays and serious multi-drive ThunderBolt 3 RAID drive array's you'll want to stick with major brand names and ThunderBolt3 cabling rated for 40Gbps speeds.
Why ThunderBolt Cables Are ExpensiveOver time we'll see even more manufacturers jump in and hopefully lead to cheaper ThunderBolt cables on the market. Frankly, pricing in the $25-50 USD range is ridiculous and a rather steep added expense for the far-too-many ThunderBolt accessories and drives which don't come bundled with the necessary cable. However, the technology inside a ThunderBolt's active cabling scheme will always make them pricey. Inside each end of Apple's cable is a GN2033 I/O transciever. It's a tiny, low-power transceiver chip that's needed inside the port connectors at both ends of a Thunderbolt cable to insure data signal integrity.
Active cables with these transcievers are what allows very high speed bidirectional 10, 20, 40Gb/s simultaneous links over two channels using copper wiring. Unlike normal passive cables like that can be had cheaply, the unprecedented data rates of Apple's Thunderbolt technology places very high demands on the cable quality. The Semtech GN2033 transciever provides advanced signal management required to transfer high-speed information without electrical interference or data and bit errors across a Thunderbolt cable.
ThunderBolt cable manufacturers that can offer more competitive cable prices now include: Apple, Belkin, Kanex, Startech, and others.
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