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[RANT] Why is it so hard to find working Thunderbolt 3 cables?


As the title says, why is it so hard to find a TBT3 cable that works every time and works reliably?

I've been through almost a dozen of them, and so far, only TWO models work reliably with wiggles and strains.

So far, here is a list of cables that I've been through:

Caldigit 0.6m 40Gbps
OWC 0.5m 40Gbps
OWC 2m 40Gbps (the only active cable on the list)
Lenovo eGPU bundled (no brand) 0.3m 40Gbps
Gigabyte eGPU bundles (no brand) 0.3m 40Gbps
CY SSD bundled (no brand) 0.5m 40Gbps
Pluggable 2m 20Gbps*2
Apple 0.8m 40Gbps*2

So, among totally 10 cables, only the last two models, totally 4 units, worked, and two of them are half speed cables.

Besides Apple, I was not able to find any 40Gbps cables that would not drop connection when being wiggled.

I don't believe Apple has any magic in it, but it seems only they are able to get 40Gbps cables done right.

I would much appreciate if someone can make a reliable 0.8m cable that's in black color, better if they are 1m/2m active ones.

OWC and Caldigit all live on selling TBT3 peripherals, yet neither got their cables done right.

Startech do some great cables. Have a look in their Cables - Thunderbolt 3 section and note that some are marked up as 20Gbps, 40Gbps, supporting 100W power delivery etc... The 0.8m do it all cable is working well here in Sweden.

Hope they work out for you.

Belkin cables are reliable too (and, ahem, reassuringly expensive). I've got an active 2m 40Gb/s one here powering the MacBook Pro, feeding two screens, a USB 3 disk, a semi-pro audio interface, a couple of USB hubs and an old Microsoft mouse all via a Belkin dock. Gets quite a bit of physical movement. No problems so far in a few months use.

I suspect the difficulty getting reliable ones is that maintaining signal integrity at 40 Gb/s is not exactly easy. Some manufacturers will just get there, under laboratory conditions, others will leave enough margin to cope with the real world too.

Mr. Scram:
I've had all kinds of problems with Startech active VGA cables in the past. They just kept dying in large volumes. I can't comment on their other cables. It may have been that one model.


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