Thunderbolt cable options open up for Apple Mac users

At three meters, StarTech's copper cable is the longest for Thunderbolt ports in Macs

The number of options available for Mac users to buy Thunderbolt cables from outside Apple is growing, with companies announcing longer and competitively priced cables that will also work with upcoming Windows PCs with Thunderbolt ports.

StarTech announced a Thunderbolt cable that is three meters long, which is the longest copper cable available yet. The cable is available for backorder on the UK-based company's website for £56.99 (US$90 as of Monday).

The first Thunderbolt ports were introduced in Apple's Mac computers in February last year, but customers were earlier restricted to buying a $49 two-meter cable from Apple. The exclusivity broke when Elgato in April announced a 0.5-meter Thunderbolt cable for $59.

Kanex said Monday that this week it would start shipping a two-meter cable for $59.95. Sumitomo is already offering a two-meter cable in Japan for ¥4,500 (US$56). But Apple's Thunderbolt cable remains a cheaper option compared to Kanex and Sumitomo.

Thunderbolt is a high-speed connector technology that shuttles data between computers and peripherals. Co-developed by Apple and Intel, Thunderbolt offers data transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps (gigabits per second), making it a faster alternative to USB 3.0. The companies claim a high-definition movie can be transferred from an external storage device to a laptop in less than 30 seconds. The technology also allows daisy-chaining up to five peripherals, so a longer cable run can make it easier to attach more devices to a single Thunderbolt port.

StarTech's three-meter TBOLTMM3M cable will carry power, reducing the need for some peripherals such as storage devices to connect to power outlets. The three-foot cable will transfer data at the full 10Gbps over the cable.

The current Thunderbolt cables are based on copper, and faster optical cables are expected in the future. Sumitomo has shown a 20-meter optical cable, though it has not said when it will ship. While copper cables can carry power, optical cables cannot carry power and will require peripherals to connect to power outlets.

Lenovo, Acer and Asus have already announced laptops with Thunderbolt ports, though products are not yet available. The ports will also appear in ultrabooks, a form of thin-and-light laptops backed by Intel. Intel is soon expected to announce new chips based on the Ivy Bridge architecture for ultrabooks, which will better support the Thunderbolt interconnect.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?