3 Best Thunderbolt 4 Cables – Buying Guide (2021)

Best Thunderbolt 4 Cables

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The best Thunderbolt 4 cable delivers a quality connection between your device and PC. Intel announced Thunderbolt 4 in 2020, and it has since found its way to consumer devices, including laptops and docking stations.

This short buying guide will help you find the best Thunderbolt 4 cables in the market to get the best out of your new Thunderbolt 4 devices or improve the performance of your existing Thunderbolt 3 ecosystem. Looking for other Thunderbolt 4 accessories? Check out our other buying guides on the best Thunderbolt 4 docking stations and a complete list of Thunderbolt 4 laptops.

While Thunderbolt 4 didn’t bring significant upgrades in terms of speed and features, it significantly improves our user experience and confidence when buying new Thunderbolt products. All Thunderbolt 4 products must be certified. Rest assured that your performance will be reliable no matter which Thunderbolt 4 cable you end up buying.

Thunderbolt 4 Vs. Thunderbolt 3 Cables

Buying a Thunderbolt 4 cable can improve the performance of your existing Thunderbolt 3 setup. Previously, Thunderbolt 3 was restricted to 0.5m if you wanted the full 40Gbps bandwidth. Beyond 0.5m, an active cable was required, or the bandwidth dropped to 20Gbps.

Active Thunderbolt 3 cables are great and can support 40Gbps over two meters, but there is one problem. According to 9to5Mac, active Thunderbolt 3 cables lack support for USB 3(x). When you connect a 2m Tb3 cable to a USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 device, the connection reverts to USB 2.0 speeds. Another downside is that active cables don’t support USB-C monitors.

You can solve most of the Thunderbolt 3 challenges by simply getting a Thunderbolt 4 cable. A Thunderbolt 4 cable brings support for 40Gbps and USB3x over longer distances up to 2 meters (6.56 feet). You can also connect a USB-C monitor to a long 2m Thunderbolt cable.

In addition, Thunderbolt 4 cables bring other performance improvements with support for 3,000MBps transfer speeds on compatible external drives. Unlike Thunderbolt 3, all Thunderbolt 4 cables now support up to 100W power delivery for laptop charging. Falling victim to Thunderbolt 3 cables that only support 15W charging is a thing of the past.

If you don’t have Thunderbolt 4 devices yet, investing in a Thunderbolt 4 cable for your setup can significantly improve the reliability and performance of your Thunderbolt 3 devices.

When buying a Thunderbolt 4 cable, look for a lighting logo and the number 4. Shopping made easy.

Best Thunderbolt 4 Cables Compared

ImageProductDetailsCheck Price
CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 Cable on Amazon
CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 CableLength: 0.8m, 2.0m
Cable Jacket: TPE
Warranty: 2 years
Check on Amazon
Cable Matters 40Gbps USB4 Thunderbolt 4 Cable on Amazon
Cable Matters 40Gbps USB4 Thunderbolt 4 CableLength: 0.8m
Cable Jacket: TPE
Warranty: 1 year
Check on Amazon
Zikko Thunderbolt 4 CableLength: 0.8m, 2.0m
Cable Jacket: TPE
Warranty: 1 year
Check on Zikko

Best Thunderbolt 4 Cables – Our Picks

1. CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 Cable – Best Thunderbolt 4 Cable

CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 cable is an Intel Certified cable that allows you to get the best out of your new Thunderbolt 4 product. It’s made by CaDigit, the company behind the best Thunderbolt 3 docking station on the market. We expect this cable to be as reliable as their previous Thunderbolt products.

The cable is available in two sizes: 0.8m or 2m.

As you’d expect, CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 supports the full 40Gbps bandwidth required to support higher resolutions up to 8k. It supports up to 100W charging on PD capable USB-C devices and amazing 3,000MBps transfer speeds on compatible storage drives. The cable is fully compatible with USB4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB-C devices, such as the iPad Pro.

Another feature I like about the CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 is its build quality. The cable is made with premium construction ensuring maximum durability and consistent performance at all times. E-Marker chips on both ends of the cable allow it to deliver the right amount of power to connected devices to prevent damage from excess power.

The 2-year warranty should give you peace of mind knowing that you’re covered against faults or damage.

Our Take

If you’re looking for a reliable Thunderbolt 4 cable for your new Thunderbolt 4 laptop, the CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 is a good option. It is Intel Certified and made by a reputable company, so you can trust the performance and build quality of the cable. However CalDigit only offers the cable in 0.8m as of now, but plans on a longer variant are underway.

PROS
  • Intel Certified
  • Premium build quality
  • e-Marker chips to prevent excess power delivery
  • 2-year warranty
CONS
  • Only available in 0.8m

2. Cable Matters 40Gbps USB4 Thunderbolt 4 Cable – Best Budget Thunderbolt 4 Cable

Cable Matters Thunderbolt 4 Cable is another Thunderbolt 4 cable made by a reputable company. It is Intel Certified, so you know your performance is going to be reliable. The cable is available in black and 0.8m in size.

The Cable Matters Thunderbolt 4 cable is great if you’re looking for an affordable cable that meets all the requirements of the Thunderbolt 4 specification. And since all Tb4 cables have to be certified, the only difference compared to the CalDigit offering is the build quality. The CalDigit has an overall better build quality.

In terms of performance, the Cable Matters Thunderbolt 4 cable supports 40Gbps bandwidth, resolutions up to 8K, 3,000MBps transfer speeds, and all Thunderbolt 4 minimum requirements. It brings wider compatibility to many devices, including USB4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB-C peripherals.

Again, Cable Matters is a company that has been in the market for a long making excellent computer accessories, including Thunderbolt cables, Thunderbolt docking stations, and Thunderbolt adapters. While cheap, this Thunderbolt 4 cable will deliver outstanding performance and reliability on your devices and peripherals.

Our Take

Cheap and reliable, Cable Matters Thunderbolt 4 Cable is the one you need if you want the best bang for your buck. It is tested and certified to meet all the Thunderbolt 4 specs and requirements. The only downside is that it is only available in 0.8m, but it won’t be a problem for most desk setups.

PROS
  • Intel Certified
  • Great value
  • Reliable build quality
  • 1-year replacement warranty
CONS
  • Only available in 0.8m

3. Zikko Thunderbolt 4 Cable

Zikko Thunderbolt 4 Cable might be the most expensive Thunderbolt 4 cable in the market, but it is pretty much justified. It has excellent build quality, and it is the only Thunderbolt 4 cable available in 2m size.

Unlike other brands, Zikko isn’t much popular in the market, although they have been around for a while. The company received Thunderbolt certification from Intel in 2017 and has since produced several Thunderbolt 3 cables and docking stations. The Thunderbolt 4 cable is one of their latest Thunderbolt products, along with a new Thunderbolt 4 docking station.

The cable is available in 0.8 and 2m. The latter can support full 40Gbps bandwidth on longer distances up to 2m, previously not achievable with Thunderbolt 3. It is also fully compatible with USB-C monitors and devices at 2m.

Like most certified Thunderbolt 4 cables, Zikko supports all the minimum requirements of Thunderbolt 4, including 40Gbps support at 2 meters, higher resolutions up to 8k, 100w power delivery, 10GbE networking, and more. It is also backward compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4.

Zikko Thunderbolt 4 Cable is one of the best-constructed Thunderbolt 4 cables in the market. It’s made with premium materials, including micro tinned copper braid shielding and a flexible TPE cable jacket for durability. With this, you won’t upgrade to another Thunderbolt 4 cable soon.

Our Take

If you’re looking for a longer Thunderbolt 4 cable up to 2m, Zikko Thunderbolt 4 Cable is the only option in the market. It’s expensive, but it is worth paying more knowing you’re getting a reliable and durable product. While Zikko isn’t as popular as CalDigit or Cable Matters, you can buy with confidence since the cable is certified by Intel.

PROS
  • Intel Certified
  • Available up to 2m
  • Reliable construction
  • 1-year warranty
CONS
  • Risk buying from a non-established brand

Choosing the Best Thunderbolt 4 Cables – Our Buying Guide

It’s easy buying a Thunderbolt 4 cable right now than any product else. That’s because all Thunderbolt 4 cables must be certified, so no matter which brand you end up buying, you’re always going to get the same performance and features.

All Thunderbolt 4 cables will support 40Gbps over up to 2 meters, high resolutions up to 8K, dual 4k displays, fast 3,000MBps storage speeds on compatible external drives, 100W power delivery, and all the other features in the Thunderbolt 4 Specification.

However, there are still some factors and differences that help you find just the best Thunderbolt 4 cable for your needs because w

Length

Thunderbolt 4 supports high speeds up to 2 meters, meaning you don’t have to stress yourself on the shenanigans of active and passive cables. You’ll still get the same performance and features despite the length of the cable.

Most Thunderbolt 4 cables are available in 0.8m, which is ideal for most desk setups. Plus, shorter cables are cheap and reduce cable clutter on your desk. The CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 cable is the best available in this size, but you can also select the Cable Matters if you want the best value for your money.

If you’re building a laptop gaming setup, you can benefit more from a longer Thunderbolt 4 cable. Longer cables also give you the flexibility of arranging your desktop the way you want. You can route cables in every direction or place your devices as far as possible and still connect them to your PC.

However, you’ve limited options if you’re looking for a longer Thunderbolt 4 cable. Only Zikko offers one in this size, and it is not available on Amazon.

Cable Jacket

Most companies tend to use braided cable jacket to improve the durability of cables. It works, but it also reduces the flexibility of the cable. If your setup requires bending cables to connect some devices, this is not the kind of cable you want.

Most of the Thunderbolt 3 cables on the market come with flexible TPE cable jacket, so you’ll be good with either of them. Although, I’ll give credit to CalDigit for their excellent build quality and measures to protect your devices from damage caused by excess power delivery.

Warranty

Who does not want peace of mind when buying new stuff? It does matter if I am spending a dime, I always look for a warranty.

Most of the Thunderbolt 4 cables are backed with a warranty to cushion you against faults and damage. It can be a year or a lifetime warranty, depending on the company. It’s always good to buy a product with the best warranty and favorable return policy.

For Thunderbolt 4 cables, CalDigit has the best warranty of 2 years.

Best Thunderbolt 4 Cables – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3 cable?

A Thunderbolt 4 cable can support 40Gbps over 2 meters with USB 3.1 (Type-C) support, while Thunderbolt 3 cable is limited to 0.5m. Unlike Thunderbolt 3, all Thunderbolt 4 cables support 100W power delivery.

Can I use a Thunderbolt 4 cable with a Thunderbolt 3 docking station?

Yes. Thunderbolt 4 is backward compatible, so all Thunderbolt 4 cables will work with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C devices, including docking stations.

How do I identify a Thunderbolt 4 cable?

All Thunderbolt 4 cables are marked with a Thunderbolt (lighting) logo and a number 4, making them easy to identify.

Can I connect a Thunderbolt 4 cable to my iPad Pro?

Yes. Thunderbolt 4 is fully compatible with USB-C devices, including laptops and tablets. You can use a Thunderbolt 4 cable to connect your iPad Pro to a Thunderbolt monitor.

Sources: 9to5Mac

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