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Thunderbolt 3 cables not all created equal...
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iBBS Addict
Picture of CHunter
posted
This week I’ve been educated that Thunderbolt 3 cables are not all created equal.
In a desire to want a longer cable for my OWC dock Thunderbolt 3 dock, which came
with a 18” cable, I used the cable that came with my Mac. It’s about 4 to 5 feet in length.

The result was that my OWC dock would only power my laptop and not any of the externals
that were connected. Once I reinserted the 18” cable, all was well again. I wondered
“what was up with that” and did a little research. This article from 2017 explained a lot.
But what I garnered from reading this is that I can not use a Thunderbolt 3 cable longer
than 18” (40Gb/s) for this OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock in order for it to work according to specs.
Which seems to be a fault of Thunderbolt cables and not the dock itself.

Could those of you who know these things weigh in, please?
This 18” is way to short for where I need my equipment located.

Here’s the article I read.
PSA: Thunderbolt 3 cables longer than .5m generally don’t support USB 3.1 speeds.

Here’s the OWC cables:
OWC .5m Thunderbolt 3 (40Gb/s) USB-C cable

Here’s the dock I purchased:
OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock (13 ports)


I’ve noticed on the OWC site, they offer the Thunderbolt 3 cables in longer lengths.
But I’ve noticed that:
1. At 18”, the “Cable Design” is listed as Passive. In the longer cables, “Cable Design”
is listed as Active. Would that make a difference for this unit.
2. And the longer cables do not have “Native DisplyPort” support. Does this mean that
my external monitor will not work with this cable connected?
3. Am I, for now, limited to this 18” cable?

Thanks for your help,
 
Posts: 1624 | Registered: June 16, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
iBBS Addict
Picture of James R. Cutler
posted Hide Post
The first referenced article is pretty good and their recommendations are OK.

Active/passive relates to data transfer capability - the longer cable needs the electronics to make up for cable loss, which is minimal at 18". A dock is needed for transition from the active cable to USB 3.1.

The scoop: The OWC cable is full Thunderbolt while the Apple supplied power cable is exactly what it says - power (only), not data.

I've always had success with Cable Matters, among others. You have to read the specifications very carefully. And, of course, be ready to return unsatisfactory products.
 
Posts: 1979 | Registered: January 02, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
iBBS Addict
Picture of CHunter
posted Hide Post
Yes, Jim,
One does have to read the specifications
very carefully, and get more insight.
I noted on your first response (links) that:
1. One longer cable kept the USB 3.1 capability
but lost the 40Gb/s capability, or
2. The other longer cable kept the 40Gb/s capability
but lost the USB 3.1 capability. (and OMG, the price!)

The shorter 18" cable, is the cable that seems
to maintain the desired/needed specs.

I think I will make do with what I have, for now,
until technology makes the longer cable I want.

Thank you kindly for your input.
 
Posts: 1624 | Registered: June 16, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Poobah
Picture of Dave
posted Hide Post
The cable that came with your MBP is for charging. It will move data but only at USB 2.0 speeds. It is not Thunderbolt 3 compatible. Apple sells the Thunderbolt 3 cable separately but I believe it too is only 18" in length.


Dave McGuire
President - MacGroup Detroit

"What if the Hokey Pokey really IS what it's all about?"
 
Posts: 2119 | Location: Orion Twp, Michigan | Registered: July 25, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
iBBS Addict
Picture of Calvin
posted Hide Post
Yes the specs are all over the board for Thunderbolt. I know the cables are aggressively priced so shopping around and of course reading is the key.

Perhaps this one might meet your needs but the price is ....

https://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=24720


Calvin Carson

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


"portions of todays programming are reproduced by means of electrical transcriptions or tape recordings."

"....Mailbox!....Open.......... MailBox!"

"I was exposed to the GUI and have been stuck ever since!"

"Remember.. Under our clothes...we are all naked"
 
Posts: 1727 | Location: Detroit,MI,USA | Registered: June 10, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
iBBS Addict
Picture of CHunter
posted Hide Post
Thanks Cal.
I'll review all of this.
 
Posts: 1624 | Registered: June 16, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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