The best USB-C & Thunderbolt cables for 2022on October 30, 2022 at 07:50 Tech Advisor

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When USB-C ports first started appearing on phones and laptops, we rejoiced because finally the days of trying to plug the cable in upside down were over. Unlike old-school USB-A or, worse, MicroUSB, the USB-C connector is reversible, so both ways are the right way.

But there’s a problem. USB-C is merely the connector type, and not all USB cables are created equal. They differ wildly in charging and data-transfer speeds, which means some might not be able to charge your device and some might not transfer data to it.

Further confusing matters is the fact the USB-C connector is identical in design to another standard known as Thunderbolt, but it hasn’t always operated in exactly the same way.

Jump down to our USB-C and Thunderbolt cables buying advice, or scroll on for our top USB-C cable recommendations. The important thing is to know what you need the cable for: just charging, just data transfer, or both—and then whether you want USB-C to USB-C or USB-C to another connector type, such as USB-A or Apple’s Lightning plug.

Best USB-C and Thunderbolt Cable Reviews

SyncWire USB-C to USB-C Charging Cable 2.0 – Best 100W USB-C Charging Cable

Pros

100W charging

Braided

Cons

Slow data transfer

RRP:



£11.99

Best Prices Today:


£12.99 at Amazon

Charging: 100W

Data: 0.48Gbps

Bends tested: 30,000

Length: 2m (6.6ft)

This SyncWire USB-C to USB-C cable has a lot going for it, including support for up to 100W charging over Power Delivery 3.0/Quick Charge 4.0, an extremely durable design, a useful length, and an affordable price tag.

2m/6.6ft in length, this nylon braided cable is allegedly able to hold up to 10kg of weight, and withstand more than 10,000 connections and 30,000 bends—we haven’t replicated so many bends but for each cable that has a bend claim we include it here.

Even if you’re charging your device multiple times per day, this is a cable that is going to last you some time. For additional peace of mind, the standard 12-month warranty can be upgraded to 36 months through a Bonus Warranty programme.

Long cables such as this can lead to clutter on your desk, but an included handy Velcro loop helps to keep things neat.

It’s ideal for charging a USB-C phone, tablet or laptop, but in terms of data transfer this SyncWire cable supports USB 2.0 and so isn’t the fastest for data transfer as it maxes out at 480Mbps (0.48Gbps). There are faster data cables at 5Gbps and Thunderbolt and USB4 at a much more impressive 40Gbps. 

Anker 515 USB-C to USB-C Cable (USB4) – Best cable for speed and charging

Pros

240W charging

40Gbps data transfer

Cons

Short length

Not braided

RRP:



£28.99

Best Prices Today:


£27.99 at Amazon |
£27.99 at Anker

Charging: 240W

Data: 40Gbps

Bends tested: 5,000

Length: 1m (3.3ft)

Some of the latest laptops support Power Delivery 3.1 (PD 3.1), which supports charging at up to 240W—a massive increase on PD 3.0’s 100W limit. Of course, you’ll need a powerful charger to take advantage of that super wattage, and most laptops won’t take advantage of so much power anyway—although if your charger has multiple ports it allows for fast-charging of several devices at the same time.

As a modern USB4 cable, this is compatible with Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3 and all versions of USB-C, and can handle data transfer at an impressive 40Gbps.

Cable Matters USB4 Thunderbolt 4 Cable (0.8m) – Best USB-C cable for speed

Pros

100W charging

40Gbps data transfer

Backwards compatible

Cons

Short length

Not braided

RRP:



£30.99

Charging: 100W

Data: 40Gbps

Bends tested: Not stated

Length: 0.8m (2.6ft)

USB4 / Thunderbolt 4 is the latest version of USB-C, and will work with all USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 and 4 devices.

With USB4, you get 100W charging and super-fast 40Gbps data transfer. This cable features active repeater chips that boost the signal, preserving full 40Gbps performance.

Buy USB4 or Thunderbolt 4 cables even if you don’t have a fast-connection computer, as it’s backwards compatible all the way back to USB 2.0, and offers a level of future-proofing for when you upgrade.

As with many USB4/Thunderbolt cables, it’s short (0.8m or 2.6ft). Cable Matters sells a 2m (6.6ft) USB4 Cable but the price does pretty much double.

Anker Powerline II USB-C to USB-C Cable – Best value USB-C cable

Pros

60W charging

Cons

Slow data transfer

Not braided

RRP:



£8.99

Best Prices Today:


£8.99 at Amazon

Charging: 60W

Data: 0.48Gbps

Bends tested: 30,000

Length: 1.8m (6ft)

This USB-C to USB-C cable from Anker is USB-IF-certified and comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.

The company makes great claims about its durability, suggesting it can be bent up to 30,000 times and will last 12 times longer than weaker cables.

This is an affordably priced cable with a convenient 1.8m (6ft) length. Just bear in mind that it’s only certified for USB 2.0 speeds, and can deliver up to 60W of power. This makes it a good choice for charging compatible phones and mid-sized laptops, but faster data-transfer speeds will be found elsewhere.

It’s available in either white or black.

Satechi USB-C to USB-C Cable – Quality USB-C charging cable

Pros

100W charging

Braided

Cons

Slow data transfer

RRP:



£22.49

Best Prices Today:


£19.99 at Satechi |
£26.70 at Amazon

Charging: 100W

Data: 0.48Gbps

Bends tested: Not stated

Length: 2m (6.6ft)

This Satechi USB-C to USB-C cable is a great choice if you’re after a durable cable that supports fast 100W charging.

It’s a useful length at 2m (6.6ft), and we love the double-braided nylon casing—expect this cable to outlive cheaper examples many times over. A small Velcro strap is included to help keep cables tangle-free when coiled.

Data transfer is limited to a maximum 480Mbps (0.48Gbps) over the USB 2.0 standard, so look for faster cables if you are transferring data between devices, such as computer to hard drives..

Ugreen USB-C to USB-C Cable – Best right-angle connector USB-C cable

Pros

100W

Braided

Right-angle connector

Cons

Slow data transfer

RRP:



£10.99

Best Prices Today:


£10.99 at Amazon

Charging: 100W

Data: 0.48Gbps

Bends tested: Not stated

Length: 1m (3.3ft)

Some people swear by right-angled connectors as it should mean less bend and so less stress on the connector end of the cable. The Oculus Riift headset, for instance, uses a right-angled connector.

Ugreen has a wide range of USB-C cables and several, in varying lengths, with a right-angled connector on one or both ends. Check out the full range on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

Apple Thunderbolt 4 Pro Cable – Best long Thunderbolt 4 cable

Pros

100W

40Gbps

Braided

Long

Cons

Expensive

RRP:



£159

Best Prices Today:


£159 at Apple

Charging: 100W

Data: 40Gbps

Bends tested: Not stated

Length: 3m (9.8ft)

Apple’s white USB-C to USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 cables are fine but not as robust as others we have reviewed here. Its black braided Thunderbolt 4 cable, on the other hand, is built to last.

As a Thunderbolt 4 cable, it’s super fast, supports 100W charging and is backwards compatible with USB-C.

Its other super strength is its ability to carry 40Gbps data transfer over a near 10-foot cable; 10Gbps if attached to USB 3.1 rather than Thunderbolt or USB4.

Its drawback is its price–woah!

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Cable – Best Thunderbolt 3 cable

Pros

100W charging

40Gbps data transfer

Cons

Thunderbolt 3 not 4

Short length

Not braided

RRP:



£24.95

Best Prices Today:


£24.95 at Amazon

Charging: 100W

Data: 40Gbps

Bends tested: Not stated

Length: 0.8m (2.6ft)

This Thunderbolt 3 cable from Plugable is one of the best all-rounders here when used with a compatible storage device or Windows or Mac PC or laptop. It offers the fastest data-transfer speeds, can carry enough charge to power most laptops, and it has an appealingly low price.

Thunderbolt 3 cable is usually a little cheaper than Thunderbolt 4 or USB4. One of the main differences is that every Thunderbolt 4 laptop supports two 4K displays or one 8K display. Thunderbolt 3, on the other hand, is only required to support one 4K monitor. Some do support two n4K displays, but some don’t, so you are safer with the latest certified version.

When paired with a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port you can expect theoretical data-transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps, which makes this cable well suited to carrying 4K+ video. You’ll get lower bandwidth with a USB-C 3.1 port, but still up to 10Gbps.

As with many Thunderbolt 3 cables it is reasonably short, just 0.8m (2.6ft), which helps it to maintain performance. It also lacks the nylon braided housing of some of the more durable cables here, though it does come with a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.

Thunderbolt 3 cables are great but if you can find Thunderbolt 4 cheaper, go for the latest version.

Anker Powerline+ USB-C to USB-A Cable – Best USB-C to USB-A Cable

Pros

Affordable

5Gbps data transfer

Braided

RRP:



£7.99

Best Prices Today:


£5.99 at Anker |
£7.99 at Amazon

Charging: 15W

Data: 5Gbps

Bends tested: Not stated

Length: 0.9m (3ft)

Some computers and chargers still have the old-fashioned non-reversible, rectangular USB-A connection. If you want to connect a more modern USB-C device, then you need a cable with USB-C on one end and USB-A on the other.

This quality USB-C to USB-A cable can charge at up to 15W and supports USB 3.1 so can transfer data at 5Gbps—much faster than many cables that are stuck at USB 2.0’s 480Mbps. Don’t expect to charge a laptop with this cable but it will charge a phone or tablet just fine.

It’s available in either gray or red, and is a robust double-braided cable.

Amazon Basics USB-C to USB-A Cable – Best value USB-A to USB-C cable

Pros

Affordable

Cons

Slow data transfer

Not braided

RRP:



£5.99

Best Prices Today:


£5.48 at Amazon

Charging: 15W

Data: 0.48Gbps

Bends tested: Not stated

Length: 0.9m (3ft)

Amazon’s no-frills USB-C to USB-A cable does pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, and that’s all you can really expect at such a low price. It will connect an old-school USB-A charger to a USB-C device.

The technical specs are basic too, with this 0.9m (3ft) cable capable of 480Mbps data transfer and just 15W charging—which is fine for charging a phone.

It is available in 0.9m, 1.8m and 2.7m lengths, and in either white or black. It’s not braided so likely will not last as long as more robust cables.

Anker 762 USB-C to Lightning Cable – Best USB-C to Lightning cable

Pros

Braided

Color options

Cons

Expensive

RRP:



£22.99

Best Prices Today:


£15.99 at Amazon |
£22.99 at Anker

Charging: 15W

Data: 0.48Gbps

Bend tests: 35,000

Length: 0.9m (3ft) and 1.8m (6ft)

Apple is phasing out Lightning as its mobile connector of choice in favor of USB-C, but there are still millions of Lightning-based iPhones and iPads out there. Apple’s own white Lightning cable is prone to fraying so we recommend a more robust third-party USB-C to Lightning cable.

The Anker 762 PowerLine+ III cable is braided with stainless steel edges, and is super strong. Anker guarantees it for a lifetime, and it’s MFI Apple-certified so all bases are covered.

It’s available in either 1m (3ft) or 1.8m (6ft) lengths in either black, red or silver.

Anker Bio-Based USB-C to Lightning Cable – Best eco-friendly USB-C to Lightning cable

Pros

Eco friendly

Color choices

Cons

Not braided

Slow data transfer

RRP:



£15.99

Best Prices Today:


£12.69 at Amazon |
£15.99 at Anker

Charging: 30W

Data: 0.48Gbps

Bend tests: 20,000

Length: 0.9m (3ft) and 1.8m (6ft)

We like this Anker USB-C to Lightning cable for its multiple color options that even have pretty names: Aurora White, Phantom Black, Misty Blue, Lilac Purple, and Natural Green. And we also appreciate it for its use of low petroleum-based plastic materials (TPE).

40% of the exterior cable body is built using bio-based materials from plants such as corn and sugar cane. We hope other cable manufacturers follow suit in reducing plastics from their products where possible.

Aside from these credentials, this is another MFI Apple-certified cable that will work seamlessly with iPhone and iPad.

USB-C and Thunderbolt cable buying advice

To some extent, your choice of USB-C cable is going to come down to whether you need both ends to be USB-C, or if the device you want to hook up has a USB-A, Micro-USB, Lightning or Thunderbolt port. But there is more you should take into account before purchasing simply the cheapest cable you can find.

What’s the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt?

With the latest USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 protocols, the two standards are brought much closer together, each based on the same underlying protocols, and thus they will work interchangeably. If your device supports one it will support the other.

Plain USB-C cables support either 0.48Gbps, 5Gbps or 10Gbps, while USB4 and Thunderbolt 3 and 4 support up to 40Gbps.

However, although Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 can handle up to 40Gbps data transfer, theoretically Thunderbolt 4 will always hit this maximum speed, while USB4 will operate between 20- and 40Gbps. (Thunderbolt 3 can also deliver 40Gbps, but misses some other features of the more recent standard on Windows laptops.)

That said, the length and type of the Thunderbolt cable can affect performance. Passive Thunderbolt 3 cables are typically shorter and cheaper, and unable to maintain the top 40Gbps transfer speeds over longer distances (you’ll get 40Gbps from a 0.8m Thunderbolt 3 cable, but possibly only 20Gbps from a 1m cable). Active cables can maintain this speed over distance, but they will also be more expensive.

Because Thunderbolt 4 can deliver 40Gbps over cables up to 2m in length, the latest version is the one to go for. You can buy cheaper Thunderbolt 3 cables but Thunderbolt 4 gives you more. if you need a longer cable.

Fore more options, read our roundup of the best Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 cables.

Why is Thunderbolt faster than USB for data transfer?

While the latest versions of each protocol (plus Thunderbolt 3) can operate at up to 40Gbps, earlier versions of the USB spec support much slower data-transfer speeds, so the potential for you to accidentally buy an inferior cable is much greater.

There’s USB 2.0, which goes up to 480Mbps (0.48Gbps); USB 3.2 Gen 1 (aka SuperSpeed USB) goes up to 5Gbps; USB 3.2 Gen 2 can handle 10Gbps; and USB 3.2 2×2 can manage 20Gbps. Only the very latest USB4 and Thunderbolt 3 and 4 can deliver up to 40Gbps.

Why won’t my laptop charge over USB-C?

Don’t assume that the presence of a USB-C port on a laptop means it will charge via that port—some are there purely for data transfer.

If you’re absolutely certain that your laptop is supposed to charge over USB-C, and you know the charger you are using can deliver sufficient power to charge it, the weak link may well be the cable.

Laptops that can charge via USB Power Delivery are becoming increasingly common, but few USB-C cables can match its top power requirements. Power Delivery previously maxxed out at 100W, with most cables that were said to be compatible able to handle 65W or 100W, but today it goes as far as 240W.

Checking cable specs on product pages can be hit and miss, but at least with this new top-tier rating things should be about to get easier. The USB Implementers Forum group, which oversees the USB standard, has designed new logos to indicate whether a cable or charger can hit 240W, as illustrated below.

We explain USB speeds, types and features in more detail in our separate guide; you might also like to read Thunderbolt 4 vs Thunderbolt 3 vs USB4.

Plus, see our round-ups of the best USB-C Power Delivery chargers and laptop power banks.

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