Aussie tech accessory company Laser has demystified the relatively new use of USB-C and the emerging Thunderbolt 3 standards. One thing is for sure – you will need USB-C dongles.
USB-C dongles are the descriptive words for an adapter that takes USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 (same plug as USB-C) and converts the signal to things like HDMI, Display Port, Audio, Ethernet, USB ports, storage cards and Human Interface devices.
First a few standards
(note 1Mb/s = .125MB/s = .001Gb/s or .000125GB/s)
USB 2.0 480Mb/s (tops out at 280Mb/s)
USB 3.0 5Gb/s (tops out at 3.2Gb/s)
USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 5Gb/s
USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 10Gb/s (also called SuperSpeed)
New USB-C 3.2 20GB/s (Not Thunderbolt 3)
USB Power Delivery Specification
Self-powered devices (using the USB 2.0 host or later) from 100mA-900mA
1.0 is 5V up to 1.5A
2.0 is 5V up to 3A and all voltages in between to a maximum of 20V/3A (60W) although typically these top out at 85W
3.0 is 5V up to 3A and all voltages in between to a maximum of 20V/5A (100W) although there is some move to take that to 125W
USB-C Passive cables (40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 maximum length .5m or drops to 20Gb/s)
USB-C Active cables (40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 maximum length 2m)
USB On-the-Go (OTG) simply means ports that can send data/power upstream or downstream. USB-C cables are full duplex; it is the devices that may be half-duplex.
Now to Laser’s USB-C cable solutions
Laser offers a range of USB-C cables marked with the appropriate standards.
Modern laptops will have USB-C 3.1 – at least Gen 1. That is fine as this supports things like HDMI 4K, two USB-3.0 ports and power delivery 2.0. Gen 2 allows more ports.
Finally for MacBook lovers (works with Window) is wedge-shaped USB Type C 3.1 , Gen 1, 100W (Power Delivery 3.0 or 60W with Power Delivery 2.0) Docking Station
Where the other solutions above use pass-through power from your device’s charger this has an additional 5V/2A charger to power higher amperage draw devices like portable hard disks etc. So, you connect both the supplied charger and the USB-C charger. I used Laser’s $44.95, .5m Passive Thunderbolt Cable for upstream power delivery
It is the ideal desktop solution at $149.95.
I have tried all these 5Gb/s devices fully loaded and all ports delivered as specified.
All these devices will work with a Thunderbolt 3 laptop – at a maximum of 5Gb/s
Thunderbolt 3 solutions
Recent laptops may be Thunderbolt 3 equipped. These require USB-C active or passive cables between a Port replicator or Hub and then USB-C 3.1 (at least gen 1) cables from the hub to the device.
20GB/s will support dual 4K screens, up to four USB-A 3.0 and two USB-C 3.1 as well as audio, and more. 40GB/s is good if you have a singlek 5K screen and a NAS device as well.
Laser does not have any Thunderbolt 3 docks yet – but you can be sure they will be excellent value.
GadgetGuy has reviewed three Thunderbolt 3 docks – with the caveat that all you need is any of the USB-C port replicators above.