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.

Laser has several USB-C dongles

Entry level is the $69.95 USB C 3.1, Gen 1, Power Delivery 2.0, multi-port hub USB C charging, 2 x USB A ports and micro/SD Card reader that slips nicely into a Macbook although it can be used for Windows devices (if it does not obstruct other ports).

USB-C donglesMy pick for USB-C dongles is the USB-C 3.1 Gen 1, Power Delivery 2.0 Multiport Hub