Review: CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 Cable

Devices with Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) started coming to the market in 2016, with the new MacBook Pro being a leading example. You may not have noticed it because it uses the same connector as USB-C. This new standard increases maximum transfer speeds to 40Gb/s – but only if you use the correct cable.

This is where things start to get a little tricky. The TB3 standard uses two types of cable – active and passive. The passive cables are backwards compatible with USB-C, but can only be a maximum of 0.5m long. To get the full 40Gb/s bandwidth over a longer cable you need to switch to active technology. This lets you use 1m or 2m TB3 cables but they don’t support USB-C devices at the full speed – they have to drop back to the slower, USB 2.0 standard. There are further issues where some TB3 cables can be rated for just 20Gb/s bandwidth or only 60W power delivery, down from the maximum 100W. With all these issues, selecting the right cable is a bit of a mine-field.

CalDigit has released their fully-compliant TB3 cables in 0.5m passive and 1m/2m active versions. These support the maximum potential of TB3 devices and can provide 100w power at the same time as 40Gb/s transfer speeds.

The cables are thoughtfully and durably designed with good quality plugs at either end. The plugs feature a Thunderbolt symbol and the number 3 in case you need to check you’ve got the correct cable.

I’ve been carrying them around in my bag and using them for a couple of weeks now – they certainly stand up to abuse and I’ve never had any dropped or faulty connections.

The CalDigit TB3 1.0m cable retails at £43/$42 and is available to buy now. Although at first this may sound expensive, after reading about faulty USB C cables damaging laptops I’d rather buy a quality TB3 cable to plug into my MacBook Pro.


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