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Before You Buy

What is Thunderbolt 3?

Components

Thunderbolt™ 3 is the latest version of the Thunderbolt standard for connecting computers and electronic devices. It is capable of the following:

  • Total bandwidth up to 40Gbps. Data transfer speeds are dependent on the other features that you are using in your setup.
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 support.
  • 4K 60Hz video on one or two separate displays.
  • 5K 60Hz video on a single display.
  • A 10 GbE network connection between two Thunderbolt 3 compatible computers.
  • Up to six devices daisy-chained from a single Thunderbolt 3 port.
  • Alternate modes, such as DisplayPort Alternate Mode (DP Alt Mode).
  • Bi-directional power delivery up to 100W (not all Thunderbolt 3 devices support power delivery).

USB-C and Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector, but not all host connections, cables, and devices with a USB-C connector support Thunderbolt 3. This means that a USB-C device is compatible with a Thunderbolt 3 host connection, but a Thunderbolt 3 device is not compatible with a USB-C host connection. Therefore, it is important to know whether you have a USB-C or a Thunderbolt 3 host, cable, or device.

To determine if your component is a Thunderbolt 3 device, look for the Thunderbolt 3 symbol (shown below). USB-C devices do not include this symbol.  For more information about USB-C, see the following FAQ: https://www.startech.com/faq/usb-c-port-capabilites.

Thunderbolt symbol: https://sgcdn.startech.com/005329/media/products/gallery_large/TBLT3MMXM.B.jpg.

Backwards compatibility

If you use an adapter, Thunderbolt 3 host connections are compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 devices. You can use the StarTech.com TBT3TBTADAP to make a Thunderbolt 3 host connections backwards compatible.

Thunderbolt 3 devices are not backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 host connections.