Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-C ports becoming more prevalent on high-end PCs

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Date: Monday, January 11th, 2016, 08:22
Category: Hardware, MacBook, MacBook Pro, News, Thunderbolt, USB-C


Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C look like they’re making their way from the Mac to high-end PCs.

Where Thunderbolt 3 is concerned, the port is suddenly beginning to show up in high-end offerings from just about every major PC OEM, starting with some Lenovo workstation laptops and Dell’s new XPS lineup and continuing in laptops and convertibles from HP, Acer, Intel, and others.

Over at CES, both Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C seem to be getting noticed, driving displays and charging notebooks on assorted display units throughout the convention.

“It’s a combination of the USB Type-C interface that can provide a lot of flexibility and then the throughput that it provides,” Kevin Sather, director of systems marketing at Razer, told Ars. “It’s just such an adaptable port… it’s backwards-compatible with Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2, it can do DisplayPort output with two 4K displays simultaneously, as well as passing data through. I think all the cards kind of lined up finally to make it a viable solution that consumers are going to like.”

In other words, it might be a little irritating for users of the current Thunderbolt port to buy new cables or adapters, but it seems like Intel’s decision to tie Thunderbolt to the ascendant and popular USB Type-C port is paying off nicely.

The upshot, it seems, is that we should be seeing more Thunderbolt 3 accessories, which could lead to increased competition that could drive down the prices for these accessories.

More traditional Thunderbolt docks, those that simply turn a single Thunderbolt port into an array of USB, Ethernet, and display ports, should also become increasingly popular. Docks like this are by no means new, but using Thunderbolt instead of USB or a proprietary connector provides more bandwidth and means broader compatibility. Using a similar sort of dock over USB could create bottlenecks if you were using multiple ports at once, but Thunderbolt provides enough bandwidth that using a dock is more or less comparable to using built-in ports.

Where the Mac is concerned, a new lineup of MacBooks and MacBook Pros with Thunderbolt 3 and a new version of the Thunderbolt Display could be a potent combination. The current display provides more USB ports and an Ethernet jack to Mac laptops, but the notebook still requires a separate power connection. A new version with Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type-C could drive the display, provide those extra ports, and power the laptop with just one cable.

And that’d be a notebook worth looking forward to.

Via Ars Technica