There is a new version of Thunderbolt in town. Named Thunderbolt 4, the ubiquitous but often misunderstood interface brings some key benefits to the table with this latest iteration. But how can it compare to the previous generation Thunderbolt 3 or even USB 3.1 / 3.2?
What’s new – Thunderbolt 3 vs 4
Although the Thunderbolt 4 still has all the features of the previous generation, such as flexibility in connecting screens, storage, peripherals and charged devices, it offers some key improvements over the previous generation.
- Speed – Although total bandwidth is still the same at 40 Gbps, PCIe data requirements in particular have doubled from 16 Gbps to 32 Gbps. This means that external PCIe devices, such as storage and eGPU, will work much better with Gen 4.
- Security – DMA protection helps mitigate security threats from sketched external devices
- Waking up from sleep – Some peripherals can now wake your computer from sleep when connected via Thunderbolt
- Ability to land – While this is also a feature of Thunderbolt 3, it is worth discussing the possibility of connecting and expanding Thunderbolt. Due to the high bandwidth, you can connect multiple devices to an external docking station through a single Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt’s two-way capability means that this single port can simultaneously handle video outputs and data without slowing down performance, making Thunderbolt an extremely versatile and dynamic solution.
Thunderbolt 4 vs USB C
We looked at the differences between Type C and Thunderbolt in previous posts. Basically the story is the same with Gen 4, but the most important thing is worth repeating. Basically, type C is a port port shape factor and supports interface speeds anywhere from USB 2.0 all the way up to Thunderbolt 3 or 4. The speeds that your specific type C will support depend on the version itself, but if they aren’t specifically labeled as Thunderbolt, it’s probably it’s a USB standard of some sort. This means speeds no higher than 20 GBps (upper USB bandwidth 3.2 2 × 2).
Aside from the increased bandwidth, Thunderbolt’s versatility really sets it apart from other interfaces like USB. Just a few devices you can connect via Thunderbolt 4 include:
- External memory
- External graphics
- Video recording devices
- Charging devices
Look for Thunderbolt 4 ports to soon be available on most laptops like our Raptor T15. It will take more time to adopt a computer motherboard, and since Thunderbolt was developed by Intel, it will generally not be available on AMD devices.
Josh has been with Velocity Micro since 2007 in various roles in marketing, PR and sales. As Director of Sales and Marketing, he is responsible for all direct and retail sales, as well as for marketing activities. He enjoys reruns of Seinfeld, songs from the Atlanta Braves and the Beatles written by John, Paul or George. Sorry, Ringo.
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