Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Find answers to frequently asked questions about Thunderbolt 3 below. Use links on the right for more detailed info.

What is Thunderbolt technology?
Users have long wanted desktop-level performance from a mobile computer. Thunderbolt was developed to create new user experiences by simultaneously supporting the fastest data and most video bandwidth available on a single cable, while also supplying power.
What is Thunderbolt 3?
Computer ports with Thunderbolt 3 provide 40Gbps Thunderbolt – double the speed of the previous generation, USB 3.1 10Gbps, and DisplayPort 1.2. For the first time, one computer port connects to Thunderbolt devices, every display, and billions of USB devices. A single cable now provides four times the data and twice the video bandwidth of any other cable, while also supplying up to 100W of power. It’s unrivaled for new uses, such as 4K video, single-cable docks with charging, external graphics, and built-in 10 GbE networking. Simply put, Thunderbolt 3 delivers the best USB-C.Thunderbolt technology is a transformational high-speed, dual protocol, PC I/O delivering performance, simplicity and flexibility. Thunderbolt I/O technology lets you move data between your devices and your computer with 2 channels of 10Gbps flowing both ways (upstream and downstream) at the same time. And it allows you to connect as many as 6 devices, daisy chained, through a single compact port. Watch our What is Thunderbolt 3 video on the Thunderbolt YouTube channel.
What are the video formats supported by Thunderbolt 3?
Thunderbolt 3 is based on the DisplayPort 1.2 specification and can support up to 2 streams (eight lanes) of DisplayPort 1.2 video bandwidth. A single cable now provides four times the data and twice the video bandwidth of any other cable, while also supplying up to 100W of power. One 4K display (4096 x 2160) 30-bit @ 120 Hz One 5K display (5120 x 2880) 30-bit @ 60 Hz Two 4K displays each (4096 x 2160) 30-bit @ 60 Hz
Why is Thunderbolt the best USB-C for docking?
Now, one compact port provides Thunderbolt 3 data transfer, support for two 4K 60 Hz displays, and quick notebook charging up to 100W with a single cable. Also, any Thunderbolt or USB dock can connect to a Thunderbolt 3 computer making it the most advanced and versatile USB-C docking port available.
Can I connect USB devices to a Thunderbolt 3 port?
Yes, Thunderbolt 3 ports are fully compatible with USB devices and cables.
Can I connect Display Port devices to a Thunderbolt 3 port?
Yes, Thunderbolt 3 ports are fully compatible with DisplayPort devices and cables.
Is Thunderbolt 3 backwards compatible with Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2?
Yes, solutions and products built to Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 specifications will work with Thunderbolt 3 via an adapter. The Apple Thunderbolt display was certified for Mac only and may not work properly when connected to Windows based PCs.
Why did Thunderbolt 3 move to the USB-C connector?
Thunderbolt 3 needed a new connector to achieve 40Gbps and fit into smaller form factor devices. With the USB-C connector allowing for alternate modes, it made sense to bring Thunderbolt to this connector and create a superset solution that supports both Thunderbolt and USB.
What is the difference between Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C?
Thunderbolt 3 is a superset solution which includes USB 3.1 (10Gbps), and adds 40Gbps Thunderbolt and DisplayPort 1.2 from a single USB-C port. This enables any dock, display, or data device to connect to a Thunderbolt 3 port, fulfilling the promise of the USB-C connector. See more information on the Thunderbolt Blog
How is Thunderbolt 3 able to connect to every display?
Thunderbolt 3 provides DisplayPort, which can natively connect to all displays with DisplayPort and Mini DisplayPort, and via adapters can connect to all other modern display interfaces, including HDMI, DVI, and VGA.
Who do I contact for Press and Analyst Inquiries?
For Press and Analyst inquiries, please contact:

Thunderbolt Technology at a Glance

  • Simultaneous bi-directional, 10 Gbps transfers over a single cable
  • Dual-protocol support (PCI Express* and DisplayPort*)
  • Compatible with existing DisplayPort* devices
  • Daisy-chaining devices
  • Choice of electrical or optical cables
  • Low latency with highly accurate time synchronization for professional audio and video applications
  • Uses native protocol software drivers
  • Power-over-cable for bus-powered devices