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What is Thunderbolt 3 and what it is used for

The set of ports and slots on the side of laptops for connecting devices and peripheral mechanisms are always of great importance, as they are responsible for transmitting specific types of data at different speeds from each other. You might be lucky enough to own a laptop that supports Thunderbolt 3 when you don’t realize it. Although since the launch of the third generation of Thunderbolt in 2016, it still confuses the mind of many users, especially since this generation has become via the standard USB Type-C ports. So, through this brief article, let us take off our ship with you to confront the currents of the Thunderbolt 3 port, and together we review why it was named by this name, what are the benefits of using it, and why we should care about its existence.

Thunderbolt 3

In the beginning, 2011 was the year of the birth of Thunderbolt at the hands of both Intel and Apple, and the MacBook Pro was the first laptop to have the Thunderbolt protocol that works through the Mini Displayport port. As it had the ability to transfer data at a speed of 10Gbps, at that time the maximum speed that could be obtained through the peripheral ports was 5Gbps via the USB 3.0 port. This means that the Thunderbolt protocol has twice the speed of USB 3.0 Serial Bus.

But while the USB 3.0 port was limited to the specific type of data it could send and receive with internal and external storage, the Mini DP was the fastest digital media port that could transmit visual data to displays. It’s even got to the point where Apple abandoned the display ports found in previous versions of the MacBook laptop and replaced them with the Mini DisplayPort that is supported by the Thunderbolt protocol.

So Thunderbolt was not a “real” physical port per se, but basically it was an electronic chip built into laptops and codenamed “Light Peak” to provide support for a specific type of connection and enable it to transfer visual data at high speeds. The intended port is Mini DisplayPort, which now operates at 10Gbps.

New Thunderbolt 3 looks and a revolutionary leap in hardware

In 2013 Intel announced the Thunderbolt 2 interface, which is based on a chip codenamed Falcon Ridge, and has been developed in the form of two dual-channel communication to power DisplayPort 1.2 at 20Gbps. But despite this high speed, the matter was not at the required level that calls for the interest of manufacturing companies to integrate the new electronic chip in their products.

But with the year 2016 everyone was on the date of the real revolutionary leap, as Intel managed to develop the Titan Ridge chip, which is the third generation of the Thunderbolt protocol, but this time there was a transition from DisplayPort 1.2 to relying on USB Type-C instead and working at 40Gbps By providing support for various types of electronic data transfer connectivity including USB 3.0, PCI Express 3.0, DisplayPort and Ethernet 10G. This means the ability to operate two 4K displays at 60Hz simultaneously or one 4K display at 120Hz refresh rate. In addition, the ability to transfer data to and from external storage drives at a speed of 40Gbps, which means transferring a group of files of 5GB in a time of only one second.

It is for this reason that the Thunderbolt 3 reversible USB-C ports are the fastest electronic ports in the hardware world to date. Because of the ease and flexibility of the USB Type-C port, many laptop and motherboard manufacturers have had the opportunity to rely on the new Thunderbolt 3 lightning chip and integrate it into their products and take advantage of it to provide maximum speed benefits to their users in data transfers.

Thunderbolt 3 port details and how to utilize it


As we mentioned to you earlier, Thunderbolt 3 is capable of transferring data at 40Gbps, which means that the data transfer speed is triple compared to the standard 10Gbps USB 3.1 port, and there is certainly no face compared to the USB 3.0 port that works at 5Gbps only. In fact, 40Gbps means transferring any type of huge file, albeit 5GB, to and from external storage through the USB Type-C port in a time of one second.

But the candy has not yet been implemented, despite the complexity of the matter a little, but the support for the PCIe 3.0 data transfer interface protocol provided the ability to connect an external graphics card to the laptop as if it were a normal motherboard by using the dedicated graphics container and transforming the laptop into a super-fast gaming platform. Add to that the ability to record directly with professional 4K video cameras.

It is originally an integrated electronic chip (Integrated Electronic Chip) to connect devices connected via a serial data transmission interface through a two-way USB Type-C port, and this means the ability to connect two devices through the USB Type-C port and enjoy ultra-fast transfer speeds, but One condition is the provision of support by both devices using the Thunderbolt 3 protocol, meaning that there are many laptops that have USB Type-C ports but do not provide support for Thunderbolt 3 because they do not originally contain an Intel Thunderbolt 3 chip. Those devices come Apple MacBook and Lenovo ThinkPad 13. But on the other hand there are some laptops that provide support for transferring data at high speeds thanks to the reliance on the Thunderbolt 3 chip, and an example of these computers comes HP EliteBook Folio G1 and Dell XPS 13.

As for the ability to display video, it is possible through the Displayport 1.2 port supported by Thunderbolt 3 to be able to transfer digital data from the laptop screen to two 4K screens at the same time at a refresh rate of 60Hz or to one 4K screen at a refresh rate of 120Hz or one screen 5K at a rate 60Hz refresh. But if you are considering connecting two 4K displays to your laptop via a single Displayport cable, you will need a Thunderbolt 3 Dock. This high-speed port enabled more than one computer to be connected to each other through USB Type-C ports at 10Gb Ethernet, twice the speed of standard connection cables used in local 1Gb Ethernet networks.

How to know if your laptop supports Thunderbolt 3

If you’re wondering if the peripheral ports on your laptop are supported by the Thunderbolt 3 chip or not, you should look for the little lightning logo in front of those ports. If this logo is present, it means that your USB-C ports operate at 40Gbps. In spite of that, there are some laptops that are not interested in adding the lightning logo to the side of the USB-C ports, such as the Razer Blade Stealth laptop, and for this reason you have to look into the properties of the peripheral ports on the official page of your laptop.

If your laptop is powered by Thunderbolt 3, this means the ability to charge its battery to 100 watts through the USB Type-C port. It has reached the point that there are some laptops that do not have an A / C charging port at all except through the USB Type-C port only thanks to its support for the Thunderbolt 3 protocol, for example the HP EliteBook Folio G1 laptop, all this means the possibility of charging external devices At the same time, sending and receiving data with it at high speeds.

In conclusion, we want to note that the fact that your laptop does not have a Thunderbolt 3 port does not necessarily mean that it is bad, but this port was able to change the concept of data transfer speed between peripheral devices and the ability to connect a number of mechanisms that may reach 6 different devices, all of which work simultaneously in One time without experiencing any delay or downturn in overall performance. Certainly, it is one of the exclusive features that any user would like today, thanks to the high capacity for data transfer speeds, fast charging operations, and the flexibility to connect devices with each other.

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