- Thunderbolt 5 doubles data transfer speed to 80 Gbps.
- Supports dual 8K displays and 540Hz for gamers.
- Enhances connectivity for high-end hardware.
- Thunderbolt certification ensures premium quality.
- Apple’s USB-C and Thunderbolt pivot explained.
Enthusiasts of the gaming world and creative virtuosos will soon revel in the ability to interconnect their computing systems with displays boasting an impressive 8K resolution, ultra-swift refresh rates, and HDR capabilities at elevated resolutions.
This accomplishment will be made possible by Intel’s upcoming Thunderbolt 5 release, which is expected to completely alter the market. According to the semiconductor giant, this latest iteration of the technology boasts a twofold increase in speed compared to Thunderbolt 4 and a staggering eightfold leap from its inaugural version introduced in 2011.
Thunderbolt 5 represents a connectivity paradigm that shares its foundational principles with USB 4 version 2. Thunderbolt 5 doubles the speed of Thunderbolt 4 with a data transfer capability of 80 gigabits per second.
Intel has also disclosed that Thunderbolt 5 will incorporate a mode, akin to USB 4 version 2, capable of augmenting data transfer speeds to a remarkable 120 Gbps between PCs and peripherals, albeit at the cost of reducing the return trip speed to 40Gbps.
The augmented velocity of Thunderbolt 5 unlocks the potential for dual 8K resolution displays and the possibility of enhanced HDR rendering, a boon for affluent creative professionals.
Alternatively, it can support the operation of three 144Hz 4K displays—an achievement that remains beyond the reach of Thunderbolt 4, which tops out at 120Hz for a single 4K monitor.
It caters to the discerning gamer’s hunger for quicker screen refresh rates, which are a crucial component for flawless rendering in high-frame-rate gaming, by offering an incredible 540 Hz at lower resolutions.
The usefulness of additional resource-intensive peripherals, including high-end docking stations and large storage arrays, is also expected to be considerably improved by Thunderbolt 5.
While the ordinary laptop user may not need these features, those with high-end hardware unquestionably find them to be lifesaving.
This impressive stride in video performance is made possible through the integration of VESA’s DisplayPort 2.1 specification into the Thunderbolt standard. In contrast, Thunderbolt 4 relied on DisplayPort 1.4 for monitor connectivity via its DP Alt Mode.
The burgeoning popularity of Thunderbolt and USB connectivity has bestowed personal computers with the capacity to interface with substantially potent external devices, including high-resolution monitors, expansive storage systems, high-speed networks, and docking stations replete with a plethora of ports.
This versatility has undoubtedly bolstered the utility of slender laptops, offering a wide array of connectivity options to cater to various needs.
Despite sharing the core technology with USB 4 and fulfilling a similar role, Thunderbolt-compliant products must undergo rigorous certification testing by Intel.
This meticulous scrutiny ensures compatibility and guarantees that all associated cables deliver both swiftness and the ability to handle a minimum of 100 watts of charging power.
Such precision offers reassurance to those plagued by the ubiquity of USB-C cable confusion. Consequently, Thunderbolt-compatible products typically command a premium price point.
In essence, while USB-C presents an array of high-performance possibilities, Thunderbolt obliges these features as prerequisites. There is no room for surprise encounters with Thunderbolt cables that slumber at data transfer rates reminiscent of USB 2.0 speeds.
For premium laptops to bear Intel’s prestigious Evo branding, Thunderbolt is an indispensable prerequisite.
Jason Ziller, the venerable figurehead of Intel’s client connectivity initiatives, elucidates, “Thunderbolt-based products transcend the bare minimum requirements, offering an elevated set of mandatory features, stringent validation, and mandatory Thunderbolt certification.”
Another feather in Thunderbolt’s cap lies in its capability to furnish at least 15W of power per port, eclipsing USB 4’s 7.5W. This attribute proves particularly advantageous for peripherals such as external drives that lack autonomous power sources.
Furthermore, Thunderbolt 5 extends its support to charging power rates of 240W in alignment with the USB Power Delivery standard.
Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the universality of USB and Thunderbolt hasn’t materialized as envisaged by some engineers. In a notable pivot, Apple followed a phase where its laptops exclusively featured USB-C and Thunderbolt ports.