Several of the Thunderbolt 3 accessories that I’ve been able to test since the release of the 2016 MacBook Pro have come with Thunderbolt 3 cables. However, most of the pack-in cables are of the shorter variety, usually around 0.5m long.
The reason for this is because cheaper passive cables support full Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth at lengths up to 0.5m long, while passive cables over 0.5m max out at 20 Gbps data transfer. In order to have a longer cable with full 40 Gbps data transfer, the cable must be of the more expensive active variety.
CalDigit sent over two long active Thunderbolt 3 cables — a 1-meter cable and a 2-meter cable — and each are capable of full data transfer and can deliver up to 100 watts of power to charge any 2016 MacBook Pro SKU at full speed. Have a look at our brief hands-on walkthrough as we showcase CalDigit’s cable on video.
Active Thunderbolt 3 cables feature integrated circuitry, which results in a slightly larger area where the cable terminates at the USB-C connector when compared to the passive cables in my possession. CalDigit’s cables are heavy duty with high quality termination points.
If you’re a 13- or 15-inch MacBook Pro owner, CalDigit’s cables deliver full power over the cable, as they support up to 100 watts of power delivery. Each cable is also able to deliver full Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth, and I had no problems connecting and using the LG UltraFine 5K Display, or the Akitio Node and Akitio Thunder3 eGPU.
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If you’re looking for a longer Thunderbolt 3 cable, then don’t buy cheap varieties unless you understand what you’re getting. Cheaper passive cables don’t provide the full bandwidth, and may not deliver the needed power for your particular application.
After testing CalDigit’s 1-meter and 2-meter Thunderbolt 3 cables with the LG UltraFine 5K Display and eGPU boxes, I can verify that they live up to their billing. Starting at $50, they’re not cheap, but that’s about average for an extra long active Thunderbolt 3 cable.
For a look at more CalDigit Thunderbolt 3 coverage, be sure to enjoy our hands-on walkthrough of the company’s TS3 Lite Thunderbolt 3 Dock.