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Everything You Need to Know About Thunderbolt 4

  • 3 min read

1.What is a Thunderbolt 4 port?

If you keep up with the latest developments in technology, there's a good chance you've heard of Thunderbolt 4 technology. You might even have a device with a Thunderbolt 4 port.

But if you look closely, you'll find that this so-called Thunderbolt 4 port looks suspiciously like a USB-C port. Well, that's because it is a USB-C port! So what exactly is the difference?

 

USB-C is the name for this physical type of port, while Thunderbolt 4 is a protocol. Or to put it another way, a Thunderbolt 4 port is a USB-C port that features the Thunderbolt 4 protocol.

So now let's take a look at some of the features of Thunderbolt 4:

2.Features of Thunderbolt 4

  • Screen Expansion: Mirror or expand your display to 2 monitors in up to 4K, or up to 8K to a single monitor.

  • Charging Power: Provide up to 100W charging power from a single port.

  • Data Transfer: Supports a PCIe data transfer speed of 32 Gbps.

  • Support Wake From Sleep: Thunderbolt 4 lets users wake up their laptop using an external keyboard or mouse that's connected via the Thunderbolt 4 port.

  • Security: Thunderbolt 4 provides Direct Memory Access (DMA) protection. It is based on Intel VT-d's DMA attack* protection, which can physically prevent DMA attacks. Although this level of protection is probably overkill for ordinary users, it can prevent malicious devices from using DMA to steal information from enterprises and users with extremely high data-confidentiality requirements.

*DMA attack: In a Direct Memory Access attack, PCIe devices can directly access the data in a device's memory without going through the CPU. In short, if a malicious PCIe device accesses the computer, then even an encrypted computer can be easily cracked.

If you're not sure what all of that information means in context, let's have a look at how Thunderbolt 4 stacks up against other protocols including Thunderbolt 3:

How Thunderbolt 4 is different than other solutions
Based on minimum solution requirements so people know what they are getting
Thunderbolt™ 4
Thunderbolt™ 3
USB4
USB3/DP
Unrivaled Simplicity
One universal computer port
☑️
☑️
Universal 40Gb/s cables up to 2 meters in length
☑️
Accessories with four Thunderbolt ports
☑️
Maximum Performance
Minimum PC speed requirements
40 Gb/s
40 Gb/s
20 Gb/s
10 Gb/s
Minimum PC video requirements
Two 4K displays
One 4K display
One display
(No Minimum)
One display
(No Minimum)
Minimum PC data requirements
PCIe 32 Gb/s USB 3.2 - 10Gb/s
PCIe 16 Gb/s USB 3.2 - 10Gb/s
USB 3.2 - 10Gb/s
USB 3.2 - 5Gb/s
Required PC charging on at least one computer port *
☑️
Required PC wake from sleep when computer is connected to a Thunderbolt dock
☑️
Minimum PC port power for accessories
15W
15W
7.5W
4.5W
Thunderbolt Networking
☑️
☑️
Reliable Connectivity
Mandatory certification for all shipping computers, accessories, and cables
☑️
☑️
Cable testing and cable quality audits for Thunderbolt cable manufacturers
☑️
☑️
Required Intel VT-d based DMA protection
☑️
USB 4 Specification
Compatible
Compatible
Compatible
Compatible
*For thin and light notebooks that require less than 100W to charge

 

As you can see, Thunderbolt 4 outmuscles all of the USB specifications that we compared it to.

At the moment, Anker only has one Thunderbolt 4 docking station, and that's Anker Apex. With Anker Apex, you get a total of 12 interfaces, you can connect to 3 monitors in 4K, connect to a single screen in 8K, power up your laptop at high speed, and transfer data at up to 40 Gbps.

So if Thunderbolt 4 sounds like something you need, look no further than Anker Apex. Check it out here: link.

Our Top Picks for You

Product name Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C Hub PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub PowerExpand 7-in-2 USB-C Hub
Price $299.99 $89.99 $99.99 $59.99
Picture Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station Piciture
PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C Hub Piciture
PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub Picture
PowerExpand 7-in-2 USB-C Hub Piciture
Number of Ports 12 8 11 7
Number of Supported Displays 3 1 2 2
Supports Laptop Charging
Data Transfer 40 Gbps 10 Gbps 5 Gbps 40 Gbps
USB-A Port 2 × USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 Gbps, 5V/0.9A
2 × USB 2.0, 480 Mbps, 5V/0.5A
2 × USB 3.1 Gen 2 2 × USB 2.0
1 × USB 3.0
2 × USB 3.0
USB-C Port 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 Gbps, PD 3.0, 9V/2.25A 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 2 1 × USB 3.0 1 × USB 3.0
Thunderbolt Port 1 × Thunderbolt 4 downstream port, 40 Gbps, 8K@30Hz, 15W - - 1 x Thunderbolt 3 port, 40 Gbps, 5K@60Hz
HDMI Port 2 × HDMI 2.0, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@30Hz
Display Port - - 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz -
SD/microSD Card Slot SD Card Slot: UHS-II UHS-I UHS-I UHS-I
Audio In&Out 3.5 mm 3.5 mm 3.5 mm -
Ethernet Port 1 Gbps 1 Gbps 1 Gbps -