A Single Port. A Universe of Possibilities.

What is Thunderbolt​™ Technology?

Thunderbolt​™ Advantages

Simplicity, Reliability, and Performance Distinguish Thunderbolt™ as the Best USB-C

As part of Thunderbolt™ certification, mandatory testing ensures broad compatibility across Mac*, Windows*, or Chrome* OS, and interoperability of computers, cables, and accessories from different brands, so you can be confident that your devices work well together regardless of the OS or hardware manufacturer.​

A single Thunderbolt™ port enables high-speed data transfer, video output, and power delivery to compatible devices over one cable, including charging a laptop3.

Unlike other USB Type-C ports, where the bandwidth may be limited, Thunderbolt™ ports always guarantee 40 Gbps total bandwidth dynamically allocated for video and data. Thunderbolt™ is so fast you can transfer a 5 GB file in about a second over the cable.​

Enjoy low-latency gaming, immersive creation, and simplified productivity with Thunderbolt™ technology that supports multiple premium monitors of any type4, such as two FHD 240Hz or 4K color-accurate monitors.

Thunderbolt™ 4 certification requires at least one Thunderbolt port on the computer to support laptop charging3, unlike laptops featuring other USB-C ports that don’t guarantee system charging. Additionally, all Thunderbolt™ 3 and 4 ports provide 15W power to Thunderbolt accessories or to charge companion devices like cell phones.

Comparison5: Thunderbolt™ vs USB




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ThunderboltTM 4

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ThunderboltTM 3

USB4®

USB 3 / DP

USB Type-C checkmark checkmark checkmark checkmark
40 Gbps bandwidth checkmark checkmark
 
 
15W power to run accessories checkmark checkmark    
Mandatory testing and certification checkmark checkmark    
2 x 4K/60Hz monitors checkmark      
Required PC charging3 on at least one computer port checkmark      
Universal 40Gbs cables up to 2m checkmark      
Up to 4 Thunderbolt™ ports on accessories checkmark      
System wake from sleep checkmark      
Intel® VT-d based DMA protection checkmark      

Real Life Usage Videos

Thunderbolt™ Technology has many use cases such as working, creating, or gaming. Watch the videos on how Thunderbolt™ Technology could help enhance your experience.

Work and Learn

Work and Learn

Effortlessly upgrade your workspace experience to boost productivity and ergonomic comfort by adding a Thunderbolt™ dock that connects large 4K monitors and other accessories to your laptop. Whether at home or at office, Thunderbolt™ technology works anywhere for a universal connection you can rely on regardless of manufacturer brand.

Create

Create

Get immersed in your creations with a Thunderbolt™ dock to connect all your content creation gadgets including multiple 4K color-accurate monitors. Access your content library on-the-go with an external Thunderbolt™ SSD that runs your media files as fast as an internal drive.

Game

Game

Thunderbolt™ docks transform your laptop into a full-fledged, immersive gaming station supporting FHD 240Hz gaming monitors. Connect directly to an external Thunderbolt™ SSD that loads your games as fast as an internal NVM Express* drive.

Use Case Videos

Thunderbolt™ Technology can provide many benefits such as flexibility, bandwidth, and versatile connectivity that allows you to use up to two 4K monitors through one port. See firsthand how the experts have implemented Thunderbolt™ Technology in their lives through the videos.

Setting Up a Thunderbolt™ 4 Docking Station

Installing Dual Monitors with Thunderbolt™ & Windows 11*

The Real Power of Efficiency with Influencer Evan Abrams

Video Editing Experience with Albert Dros

FAQs

Check out which type of ports your system has by:

  • Looking for the Thunderbolt™ icon on devices (next to the USB-C port).
  • Checking the product’s I/O specification online to see if it lists Thunderbolt™ ports.
  • Downloading Intel® Driver & Support Assistant (Intel® DSA) to detect what ports you have on your PC.

No. You don’t need to install any software or drivers to make things work. Connect your computer with any Thunderbolt™ accessory, and they simply work together.

  • Thunderbolt™ 4 technology became integrated in the CPU starting with 11th Gen Intel® Core™ processors. Today, approximately 90% of 11th gen Intel Core processor-based laptops have Thunderbolt™ ports.
  • At least one Thunderbolt™ 4 port is required on all Intel® Evo™ and Intel® Core™ vPro® processor family-based laptops.
  • Look for the Thunderbolt™ icon on your PC (next to the USB-C port) or check the product I/O specification for Thunderbolt technology.

  • USB-C stands for the USB connection with compact Type-C ports.
  • Thunderbolt™ is the top-of-the-line solution within the USB-C family.
  • While the shape of all USB Type-C ports is the same, the performance, display and power capabilities, and connection experiences, differ significantly.
  • Thunderbolt™ technology offers a truly universal, reliable, and high-performance one cable solution regardless of computer or accessory brand.

Thunderbolt™ 4 technology increases minimum performance requirements, expands end-to-end solution capabilities, and is USB4 specification compliant. Specific improvements on Thunderbolt™ 4 (over Thunderbolt 3) include the following:

  • Thunderbolt™ 4 technology raises the minimum required PCIe bandwidth (up to 32Gbps) to enable high-speed data transfers.
  • Docks and monitors can have more Thunderbolt™ ports (up to 4) to simplify the modern workspace.
  • For thin and light notebooks that require less than 100W to charge, at least one computer port is required to support charging.
  • Laptops with Thunderbolt™ 4 ports connected to Thunderbolt docks wake up with a touch of the keyboard or mouse even when the lid is closed.
  • Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (Intel® VT-d) based security helps prevent peripheral devices from unauthorized access to system memory.
  • Laptop Thunderbolt™ ports have more power (15W) available to run accessories.
  • Universal Thunderbolt™ cables offer 40 Gbps and are up to 2 m to make cable selection fast and easy.

Legal Disclaimer

Performance is based on minimum specification requirements by Thunderbolt certification. Performance varies by use, configuration and other factors. Learn more at www.Intel.com/PerformanceIndex.

Intel technologies may require enabled hardware, software or service activation.

No product or component can be absolutely secure.

Your costs and results may vary.

© Intel Corporation. Intel, the Intel logo, Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.

Product and Performance Information

1

The CES Innovation Awards are based upon descriptive materials submitted to the judges. CTA did not verify the accuracy of any submissions or of any claims made and did not test the item to which the award was given.

2Fastest Connection: As compared to other PC I/O connection technologies including eSATA, USB, and IEEE 1394 Firewire*. Performance will vary depending on the specific hardware and software used. Must use a Thunderbolt-enabled device. Learn more at https://www.intel.com/PerformanceIndex.
3Laptop Charging: For thin and light notebooks that require less than 100W to charge.
4Any Display: Thunderbolt™ 3 and Thunderbolt™ 4 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.
5Performance based on minimum specification requirements.