Short review of some good, long USB-C and Thunderbolt cables

Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C 3.2×2 are godsends for anyone who just wants to get on with the job and not struggle with cables and connectors. In the Thunderbolt 4 department, there are many decent cables money can buy, but the best and longest must be Apple’s.

It’s a 3m long, black braided cable that coils without tangling, supporting data transfer rates of up to 40Gb/s, USB 3.1×2 data transfer up to 10Gb/s, DisplayPort video output and charging up to 100W. The Thunderbolt 4 Pro Cable (3m) costs close to 200 EUR (159 GBP), but it’s one of the few 3m cables around and it’s Apple quality — or does that no longer mean anything?

Did you notice Apple’s cable supports 10Gb/s USB only? That’s because the cable is over 2m, which is the maximum length of USB 20Gb/s cables.

My personal favourite for any cable is Sommer cable from Germany. I tested their EMC-Quad and Carbokab microphone cables a few years ago and since then I’m sold on the quality and robustness of their offerings. The standards they maintain should come as no surprise, though, as they supply cables and equipment to all major TV and radio stations in the world.

In the USB department, Sommer cable offers a flexible 2m HI-U3CC USB 3.2×2 cable with a maximum charging power of 100 Watts and a data transfer rate of 20Gb/s. It retails at 30.90 EUR. The HI-U3CF is the 1.5-metre extension version, which has the same USB 3.2×2 quality but which Sommer cable certifies for up to 10Gb/s only, although the cable and connectors are the same as those of the HI-U3CC. The reason for the lower certification is that people might extend cables of over 50cm and end up with a total length of 2m, in which case the speed drops. The 1.5m extension cable retails for 24.05 EUR.

This cable series has a visually appealing textile cover made of a nylon/cotton fabric which is firmly glued to the cable jacket to keep it in place and to prevent slipping or detaching, just like Apple’s.

It has internally extruded USB connectors that sit in a high-quality, slim aluminium housing to ensure a tight fit and a robust design. E-marker chips within the USB-C connector communicate with the connected devices to avoid overloads.

Sommer cable also has a special USB-C cable for lengths over 2m (6.5ft), which is the HI-UAOC cable series with built-in AOC technology. This technology guarantees a stable and reliable transmission and the full set of functions to cables of up to 8 m (26 ft.) in length. The cable supports 10 Gb/s USB 3.2 signals and is downward compatible with USB 1.1/2.0 combined with 4K60 video signals (DP alternate mode) plus 60 watts of charging power. It’s a slim cable with a 6 mm (0.24 in.) diameter and a very flexible construction. This cable retails at 487 EUR for a 5m length.