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It can be quite confusing when you are buying a laptop to connect to an external GPU for a variety of usage types, but you can’t decide whether you want to go with an Intel CPU and have your eGPU connect through a Thunderbolt 4, or to go with an AMD CPU instead and look for a platform that carries a USB 4 port.
The answer to this question can be both simple and complicated.
The simplest answer is, if you want to get your eGPU purely for gaming reasons. Then you are better off with a Thunderbolt 4 port and hence an Intel platform. Or an Apple laptop if you are more into multimedia creation, as Apple has limited support for the kind of video games you can play on a windows platform.
The reason here is simple. Thunderbolt 4 ensures a 40Gbps bandwidth transfer and Intel CPU’s also talk better to devices or eGPU’s connected through the Thunderbolt 4. While USB 4 can practically support up to 40Gbps, but it is still based mostly on Thunderbolt 3 technology and hence carries a lower minimum bandwidth transfer amount of 20Gbps, and manufacturer can definitely exploit that.
But if you are attempting to connect an external GPU for reasons other than gaming, like Deep Learning, or Mining and such. The answer to this question can really vary on your expected usage and cannot be covered without going in to the detail which we cover here below.
Currently, Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 are backwards compatible, but the newer version of these two connections are at a much higher speed. Thunderbolt 4 has a much wider bandwidth range and is faster than its predecessor. It also supports PCs, docks, cables, and eGPUs without the Intel branding.
Thunderbolt 4 operates at 40Gbps
Thunderbolt 3 is a fast and proprietary connection for external graphics cards. It can support up to two high-resolution displays and supports external GPUs, but it is more expensive than USB-C. For most users, it will be easier to stick with USB-C.
Thunderbolt 4 uses up to four lanes and operates at 40Gbps in both directions. It has twice the PCIe bandwidth than Thunderbolt 3 and can support up to two 8K displays at 30Hz. This means you can get more performance from your graphics card.
Thunderbolt 4 has a few other advantages. It offers two meters of 40 Gbps cable length, USB-C compliance, compulsory charging support, and dual 4K displays. Also, it supports 10GbE fast networking. It uses the USB-C connector and is compatible with most modern gaming PCs.
Thunderbolt 4 ports are USB4-compliant, and can provide up to 40Gbps of throughput for eGPUs. They are also able to tunnel USB 3 (10G) and PCIe (32G). And they can be configured in branching hub topologies.
Thunderbolt 4 ports can be used to connect multiple devices, like a Thunderbolt keyboard and mouse. The port’s bandwidth is bidirectional, so a video signal doesn’t conflict with incoming data. Another benefit of Thunderbolt 4 ports is that they make it easier to manage cables and gaming accessories. Using a Thunderbolt 4 dock will keep your gaming room organized and reduce the clutter.
Another advantage of Thunderbolt 4 is that it allows you to add an external graphics card. As long as your laptop has Thunderbolt 4 port, you can connect any high-end graphics card through Thunderbolt. You must buy an eGPU enclosure for this to work.
Thunderbolt ports are becoming a common feature on enthusiast computers. Thunderbolt 3 is compatible with some notebooks, but Thunderbolt 4 has better performance. This port is now mandatory on all computers. In the near future, it could replace all other ports.
Thunderbolt is a high-speed interface that combines PCI Express, DisplayPort, DC power, and a connector for mini-display ports. Thunderbolt 4 supports up to six devices on a single connector. Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2 use the Mini DisplayPort connector, while Thunderbolt 4 uses the USB-C connector.
The final Thunderbolt specification specifies that each Thunderbolt port should be able to transmit 10W of DC power. This is not as high as the 40Gbps speeds, but the cable is long enough to connect two desktop computers. A Thunderbolt 4 cable with two ports can reach up to 60m, which is perfect for a high-end desktop.
Thunderbolt 3 also provides incredible transfer speeds and can drive up to two 4K monitors at 60Hz. USB-C also supports external displays, but it needs the DisplayPort Alternate Mode feature to work. Thunderbolt 3 also supports PCIe devices.
Copper Thunderbolt cables vs USB4 for eGPU
If you are looking to connect an eGPU to your computer, you will want to choose a cable that supports high-speed data transfer. Thunderbolt cables are often made of copper to increase the bandwidth. Copper can also carry power, and the final Thunderbolt standard specifies a maximum power capacity of 10W DC per port. Aside from speed, copper cables are available in a variety of lengths, from 10 meters to nearly nine feet.
There are two main types of Thunderbolt cables. One supports USB and DisplayPort, while the other supports Thunderbolt only. You can identify Thunderbolt cables by the Thunderbolt logo and number on the plug. Thunderbolt cables are much faster than USB4 and Thunderbolt 3.
If you’re looking for a new cable, Corning has a few options. It is one of the largest manufacturers of optical cables. It is possible that Corning’s optical Thunderbolt cables will hit the market before NAB 2020, but it is unclear when they will reach the consumer market. Corning has yet to announce pricing, but they have already appeared on the websites of European resellers. Corning cables come in sizes from 5.5 meters up to fifty meters, and they start at around $400 USD. That is a bit less expensive than Areca, but still out of reach for the average consumer.
One downside to copper Thunderbolt cables is the limited length. Thunderbolt 3 cables are only a couple of meters long, and they suffer signal degradation over long distances. Copper Thunderbolt cables do have advantages, however. Aside from allowing you to use the full range of Thunderbolt hardware, copper Thunderbolt cables can also carry power and fallback on USB modes.
Thunderbolt 3 is a backwards compatible standard. Thunderbolt cables are backwards compatible with USB4, but it is important to remember that a Thunderbolt device must be connected to a Thunderbolt port in order to take advantage of Thunderbolt’s bandwidth.
Thunderbolt is a hybrid of PCI Express and DisplayPort, and it has a significant amount of power. As a result, many Macs and PCs already offer separate interfaces. In addition, Thunderbolt connectors are based on the Mini DisplayPort standard. Thunderbolt controllers are relatively simple to integrate into existing hardware, but it has yet to prove to be as widespread as USB.
USB4 supports high-speed data transfer, but is not as high-performance as Thunderbolt. If you need a quick and convenient connection, USB4 will give you the speed you need. Copper Thunderbolt cables are not the best choice for eGPU connections.