USB‑C cables x-rayed

Oh come on, you plastimetrics skeptics are all the same. Great strides have been made in unduplicant reductilided Fong inhibitors, it’s only a matter of time before they solve the lateral shambling problem, and then it’s hello murving vectors!


Unfortunately I can’t find the Mad magazine strip I saw decades ago. Something along the line of …

“See the novelist struggling to get through a difficult chapter. See the novelist’s faithful dog Fang struggling to get through a difficult power cord. See the novelist complete the difficult chapter. See Fang complete the power cord. See the novelist’s chapter disappear in a sudden zot … and so does his faithful dog Fang.”


Anker. $29 but it’s only 2.3 feet in length.


As far as I can tell; no one.
You can get 3 metre Thunderbolt 3 cables, but as far as I can find, the longest alternative Thunderbolt 4 cables are 2m long. Anker make a 2m one which is around $50, which makes the Apple one sound like bad value ($80 more for just one additional metre), but making quality high speed copper cables is incredibly difficult. I suspect no one will build a 4m cable using copper connectors, and long Thunderbolt 4 cables will all be fibre-optic based

PS Coating your cables in clove oil does a good job of discouraging pets from chewing on them. It helps if you’re happy for your home to smell of cloves.


I watched that video yesterday, and honestly I was shocked by what is either just plain stupidity or massive intellectual dishonesty in how they present their comparisons - as if these cables are even remotely comparable. If they had even a shred of interest in presenting an evenhanded and insightful comparison, they would at least have included another thunderbolt cable, but also wouldn’t have acted as if USB 2.0 USB-C cables are essentially cheaply and badly made cables. There are tons of excellent reasons for low-bandwidth USB-C cables to exist, and they consistently act as if thunderbolt is just universally better, as if every cable really ought to be made to that standard.

Laughing at a USB 2.0 cable only having four wires connected? That’s how USB 2.0 works. And USB 2.0 is an integral part of USB-C. Yes, some of those cheap cables have shoddy soldering and low build quality, and that is absolutely worth commenting on - but you can avoid that with a $15 cable, you don’t need a $130 thunderbolt cable for that. And of course the TB cables are thicker, stiffer, have shorter max lengths, are far more expensive, and have other drawbacks. And they act as if the TB cable is universally more durable due to its more advanced production techniques, entirely ignoring how these are necessary because a 20-wire cable with a longer connector on the end is inherently more prone to failure than a cable with fewer, thicker conductors and a shorter plug.

This Thunderbolt cable - as with all thunderbolt cables - is an expensive niche tool for niche use cases. Is it very expensive? Yes. Is it expensive for what it does? Kinda, but also not all that much. Other comparable cables are similarly priced. But also? It just doesn’t have any benefits for the vast majority of use cases, and you can find functionally just-as-good build quality in both USB 2.0 and USB 3.x cabling, which will inevitably be far cheaper and better suited to most people’s needs.

I completely understand and agree that USB-C cables supporting many different data and power transmission standards can be and is confusing. But this video just adds to the confusion, rather than clarifying anything at all, by its simplistic “more advanced is better” narrative. More points of failure and massively increased cost in order to gain features you’ll never use isn’t better. Through some slightly more carefully selected comparisons and presentation techniques this could have benen incredibly informative and useful. Instead it’s so misleading it borders on outright misinformation.

The scans and images produced by them are incredibly cool - it’s just a massive shame that they did such an incredibly bad, clickbaity and sensationalist job of presenting them.


The Cat scan part was neat-- the conclusions were iffy.


The ending of the video did eventually come around to exactly what you’re expressing and was pretty even handed, stating that all the tradeoffs and build differences represented different specs for different use cases, not necessarily shadiness. Adam did show visible frustration that there is no clear and universal labelling of the different specs, ehich seems fair, and suppirts your point.

That said, I don’t blame you for not making it to the end. 20 minutes is a long slog for a cable review (I was procrastinating so made it all the way through). If it helps, it’s perfectly comprehensible at 2x speed.

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I do the same, i often will play Tested videos at faster speeds and the material comes across well. For subject matters that i’m particularly interested in i’ll play them at normal speed.

I did watch the whole thing, but IMO the small caveats they added towards the end were simply far, far, far too little and too late, being entirely overshadowed by both what is said previously in the video as well as how the people involved are acting. They never truly highlighted how different thunderbolt is from regular USB, never expanded on the difference between active and passive cables (and, for example, the existence of passive short length TB cables), and barely mentioned the fact that those USB 2.0 cables are entirely standards compliant - just to a different standard. The exclusions were IMO extremely selective in favor of an overall framing along the lines of “this is how a proper high-tech cable is made, this other stuff is just ridiculous and borderline junk”, which is extremely misleading. Yes, they did highlight that high amperage USB 2.0 type-C cables are what most people most likely need (for charging laptops and phones), but the amount of time given to this vs. extolling the (implicitly universally applicable, which is quite misleading) virtues of the TB cable essentially drowned that out entirely. Not to mention that comparing the highest bandwidth cables available to the lowest is … rather boring? Why not look at what is needed for TB3/4 vs., for example, 5/10/20Gbps USB 3.x? Or even 40Gbps USB4 cables? There’s so much potential for a super informative and interesting video here, and instead they just made this weirdly sensationalist and tabloid-like “ha ha look how shit the cheap cables are, and how good this one is” video.

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You mean USB-A to USB-C?

USB-[A-C] are the connectors, USB X.Y are the standards, and unless I’m mistaken, higher amperage cables will be USB 3.X, as the 3’s started to introduce negotiation for the power delivery levels.

No, I’m only talking about USB C-to-C cables. There are plenty of high amperage (3A or 5A) PD-charging USB 2.0 C-to-C cables to be found - most 2m or 3m (6/10ft) USB-C cables marketed for charging are likely to be USB 2.0 only. This is in large part due to signal integrity and cable thickness - 3m is the longest certifiable cable length for passive USB 3.0/.1/.2G2 cables, which means that it takes pretty thick cabling to maintain the signal at that cable length, and this gets both (relatively) expensive and thick, making it poorly suited for a charging cable.

The max cable length for USB 2.0 cables is 5m, making it relatively easy to produce a 3m cable at that spec, and you get away with a thinner overall cable while keeping sufficiently thick power wiring for high amp charging without the cable becoming so thick it becomes cumbersome.

I own a few 3m USB 2.0 C-to-C charging cables, and they’re definitely not thin (some are obviously better than others), and neither are the much shorter 5/10Gbps USB 3.x cables I own. I shudder to think how thick a passive 3m 10Gbps 100W cable would be - likely thick enough that it would break itself quite easily. And of course 20Gbps USB 3.2g2x2 tops out at… is it 1m cable length, or 1.5? Something like that. And those cables are pretty thick even then.

The power delivery division between 2.0 and and 3.x you’re mentioning only applies to USB-A hosts and entirely predates USB-C. USB-C supersedes that spec by allowing many different combinations of charging capability and data transfer speeds as the USB-PD standard is pretty much decoupled from data transfer standards at this point. So you can get a 100W 2.0 cable (or even 240W with PD 3.1) or a 15W 3.2G2 cable or pretty much any combination you want - though low charging speed and high bandwidth are a rare combination given how relatively cheap it is to add 5A charging capabilities to such a cable.

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I had a cat bite right through the headset cord, back when such things existed. The other party on the call thought it was funny, gratefully.

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