This blog was updated in June 2022.
Connecting the right hardware to your system is a vital step toward improving your gaming PC setup. The great thing is, it’s pretty easy to do. Especially with the right know-how.
Whether you need to connect a gaming monitor to a video device for live streaming or a keyboard and mouse for ultra-responsive shooting, the Thunderbolt 4 port and cable are the perfect things for you. But what is a Thunderbolt port?
If you’re baffled at why you can’t just use an HDMI cable to rig up your desktop PC, then fear not, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Thunderbolt 4, and how it can benefit you.
What’s a Thunderbolt port and cable technology?
Thunderbolt technology is relatively new but is rapidly making waves in the gaming laptop and PC world alike. In simple terms, Thunderbolt 4 is a cable connection interface developed over the last ten years by Intel.
It’s specifically designed to make connecting devices that much easier and means that other ports are freed up for additional use. It’s a no-frills, no-fuss way to connect your devices together for a seamless gaming experience.
What are the key features of the Thunderbolt 4 port and cable?
There are three main features that have become associated with Thunderbolt 4 technology:
- Thunderbolt ports provide high bandwidth for connecting high-speed devices, allowing for greater data transfer at any one time.
- Thunderbolt cables help to ensure a quality connection between the device and a PC so that it’s secure and uninterrupted, even when on the move.
- Thunderbolt accessories make it easy to expand the capabilities of your PC with additional docking options and external devices, making your PC the centre of attention.
What are the main benefits of Thunderbolt 4 port tech?
While you can make the argument that all computer ports fulfil a similar role, Thunderbolt 4 ports have several advantages over their older cousins.
Whilst some ports transfer your data from your devices to your PC, there are also ports which actually power your devices. Others are needed to transfer video signals from your PC to an external monitor.
This is a lot of separate cables, but a Thunderbolt 4 can do all three of the above things easily. And even better, and even better, it can do all of them at the same time!
Thunderbolt 4 ports a whopping 40 gigabits per second using bidirectional bandwidth!
What on earth does that mean?
It means you can move data to and from external storage really quickly, and up to five Thunderbolt devices can be connected for varying configurations at any one time; all powered by a single Thunderbolt 4 port.
Thunderbolt 4 ports are compatible with most other connections. This includes all previous versions of Thunderbolt, USB, DisplayPorts, and PCle. Standard USB-Thunderbolt ports all work with standard USB-C type connectors.
What can you connect to a Thunderbolt 4 port?
Now that we’ve answered, “what is Thunderbolt 4?”, let’s talk more about what Thunderbolt 4 can connect to.
Docks, displays, storage, video capture devices, all Thunderbolt 3 devices, multiple cable types, and more. You name it, Thunderbolt 4 can probably connect to it. The only thing you’ll likely need is an adaptor if you want to connect older Thunderbolt devices.
Connecting to external monitors
One Thunderbolt 4 port is capable of connecting up to two 4K 60hz DisplayPort or HDMI monitors through a compatible dock or an adapter, giving you a quick and simple way to set up a dual-monitor display.
If you want to expand the storage capacity of your system, simply connect a high-speed external Thunderbolt solid-state drive. What does this give you? It gives you speeds on par with internal drives for a quick and immediate storage speed boost.
Hooking up other devices
Using Thunderbolt 4, you can connect USB devices such as keyboards and mice, as well as controllers and headsets for gaming. You can also add video capture devices for live-streaming gaming by adding a PCI Express expansion chassis.
By expanding your network options with Thunderbolt 4, you can connect to a high-speed, 10 Gigabit Ethernet network via an adapter, or use a Thunderbolt cable to connect two computers over a peer-to-peer network.
This translates to you being able to transfer large volumes of data from one PC to another in very little time, which is a huge help when upgrading to a new system.
If you’re looking to charge devices such as your mobile or notebook quickly, then a Thunderbolt 4 cable is perfect, giving you a fast charge so you’re not sitting around waiting.
What’s new with Thunderbolt 4?
Thunderbolt 4 is the latest in Thunderbolt technology, so how does it differ from the previous Thunderbolt 3?
We’ve already touched on the Thunderbolt 4’s speed, and while Thunderbolt 4 ports have the same high-speed 40Gbps bandwidth as Thunderbolt 3, the minimum PCIe data requirements have increased from 16Gbps to 32Gbps.
This means that high-speed external PCIe devices, like storage and external graphics, see significant increases in transfer rates and performance.
Standard VT-d based DMA protection helps prevent security threats by remapping requests from external devices. Thunderbolt 4 has an advanced version of this as it also does the appropriate checks for proper permissions, giving you extra security.
Wake from sleep mode
A completely brand-new feature for Thunderbolt 4, the wake from sleep mode allows your PC to be brought out of hibernation with peripherals which are connected through a dock. Convenient and nifty.
What are the benefits of gaming with Thunderbolt 4?
It’s not just standard working and casual data transfer that Thunderbolt 4 can be sued for. Many people also use Thunderbolt 4 for the various benefits it brings to the quality of their gaming experience. This includes all the benefits we’ve mentioned above, as well as a few more.
A multiport Thunderbolt 4 dock can connect via a Thunderbolt 4 cable to a single Thunderbolt 4 port on your PC. Additional docking gives you expanded ports that open up a whole new world.
For example, you can connect a gaming keyboard, a wired gaming mouse, an external monitor, and SSD to a dock, and then to a PC, with a single Thunderbolt 4 cable. And this isn’t just with a PC, you can use Thunderbolt 4 with a laptop as well.
The vast majority of Thunderbolt 4 docks increase the number of Thunderbolt 4 ports available and usually feature additional ports for USB 3.0 Type-A, DisplayPort, and audio.
Connecting high-performance devices
With a bandwidth of 40Gbps, Thunderbolt 4 ports make it easy to connect devices such as gaming monitors and high-speed SSDs. More importantly, it enables you to use them at the speeds they were intended for without overloading the port’s capacity.
And, as the bandwidth is bi-directional, the outgoing video signal won’t conflict with incoming data from peripherals or a storage drive.
Expert cable management
Using a Thunderbolt 4 dock will help keep all of your workspace organised and tidy. All of your peripherals will be plugged into a central hub, hidden away rather than directly into your PC, avoiding the creation of a spaghetti junction of wires.
One cable goes from the dock to your PC, so everything else will be out of the way. This also means that when you want to relocate with your laptop, you only have to disconnect one cable instead of three or four!
Make use of external SSDs
With Thunderbolt 4, you can run games from an external NVMe SSD, such as the Samsung Portable SSD X5 and the built-in drive in the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Dock.
Because NVMe storage uses PCIe instead of the older SATA connectors used by SATA SSDs and traditional hard disk drives, read and write speeds are fast enough for gaming from an external storage device. This allows games to be transferred to an external drive, and then played on any systems which support Thunderbolt 4.
Using video capture devices and external GPUs
Another thing you can do with Thunderbolt 4 is attach an external capture device for streaming. Gameplay can be captured in full 4K at 60Hz or in 1080p at 240Hz. If you have a dedicated unit for capturing gameplay, then your system resources are freed up.
This gives you the option to then play games at higher settings while retaining clear video quality.
And if you want to boost the graphical performance of your laptop or lightweight PC, then you can connect an external GPU. This allows you to play more games at higher settings.
Thunderbolt at Ebuyer
With Thunderbolt 4, it doesn’t matter if you opt for a desktop or laptop – the bonuses are the same. If you want to invest in Thunderbolt 4 technology today, then you should head over to the Ebuyer store today where we have all your cable and dock needs.
Be sure to visit the Ebuyer blog as well for more articles and guides like this one on everything tech and gaming related.