Thunderbolt 4 technology helps provide a clutter-free desktop with consolidated connectivity and high bandwidth in one simple connection. Gamers, content creators, and workers who need everyday productivity all benefit from this single, powerful connection. Quickly move massive files. Enable the highest-quality display settings. Add more accessories with the use of Thunderbolt docks and hubs while simultaneously charging the laptop over one cable. Also, you can daisy chain multiple Thunderbolt devices together in a row or through a hub that provides up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports.
Thunderbolt™ Technology: The Fastest, Simplest and Most Reliable USB-C Connection1
What Is Thunderbolt Technology?
Thunderbolt technology is a universal cable connectivity solution that offers 40 gigabits per second (Gbps) bandwidth for high-speed data and video transfer, while also charging your laptop3 over a single cable. It uses the same Type-C connector as other USB Type-C (USB-C) ports.
However, Thunderbolt 4 technology is much more than a USB-C connector. Thunderbolt brand certification mandates higher minimum performance and capabilities for cables, PCs, and accessories for greater reliability across devices and operating systems. As the most complete and highest standard of USB-C connections available on the market, Thunderbolt 4 technology is backwards compatible with its prior generation as well as millions of USB 3 and USB4 products.
Comparison2: Thunderbolt vs USB
USB 3 / DP
|40 Gbps bandwidth|
|15W power to run accessories|
|Mandatory testing and certification|
|2 x 4K/60Hz monitors|
|Required PC charging3 on at least one computer port|
|Universal 40 Gbps cables up to 3m|
|Up to 4 Thunderbolt™ ports on accessories|
|System wake from sleep|
|Intel® VT-d based DMA protection|
Thunderbolt Technology Benefits
As part of Thunderbolt brand certification, mandatory testing ensures broad compatibility across Mac, Windows, Chrome, or Linux. It also ensures interoperability of computers, cables, and accessories from different brands, so your devices work well together regardless of the OS or hardware manufacturer.
Thunderbolt 4 technology is backwards compatible with its prior generation as well as millions of USB 3 and USB4 products. In 2019, Intel contributed the Thunderbolt protocol specification to the USB controlling consortium, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). The royalty-free use of the Thunderbolt protocol aided in the development of USB4, the next-generation USB protocol. The convergence of the underlying Thunderbolt and USB protocols further increased compatibility among USB-C-based products, simplifying how people connect their devices. However, when devices with varying ports are connected, performance capabilities will only support the lowest level of the standard in that connection.
Thunderbolt 4 technology provides a consistent total bandwidth of 40 gigabits per second in each direction. This bandwidth is dynamically allocated between data and video for all devices on a single connection. Compared to the variable speeds of USB 3.2 and USB4, the high standard set by the Thunderbolt 4 interface delivers peak data transfer speeds—or maximum video display quality—to support productivity, gaming, and content creation.
Real Life Usage Videos
Working and Learning
Effortlessly expand your laptop to a full-fledged workspace for easy multitasking and ergonomic comfort. With a universal Thunderbolt port, you can connect multiple high-resolution monitors, add all the accessories you need, and power your laptop via a single cable connection. Settle into your work after just a simple plug-in.
Transform your laptop into a full-fledged, immersive gaming station with Thunderbolt 4 ports. Connect to a gaming monitor, a keyboard, a mouse, a video capture device for recording live streams, and an external SSD drive to store and play your favorite games. Thunderbolt 4 connections can do it all. Keeping your gaming space neat and manageable has never been easier.
Effortlessly expand your laptop to a full-fledged creation space with Thunderbolt 4 ports. Get more done on multiple screens. See your vision brought to life in stunning 4K. Breeze through massive files. At 40 Gbps, Thunderbolt technology is the fastest, simplest way to connect to monitors, add storage, and charge your PC4.
Learn More about Thunderbolt 4 Technology
Thunderbolt Tech Tips
A walkthrough of how to set up a docking station with your laptop, monitor, and peripheral devices over a single cable connection.
Tips on how to configure Microsoft Windows* 11 with Thunderbolt docks for dual 4K monitors and use a Windows 11 screen organization feature called SNAP to maximize productivity.
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.
Thunderbolt technology delivers the best-in-class capabilities to drive high-bandwidth data, power, and video transfers for up to five devices on one connection. Gamers, creators, and workers can enjoy a clean desktop space with multiple displays and accessories on a powerful connectivity standard. Learn how Thunderbolt technology delivers the best experiences with simple, powerful, and flexible connectivity.
- Thunderbolt 4 technology is the next generation of the Thunderbolt protocol, following Thunderbolt 3 technology. Both generations use the same USB-C connector type, but Thunderbolt 4 technology introduces higher minimum requirements and new capabilities for a best-in-class user experience.
- Learn more about the difference through this article.
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.
Please go to https://thunderbolttechnology.net/.
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 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
Performance varies by use, configuration and other factors. Learn more at www.Intel.com/PerformanceIndex.
Fastest 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.
All versions of the Intel vPro® platform require an eligible Intel processor, a supported operating system, Intel LAN and/or WLAN silicon, firmware enhancements, and other hardware and software necessary to deliver the manageability use cases, security features, system performance and stability that define the platform. See intel.com/performance-evo for details.
All Intel Evo branded designs must meet demanding thresholds for key mobile user experiences like responsiveness and battery life; individual device performance may vary. Details at www.intel.com/performance-evo.
All versions of the Intel vPro® platform require an eligible Intel processor, a supported operating system, Intel® LAN and/or WLAN silicon, firmware enhancements, and other hardware and software necessary to deliver the manageability use cases, security features, system performance, and stability that define the platform. See intel.com/performance-vpro for details.