Thunderbolt 3 vs Thunderbolt 4 – Everything You Need to Know!

Ever wondered what the differences are between Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4? 

Thunderbolt 3 vs Thunderbolt 4 – Everything You Need to Know!

We’ve answered all your Thunderbolt questions, including the latest generations, and whether or not it’s good for gaming! 


Developed by Intel, Thunderbolt is used to connect external peripherals to a PC. First released in 2011 in collaboration with Apple, this technology combines data, power, audio, and video into one cable. With support for both PCIe and DisplayPort, you can access high-resolution displays and fast data transfers all through one port.  

There have been four generations of Thunderbolt.  

  • Thunderbolt 1 (2011) 
  • Thunderbolt 2 (2013) 
  • Thunderbolt 3 (2015) 
  • Thunderbolt 4 (2020) 

What does a Thunderbolt Port Look Like and Does my Device Support it?

You will be able to spot if your device supports Thunderbolt as it will have a thunderbolt icon next to a USB-C port. Alternatively, you can also look online on the manufacturer’s website for further information.  

What is Thunderbolt 3?

Thunderbolt 3 was released in 2013. Whilst Thunderbolt 1 and 2 both utilise MDP (Mini DisplayPort) connectors, Thunderbolt 3 uses USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 is compatible with the latest USB4 generation and has up to 15W of power at its disposal. With data transfer rates that are twice the bandwidth of the previous generation, experience ultra-fast speeds of up to 40GB/s. 

What’s more, Thunderbolt 3, can support up to one 4K monitor, allowing you to enjoy stunning, photo-realistic images and videos.  

Our Favourite Hardware with Thunderbolt 3:

AVermedia BOLT Thunderbolt 3 External Capture Device:

The AVermedia BOLT External Capture Device comes fully equipped with everything you need to record and live stream your favourite games. You can choose to have your footage processed in either 4K at 60FPS or WQHD or Full HD at 240FPS. Plus, you can connect this external capture device via Thunderbolt 3 to your gaming PC, for ultra-fast data transfer speeds and a latency of less than 50ms. For those dramatic finishing touches, the AVermedia BOLT comes with a sleek, all-black design and includes integrated RGB LED lighting. 

  • External capture device
  • Choose between 4K, WQHD, or FullHD recording
  • Thunderbolt 3 compatible

What is Thunderbolt 4?

Released in 2020, Thunderbolt 4 is the latest generation. Similar to Thunderbolt 3, this standard utilises a USB-C connector, 15W of power, and has data transfer speeds of up to 40GB/s.  

The key difference between Thunderbolt 3 and 4, is the benefits for gaming. Thunderbolt 4 can support up to two 4k monitors. With four times the pixel density of standard 1080p, see details you’ve never spotted before and have a distinct advantage in all your favourite games. What’s more, Thunderbolt 4 has a PCIe SSD speed of up to 32GB/s, which is twice the bandwidth of the previous generation. Unlock ultra-fast data transfer speeds when storing and moving all your important files and creative projects.   

Our Top Hardware with Thunderbolt 4: 

ASUS ThunderboltEX 4 Expansion Card:  

You’ll never have to worry about running out of USB ports again with the ASUS ThunderboltEX Expansion Card. Offering you ultra-fast 40GB/s bi-directional bandwidth, this expansion card can support up to five daisy-chained Thunderbolt devices. Along with a 100W USB-C port. The perfect addition to your streaming or work from home set up. 

  • Expansion card
  • Compatible with Thunderbolt 4
  • Support up to five Thunderbolt devices

ASUS ROG Maximus ATX Motherboard:

With the Intel Z690 chipset and LGA1700 socket, the ASUS ROG Maximus ATX Motherboard comes fully equipped to support the latest Intel Alder Lake CPUs. Utilise support for DDR5 RAM and PCIe Gen 5.0, for high-quality performance in gaming, streaming, and much more. Plus, with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, take advantage of ultra-fast data transfer speeds or charging for your peripherals. 

  • ATX motherboard
  • Supports the latest Intel Z690 chipset
  • LGA1700 socket compatible
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 ports

Will There Be a Thunderbolt 5?

Thunderbolt 5 is Storming Its Way To Us: What to Expect 

Thunderbolt 5 is coming! The first Thunderbolt 5 devices are expected to be on our shelves in 2024. This updated tech will be able to support multiple 8K monitors, have up to 120Gbps bandwidth, and new signalling technology, PAM-3. Learn more about the new standard in our dedicated blog.

How has Thunderbolt revolutionised your device’s performance? Leave a comment below. 

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