Thunderbolt Connectors and Their Similarities/Differences

In recent years, more and more devices are including something known as a “thunderbolt connector” in their design, but what are they really? They look almost exactly like a USB-C port, and in fact, they are! Physically, the thunderbolt connector is exactly the same as a normal Type-C connector, so what’s the difference?

Thunderbolt was a hardware interface developed by Intel in collaboration with Apple to combine PCI Express, Displayport, and DC power into one cable. This allows for a wider range of peripherals to be connected to one port. This also means that there are certain accessories that can be connected to a normal Type-C port but not function because of this special form of connection.

Since the port is identical to a normal Type-C port, they use a special symbol printed next to it to designate that it is capable of this new form of connectivity.

So then why does this other port have that symbol as well? That’s because the first port to use thunderbolt was actually the Mini-Display port connection, and it also carries similar abilities for connectivity. Like with the Type-C connector, their Mini-Display is also identical to a normal one physically.

So essentially, all thunderbolt ports are Type-C/Mini-Displayport, but not all Type-C/Mini-Displayports are thunderbolt. You can find a list of Type-C cables Here, and Mini-Displayport Here.