It wasn’t long ago that I shared my thoughts about why the USB Type-C standard wasn’t perfect yet, but some vital, forward-thinking milestones have started trickling their way down the manufacturing lines, and it smells like progress.
While many USB Type-C cables continue to display limitations regarding data speed, power delivery, or both, some brands are making a difference by offering the best of both worlds. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t quite say the standard is perfect yet.
The original problem starts to fade away
Deficiencies in the existing market (at the time) made it challenging to locate a cable supporting both 100W power delivery and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gb/s) data transfer speeds. Most relevant cables maxed out at around 60W power delivery, but some supported 100W power delivery at the expense of reduced data speeds (pitiful USB 2.0).
Given that the MacBook Pro occasionally pulls 87W of power at peak performance, 60W wouldn’t be enough for the long haul. I found myself either carrying two separate cables with me during my travels to support my power needs and peripherals, or settling with a single cable that exhibited either awful charging or data transfer speeds.
Fortunately, brands like Anker and Belkin pioneered what I like to call a USB Type-C revolution. Anker’s PowerLine II ($19.99 on Amazon) and Belkin’s USB Type-C cable ($29.99 on Amazon) each support both 100W power delivery and USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfer speeds (10Gb/s). These were some of the first major brands to manufacture a USB Type-C cable with the best of both worlds, and the floodgates are now opening as a quick search on Amazon would indicate.
But only slightly…
It seems like a blessing that these two respected brands would finally introduce almost precisely what I was looking for this entire time, but the key word in that comment is “almost.”
While these cables will do just about everything I could ever aspire for them to do, you might have noticed that both measure just one meter in length. Comparatively, the OEM USB Type-C charging cable that ships with Apple’s 2016/2017 MacBook Pro measures two meters in length.
If you happen to have one of those OEM extension cables from an earlier Mac notebook, then this isn’t as much of a problem. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t include one with the 2017 MacBook Pro (and perhaps other new machines), which leaves a plethora of people with limited options.
That said, if you choose to use one of these one-meter cables, you’ll either need to purchase an Apple OEM extension cable from Apple for $19.00 to meet your distance needs, or you’ll be hugging the wall on which any power outlet you choose to use resides.
Nope; not really the ideal situation – but it’s better than it was just a couple of months ago.
The search continues
There are no clear indications about what’s taking so long to develop the “perfect” USB Type-C cable, but if I had to guess, limitations inside the circuitry at each terminating end of the cable could have something to do with it. Perhaps the hardware driving both the scale-tipping data and power delivery speeds is only robust enough to send the signal across one meter of cable.
With all things considered, it seems like manufacturing companies are only just beginning to scratch the surface of the capabilities introduced by the USB Type-C standard, and it could be a while before the ideal product finally launches to the public.
On the other hand, research and development got us this far, so it only seems obvious that manufacturers are on the verge of progress. Perhaps with a bit more patience, the perfect USB Type-C cable will eventually surface.
Are you satisfied with the current USB Type-C standard, or would you like to see it evolve even further? Let us know in the comments section below.