CES 2017: Kanex Launches Thunderbolt 3 to eSATA 3 Adapter, Travel Dock, and Cables

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 3, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

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    Kanex has announced it will be introducing a new lineup of Thunderbolt 3 products for the latest MacBook Pro at CES 2017 this week, including a Thunderbolt 3 Travel Dock, Thunderbolt 3 to eSATA 3 and USB 3.0 Adapter, and 1.6-foot and 6.6-foot Thunderbolt 3 cables that share the USB-C connector design.

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    The compact Travel Dock includes two HDMI ports, a USB-A port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and a USB-C port for pass-through charging. The dock supports dual 4K video output simultaneously and each at 60 FPS from both HDMI ports. It has a suggested retail price of $149.95 and will be available in April 2017.

    The Thunderbolt 3 to eSATA adapter enables users to connect the new MacBook Pro to an eSATA storage device. The plug-and-play adapter also includes a USB 3.0 port. Both ports are backwards compatible with older USB and eSATA peripherals. The adapter will be available on Kanex's website soon for $129.95.

    Kanex's new Thunderbolt 3 cables provide up to 40Gbps throughput, which is enough bandwidth to connect a new MacBook Pro to a single 5K display at 60Hz or dual 4K displays at 60Hz. The cable can be used with up to 6 daisy-chained Thunderbolt 3 devices, and provides up to 100W of charging to notebooks.

    The cables are compatible with the new MacBook Pro and most other Thunderbolt 3 devices. It is backward compatible with USB-C devices such as the 12-inch MacBook and Google Pixel. Kanex will be selling the 1.6-foot cable for $29.95 on its website, while the 6.6-foot cable will be available for $69.95.

    Article Link: CES 2017: Kanex Launches Thunderbolt 3 to eSATA 3 Adapter, Travel Dock, and Cables
     
  2. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Sounds good. I expect to see more Thunderbolt 3 peripherals. It's also good that the cables are backward compatible with USB-C (non-TB).
     
  3. Zorn macrumors 65816

    Zorn

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    This will be nice for the Razer Core, as it only included a 0.5m 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cable. Makes it a pain to try and position anything.
     
  4. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

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    The mini dock with two 60Hz 4K HDMI ports sounds great.
     
  5. Brookzy macrumors 601

    Brookzy

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    That Thunderbolt 3 cable deserves more fanfare! It appears to be the only cable on the market that will match the one shipping with the LG UltraFine 5K.

    Good news for the few owners of those displays who have been having cable-induced issues.
     
  6. Cougarcat macrumors 604

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    Wish the dock was DisplayPort than HDMI, but I suppose DisplayPort-HDMI cables exist. It's just great to finally see some cheaper TB3 docks announced that can do dual 4K without costing a fortune.
     
  7. Pbrutto macrumors 6502a

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    Been wanting one since I got the MacBook Pro!
     
  8. nutmac macrumors 601

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    Terrible pricing! For limited time on Apple Store, Belkin sells 1.6-foot for reduced price of $22 (vs. Kanex's $29.95) and 6.6-foot for reduced price of $52 (vs. Kanex's $69.95). Belkin's 1.6-footer is very well received by Google's USB-C tester, rated one the very best performing cables on the market.

    I had Belkin in the past and I didn't think much of it. But their USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 cables are extremely high quality, with Apple-like design but superior durability.
     
  9. Brookzy macrumors 601

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    I'm sure 15" MacBook Pro owners needing 100W cables will gladly pay the extra.
     
  10. Zorn macrumors 65816

    Zorn

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    Blah, I had read this as if Kanax's shorter cable was 1.6m, not 1.6 feet. That makes it the exact same short size as the current 40Gbps cables.
     
  11. Big Bad D macrumors regular

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    According to Apple Store description, the Belkin cables are only 60W charging power. According to this article the Kanex cables are 100W charging power. If I have understood well, this would explain the higher price?
     
  12. logicstudiouser macrumors 6502a

    logicstudiouser

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    Interesting.

    I still use eSATA, not sure I would use that adapter though. I have an OWC eSATA expresscard for time machine backups. Super fast. Can do 1.5tb in 3 hours. Great solution for 2011 mbp owners that don't have usb 3.0 and don't want to pay premium for a thunderbolt drive.
     
  13. dyn macrumors 68030

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    Yep and it is not going to change with any of the other brands because this is a technical limitation of the protocol itself. The cables can only be used up to 2m, for anything longer you need to use the fibre optic version. The problem here is that the fibre optic one can't charge a device (read: notebook) while the (short) copper ones can. At least, if you want to be able to use the full 40Gbps. For the 20Gbps version or the USB version the limitation is a tad bit different.

    As for pricing, well, check out the cables from other manufacturers such as StarTech and you'll see that it isn't any different (for a nice overview, visit the official Thunderbolt page and hit the "Products" button).
     
  14. nutmac macrumors 601

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    Good catch. I didn't realize Belkin's were limited to 60W. Not that I would use puny 1.6-foot cable for charging, but I can see the appeal of shelling extra for 6.6-footer.
     
  15. theluggage, Jan 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017

    theluggage macrumors 68040

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    As I understand it, there are 3 types of Thunderbolt 3 cable planned:

    Passive: The cheapest option - but can only support 40 Gbps up to 0.5m and 20 Gbps up to 2m, also support USB-C features. Suspect that these are just "certified" USB-C cables. The 0.5m Belkin cable sold by Apple is presumably of this type.

    Active:
    Like the old Thunderbolt 1/2 cables, these are still copper cables, but have a cable driver chip embedded in each connector, and can support 40Gbps up to 2m. The 2m Belkin cable offered by Apple is presumably of this type.

    Optical:
    Up to 60m but, as @dyn says above, no power delivery. Oh, and if you need to ask the price, you can't afford it.

    Did you notice? on the Apple store site: The 0.5m Belkin also supports USB C devices, because it is a USB-C cable (maybe built to higher specs*) but the 2m Belkin only supports USB 2**. That fits with the 2m being an active cable: USB-C has 4 high-speed data lanes and, in an active Thunderbolt cable, these all go to the cable driver chip which only talks Thunderbolt. However, USB-C also has a dedicated pair of wires for "legacy" USB 2, that Thunderbolt doesn't need so they can be passed straight through...

    Not sure why the Belkin cables only support 60W - all the Thunderbolt blurb says "100W".

    Some of this from here: https://blog.startech.com/post/thunderbolt-3-the-basics/ - other bits from the Thunderbolt site before it got dumbed down.

    (* higher specs... sure, and there's this bridge in Brooklyn that you might want to buy...)
    (** EDIT: that means that if you use the cable to directly connect a USB device via a dongle or USB hub, you'll only get USB2 speed. That shouldn't affect a proper TB3 dock that has its own USB3 controller connected to the host via PCIe/Thunderbolt)
     
  16. Zorn macrumors 65816

    Zorn

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    Thanks. This is all really good information. I did not catch that even the $69 Thunderbolt 3 2M cable was limited to USB 2. It looks like if we want a cable that supports things like Thunderbolt 3 eGPU docks as well as the USB 3.0 ports they may contain, the only option right now is a 0.5m cable. Pretty disappointing.
     
  17. Brookzy macrumors 601

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    Good information in this post. I'll just add that apparently the reason for this limitation is politics rather than functionality - Intel were not licensing 100W Thunderbolt 3 cables at the time the Belkin ones came out a couple of months ago.
     
  18. jimthing, Jan 3, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2017

    jimthing macrumors 65816

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    #18
    Belkin's 2m one is PASSIVE for sure or at least an early active one (I just returned mine to Apple accordingly, for the £48/$52 price makes no sense to keep), as it only supports 60W charging and USB 2.0 speeds. Hopefully Kanex's will do USB 3.1 10gbps AND 85+w charging, if a true active cable. More ACTIVE cables are needed in the marketplace for sure, as the passive ones are cheaper for a reason, and pro users just want cables that offer complete functionality of USB over Tbolt 3 (40gbps TB, 10gps USB, 100w charging/power, 2m doable length). OPTICAL are useful too for storage/loud devices away from host machine (keep meaning to get around to testing my TB1/2 Corning cable on Apple's TB1/2–TB3 adapter. ;-).

    --- Post Merged, Jan 3, 2017 ---
    The 2m Belkin is surely PASSIVE, or at least an early ACTIVE, as I explained above (no 85+w power and only USB 2 speed).
    --- Post Merged, Jan 3, 2017 ---
    Really? Where did you get that from? And why would that limit the USB speed and charge wattage?
     
  19. theluggage macrumors 68040

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    No, the 2m/40Gbps cable from Belkin should work for that. A proper TB3 dock will include USB3.1 controllers connected to the host computer via PCIe/Thunderbolt and can potentially support up to USB3.1 @ 10Gbps.

    The USB 2.0 limitation is if you use the active TB3 cable to connect directly to a USB-C device or a USB-C-to-USB-A dongle.

    No - it is longer than 0.5m and supports 40Gbps, so its Active.

    The 60W power limitation has nothing to do with being active/passive.

    "Active" means that the high-speed data lines are driven by a chip embedded in the connector that enables them to support 40Gbps on a more-than-0.5m cable (just like all TB 1/2 cables). That means that they're not available for USB3, leaving just the "legacy" USB2 line that is included on the USB-C connector.

    TLDNR: USB-C/TB3 is really, really confusing - so many different cable types and different ways of achieving the same effect but with different constraints. If it's baffling the reasonably-tech-savvy types on MR, the real people just aren't going to have a clue...

    I've got a brilliant idea: why don't we have different cables & connectors for USB, Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and power? Then everybody will know what is what...
     
  20. dyn macrumors 68030

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    I think things are a bit easier than it used to be. No more people plugging in USB-A into RJ-45, HDMI into DisplayPort (and vice versa), etc. Just like before you only have to make sure that you have the right cable which means doing the same thing most people are doing now: ask any person that they deem computer-savvy. For most people nothing is going to change in that regard, the only thing that changes is the connector.
     
  21. jimthing, Jan 4, 2017
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017

    jimthing macrumors 65816

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    #21
    Sure, but why is the Belkin limited to 60w then, while the (unknown brand; LG's own?) cable supplied with the LG 5K does 85w? (from what said, you likely mean the LG's display controller converts the 3x USB ports into the lower 5Gbps, rather than the cable – thus reaching the total limit for embedded DisplayPort, along with 3x USB ports for a total 40Gbps total bandwidth over the cable).

    Have you a source for all this? I'm sure you're likely mostly right, just like to read some source material (student stylee!).
     
  22. cube macrumors P6

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    Because that adapter is so much more convenient and cheaper than an eSATAp port on the computer.
     
  23. theluggage macrumors 68040

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    This seems to be to do with USB-C power delivery specs, nothing to do with Thunderbolt - from wikipedia:

    ...so it looks like the Belkin cables haven't been "electronically marked" as 100W certified. USB-C cables can have ID chips in them describing their properties (making them technically "active" but not in the Thunderbolt sense).

    I guess that there's also a cable thickness/flexibility issue that might favour not making all cables 100W.

    The different types of TB3 cable are described here:
    https://blog.startech.com/post/thunderbolt-3-the-basics/

    You can see from the USB-C pinout on wikipedia that it has 4 "SuperSpeed" connector pairs (for USB3 or Thunderbolt) plus a single "non-superspeed" USB 2 pair. Hence, even if a cable is fully loaded with DisplayPort, USB 3 or Thunderbolt, it will still have a spare USB2 channel, plus the power delivery abilities.

    I'm kinda guessing that in the "Active" thunderbolt cables, the driver chips render the 4 "Superspeed" pairs incompatible for anything other than Thunderbolt data, just leaving the USB2 pair for legacy devices, & not affecting the power delivery.
     
  24. jimthing macrumors 65816

    jimthing

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    #24
    Interesting. We'll have to see, and wait until the better fully active 2m TBolt 3 cables come out. When that will be, is anyone's guess.

    In the meantime, it would be useful if a current owner of the LG 5K could test the cable it comes with, to see if it offers USB 3 speeds with USB 3 devices (using a USB-A adapter if needed) – whether that's 5 or 10Gbps.

    It'd sure help shine some light on this cable's (and potentially future cables) functionality.
     
  25. theluggage macrumors 68040

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    BTW, I've found a nice clear confirmation of what I'm talking about on Caldigit's site:

    http://www.caldigit.com/Thunderbolt-3-USB-C-Type-C-Charge-Cable/ (Stuff about Active vs. USB 3 compatibility right at the end).

    ...very useful description, but no prices or availability of either their TB3 or 100W USB-C cables, although they do include a USB-C cable with their USB-C dock.

    TLDNR: There are "USB-C" cables, "Thunderbolt 3 cables" and "Thunderbolt 3 USB-C cables" - and some of each type support 100W charging, some don't so there's absolutely no room for confusion there at all. Er...

    There are some 40Gbps/2m TB3 cables being advertised on Amazon. Note the "Thunderbolt 3 device compatible only".

    Remember, the speed limitation only applies when the device at the end of the cable is USB-C, not Thunderbolt.
     

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24 January 3, 2017