USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 for charging/data on 2016 MB Pro?

NJRonbo

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 10, 2007
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I own a 2016 15" MacBook Pro.

Have it hooked up to a Caldigit USB dock

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AX6J7P4/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Using this USB-C cable for a single hookup to the hub

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01838Z3UM/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Now I am wondering...

I am simply using the hub for Ethernet and external USB device connections.

Would I get faster speed (on Internet and data transfer) if I opted to use a Thunderbolt 3 cable instead of the USB cable? The hub supports Thunderbolt 3.

Now, again, this is simply for ethernet, power and data transfer. I am kind of limited on power since the hub only supports 60 watts. I am more concerned about data and ethernet speed.

Thanks in advance.
 

Brookzy

macrumors 601
May 30, 2010
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First thing's first, if you are concerned about speed, bin that crappy "RAVPower" thing - it lists nothing about its specifications so I would expect it to be a 480 Mbps cable, just like the charging cable that came with your MacBook Pro. This will be seriously inhibiting the speed of your USB-C dock.

RAVPower also make downright dangerous USB-C power adapters, so I can't imagine their cables being particularly safe either. The list of random exceptions and incompatibilities they list (e.g. "only 60W on Mac") is bizarre and implies a non-compliant cable for any spec-compliant USB-C cable should be safe and functional with any spec-compliant device.

By comparison, the included cable with the CalDigit USB-C dock is 10 Gbps and 1 metre.

I assume you bought the RAVPower cable because you wanted a longer one? Unfortunately, 10 Gbps USB-C cables max out at about a metre in length.

Second, regarding Thunderbolt 3, the hub does not support Thunderbolt 3. What they mean is that the hub can be used with devices that have Thunderbolt 3 ports. So you won't get faster speeds by using a Thunderbolt 3 cable - indeed if you use some Thunderbolt 3 cables (generally speaking, ones of a metre in length or longer, unless they are limited to 20 Gbps speeds), the hub won't work at all.

But still, there is a problem to solve: I assume you want the most speed and the most length (otherwise you wouldn't have bought the extra cable).

Now, for technical reasons that are too boring, you may actually get the same performance from the dock if you use a 5 Gbps cable instead of a 10 Gbps cable, especially if you aren't using a display (which you aren't). And these are available in longer than a metre in length. For example this one by Targus, or these from Plugable (ignore that they say Thunderbolt 3 - they are fully functioning USB-C cables by virtue of their 20 Gbps rather than 40 Gbps bandwidth limit).
 

NJRonbo

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 10, 2007
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Brookzy,

I can't begin to thank you enough for taking the time to write such a detailed explanation.

I went ahead and ordered:

Plugable Thunderbolt 3 20Gbps USB-C Cable (6.6'/2m, 3A/60W, Thunderbolt and USB Compatible

The former cable you listed was not in stock.

So you are saying this should prove to be even faster than the RAV cable I am using?

I am also upgrading my Internet speed to 300/300 mbps (from 75/75 mbps) and since the ethernet is plugging into the hub, I want the USB-C connection to be the best.

Just want to be sure I did the right thing here. Thanks.
 

Brookzy

macrumors 601
May 30, 2010
4,747
4,723
UK
Yes, that cable is considerably faster than the RAVPower one (5 Gbps vs. 480 Mbps; around 10 times faster).
 

NJRonbo

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Jan 10, 2007
2,142
251
Brookzy, I can't thank you enough for steering me in the right direction. I appreciate the help.
 
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