So you’ve got an incredible monitor, have a custom 60% mechanical keyboard with handpicked (and soldered) switches, and you’ve created a minimalist home office setup with a small form factor case to tie it all together. The only problem? The flimsy manufacturer cables running across your desk that threatens to ruin the entire aesthetic.
This is where a custom cable solution comes into it’s own – and we’re here to guide you through the best options when hunting for the best USB C cable or custom USBC cables.
Table of Contents
- Difference Between USB C, Thunderbolt and Power Delivery
- Best Custom USB C cable – KrisCables
- Best Value USB-C Cable – AmazonBasics
- Best USB C Cable for Power Delivery – Anker Powerline II
- Best USB C to USB A Cable – JSAUX
- Best USB C to USB A charging Adapter – Basesailor
- Best USB C to Lightning Cable – Apple
- Best USB C to Lightning audio Adapter – Anker
- Best USB C Thunderbolt Cable – Belkin
- Bonus – Best Magnetic USB C cable – Cafele
- Final Words
USB-C cables are fast becoming the standard connector for laptops, computers, smartphones and all our gaming gear and promise to bring us a step closer to the holy grail of a true “Universal” port. Type C ports are the latest physical iteration of the USB standard and offer almost universal connectivity options, the technical details unfortunately still require some expertise to navigate.
…all Thunderbolt 3 cables use the USB-C interface, but not all USB-C connectors are Thunderbolt capable…
In this article, we’ll step through the major standards to clear up exactly what you need, and then recommend some of our personal favorites.
But before we recommend some of the best USB-C Cables, it’s worth spending some time to detail the differences between USB-Type C or Just USB-C and the different standards on offer to show how they’re similar and where they differ.
Difference Between USB C, Thunderbolt and Power Delivery
To understand these connectors, let’s look at each in detail.
USB Type C
USB Type C is not only replacing older USB Type A and Type B physical ports, but it’s also incorporating new data protocols to streamline the functionality of the cable including DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, and potentially even your audio connection if you’ve lost your trusty 3.5mm audio jack.
Physically, USB-Type C defines the actual cable dimensions and pins. Unlike its predecessors, USB C is much smaller in size and is also, thankfully, fully symmetrical, and reversible. Within this port are 24-small pins which interface with your connected device.
This is where it get a little more complex though. The transfer and power delivery capabilities of each USB-C cable can differ significantly based on the protocol in use.
The major differences we’ll focus on here is on the latest generation of USB-C and Thunderbolt Cables.
USB 3.1 cables are capable of delivering a Maximum Power of 20V, 5A (sometimes marketed as 100 watts) as compared to USB 2.0, which offers only 2.5 watts of power. As for the data transfer rate, USB C 3.1 cables utilize USB 3.1’s data transfer rate of 10 Gbps, compared to the 5 Gbps bandwidth of USB 3.
The Thunderbolt 3.0 standard uses USB-C as the physical connector, but is a term that signifies a distinct data protocol is being utilized. Specifically, Thunderbolt 3.0 ensures that the signal running through the USB-C cable is capable of combining DC power, a Display Port signal and PCI Express functionality with up to six devices serviced through the one cord.
As we just mentioned, USB C 3.1 offers 10 Gbps, but Thunderbolt takes the data transfer to the next level with transfer rates of 40 Gbps, that’s four times better. It also provides bi-directional support and natively supports HDMI. Additionally Thunderbolt cables are ALL capable of 100W charging and support video transfer with 4K and 5K Ultra HD resolutions.
While it’s true that all Thunderbolt 3 cables use the USB-C interface, but not all USB-C connectors are Thunderbolt capable. This is why it’s far too common to see a third-party cable bought which gives poor data connection rates, too low power charging or doesn’t connect at all.
So are USB C and Thunderbolt 3 cables interchangeable?
Yes and No. Physically they are interchangeable, but only a Thunderbolt capable USB-C cable will fully utilize the potential of a thunderbolt enabled port. Confused yet? Let’s get onto the recommendations!
Best Custom USB C cable – KrisCables
- Premium build
- Customize design and color
- Top shelf components
- Rugged durability
- Detachable ends
- They don’t guarantee the same performance of detachable ends with other cables
If you want a customized USB-C cable, you can’t go wrong with the offerings from KrisCables. The brand has steadily been gaining popularity by providing premium customization features with top-shelf long-lasting durability, color and design.
Kriscables allow you to customize the cables exactly as you’d like. You can select the type of USB-C cable, the color, length, looks, and make the cable a featured component of your computer, laptop or smartphone, setup.
You can select USB C to USB-C, USB-A, USB-mini B to type C or Micro B to type C. To take the customization a step further, you can even pick detachable ends. Though take note the detachable ends can only work with their own products and they don’t guarantee the performance on other cables. The handcrafted cables offer high quality charging power and data sharing making these some of the most premium USB C cables in the market.
Best Value USB-C Cable – AmazonBasics
- Affordable Price
- Wide compatibility
- Fast charging power
- Choice of color is limited
- Limited to USB 2.0 Power and data transfer
- Not Thunderbolt certified
- No customization options
At the other end of the market is a value option from Amazon. Amazon pays attention to the value customer’s concern and provides the best possible solution within an affordable range.
Its USB-C to USB-C cable is a mainstream product designed to connect your Apple MacBook, Chrome Pixel, or Galaxy NoteBook to USB-C devices for basic data transfer.
The cable only supports the USB 2.0 standard though, so that limits you to to 5V/3A of power output for charging with data transfer. At a peak power of 15W this is unlikely to provide enough power to charge your device but will be just fine for data transfer rates up to 480Mbps.
Here you get the combination of baseline functionality and a great price. The different length options are a perfect fit for regular use too and allows lots of mobility at a very reasonable cost. Note that this is not Thunderbolt certified though. If you need a Thunderbolt cable keep reading.
Best USB C Cable for Power Delivery – Anker Powerline II
- 100W Power Delivery
- Reasonably Priced
- Lifetime Warranty
- Certified by USB-IF
- Only 3ft long
- Not Thunderbolt certified
Anker is a well-recognized brand when it comes to phone accessories and computer hardware and for good reason. If you own a Nintendo Switch or current MacBook Pro, you need one of the best USB C to USB C charging cables to ensure the appropriate power delivery standard is met. Anker’s USB Type C cable is our recommended cable for this case.
This cable meets the super-fast USB-C 3.1 speed requirements making data transfer easy, but also the 100W rated charging standard. MacBook Pro’s and the Nintendo Switch can be notoriously difficult to charge because a standard USB-C cable (like the basic recommendation above) may not provide the required charging power needed to support the device. A 100W rated Power Delivery cable ensures your device will be able to draw its maximum possible power, charging the device even if it is in use.
This cable is also one of the few cables in the market that fully utilize the E-marker chip to deliver power charge safely. Rest assured this meets all safety standards and is certified by USB-IF as well. To top it all off, the cable is very reasonably priced and it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Best USB C to USB A Cable – JSAUX
- Aluminium connector
- Laser Welded
- Premium Housing
- Reasonably Priced
- Braided cable
- Limited Versatility
- Not future proof
- Bland Design
JSUAX cables are always affordable and come with a huge reputation for value. Their 3A USB-C to USB A cable provides a great mix of fast charging and data transfer to act as an interim until your whole setup moves to USB-C exclusively.
Since this utilizes USB-A as one half, it’s limited to the maximum specifications of USB2.0. That means you’ll have a maximum data transfer rate of 480Mbps (not 10Gbps) and the fast charging will only deliver the standard 5V at 3A – not enough to keep a MBP or Nintendo Switch charged.
The Jsaux cable is designed with an upgraded 3D aluminium connector and laser welding to give it longer-lasting durability. Even better, the cable is covered with strong nylon fibre and the braided design is both durable and flexible. The premium housing makes the cable tangle-free.
The Jsaux cable comes at a very budget-friendly price and it is a great value proposition making it our Best USB C to USB A Cable Recommendation.
Best USB C to USB A charging Adapter – Basesailor
- USB-C female to USB-A male adapter
- Great Design
- Easily Lost, did we mention it was tiny?
- No display pass-through
Basesailor delivers quality products that look great and blend seamlessly into your premium computer build. The adaptors from Basesailor will enable you to connect your USB A devices to a USB C connector if you’re not willing to replace the cable completely. As a benefit these can also provide great utility as a portable device and come in a colorful range of USB-C female to USB-A male adapters that will barely extrude beyond your current USB-A port.
Being a USB A port adapter there’s some limitations though, importantly the adapter is limited to the USB 2.0 specifications which limit speeds at up to 480 Mbps and won’t provide the video transmission capabilities you might expect from the USB-C standard alone. But if you’re looking for an elegant adapter for basic data transfer and charging speed isn’t critical these adapters are perfect and can keep it connected with your USB-A hardware. These USB-C to USB-A adaptors are also ridiculously cheap and would fit in everyone’s budget.
Best USB C to Lightning Cable – Apple
- Premium Quality
- Compatible with all Apple devices
- Max 2-meters long
- Allows syncing and charging
- Apple tax
Who can we trust better for a lightning cable than Apple? Apple devices are a class apart in quality and performance. The accessories are also premium quality. This one is an Apple USB-C to Lightning cable that can be used to connect your iPhone, iPad, MacBook, or iPod with lightning connectors.
The cable provides fast syncing and charging options and is guaranteed to provide the best possible compatibility with your devices.
It’s 2-meter length is long enough to move the device far away from the connector and its power rating will be sufficient for any lighting capable device.
Overall, it’s a premium quality USB-C to lighting cable that easily places it atop the best USB-C to lightning cable field.
Given the premium build the price is a bit higher than you might find from other manufacturers, but Apple devices and accessories provide unmatched quality and you should expect the same here.
Best USB C to Lightning audio Adapter – Anker
- High quality
- Excellent compatibility
- Driver Free
- Limited Functionality
If you don’t like the idea of buying a new USB-C to Lighting cable completely and you’re just looking for an audio adapter, a USB-C to lightning audio adapter could be a better fit. Here we’ve gone back with Anker’s USB-C to lightning audio adapter as a quality option to connect your Apple audio device with your USB-C compatible laptop or computer.
This adapter is built with the same high-quality materials that you’d expect from one of the best in the business and it consistently reviews better than the competition. The adapter provides lossless audio with a rated digital 48KHz/24-bit transmission compatible with the iPad Pro, Mac, and Windows PCs as well.
Best of all, the audio adapter doesn’t require driver installation so promises to work out of the box on all your devices. The adapter is reasonably priced though still commands a premium, we think it’s worth the cost to ensure flawless performance.
Best USB C Thunderbolt Cable – Belkin
- High speed data transfer
- Supports daisy chaining
- Supports 5K UHD Displays
- Good build quality
- Length limited if 40Gbps is required
Belkin is an American brand that specializes in connectivity designs. Their Belkin Thunderbolt 3 cable ticks all the boxes and can provides super-fast speed and incredible build quality.
As a certified Thunderbolt 3 cable you’ll be able to transfer huge file volumes in minimum time. It supports data transfer up to 40 Gbps—up to a cable length of 2.6ft and the cable is backwards compatible with all USB-C ports, which makes sharing content between devices easy and hassle-free.
The other benefit of Thunderbolt is the high charging power provided to to the connected USB C device. At100 watts of power delivery, your devices are never hungry of power. Furthermore, it can support a daisy-chain of six Thunderbolt 3 peripherals to further enhance the functionality. As for video capabilities the Belkin USB C Thunderbolt cables can support 4K or 5K high definition displays as well.
Overall, it’s one of the best USB C Thunderbolt cables that’s sure to meet your needs. Just be careful if you need the full 40Gbps data transfer rate that you don’t get one longer that the 2.6ft limit or you’ll be limited to half that speed.
Bonus – Best Magnetic USB C cable – Cafele
- Supports Qualcomm charging
- Over current protection
- Magnetic disconnect
- 6.6ft cord length
- LED in-built
- Long-term durability of magnetic disconnect
- slower charging rate compared to USB Gen3.1 cables
Ever since Apple removed the much loved magsafe port, there’s been a market to bring back the safety and functionality of a magnetic connector to modern devices. If you’re looking for a magnetic USB C cable, Cafele have you covered. It’s perfect for charging in the car, on the go or in other higher risk areas!
The USB-C cable provides fast charging and data transfer. It supports Qualcomm Quick Charge standard with a maximum 3.0A/5volts with enhanced safety by its inclusion of a a 56-ohm resistor that protects the device from overcurrent.
The cable is 6.6 ft long which is ideal for the portable cases where this would excel. Keep in mind that you’re losing out on the enhances data speeds that Thunderbolt offer, and you won’t get the same Power Delivery ratings of 100W as a standard USB C 3.1 cable, but if it saves your device is an accident prone area it’ll absolutely be worth it.
Also, it has an in-built LED that makes it easy to find in the dark as well!
Choosing a USB C cable can be tricky if you don’t know the standard protocols. But there’s no doubt USB C ports are the future and they’ll likely be implemented in all quality hardware that need a data and charging solution is the near term.
The latest generation Mac Books are leading the charge and it shouldn’t be long until UBS-C dominates the peripheral space. How you setup your desktop and peripheral charging solution shouldn’t be an afterthought and we’re always looking to improve our own setup.
We’ve tried to list the Best USB C Charging Cables and overall, the Best USB C Cable for each possible need. If you’ve got a recommendation let us know below – it’d be great to hear from you!