Apple’s 3M Thunderbolt Cable is a Good Deal at $159. Yes, Really.
After Apple’s Peek Performance event this week winded down the company unveiled a new accessory: a 3M Thunderbolt 4 cable. At first blush it seems like a nothingburger served with a side of Apple gouging. Upon closer inspection though, there’s more to it than you might think.
The introduction of the new 3M cable for $159 came amidst the announcement of Apple’s new Mac Studio PC , which boasts six Thunderbolt 4 ports (four on the rear, two on the front). Although Thunderbolt 4 cables are easy to find, they typically come in lengths that top out at 2M (6.56 feet). That’s because according to Intel, which developed the spec with Apple, that length allows for “full speed” 40Gb/s data transfers. Theoretically, a longer cable might result in slower data transfer rates, which makes Apple’s extra-long cable a rarity. Despite its length, Apple’s website says the cable delivers transfer rates “up to 40Gb/s.” Apple also announced a shorter 1.8M cable, which is actually ridiculously priced at $129.
As The Verge noted, cables 2M and under are commonplace, and relatively affordable. For example a 2.62 foot (0.8M) TB4 cable that is generic-yet-certified costs just $30. The same generic cable in 2M length costs a bit more though, coming in at $75 on Amazon. A 2M cable from a known brand such as Belkin is similarly priced, at $70. That makes its 1.8M cable a very tough sell. But the 3M cable? If you need to place a device 10 feet away from its source, it’s likely your only option. As far as how Apple was able to achieve this feet of cable mastery while others haven’t, we’re not really sure. It’s possible most people are satisfied with 6.56 feet of cable, which should be enough for most use cases. It’s also likely that since Intel and Apple specify the appropriate length as 2M, that’s what they’re sticking to.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Apple product launch if there wasn’t some type of outrageous add-on pricing. For example, it unveiled a new 27″ Studio Display that only offers tilt adjustment. If you want to adjust the height of the panel though, Apple will sell you a height-adjusting stand for $400 extra. This type of “upgrade” is reminiscent of the company’s infamous $999 monitor stand. The $1,599 Studio Display also does not include Apple’s $19 polishing cloth. On a similar note, if you want to upgrade the Mac Studio desktop to its maximum of 8TB of SSD storage, it’ll set you back $2,200.