Apple’s TB4 cables are expensive, but we understand why by opening them

Apple has been selling two Thunderbolt 4 cables on its store since the beginning of March. Their most striking feature is perhaps the price: €149 for 1.8 meters or even 3 meters for €179. Not cheap, but we understand a little better why by opening the cable to see what it contains. That’s what did LoadLAB and the site noted all the complexity of this active cable which resembles a miniature computer.

On each side of the cable, the connectors integrate dozens of chips essential to its proper functioning.

This active cable in fact integrates several dozen components on each side, hidden in the connector. The most important is an Intel JHL7040 chip, a Thunderbolt controller essential for the proper functioning of this standard which was created in part by the founder. There is also a USB-C controller designed by Infineon and many other elements that are not easy to identify, but which are used to manage communication between the computer and the peripheral in all the standards supported under the Thunderbolt 4 umbrella.

This complexity is found inside the cable itself, since it is composed of no less than 18 different wires. There are some for the power supply, some are cut out for USB 2.0, others for data, a few for video. Apple has taken care of the design of its cable, with several layers of protection: under the outer fabric, there is a layer of thick plastic which itself covers two other internal protections.

All the wires together inside the cable and the four protections on the left.

Apple has not skimped on the quality of the product and this cable should withstand many years of intensive use. It is the least at this price level, but we can at least be reassured by the quality of manufacture and also the internal complexity. Competing products may be half the price, but are they as good?

By the way, opening the cable is obviously a destructive operation, but so are the connectors. Like some other products designed by Apple, this one is really not designed to be opened easily…

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