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What is Thunderbolt 5? Intel reveals new connectivity standard

Intel has just revealed Thunderbolt 5 – the latest version of its versatile and fast connection standard. Here’s what’s new.

We’re now onto the fifth iteration of Intel’s connectivity standard and it is set to offer improvements in display, data transfer and charging capabilities. But, it also looks like it’ll be reserved for premium machines, with Thunderbolt 4 sticking around for the foreseeable.

We’re here to explain the basics of Thunderbolt 5, so here’s our guide on all the key features.

What is Thunderbolt 5?

Thunderbolt 5 is the new version of Intel’s connectivity standard, which uses the USB-C connector. The latest iteration brings upgrades from Thunderbolt 4 and it is set to start appearing on devices in 2024.

Thunderbolt 5 vs 4
Image Credit (Intel)

The new standard will support up to 3 times more bandwidth than Thunderbolt 4, coming in at 120Gb/s when utilising Bandwidth Boost. The results are the option for multiple 8K displays, up to 540Hz refresh rate and up to 3x 4K displays at 144Hz. Support for external SSDs, external graphics cards and other Thunderbolt 5 supporting external tools now can offer 2 times more bandwidth than Thunderbolt 4.

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For docking stations, there is now 3 times the bandwidth for video and 6 times the bandwidth for data, when compared with DisplayPort 2.1’s multi-function mode.

Thunderbolt 5 will also support up to 240W charging, a big increase from the mandatory 100W charging support on Thunderbolt 4. Not all Thunderbolt 5 devices will support 240W as, unlike 100W on Thunderbolt 4, the higher charging speed isn’t mandatory.

Thunderbolt 5 vs 4
Image Credit (Intel)

You could almost exclusively only find Thunderbolt 4 on Intel and Apple machines but both AMD and Qualcomm could feature both that technology and the latest standard should it choose to invest in the area.

On the topic of cost, Intel is keeping Thunderbolt 4 around as it states that the new Thunderbolt 5 standard is for premium segments. Thunderbolt 4 is set to stick around for several years on mainstream devices.

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