Is Apple's USB-C Cable Worth $159? Surprising X-Ray CT Scans Will Help You Decide

hero ct scan usb c cables
With Apple's Lightning cable era coming to a close, some may be left asking if Apple's $159 Thunderbolt 4 Pro cable is worth all that money. Surprising X-ray CT scans of Apple's pricey cable and a few very cheap alternatives may help answer that question.

Apple's Thunderbolt 4 (USB-C) Pro cable supports Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, and USB4 data transfer with speeds reaching nearly 40Gb/s. It also offers support for DisplayPort video output and can be used to charge devices. X-ray CT scans show what makes all this possible.

ct scan apple usb c cable

The connector is housed in a hard plastic enclosure, with a stainless-steel shield that is bonded to the shell of the connector. Protecting the entire bottom of the assembly is a single-piece strain relief crimped in eight different directions. The Thunderbolt connector has 24 pins, all mounted independently on a 10-layer PCBA. The pins run through "a forest of blind and buried vias."

A much cheaper alternative USB-C cable, the Amazon Basics cable, is only rated for 60W power and 480Mbps data, and only has half as many pins. Eight of those pins were jumped across rather than landed individually to a PCBA, unlike Apple's cable. While Amazon's cable is metal shielded, it has an inferior strain relief, and a fully grounded shell.

ct scan amazon basics cable

Lumafield, who makes industrial CT scanners, is who decided to look inside these USB-C cables. After scanning Apple's Thunderbolt 4 Pro cable, the Amazon Basics cable, and a few other sub-$ $10 alternatives, the company did not offer much of what it thought. It remarked, "Ultimately, we buy cables that meet our needs for data and power transmission, form factor, and longevity."

Anyone who would like to view all the CT scans can visit Lumafield's website.

If anyone is in the market for a new USB-C cable, here are a few options to choose from for under $20: