Combining data, audio/video, and charging into a single port with USB-C and Thunderbolt is one of the coolest innovations in modern laptops. But thanks to a relatively low limit on the amount of power USB-C cables can transfer, more powerful laptops with discrete graphics have had to make do with old-fashioned proprietary or barrel chargers. A more versatile USB-C 2.1 spec introduced last year opened up the possibilities for cables that can charge up to a whopping 240 watts, and we’re finally starting to see it come to fruition.
For the uninitiated, wattage is one of the primary factors in determining how fast your device can suck up power. Smartphones typically use as little as 5 watts, tablets and low-power laptops are in the 20-30 watt range, and typical laptops go from 40 watts to around 100, the previous limit of USB-C chargers. But starting today we’re seeing the very first USB-C cables rated to handle the new maximum, 240 watts, which should be enough to charge the most thirsty of gaming laptops. Newly announced listings on Club-3D show cables of one and two meters, with 20-gigabit and 40-gigabit data bandwidth using USB-4.
With one vendor supplying these cables spotted by Tom’s Hardware, it’s only a matter of time before they become more ubiquitous. Naturally, we haven’t seen any high-powered laptops actually take advantage of the new capabilities yet, since it takes time to design and launch new products taking advantage of the new spec. But this time next year, there’s no reason that every single laptop from every manufacturer shouldn’t offer standardized USB-C charging. Fingers crossed.
Michael is a former graphic designer who's been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.