In the last couple of years, USB-C has gone from something we’d only see on flagships to becoming the current standard. Phone reviewers are now disappointed if a new smartphone comes with a microUSB port, and even a lot of affordable smartphones are now sporting USB-C ports. If you’re looking for one, here is a roundup of the best USB-C cables you can buy!
Best USB-C cables:
- AmazonBasics USB-C cables
- Anker Powerline 2 cables
- Nekteck Thunderbolt 3 cable
- Belkin USB-C cables
Things to know
The unfortunate truth is that USB-C is still a mess in 2019. USB-C cables from various OEMs and third-party manufacturers may all look the same, but there’s a lot to consider. Not every cable is made equal and some can be downright dangerous for your device. It’s gotten much better than what the situation was three or four years ago, but there are things you should look out for.
- USB-IF – USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) announced a Certified USB Charger Compliance and Logo Program back in 2016 to offer USB chargers for compliant USB-C devices. Looking for “certified by USB-IF” or the USB-IF logo is one of the ways to check whether a third-party cable is a good choice. If you aren’t sure of a device, you can check whether it’s listed in the USB-IF Product Search page.
- USB 2.0/3.0/3.1/Thunderbolt 3 – Currently, we have cables that could be compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1 (Gen 1 and Gen 2), with the version number defining function and speed. USB 3.2 and USB 4 standards were also introduced within days of each other. USB 2.0 offers a theoretical transfer speed of up to 480Mbps. USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 ups that to 5Gbps and USB 3.1 Gen 2 doubles that. Finally, Thunderbolt 3 is the fastest by far with an impressive theoretical data transfer speed of 40Gbps. Keep in mind though that factors like cable length (shorter the better for faster speeds) also play a role.
- Wattage – This gives you an idea of charging speed. USB Power Delivery augments the basic USB charging speeds for up to 100W of output power. The amount of available power is split into different power ratings, which operate at different voltages. The 7.5W+ and 15W+ modes are best for phones, while 27W and above are for laptops and other higher power devices.
- Other requirements – Checking compatibility is very important when buying a USB-C cable.
- The cable may support faster data transfer and charging speeds, but the device you are using may not.
- If you are looking for a cable capable of carrying video, you’ll need one that meets the USB 3.1 Gen 2 or Thunderbolt 3 standards.
- Cables that meet higher standards are also more expensive. If you are simply looking to charge a smartphone, a USB-C (USB 2.0) cable may be more than enough. That said, backward compatibility isn’t an issue.
- Cable length is an important factor as well. You may want a longer cable, but this may impact data transfer speeds.
AmazonBasics USB-C cables
Amazon has a lot of different types of USB-C cables under its AmazonBasics brand and all of them are USB-IF certified and you get a 1-year limited warranty as well. The most affordable of the lot is a USB-C to USB-C (USB 2.0) cable, with cable lengths ranging from 6 inches to 9ft. This cable is priced starting at around $6.5.
Next is a USB-C to USB-C (USB 3.0 Gen 1) cable, available in lengths of 3ft and 6ft. This comes with a starting price of around $19. To connect your smartphone to a laptop, you can also get a USB-C to USB-A (USB 3.1 Gen 2), which will set you back around $10. Finally, you can also get a USB-C to microUSB cable, ideal for connecting your phone to a power bank, many of which still come with microUSB ports.
Anker Powerline 2
Anker Powerline 2 is one of the best USB-C cables you can buy. This 3ft long USB-C to USB-C cable meets the USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB-PD standards, making it capable of carrying audio and video signals and coming with impressive data transfer and charging speeds. It’s not very expensive either, priced at $20. If you are looking for a cheaper and/or longer cable, the USB 2.0 version of the Powerline 2 is 6ft long and will set you back $13.
Both cables are USB-IF certified and you can take advantage of a lifetime warranty. However, something to keep in mind is that not every Anker USB-C cable is certified. Don’t forget to confirm that the Anker cable you are choosing comes with the certification just to be safe.
Nekteck USB-C cables
For incredibly fast data transfer speeds, these two USB-C to USB-C Nekteck cables are some of the best USB-C cables you can buy. The first is a USB PD and USB 3.1 Gen 2 cable that is also Thunderbolt 3 compatible and is capable of carrying video and offering data transfer speeds of up to 10Gbps. This 3.3ft USB-IF certified Nekteck cable is priced at $11.99.
The other option is a Thunderbolt 3 cable that meets Intel’s qualification standards. It supports data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps (up to 20Gbps for the longer cable lengths) and 4K video output. The shortest 1.5ft cable offers the fastest speeds, but 3ft and 6ft cables are available as well. The Nekteck Thunderbolt 3 cable is priced starting at $19.99.
Belkin USB-C cables
Like the other cable manufacturers on this list, Belkin has a few different options to choose between depending on your needs. First is a USB-C to USB-A (USB 3.1) that is 3ft long. You can also get a 3.3ft USB-C to USB-C (USB 3.1) cable as well. For ultra-fast data transfer speeds, Belkin also sells a USB 3.1 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 compatible cable with up to 60W power delivery.
All cables are USB-IF and Thunderbolt 3 (for the last option) certified. The Belkin USB-C cables are admittedly on the pricier side, priced at $24.99 for the first two and $29.99 for the Thunderbolt 3 cable.
Other USB Type-C content:
- Best USB-C portable battery chargers
- USB Type C and 3.1: clearing up the confusion
- USB Type-C: Not living up to the potential it can B (for now)
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