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  • Turns Out Apples Thunderbolt Cable Might Be Worth $50



    Usually when purchasing cables I shy away from name-brand anything. If anyone in a big-box retailer even begins to utter the the words "Monster Cab--," a swift gut-check mutes those horrible words from coming out of their mouth.

    So I approached the pricing of Apples recently released Thunderbolt cable with the reluctant optimism of Charlie Brown trying to kick a football. Fifty dollars is large chunk of change for an I/O cable. I don't care what they put in there, all the thing does is transfer files.

    However, as iFixit discovered in their teardown of Apple's Thunderbolt cable, all I/O cables are not created equal. These cables are "Active" cables, meaning they contain onboard firmware chips, in this case Two Gennum GN2033 Thunderbolt Cable Transceiver chips amongst other smaller ones. The chips help boost signal quality to reduce errors in information sent through the Thunderbolt cable. The passive cables most of us are used to using don't require any of these chips because the transfer rates aren't nearly fast enough.

    The chips are contained in the rather large plastic housings at both ends of the cable. Both needed to be melted/cut off, and desoldered to reach the lightning fast innards.

    ArsTechnica spoke with sources within the telecom industry and confirmed that active cables would be used in future iterations of Thunderbolt. Presumably the active cables would allow the optical versions of Thunderbolt to transmit power to devices, which is one reason Apple stepped in to help Intel develop a copper-based Lightpeak solution (AKA Thunderbolt). Without it the cables wouldn't be able to supply power to external devices.

    Despite all the fancy chips, and lightning fast transfer speeds I have a hard time believing any cable is worth $50. Hopefully a Mono Price variant emerges soon.

    Source: iFixit
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Turns Out Apples Thunderbolt Cable Might Be Worth $50 started by Phillip Swanson View original post
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. Jahooba's Avatar
      Jahooba -
      The only reason i can think of for them to do this is to cut down on internal parts. Computers and mobile phones are already packing lots of electronics into an incredibly small space.

      If they add this to the iPad/ iPhone, i wonder how much it will cost to buy a Thunderbolt port/ card for my PC.

      At least its optional - iOS 5 syncs to iTunes wirelessly, right? Hmm, how will we jailbreak wirelessly?
    1. stldirty's Avatar
      stldirty -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jahooba View Post
      Hmm, how will we jailbreak wirelessly?
      jailbreakme.com maybe?
    1. frozenra1n's Avatar
      frozenra1n -
      Possibly one the best pieces of writing on all of modmyi.
    1. dennder's Avatar
      dennder -
      "Active cables" - anyone got feeling of a Matrix becoming true?

      Little OT.
      What does author have against "Monster Cable" and why
      And i am asking not to start flame war, but rather because i have heard tons and tons of positive statements, and would like to hear the opposite side, since i was thinking of upgrading my jack-xlr cabling to those.
    1. ramicio's Avatar
      ramicio -
      Because no one has been able to prove that the regular black cables with RCAs, or other generic cables are inferior to what Monster offers. They also get litigious towards people who try to make thick stylish overpriced cables and use their own outrageous fake scientific terminology (Monster does the same BS) despite Monster not owning any rights to anything they sue over.
    1. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      But monster cables DO have a lifetime warrantee. For Guitars, they are the only ones to buy.
    1. ramicio's Avatar
      ramicio -
      What do you need a lifetime warranty for? Learn to solder and if your cables break just resolder them, whether it is 1/4" TRS connectors or XLR, the good stuff out there is stuff that can be maintained by the user. Good luck doing that with a resin-filled Monster connector. And learning to take care of your stuff and not being careless precludes the need for a warranty. But I guess keeping multiple expensive cables around for backup makes more sense than one inexpensive cable that can be fixed And then there's turnaround time on the RMA. All while you have a cable that is no more superior.
    1. Go Gators's Avatar
      Go Gators -
      Quote Originally Posted by ramicio View Post
      What do you need a lifetime warranty for? Learn to solder and if your cables break just resolder them, whether it is 1/4" TRS connectors or XLR, the good stuff out there is stuff that can be maintained by the user. Good luck doing that with a resin-filled Monster connector. And learning to take care of your stuff and not being careless precludes the need for a warranty. But I guess keeping multiple expensive cables around for backup makes more sense than one inexpensive cable that can be fixed And then there's turnaround time on the RMA. All while you have a cable that is no more superior.
      Are you serious??? Who in the world gets out soldering kits to fix cables when they go bad? If you're so cheap that you'd rather by crappy cables and then fix them every time they go bad, more power to you. Most people I know would rather buy a quality cable that will last them for a long time so they don't have worry about it going bad.

      I guess that's why they make cheap crappy cables and high quality cables. Everyone has different tastes. Some people don't care about quality and some people do. It's just a preference.
    1. ramicio's Avatar
      ramicio -
      What does quality of a connector have to do with the choice to use any wire anyone wants? How does making something yourself make something less quality than something already built? You can only buy predetermined cable lengths, which is a put off for most people who actually use tons of cables in a system for a purpose. Soldering is only a hassle for those who truly know nothing about electronics and are just people who read specs and quote them, with no idea what they mean, too. Monster charges you for the frills of fancy packaging, fancy colors of wire and styled insulation, fancy connectors, and pseudo-scientific terms. There's a guy out there who is offering up $1 million to anyone who can tell the difference between a standard cable and price-gouged fancy-looking cables.
    1. CZroe's Avatar
      CZroe -
      Uhh, using your iMac as a display for your MacBook Pro sounds like it's already for quite a bit more than transferring files like the news post implies.
    1. Imahottguy's Avatar
      Imahottguy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Go Gators View Post
      Are you serious??? Who in the world gets out soldering kits to fix cables when they go bad? If you're so cheap that you'd rather by crappy cables and then fix them every time they go bad, more power to you. Most people I know would rather buy a quality cable that will last them for a long time so they don't have worry about it going bad.

      I guess that's why they make cheap crappy cables and high quality cables. Everyone has different tastes. Some people don't care about quality and some people do. It's just a preference.
      Are /you/ serious? I have never ever ever purchased a cable outside of eBay or Mono Price. From Audio (guitar, AV, etc) to power/data, I have had little issue with buying cheap cables. Anyone who spends more than a couple of dollars for any cable is not very well informed. The HDMI cable that connects my AppleTV to my TV was $2.65 (shipped). I have had this cable for months, and have had no issues. My 30-pin cables, no problem. I spent all of $7.00 on a 10ft USB cable for my iPad, and it rocks!

      They make "high quality" diamond encrusted cables because people who don't know any better are talked into them by some kid at Best Buy. Which, for those who don't know, is how Best Buy and these other big box stores make their money. It certainly isn't off of the TV's or computers, they have to compete, and unfortunately for them they end up just above breaking even.
    1. PatrickGSR94's Avatar
      PatrickGSR94 -
      lol funny funny stuff here. I'll also give a one up to MonoPrice. I have a 25-foot HDMI-DVI adapter cable that I got for around 30 bucks probably 5 years ago for my home theater projector, and have had ZERO problems with it.