Corning's Optical Thunderbolt 3 Cables Now Available in Lengths From 5 to 50 Meters

Back in March, we noted that optical Thunderbolt 3 cables were starting to become available some four years after the standard's debut. Availability of these high-end optical cables has taken another step forward recently, as Corning has begun shipping out its cables in lengths ranging from 5 meters to 50 meters.

corning optical thunderbolt 3 cable

Corning's 10-meter optical Thunderbolt 3 cable

Compared to passive and active copper Thunderbolt 3 cables that support relatively short lengths most appropriate for a desktop setting, optical cables allow for much longer cable lengths needed by certain professional and corporate users. But for anyone who wants to be able to put their computer and/or accessories like external storage some distance away from their workspace, such as for heat, noise, or aesthetic reasons, these cables are certainly an option.

While optical Thunderbolt 3 cables allow for long cable runs, they do have some limitations compared to traditional copper cables, with one of the most significant being a lack of power capabilities. That means small accessories like external SSDs that need to draw bus power from the host devices they're attached to won't work with optical cables.

Optical Thunderbolt 3 cables also only support Thunderbolt 3 connections and can not fall back to USB modes running at slower speeds, so you won't be able to use one of these optical Thunderbolt 3 cables to directly connect USB-C devices that don't support Thunderbolt 3, for example.

They can, however, be used with Thunderbolt 3 docks that can in turn support a variety of other types of connections such as USB, displays, audio, and more, as the Thunderbolt controller in the dock handles converting everything to run over Thunderbolt. Daisy-chaining of multiple Thunderbolt 3 accessories is also supported with optical cables.

corning optical thunderbolt 3 banner
Connectors on optical Thunderbolt 3 cables are a little on the bulky side given the components needed to convert the electrical Thunderbolt 3 signal to an optical one and back. They are, however, only a bit larger than typical passive copper cable connectors and similar in size to active copper cable ones, so they shouldn't block adjacent ports. With only the fiber optic strands inside, the cable itself is also significantly thinner than most traditional USB and Thunderbolt cables.

Unsurprisingly, all of this optical technology comes at a cost that may put these cables out of reach for many consumers. The shortest Corning optical Thunderbolt 3 cable, the 5-meter version, is priced at $360 at vendors like B&H Photo. The price does not, however, rise significantly with cable length as the expensive parts are in the connectors, with 10-meter cables priced at $370, 15-meter cables at $390, 25-meter cables at $410, and, 50-meter cables at $480.

B&H is currently quoting special order status with availability in 7-14 business days for all but the 50-meter version, which is listed as in stock. Corning says significantly improved supplies will be available in just a couple of weeks.

Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
15 weeks ago
Finally, thanks to Corning's Gorilla Glass, you can drop thunderbolt cables whenever you want without worrying about them shattering.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gabebear Avatar
15 weeks ago
You would need a VERY specific use case for these with USB4 40Gbps around the corner. USB4 is loosely based on Thunderbolt3(same tech, but different specs).
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
citysnaps Avatar
15 weeks ago
Nice! People with requirements who really need them will gladly pay the price. Those who don't will have a good moan.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MRisberg Avatar
15 weeks ago
I've been waiting years for these to come to market. It's so nice they're finally here!
Need to find out it's latency now.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
underattack Avatar
15 weeks ago
40 GBit USB4 cables will be limited to 80cm. Sure, you will probably find longer once, but it will be questionable if they will work.

The price of these cables is "ok" considering the technology and the cost of getting it all packaged up. A cheap 40 GBit SPF transceiver runs about $50. You got 2 in this cable, plus the fiber (relatively cheap) and the cost of assembling it all. Probably costs $150 or so to make these cables? Add the small market for them, and the price is appropriate.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Internet Enzyme Avatar
15 weeks ago
Really useful idea, actually. People will guffaw at the price—I did—but you know what it’s novel and genuinely a lifesaver to have for the captive pros who need it, so they’re able to price them to hell. I hope that this becomes more standard, because one of the worst aspects of thunderbolt is how its nearly impossible to actually connect anything at a normal USB-type distance. What use is an external device when it has to tethered within three feet of its host?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

cook cbs this morning

CBS This Morning: Apple to Make 'Big Announcement' Tomorrow Morning

Tuesday January 12, 2021 8:46 am PST by
CBS This Morning today shared a short clip of an upcoming interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook in which addressing last week's events at the U.S. Capitol, with Cook saying "it's key that people be held accountable for it." Following the clip, Gayle King of CBS noted that the interview with Cook was not specifically arranged to address the current controversy over Parler and other repercussions, ...
ipad pro 2021 mysmartprice cad

Allegedly Leaked 2021 iPad Pro CAD Images Suggest Few Design Changes

Tuesday January 12, 2021 3:38 am PST by
Tech blogs 91mobile and MySmartPrice on Tuesday posted a series of allegedly leaked factory CAD images of Apple's upcoming fifth-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Rumors suggest Apple plans to announce two new iPad Pro models in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions, and today's images offer perhaps the clearest indication yet that Apple's next-generation iPad Pros will have minimal, if any,...
lg ultrafine oled

CES 2021: LG Unveils First OLED UltraFine Monitor and 39.7" UltraWide 5K2K Monitor

Monday January 11, 2021 7:57 am PST by
LG has today announced the UltraFine Display OLED Pro with HDR individual pixel dimming, a 31.5-inch display, and over 8 million pixels, as well a new 39.7-inch UltraWide 5K2K monitor. The newest addition to LG's popular series of high-end UltraFine monitors features an OLED display that covers 99 percent of the DCI-P3 color space and 99 percent of the Adobe RGB color space. The display...
dell ultrasharp 40 5k2k

CES 2021: Dell Introduces 40-Inch 5K2K Ultrawide Monitor With Thunderbolt 3 Connectivity for Macs

Sunday January 10, 2021 9:21 am PST by
Dell this week unveiled a series of new monitors, and there is one in particular that stands out for Mac users: the UltraSharp 40 Curved WUHD Monitor. A recipient of a CES 2021 Innovation Award, the UltraSharp 40 or "U4021QW" is the world's first 40-inch ultrawide curved monitor with a 5120×2160 resolution, also known as 5K2K or WUHD. This is not a true 5K resolution and instead works out...
kensington studiodock

CES 2021: Kensington's New StudioDock Combines iPad Pro Docking Station With iPhone and AirPods Chargers

Monday January 11, 2021 7:19 am PST by
As part of the all-digital CES 2021, accessory maker Kensington today unveiled the StudioDock, an iPad Pro docking station that also includes built-in iPhone and AirPods wireless charging and an optional Apple Watch charger. A recipient of a CES 2021 Innovation Award, the StudioDock greatly expands an iPad Pro's connectivity options with three USB-A ports, one USB-C port, one HDMI 2.0 port,...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple and Hyundai to Sign Apple Car Deal by March With Production Beginning in 2024

Sunday January 10, 2021 11:22 am PST by
Apple and Hyundai will reach a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, according to a new report shared by Reuters, citing Korea IT News. Before being revised, the Korea IT News report said that the companies may either manufacture the electric vehicles at a Georgia factory owned by Kia Motors, a Hyundai Motor Group affiliate, or invest in a new facility in the United...
mac anti reflective coating issue

Apple's Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program Still in Effect for Some MacBooks With New Mail-In Policy

Tuesday January 12, 2021 10:07 am PST by
In an internal memo obtained by MacRumors, Apple recently informed its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers that mail-in repair is now required for Mac notebooks with anti-reflective coating issues in the United States. The new policy went into effect January 4, 2021 and means that customers who take an eligible 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro exhibiting this issue to an Apple...
anker magnetic wireless pad

CES 2021: Anker Unveils New Magnetic Series Accessories, PowerWave Stand and More

Monday January 11, 2021 10:05 am PST by
Popular accessory maker Anker today unveiled a whole range of new products that will be coming out over the course of the next few months. There are a range of magnetic cases for the iPhone 12 that will work with MagSafe and non-MagSafe magnetic accessories, with the cases offering simple but protective designs. Anker's iPhone cases will come out in mid-January with prices ranging from...
AirPods Pro

New AirPods Pro and iPhone SE Rumored to Launch in April 2021

Saturday January 9, 2021 1:03 pm PST by
After sharing potential details about upcoming iPad mini, iPad, iPad Pro, and iPhone 13 models earlier this week, Japanese blog Mac Otakara now claims that Apple plans to release both second-generation AirPods Pro and a third-generation iPhone SE in April 2021, with the information once again coming from Chinese supplier sources. The report claims that the new AirPods Pro will come with a...
whatsapp wallpapers 1

WhatsApp Affirms User Privacy Following Backlash Over Data Sharing With Facebook

Tuesday January 12, 2021 6:39 am PST by
Following backlash after changing its terms and privacy policy to consolidate a significant amount of data sharing with Facebook, WhatsApp is now assuring users about the privacy measures built into its app. Last week, WhatsApp began informing users of updates to the app's terms of service and privacy policy. The updated agreements, which users must consent to in order to continue using...