Thunderbolt 3 headache

If it wasn’t bad enough already, it’s now getting worse. There is going to be a new USB 3 speed, with the same connectors and the same poor naming system.

I was looking for a Thunderbolt cable (USB 3.1, 10 Gb speed) for an OWC drive that has a very short cable (I’m guessing 8 inches) to use with an iMac that has only 1 TB drive inside. The drive sounded like a good idea, but the cable is so short that any movement of the monitor (where the drive is plugged into) gives an error of "You Shouldn’t Eject The Drive!” or some such. Bought a little shelf for the back of the iMac, but that is in a very hot area and did not seem to stop the errors.

So I went online to find a Thunderbolt extension cable, Female to Male. Does not exist. Many cable are labeled such, but turn out to be USB 3.0 cables for MacBooks or the Switch, but will not handle the data speeds of a drive. The problem is that you have to dig through all the data and reviews to determine that. Sellers will label a cable Thunderbolt, but closer examination shows that it is a USB 3.0.

Now with new speeds, the cable mess and the labeling will only get worse.

It sounds to me as though you are looking for this:

But it was so easy to find I assume it doesn’t suit your needs.

Can you help me understand why this won’t do what you want?

You would think, though I am hesitant since it does not have the Thunderbolt certification. I guess I could try for $8, but the reviews seem mixed.

PS What was your search criteria? I got a bunch of USB 3.1 wannabes with my search.

I think it was “usb 3.1 extension cable”

I guess the problem boils down to do you really need TB3 or is just “plain” USB 3.1 good enough? If it’s the latter (USB drive) then David’s cable will work just fine.

If OTOH you need an actual TB3 cable because your drive is in a TB3 dock or because you need TB3 power, things get more tricky. Apple has two, but they’re male-male.

I am using an OWC Envoy Drive. I want a cable that will handle the speed of an SSD without errors. I am nervous about getting a cable that may give dropouts and corruption. I am being overly cautious but if I spent this much on a iMac pro and SSD, I do not want a weak link in the chain.

Described here:

“The OWC Envoy Pro EX portable SSD with Thunderbolt 3 provides ultra-fast, production-level storage for audio, design, and photography workflows. “

You might consider calling OWC.

If the sales department can’t help, I would try calling their technical support.


OWC has an add on to secure usb-c / TB 3 cables. $8.

Makes me wonder if they came up with it because their dinky short cable was so troublesome, and instead of fixing it they get you to spend an extra $8 (plus shipping?) Maybe if you talk to them nicely about the problem you can get them to send you one free instead of your returning the drive / exchanging it for a possibly more robust one.

I really hate little cables that can’t be replaced. Modular is good.

Talked to them already, they had nothing. I think they wanted to keep it small for MacBook use. I just have to keep it close to the monitor, on my desktop, so if I move the monitor (it does swivel), it is ok. I was thinking about attaching it to the iMac back with secure Velcro or something, but this thing really blows out hot air at times.

This cable here claims to be a proper TB3 extension cable male-female and all, 6 ft, just $15.

That is the type if advertising that I was confused about. Though it says Thunderbolt, the cable does not have the stamp on the cable. Also, as you dig through the reviews, it becomes clear that it is a USB C cable and is unable to pass data at Thunderbolt speeds. My clue looking at these is if it is being advertised for the Switch, it usually is a USB C cable for power and would not optimize data speed or carry info for a display, which a real Thunderbolt cable would be able to do.

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