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5 Critical Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) Accessories for Your MacBook

Apple’s laptops are slim, sleek, and sometimes, crazily expensive. MacBooks are so popular that some people question their popularity every now and then, particularly in the context of their price and the lack of port variety. Mac laptops from 2016 onward have one kind of port: Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C).

It can become a problem if your other peripheral devices don’t connect to this USB connector/cable type. The most simple and yet powerful solution is what follows, along with relevant thingamajigs that can make owning and using a MacBook more worthwhile.

Multiport Adapter 

A docking station removes the need to buy separate cables for each device that you want to plug into your MacBook. You can look up hubs that carry some of the basic computer ports, such as an HDMI adapter for MacBook Air or Pro.

The hub can have slots for 4K HDMI video, as well as USB 3.0 and SD cards. If most of your devices are USB 3.0, you are in luck to find 6 or 10 slots in a single docking station. Today’s multiport adapters come in shiny small housing for traveling.

USB-C to USB Adapter

The idea of buying a lot of cables doesn’t sit well in an organized workspace and pockets. But if you need to have one, pick a USB-C to USB adapter. You can source it from the manufacturer or third-party vendors to shave off the cost. The cable has a USB-C connector for MacBook’s Thunderbolt 3, and the other end goes to a standard USB device for faster data transfer.

External Hard Drive

Imagine the number of documents, multimedia files, and programs that can fit into a 16-terabyte portable hard drive. Before you get too carried away by the storage capacity, check if the device uses USB-C for your MacBook.

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A key detail to consider is the security of the files; some external hard drives offer encryption or allow you to password-protect files. Write down your password just in case, or else you will lose all access. Also, take care in using the cable connecting the HDD to the laptop because the device can fall or break easily.

MacBook Stand 

It’s a vertical stand for your MacBook. The allure of this product is it allows you to save desk space when hooking up the laptop to a larger monitor. The stand also has an insert to fit into the mold of any MacBook. A third-party company makes this accessory, although similar products or alternatives have appeared. Each has its good side and bad side in terms of price and functionality.

USB-C Monitor

Speaking of a larger screen, a 4K or 5K resolution with Type-C connectivity looks like a good deal. Certain monitors even offer to charge your MacBook while being connected. For the sharp display and charging power, expect to shell out at least a few hundred dollars on this kind of monitor.

Are Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C the same? 

There has been some confusion over the interchangeability of the two terms with one post from the Intel marketing team referring to Thunderbolt 3 as the USB-C that does it all. The key takeaways from the linked post and USB.org’s guidelines are the following:

  • Thunderbolt 3 refers to the connection or connectivity to a dock, display, or peripheral. Intel, which developed this standard, touted it as a computer-port nirvana because of the 40 Gbps speed, two 4K displays, 100 watts of charging power, and support for protocols like DisplayPort and PCI Express. Thunderbolt 3 has a USB-C connector and cable.
  • USB Type-C pertains to the shape or design of the connector. Type-C devices or products generally run on USB 3.0, which is the data transfer speed and not to be confused with the type.
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