What Is The Thunderbolt Header Used For?

thunderbolt header

A thunderbolt header is a security feature that functions in collaboration with an Add-in Card to facilitate the connection of peripherals to the computer’s GPU.

In this article, I will talk about everything you need to know about the thunderbolt header and give you full insight. Below are the main points of this article.

  • How to Manually Install a TB card
  • What Are the Pros of Thunderbolt Technology?
  • What Are the Cons of The Thunderbolt Technology?
  • Can You Add Thunderbolt to your Motherboard?
  • Thunderbolt Cables
  • Are Thunderbolt cables the Same as USBC cables?
  • How Many Versions of Thunderbolt Are There?

How to Manually Install a Thunderbird Header

On a Motherboard:

On a Windows PC

  • Carefully dismantle the back of the case.
  • After removing the old, locate the PCL plate farthest from the power supply and deport it.
  • Input the TB card and screw it into position.
  • Connect the header cable to the 5 pin slot and the card.

Pros of Thunderbolt Header Technology?

Thunderbolt is undeniably the best and most improved form of technology. Its benefits are vast and almost immeasurable. Here are a few reasons why you ought to have a thunderbolt port:

Super speed

Thunderbolt technology has a supersonic speed and can transmit at the rate of 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt comes in series and each of them is remarkably faster than the previous one. As of the time of writing, Thunderbolt 4 is the latest version, however, the release of Thunderbolt 5 is greatly anticipated.

Double display

Thunderbolt technology is capable of transmitting visual displays to 2 4k monitors at the same time through a display port. It can even connect to both a 4k and a 5k monitor simultaneously.

High-speed network

With a TB port, the transfer rates between computers will be stupendously high. Files can be copied to drives or transferred at a breakneck speed. This same speed would apply should you decide to have a gaming gig on your laptop. 

Powerful Battery Life

Thunderbolt ports are capable of charging your laptops as they can transmit and amass about 100W of power.

Cons of Thunderbolt Header Technology?

There’s always a downside to everything, thunderbolt technology is no exception. Here are some of the cons of the Thunderbolt technology:

Security exposure

Despite the supersonic transmission speed of the thunderbolt interface, it is nonetheless susceptible to Direct Memory Access attacks. Malicious viruses can be loaded from an attached peripheral and damage can occur before the computer can run the operating system and detect a malfunction.

Very Expensive

Being a top-tier technology, it is no surprise that the thunderbolt interface comes at an extremely high price, especially when compared to a standard USB interface.

Limited ecosystem

The thunderbolt technology is not deployed for general use, unlike the USB interface. As mentioned earlier, not all gadgets are congenial with the thunderbolt technology. Its high price is also another factor responsible for it’s non-availability.

Can You Manually Add Thunderbolt to Your Motherboard?

Thunderbolt technology is not supported by all motherboards. Before attempting to install a thunderbolt header or card, make sure your motherboard is in a series greater than 100. If it is of a lower sequel, it is unlikely to accept a thunderbolt card.

Thunderbolt Cables

The new thunderbolt cables remain unrivaled when it comes to speed, data transfer, and battery life. Despite their lightweightedness, they have a remarkable capacity.

Thunderbolt cables come in varying lengths, though the first thunderbolt cables manufactured were of a 2-metre length. The production of longer wires began in 2012, two years after the first ones were manufactured. However, the maximum wire length of a thunderbolt cable is 3m.

Are Thunderbolt Cables the Same as USBC cables?

USBC cables and thunderbolt cables can be used interchangeably. This does not imply that they are the same, they have their similarities as well as their differences. The debate about which of the two is a better option has been ongoing for a long time, however, the fact remains that the ‘best’ of these cables is the one most suitable for your intended task.

Similarities Between Thunderbolt Cables and USBC Cables

  • Data transfer speed: A thunderbolt 3 cable when connected to a thunderbolt port, will transfer 40Gb of data in one second. A USBC cable, on the other hand, can only transfer half of that amount at an equivalent time
  • Charging devices: A thunderbolt 3 cable charges devices at the rate of 15W, a USBC cable on the other hand charges devices with 2.5W of power. However, when both cables are connected to a Power delivery Protocol, both can transmit up to 100W of power to various devices.
  • Size: Both thunderbolt cables and USBC cables are of the same physical size, another reason why they can be used interchangeably on both phones, Macs, and PCs.
  • Price: A thunderbolt cable is relatively more expensive than a USBC cable.
  • Compatibility: Although USBC and thunderbolt cables can be used on PCs, not all Window PC bolster thunderbolt wires. A majority of PCs are compatible with the thunderbolt technology, but, to be sure your new PC is, search for Thunderbolt’s trademark lightering symbol beside the port.

How Many Versions of Thunderbolt Are there?

Thunderbolt has released several series since its inception. There are currently 4 versions, although preparations are in place to facilitate the release of Thunderbolt 5. 

  • Thunderbolt 1: Thunderbolt 1 came into existence in the year 2011. It utilises protocol 4 x PCI Express 2.0 and a display port 1.1a. Its two channels support 10Gbps each, thus providing a total of 20Gbps.
  • Thunderbolt 2: Thunderbolt 2 was introduced in 2013, two years after the inception of thunderbolt 1. It also uses 4 x PCI Express 2.0 but its display port was 1.2.
  • Thunderbolt 3: This sequel also came to the limelight two years after the release of Thunderbolt 2, in 2015. It was the first of the Thunderbolt series to utilise a USB port. It supports up to 40Gb per second, twice the transfer rate of both Thunderbolt 1 and Thunderbolt 2. It uses protocol 4 x PCI Express 3.0, DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.1, Gen-2, and HDMI-2.
  • Thunderbolt 4: Thunderbolt 4 supports the transfer of data, video, and power via a single cable at the rate of 40Gb per second, the same as a Thunderbolt 3. It also endorses multiple screen displays and has one universal computer port.

Thunderbolt headers are new technologies that allow for high-resolution displays and high-performance data through a single port. This connectivity helps you to add many devices to your computer network via a chain of chords. Thunderbolt allows its users to access fast speeds and high-resolution media. This is achieved with the aid of a cable that works with display ports and PCIe slots.

External devices can now be readily plugged via thunderbolt technology. It gives you access to better sound and video quality. Many people have been wondering what the features of this new technology are. We will be shedding light on the features of the Thunderbolt headers. We will also consider their uses. We will also try to help you figure out if your motherboard supports thunderbolt headers.

Let’s get right into it.

Top features of thunderbolt headers

Thunderbolt is a new peripheral connection technology. It fuses audio, video, data, and power into one connection. So, let us consider some of the awesome features of the thunderbolt headers.

  1. The thunderbolt headers are a considerably fast technology. They allow the connection of up to 10 Gigabits per second worth of data. The thunderbolt comes with many ports. Each of these ports comprises two channels. The two-directional mode of these headers is responsible for the fast speeds they come with. This allows for better connectivity and speed levels than earlier technologies.
  2. One major advantage of using Thunderbolt is that it comes with better performance. Convenience is also something that comes in handy with these headers. They support audio, data, power, and video all through one single port. So, they are very convenient to work with. This makes it relatively easier to work with different devices and media on your computer.
  3. The thunderbolt ports can also handle audio and video just as the popular DisplayPort. The video comes in with high resolution. It is also quite convenient because you only have to use one port to connect the video and the audio. This is in contrast with previous technologies that have to be separate ports for each.
  4. Another feature of the thunderbolt headers is the possibility of working with multiple connections. You can connect up to six different devices to one Thunderbolt port. You have to ensure that they are connected off of the first Thunderbolt port. Then, other cable connections can then be worked around.
  5. One major feature that stands for the Thunderbolt ports over USB ports is in the design. There are no issues with video connections for the thunderbolt headers because of their design. When connected to the Thunderbolt port and other cables connected, the quality of the connection is not adversely affected.
  6. The Thunderbolt 2 is an advanced form of the thunderbolt headers. It has all of the advantages of multiple connectivity but it enhances the features. The Thunderbolt 2 can work with direct connections of up to 10 different devices with a speed of 20Gbps. They come with five fully powered USB 3 ports to help power your computer’s drives.
  7. You can also use these headers to charge your devices. Devices such as an iPhone, iPad, tablet, or other USB devices can be charged with these headers. The thunderbolt was originally built for Mac computers. However, they can work with different kinds of computers.

At first, many computer manufacturers ignored the thunderbolt headers. However, most computer manufacturers are now building their products with these accessories. It might not be the major connection process. There is however an option of using the Thunderbolt port.

uses of the thunderbolt headers

  1. It offers an improvement for the power and graphical features of your computer. Many people that have used the thunderbolt have commended it for its great features. Some people have even said it is like switching from dial-up internet to DSL.
  2. The encoding rate is faster with the thunderbolt headers. It is almost close to real-time. This means that the speed and convenience are always at the user’s advantage.
  3. Burning disks with the thunderbolt headers are also at a considerably faster pace. This is an upgrade to the previous technologies that are available. Blue-ray disks even burn faster on external drives. This feature draws the attention of many people towards the thunderbolt.

How To Know If Your motherboard support thunderbolt?

The best place to check if your motherboard supports thunderbolt will be the manual. The manufacturer’s website will also convey information about the motherboard specifications. So, either means should show you if your motherboard supports thunderbolt headers.

Thunderbolt has a different version of headers. Each version sees advancement in performance levels over its predecessors. You can also figure out the kind of thunderbolt version you have on your Mac computer. All you have to do is just locate your apple menu. Then, click on about this mac. Head to the system report section and click on thunderbolt. You should see the list of the thunderbolt headers you have on your Mac computer.

You can also check for your windows 10 operating system. Windows 10 comes with a thunderbolt center application. You will be able to see the version of the thunderbolt that comes with your system via this app. Simply click on the menu once you are logged on to the app. Then, head to the about section, and locate the thunderbolt generation tab. You will be able to see the thunderbolt version of your computer.

For an older windows version, it won’t be the same as that of Windows 10. You will have to go to the system tray tab. You should be able to assess the version of the thunderbolt headers there.

In using thunderbolt headers for your computer, the knowledge of USB ports will guide you through. The only difference might be a pop-up notification to ascertain whether you want to continue.


The thunderbolt headers are an advance in technologies. They support high-resolution images, videos, and audio. We have been able to show you some of the amazing features of the thunderbolt headers. We also highlighted some of the uses of these headers.

We added a final hack of how to check if your computer supports a thunderbolt header. So, go ahead and make the best use of the thunderbolt.

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