Apple just can’t resist BS like its $129 Thunderbolt cable | Cult of Mac

Apple just can’t resist BS like its $129 Thunderbolt cable


Apple just can’t resist BS like its $129 Thunderbolt cable. This Apple cord costs about twice what it ought to. But there are good alternatives at reasonable prices.
This Apple cord costs about twice what it ought to. But there are good alternatives at reasonable prices.
Image: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Apple Tax is real. Apple really does overcharge for some of its products. Nowhere is that clearer than with Apple’s 1.8-meter Thunderbolt 4 cable that costs double what it should.

But you don’t have to pay the tax. Not for high-quality cables, anyway. I tested 2-meter Thunderbolt cables from OWC and Plugable to show they do the job for a lot less money.

The infamous Apple Tax

Windows fanboys like to talk about the Apple Tax. It’s their disparaging term for extra cost added to Apple gear for no reason other than it bears Cupertino’s brand.

According to the Windows-only gang, the Apple Tax is on every Mac, iPhone and iPad made. That’s ridiculous, of course. For one thing, it ignores the fact that Apple gear holds most of its value for years, while the resale values of so many Windows and Android computers plummet.

But accessories are an exception. Apple does overcharge for these. Take that 1.8-meter Thunderbolt 4 Pro Cable I mentioned earlier — it costs a whopping $129.

Before you say something like “good cables aren’t cheap,” let’s consider some of the alternatives.

Try these reasonably priced Thunderbolt 4 cables instead

The 2-meter OWC Thunderbolt 4/USB-C Cable costs $57. That’s 44% the cost of Apple’s.

OWC makes good products, but I tested one of these cables to be sure. I used it to transfer files between my computer and the OWC Envoy Pro FX drive. Over this cable, I was able to copy a 10.5GB file in seven seconds.

It’s Thunderbolt 4-certified, and is backward-compatible with Thunderbolt 3, USB 4, USB 3.2 and USB 3.1. To test that, I used it with a USB-C display — no problems. OWC’s cable also can handle 100 watts of power.

To show there’s more than one good alternative to Apple’s, I also tested the 2-meter Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Cable. It sells for $69.95, or 54% the cost of Apple’s.

It’s Thunderbolt 4-certified, offers backward-compatibility, and can handle up to 100W.

I’ve been happy with Plugable products I used in the past, but to be sure I performed the same tests on Plugable’s cable as I did on OWC’s. It, too, was able to transfer a 10.5GB file in seven seconds, and the cable took on my USB-C display without issue.

Either of these cables offer everything you need to connect your Mac to demanding accessories. Whether you need high-speed data transfers, 100W of power or both, they can deliver. And they are rugged cables designed to take everyday use.

The only feature the Apple Thunderbolt 4 Pro Cable offers that the third-party products don’t is a braided covering, and I doubt that’s worth $60 to anyone.

Shop smartly

The Plugable and OWC cables aren’t “cheap.” They cost what good Thunderbolt 4 cables cost.

It’s Apple’s version that’s way overpriced. But you don’t have to pay to Apple Tax.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.