Intel is making Thunderbolt 5 official today with promises of up to 120Gbps speeds, theoretical support for 540Hz gaming monitors, 240 watts of charging power, and much more. While the Thunderbolt 5 specification is now official, accessories and PCs won’t debut with support for Thunderbolt 5 until 2024.
Built on USB4 v2, Thunderbolt 5 will be compatible with previous versions of Thunderbolt and USB. While Thunderbolt 4 supported up to 40Gbps speeds, Thunderbolt 5 can transmit data at 80Gbps or up to 120Gbps in a Bandwidth Boost mode. This mode requires a high-bandwidth display; otherwise, Thunderbolt 5 supports 80Gbps bidirectional speeds.
Thunderbolt 5 seems ideal for docking laptops to multiple displays, particularly because it supports multiple 8K monitors, three 4K monitors at 144Hz (instead of two 4K monitors limited to 60Hz with Thunderbolt 4), and a minimum of 140 watt charging or up to 240 watts.
Up to 540Hz panels will also be possible for gamers, and perhaps even external GPUs will finally take off with the improved bandwidth on offer here thanks to PCI Gen 4. Support for up to 240W means gaming laptop manufacturers could opt to not include a separate power port on future devices. Thunderbolt 5 will also support DisplayPort 2.1.
“Thunderbolt 5 will provide industry-leading performance and capability for connecting computers to monitors, docks, storage and more,” says Jason Ziller, general manager of the client connectivity division at Intel. “Thunderbolt is now the mainstream port for connectivity on mobile PCs, and delivering the next generation of performance with Thunderbolt 5 will provide even more capability for the most demanding users.”
Microsoft has worked closely with Intel to support USB4 in Windows, with Thunderbolt 5 fully USB 80Gbps standard compliant, too. Intel has achieved the boosts to bandwidth thanks to a new signaling technology, PAM-3, that’s supported in USB4 v2.
We’re now waiting to hear which accessories will support Thunderbolt 5, but it sure sounds like docks, monitors, and storage drives will be some of the first with Thunderbolt 5 connectivity in 2024.