With laptops getting smaller and thinner each year, many manufacturers are sacrificing connectivity. Many of the I/O ports such as Ethernet, VGA, Firewire , Display Port, and even USB Type A and HDMI ports are becoming way too big to fit into nowadays thin ultrabooks. In order to save space, PC manufacturers are turning towards more compact and  interchangeable ports such as USB Type C and the “newly” introduced Thunderbolt 3.

If you’re here, you probably already know about Thunderbolt  connectivity and looking for a laptop with Thunderbolt 3. Good news! We have compiled a list of some of the cheapest laptops with Thunderbolt 3 available right now; but before we proceed with the list, let’s first get to know more about Thunderbolt 3 and how it will change the game in the PC world!

What is Thunderbolt 3?

Thunderbolt 3 is the third generation of the Thunderbolt interface, developed by Intel. A few years ago, Thunderbolt ports were only available on Macs. Apple was actually an early adopter of this Intel technology. But things have changed since the release of Thunderbolt 3, which made things easier for PC manufacturers to include a Thunderbolt 3 port on their laptops.

One of the best things about Thunderbolt 3 is that it shares the same connector as USB Type C.  And while USB Type C offers plenty to like, Thunderbolt 3 is even better, and can be used to charge your laptop, transfer files at high speeds, as well as connect your laptop to an external monitor or other peripherals.

Why should you buy a laptop with Thunderbolt 3 ? Advantages and disadvantages of Thunderbolt 3

The best thing about Thunderbolt 3 is that it can bring so many functions, all with a single cable. Here are some of the advantages of Thunderbolt 3 :

  • Faster data transfer: depending on the type of cable you’re using, data transfer with Thunderbolt 3 can reach up to 40 Gbps, which is 4x faster than the latest USB Type-C. You can read more about the types of Thunderbolt cables and how to get the best speeds down below.
  • High-definition video input/output: a single Thunderbolt 3 cable can drive 5K monitors, or two 4K displays at 60Hz, which is simply marvelous. As high-definition monitors make their way to the consumer base more, Thunderbolt 3 is becoming the new standard in connectivity.
  • Ability to daisy chain: that means you can connect, say, a monitor to your Thunderbolt 3 laptop, then a second monitor to the first one. Through a dock stations, you could be charging your laptop, accessing an external drive and streaming to a couple of monitors all with a single cable. Basically, Thunderbolt 3 allows for serial connections, and you can daisy-chain up to six devices from a single port!
  • Support for external graphics cards: Thanks to Thunderbolt 3 and its bandwidth, you can connect your laptop to an external device like the Razer Core, enabling you to play the latest AAA games even if your laptop doesn’t meet the minimum requirements. Ever renounced buying a gaming laptop because of the poor battery life? Now, you can turn your portable and long-lasting laptop in a on demand console.
  • Support for USB-C: Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C ports have the same shape, and Thunderbolt 3 is compatible with USB-C cables and devices.

As you can see, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity is promising, and getting a laptop with Thunderbolt 3 is a very wise choice if you want to future proof your device. However, Thunderbolt 3 also comes with a few drawbacks.

Thunderbolt 3 is still a reasonably expensive technology found mostly on premium laptops and devices. However, as it gets featured on more products, that’s going to change. A more serious concern is the one about security. Like other high-speed connections, the Thunderbolt interface is potentially vulnerable to direct memory access or DMA attacks. DMA attacks rely on connecting an external malicious device to a computer in order to access the system memory, which then allows the reading and writing of such, exposing of encryption keys, and installing of different types of malware.

However, one of the biggest problems (if you can call it as such) with Thunderbolt 3, is the fact that it can be confused with USB-C since they share the same form factor. To clear things out, and in order to understand the differences between Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, keep reading.

Is USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 the same thing?

If you’re wondering whether thunderbolt 3 is another name for USB-C. Then the short answer is NO. Unfortunately, a lot of people confuse these two technologies because they use the same port. Actually, despite the fact that They use the same port, Thunderbolt 3 has some extra hardware in comparison to USB-C. All Thunderbolt 3 ports are also compatible with USB-C. However, the same cannot be said for the other way around, a laptop with a USB-C only is not compatible with Thunderbolt 3.

In terms of performance, Thunderbolt 3 is way better when it comes to speed and video display. Thunderbolt 3 works at 40Gbps while USB-C works at 10 Gbps. Thunderbolt 3 is also capable of displaying video content on two 4K displays or one 5k display, while USB-C can only work with one 4K display at a time. So if you have a laptop with Thunderbolt 3, and if you have a strong enough video card, you can hook up to two 4K displays simultaneously! Which is great if you’re a creative professional.

In addition to that, Thunderbolt allows you to daisy-chain devices, which is something that you cant do with the USB protocol. And even the upcoming USB 4 protocol won’t have that!

If you want to read more about Thunderbolt 3, I have made a short list of “Frequently Asked Questions”  about Thunderbolt 3 in the bottom of the article.

So…Are you getting a laptop with Thunderbolt 3 yet?

If you’re here, I guess that you’re looking for a laptop that has a Thunderbolt 3 port. And to be honest, laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports are still expensive; and it’s hard to find an affordable laptop that can fit within everyone’s budget.

To save you some time, I have compiled a short list of some of the cheapest laptops with Thunderbolt 3 available right now; and the list will be updated regularly as more cheap laptops with Thunderbolt 3 are coming out. If you have the budget, I have also listed some of the best high end laptops that offer Thunderbolt 3 as well. Let’s start with the more affordable ones!

Cheapest laptops with Thunderbolt 3:

In this list, you can find some of the “cheapest” laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports. And by cheapest, I mean relatively affordable, because these are still mid range laptops. If you’re really in tight budget, you can also consider getting a refurbished laptop.

Lenovo Yoga 730

First on our list, the Lenovo Yoga 730 is probably the cheapest laptop with Thunderbolt 3 you can find. It features an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, delivering great performance with power efficiency. The Yoga 730 comes with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD. Thanks to the 360° hinge and the touchscreen 15 inch display, you can use this laptop in different modes, and thanks to the double Thunderbolt 3 ports, the Yoga 730 is also one of the cheapest best laptops for eGPU.

With modern specifications and good build quality, the Yoga 730 is a perfect companion for students or even professionals in small businesses. It offers great support for Windows Ink, meaning you can sketch your way with a digital pen, or take notes on the go. Special features include a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader for a secure and fast login into your system, and a Thunderbolt 3 port to connect both external drives and high-definition monitors.

Processor Intel Core i5-8250U Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage  256GB, PCIe SSD
Graphics Integrated, Intel UHD 620
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 2 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

1- USB 3.0 port

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 11,5 hours battery life

 

Dell G3 3779

If you’d like a laptop with a bigger display, here is the new Dell G3 3779; 17.3” Full HD laptop with gaming capabilities. It features an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 1 TB HDD. It also comes with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics car, with 4 GB of VRAM.

With its specifications, the G3 3779 makes for an affordable laptop to play games in mid-to-high settings, all on a comfortable and large wide-viewing angle display. If you care for booting and software loading times, upgrade the storage with a solid state drive to make this machine futureproof. And of course, the Dell G3 3779 also comes with a Thunderbolt 3 port , allowing you to stream on a sharper 4K or 5K display, and connect external devices.

Processor Intel Core i5-8300H Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 1TB, HDD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050
Screen 17.3 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.1 ports

1 – HDMI port, Ethernet

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 6 hours battery life

 

Dell G5587

The Dell G5587 is another gaming laptop with Thunderbolt 3. This 15,6 inch laptop features an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. The dedicated graphics card in this one is the Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti, with 4 GB of VRAM.

The Dell G5587 offers plenty of value for its price. And while the storage space might grow limited over time, it provides fast speeds and makes the system more responsive; and you can still add a hard drive if you want more space. Because of its specifications, it’s a great machine for casual gaming and using image and video editing software. It features a red backlit keyboard and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, both for fast data transfer as for streaming your videogames to a larger display when you’re at home.

For a hundred bucks more, you can also get the version with the GTX 1060 here.

Processor Intel Core i5-8300H Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050Ti
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.1 ports

1 – HDMI port, Ethernet

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 6 hours battery life

 

Lenovo V720

The Lenovo V720 is an affordable 14” Full HD business laptop, featuring a 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. It comes with the Windows 10 Professional operating system. The V720 is packed with a Nvidia GeForce 940MX graphics card, with 2 GB of VRAM. Although the V720 can feel quite “dated” by 2019 standards, the truth is it’s still a good value in 2019; and if you don’t need a laptop with the latest processor, then definitely consider it.

The V720 is designed with portability in mind, packing up to 9 hours of battery life in a 3.08 lbs, 0.6” thin body. Featuring a fingerprint reader, it’s also one of the cheapest business laptops with Thunderbolt 3, which is great if you have large data to transfer, like high-quality images and videos. It’s definitely a great option for photographers to keep in mind.

Processor Intel Core i5-7200U Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia Geforce 940MX
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

2- USB 3.0 ports

1 – HDMI port,

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 9 hours battery life

 

Lenovo Yoga 720 

The Lenovo Yoga 720 is a thin, 13.3 inch convertible laptop that offers plenty of value for the money. The Yoga 720 features an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. The Yoga 720 is a great buy if you want a sleek and easy to carry laptop for work or school. The Yoga 720 also has thin bezels around the screen, which help reduce its overall size.

The Yoga 720 is one of the few laptops with 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports at this price range. Meaning, if you grow tired of the tiny display, you can easily connect the Yoga 720 to a high-definition display when you’re not traveling around. Other special features, the Yoga 720 also comes with a backlit keyboard and a fingerprint reader. Battery life is also great!

Processor Intel Core i5-8250U Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Integrated, Intel UHD 620
Screen 13,3 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 2 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

1- USB 3.0 ports

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 8 hours battery life

 

Lenovo Ideapad 720s

The Ideapad 720s is yet another mid range 14 inch laptop by Lenovo.It’s packed with an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. It also features a dedicated graphics card, the entry-level Nvidia GeForce GT MX150, with 2 GB of VRAM.

Thanks to its specification, the Ideapad 720s is a highly versatile machine. You can use it for education purposes, teaching, light editing of images and videos, up to playing casual games. With up to 14 hours of battery life, it’s guaranteed to last you the full day in university, or at work. With the Thunderbolt 3 port, you can easily convert this long-lasting and portable laptop to a powerful gaming machine, through use of an external graphics card.

Processor Intel Core i5-8250U Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GeForce MX150
Screen 14 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

2- USB 3.0 ports

1- HDMI

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 14 hours battery life

HP Elitebook 1050 G1

The new HP Elitebook 1050 G1 is a premium looking 15 inch laptop, that can fit for a lot of users. It’s packed with an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. The graphics are powered by the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, with 4 GB of VRAM.

The Elitebook 1050 G1 is definitely designed for professionals and small businesses in mind, but it’s also ideal for home and education purposes. There’s a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader, all packed in a 0.7” thin body.

The HP Elitebook 1050 G1 is also one of the cheapest laptops with 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports. However, there is nothing cheap about the laptop, because the build quality and the performance is definitely worth its price.

Processor Intel Core i5-8300H Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050
Screen 14 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 2 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

2- USB 3.0 ports

1- HDMI

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 8 hours battery life

 

So, now that we’ve crossed the $1000 mark, here are some of the best high end laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports.

Best Laptops with Thunderbolt 3 :

MacBook Pro 15

Apple was one of the early adopters of the Thunderbolt technology, and the new MacBook Pro 15 comes with four Thunderbolt 3 ports only to serve all its functions: charging, data transfer, video streaming, and connecting any kind of external device. It features a 9th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. The beautiful and high-definition Retina display is powered by Radeon Pro 555x graphics, with 4 GB of VRAM.

The adoption of Thunderbolt 3 ports has saved a lot of space in the body of the new MacBook, giving it an overall minimalistic feeling. The latest model also features the manufacturer’s Touch Bar, offering another layer of control over your machine on top of the keyboard. If you’re fond of the Apple products, the MacBook Pro 15 is the ultimate way to get the Thunderbolt 3 experience, with support to up to two 5K displays.

Processor Intel Core i7-9750H Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Radeon Pro 555x Graphics
Screen 15,4 inch, 2880X1800
Connectivity and Ports 4 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

-Bluetooth 5

Battery up to 10 hours battery life

 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a premium 14” Full HD laptop. It features an 8th generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. This model comes with a good-looking narrow bezel display, a comfortable keyboard complete with a pointing stick, and the Windows 10 Professional operating system.

ThinkPads are highly regarded as laptops for professionals and small businesses, offering a powerful computing experience, a long-lasting battery life, a strong and durable build. The latest X1 Carbon comes in an extremely portable 0.6” thin body and offers Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, making it a great investment for the future of your business.

Processor Intel Core i5-8350U Processor
RAM 8GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Integrated, Intel UHD Graphics 620
Screen 14 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 2 – USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

2- USB 3.0 ports

1- HDMI, Ethernet

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery up to 15 hours battery life

Razer Blade 15

Advertised as the world’s smallest 15.6” gaming laptop, the Razer Blade 15 sure makes a deal out of its narrow bezel display and black unibody. This beautiful model features a Full HD display, an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM an plenty of storage space. Indeed, it comes with a hybrid solution, including a 256 GB SSD as the booting drive and a 2 TB HDD to store your software data. The dedicated graphics card is the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 MaxQ, with 6 GB of VRAM.

Featuring Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, a fully customizable backlit keyboard, and an all-black design, the Razer Blade 15 is definitely one of the best looking thin gaming laptops out there.

Processor Intel Core i7-8750H Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 256GB, SSD + 2TB HDD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060
Screen 14 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.1 ports

1- HDMI, MiniDisplay Port, Ethernet

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.2

Battery up to 6 hours battery life

 

DELL XPS 13 9380

The DELL XPS 13 9380 is one of best Thunderbolt 3 laptops out there, coming in a 13.3” screen size and weighting less than 3 lbs. It features a sharp 4K display with stunningly narrow bezels and touchscreen capability. The specifications are an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. This model includes the Windows 10 Professional operating system.

It’s simply incredible to think how much is packed in this tiny tech companion. It also offers a fingerprint reader and a backlit keyboard. Thunderbolt 3 connectivity is the cherry on the top of this modern machine. The XPS 13 9380 is a great deal overall for professionals and users who wish for a premium experience.

Processor Intel Core i7-8565U Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 512GB, PCie SSD
Graphics Integrated, Intel UHD Graphics 620
Screen 15,6 inch, 3840×2160 IPS
Connectivity and Ports 2- Thunderbolt 3 ports

1- USB Type C

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1,

Battery up to 9 hours battery life

LG Gram 15Z990-R.AAS9U1

The LG Gram 15Z990-R.AAS9U1 is a 15.6” Full HD laptop with touchscreen capability. It features an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a whopping 1 TB SSD.

The Gram 15 offers all the goodies that you would expect in a premium laptop: a narrow bezel display, a backlit keyboard, a fingerprint reader and, of course, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The battery life, though, is where this model truly shines, lasting up to 18.5 hours on average use. This is one of those laptops that you could turn in a gaming machine through connecting an external graphics card, achieving all your professional, education and entertainment purposes with a portable device. One that’s particularly light, even, weighting 2.4 lbs only.

Processor Intel Core i7-8565U Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 1TB, PCie SSD
Graphics Integrated, Intel UHD Graphics 620
Screen 15,6 inch, 3840×2160 IPS
Connectivity and Ports 1- USB Type C // Thunderbolt 3 port

3- USB 3.0

1 -HDMI

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1,

Battery up to 18,5 hours battery life

MSI GS65 Stealth-007

Back to the gaming laptops, the MSI GS65 Stealth-007 is a premium 15.6” Full HD gaming laptop, featuring a 144Hz narrow bezel display. It’s packed with an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 256 GB SSD. Graphics are powered by the Nvidia RTX 2060 dedicated card, with 6 GB of VRAM.

The graphics card of this model is one of those premium ones, featuring the latest Ray Tracing technology for a truly marvelous gaming experience. The Stealth-007 includes a fully customizable backlit keyboard in a matte black body. The MSI GS65 Stealth-007 also comes with plenty of ports, including a Thunderbolt 3 of course, 3 USB ports, and a mini Display port.

Processor Intel Core i7-8750H Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 256GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB type C // Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.0 ports

1 – HDMI port, mini-display port, Ethernet

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 5 hours battery life

 

Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51-75L8

Next in the gaming department, we have the Acer Predator Triton 500 PT515-51-75L8, a thin and light gaming laptop with a 144Hz display. It features an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a 512 GB SSD. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q, with 8 GB of VRAM, is one of the most powerful graphics cards to make their way to a portable device.

The Triton 500 is surely an expensive treat, but you couldn’t expect any less in a 0.7” thin laptop, offering the latest technology for top notch gaming. You’ll get a backlit keyboard with three customizable zones, an efficient cooling system and plenty of connectivity options, including Thunderbolt 3.

Processor Intel Core i7-8750H Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 512GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB type C // Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.0 ports

1 – HDMI port, mini-display port, Ethernet

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 5 hours battery life

 

Lenovo Legion Y740 17 81HH0037US

Last, but not the least, we have the 17.3 inch Lenovo Legion Y740 . This beast features a 144Hz with 300 nits of brightness, allowing you to watch comfortably at it even in poor condition. The Legion Y740 features an 8th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16 GB of Ram, and a 512 GB SSD. The dedicated graphics card is the high-end Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, with 8 GB of VRAM. The Y740 is a powerful desktop replacement if you’re a content creator and need a machine that you can use for editing and creating videos. It’s also one of the best gaming laptops under $2500.

The Lenovo Y740 is a perfect gaming machine for streaming the latest titles in high settings and definition. You can easily connect it to 4K and 5K monitors through the included Thunderbolt 3 port.

Processor Intel Core i7-8750H Processor
RAM 16GB
Storage 512GB, SSD
Graphics Dedicated, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080
Screen 15,6 inch, 1920X1080
Connectivity and Ports 1 – USB type C // Thunderbolt 3

3- USB 3.1 ports

1 – HDMI port, mini-display port, Ethernet

Card reader, Bluetooth 4.1

Battery up to 5 hours battery life

 

Now that we have reached the end of our list, here is more info about Thunderbolt 3 and how to get the most out of it!

Frequently Asked Questions about Thunderbolt 3:

Is thunderbolt 3 the same as mini displayport?

No it’s not!  Thunderbolt 3 uses the same connector as USB-C, which is different from a Mini DisplayPort. However, the older generations of Thunderbolt ports used to like a Display port, hence the confusion.

Will USB devices work if connected to a Thunderbolt 3 port?

Yes, Thunderbolt 3 ports are backwards compatible, and will work with USB devices and cables.

Are Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 devices compatible with Thunderbolt 3?

Thunderbolt 3 ports are backwards compatible; but you’ll need a an adapter to connect to a Thunderbolt  or Thunderbolt 2 device. However, since many of the products featuring Thunderbolt ports were mostly made by Apple (an early adopter), some of them were certified for Mac only and may not function properly with Windows or another OS.

What’s the difference between “active” and “passive” Thunderbolt cables?

Active Thunderbolt 3 cables come with a chipset that helps regulate the signal. Active cables support speeds up to 40Gbps data transfer at lengths of up to 2m.This means that you will not find a Thunderbolt 3 cable longer than 2 meters.

It should also be noted that when using an Active Thunderbolt 3 cable with a USB device, it will only operate at USB 2.0 speeds. That’s because Active cables lack backwards compatibility with USB 3.x.

On the other hand, Passive Thunderbolt 3 cables are only capable of 20Gbps data transfer at 1m or 2m lengths, but can achieve the full 40Gbps if the cable is shorter than 0.5m.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here