Thunderbolt™ 3 480GB NVMe Solid State Drive
List Price : $199.00
Amazon Rating : (11 Reviews)
- THUNDERBOLT 3 SPEED—Reach your creative potential with the Plugable external Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD. Offers 480 GB of storage with up to 2400+ MB/sec read and up to 1800+ MB/sec write speeds featuring 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 technology
- PERFORMANCE—Great for professional content creators needing to transfer and edit high-res content, gamers who want high-performance external libraries, or admins who want to run virtual machines at performance levels not possible before Thunderbolt 3. This 480GB SSD is bus powered with no external power supply required
- DURABLE AND PORTABLE—Full metal body designed to dissipate heat and protect your portable hard drive. With no moving parts, never worry about losing your data on-the-go. Only slightly larger than a smartphone this SSD is ideal for travel or office use. This SSD NVMe is made to take anywhere with an included carrying bag
- COMPATIBILITY—Easy to use with any Thunderbolt 3 system. Drive is pre-formatted in exFAT for Windows, Linux, and Mac (late 2016-2019 MacBook Pro, 2017-2018 iMac/iMac Pro, 2018-2019 MacBook Air). Boot Camp not supported. Linux may have reduced performance in some scenarios. Does not support non-Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports. No drivers required
- 3 YEAR WARRANTY—We love our Plugable products, and hope you will too. The TBT3-NVME480 is covered by a 36 month or 800 TBW limited warranty as well as Seattle-based email support
Expand Your Storage at Unparalleled Speeds
Faster than your computer’s internal hard drive, the Plugable Thunderbolt 3 480GB NVMe SSD (TBT3-NVME480) hits performance levels not possible before Thunderbolt 3. Connect the drive to a Thunderbolt 3 port to gain 480GB of extra storage with amazing speeds of up to 2400MB/s+ read and 1800MB/s+ write, all without the need for an external power connection.
Speed up your data transfers with leading NVMe and Thunderbolt 3 technologies. No moving parts, no external power, solid aluminum construction, and full-speed 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 connectivity makes the Plugable SSD is perfect for content creators and high-performance users that want top-tier performance in a secure and compact storage solution.
High Capacity 480GB Storage
A must-have for creators on the go. This SSD delivers high throughput storage perfect for video editors, photographers, and high-performance users.
Transfer and edit high-res content with ease. Store more hours of raw 4K footage. Breeze through projects with ease.
Compact and Portable
Weighing only 6.2oz and with a minimal profile of 108mm x 65mm x 14.5mm it can be tucked in a pocket or bag without hassle.
Includes a carrying bag to protect the anodized aluminum finish and keep your other devices safe from scratches on-the-go.
Durable and Secure
This SSD has a full metal body designed to keep the SSD cool while also protecting your data on the go.
With no moving parts inside, the SSD is even more secure than external HDD making your data less likely to be lost due to damage.
Performance of Thunderbolt 3 and NVMe
Harness the speed of Thunderbolt 3 and NVMe technology. Featuring increased bandwidth, lower latency, and increased IOPS, this Plugable SSD is up to 5x faster than SATA SSD technology. This Plugable SSD is up to 4x faster than SATA SSD technology. At full-speed 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and maximum-throughput NVMe technology, this SSD is an ideal storage extension for your Thunderbolt 3-equipped workstations and laptops.
The Plugable Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD works right out of the box, pre-formatted with exFAT to make it compatible and interchangeable with any Thunderbolt 3-enabled Mac or Windows system. Then directly import media into your favorite editing applications, and discover external storage the way it should be.
CompatibilityOnly compatible with Thunderbolt 3 enabled systems
- Requires Thunderbolt 3-equipped USB-C interface, will not work with standard USB
- CWindows 11, 10, 8.x, or 7 supported (Boot Camp with Windows 10 version 1809 and up is supported)
- Linux support varies depending on Linux distribution and Kernel
- Not Thunderbolt 1 or 2 Compatible
*Windows 10 (version 1809 and up) users must enable write caching in the Device Manager for maximum write speeds.
*Host systems with PCIe x2 link will have reduced performance due to limited bandwidth. Linux host systems may experience reduced write performance vs Mac/Windows.
- 480GB external storage with PCIe Gen3 x4 link (NVMe module is not user upgradable)
- Up to 2400MBps+ read, and 1800MB/s+ write for sequential transfers*
- Integrated 18cm/4in 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cable
- Uses the multi-platform exFAT file system (Can be reformatted for use with other file systems)
- No drivers required
In The Box
|Item and Quantity||Item Notes|
|1x Quick Start Guide|
|Port||Placement||Power Host / Device||Connection Type||Notes||Voltage||Amperage||Wattage|
|Thunderbolt™ 3 to Host||Cable End||Device||Bus Powered (No Power Adapter)||0.0W|
Connection To Host
|Port||Placement||Version and Link Rate||Features|
|1x Thunderbolt™ 3||Rear||Thunderbolt™ 3 (40Gbps)||4x PCIe 3.0 Lanes|
|Storage Port Location||Host Connection||Host Connecton Port Specification||Attached Cable (Port Type if No)||Slot and Media Type||Capacity (If Media Included) or Max Supported Capacity||Chipset|
|Internal||Thunderbolt™ 3||Thunderbolt™ 3 (40Gbps)||Yes (USB-C Port)||
M.2 NVMe SSDM.2 B Key
Filter Help Articles and Frequent Questions by Category
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You can always contact support if you need help too!
Do I need to format the drive before use?
The drive is pre-formatted in exFAT (cross-compatible with macOS and Windows) and should automatically be recognized without the need to initialize and format before use. If the drive has been reformatted after purchase with a file system not natively supported by your operating system, it may need to be mounted manually. Click here for instructions on reformatting drives if desired in Windows. Click here for instructions in macOS.
What are the best practices to ensure compatibility with my Windows Thunderbolt 3 system?
Installing the latest Thunderbolt 3 and BIOS firmwares from your system manufacturer is strongly recommended. Some systems with outdated firmware may not be compatible with this (and other) Thunderbolt 3 devices. (Note: This only applies to Windows systems. Apple Thunderbolt 3 systems automatically receive firmware updates during macOS upgrades.)
Are any host systems known to be incompatible at this time?
The only host platforms with Thunderbolt 3 to be confirmed as incompatible at this point are the Dell Latitude 7275 and ASUS ProArt Station PA90.
Is the Thunderbolt 3 NVMe SSD compatible with Boot Camp?
Boot Camp with Windows 10 (version 1809 and up) is supported.
Will the drive perform at its maximum speed during all read/write operations?
Transfer speed is affected by many factors. While this Thunderbolt™ 3 NVMe drive is capable of sequential transfer speeds of 2400+ MB/s read and 1800+ MB/s write, results will vary depending on the program being used, OS, and workload.
Will the drive perform differently based on the host system PCIe specifications?
Some Thunderbolt 3 ports support a 2-lane PCI Express configuration (PCIe x2), and some support a 4-lane PCI Express implementation (PCIe x4). Performance will depend on the specific workload. The maximum throughput of the drive be reduced in some scenarios on systems with a PCIe x2 implementation. In our testing, the maximum R/W results on an x2 system were ~1400MB/s R and 1200MB/s W.
How can I tell if my system has x2 or x4 PCIe Thunderbolt 3 configuration?
Most system manufacturers list these details in their online system specifications. For example, Dell has this information available for most of their popular hosts in a handy single document: here.
Are There Any Benchmark Results Available Showcasing the Drive’s Performance?
Yes! The screenshot below is from a 2019 MacBook Pro 15″ with a PCIe x4 implementation.
After connecting my drive, why is it not visible in my Operating System?
Our NVMe SSD drives must be connected to a Thunderbolt™ 3 equipped USB-C port. On systems which have a mix of Thunderbolt™ 3 and non-Thunderbolt™ 3 USB-C ports, please ensure the device is connected to a Thunderbolt™ 3 port. Most systems with a mix of ports will have a Thunderbolt symbol next to the Thunderbolt 3 ports.
In Windows 10 (version 1809 and up) my write speeds are far lower than advertised but my read speeds are OK.
With Windows 10 version 1809 the default removable storage settings are set to have write caching disabled in favor of quickly removing the drive vs needing to “safely remove”. This setting can be changed in the Device Manager. See here for instructions: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4495263/windows-10-1809-change-in-default-removal-policy-for-external-media
I am unable to format this NVMe SSD in APFS on macOS.
A solution for this issue was found here: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/8262732
- In Disk Utility, switch the View option to “Show All Devices”.
- Select the entry named “PCIe SSD Media”, with “TBT3_SSD” indented below it.
- Click on Erase.
- Change the Scheme to “GUID Partition Map”. The Format choices will then expand to include several APFS choices.
- Set the Format to “APFS”.
- Press Erase.
Why does the drive show up with a 480GB capacity in macOS, but 447GB in Windows?
Mac and Windows report space differently. On Mac, space is calculated using decimal/Base 10, where 1 GB=1,000,000,000B (so 480,000,000,000/1,000,000,000=480GB). In Windows, space is calculated using binary/Base 2, where 1GB=1,073,741,824B (so 480,000,000,000/1,073,741,824=447GB). An useful analogy would be considering distance in miles vs. kilometers; the distance traveled is the same, but the number used to represent that distance is different.
Understanding Large SATA Drive Compatibility
Originally authored by: Jeff Everett, March 21, 2013
This post is intended to offer detailed technical information for troubleshooting issues affecting new “Advanced Format” 512e SATA disk drives.
Plugable’s full-size 3.5″ hard drive docks, the USB3-SATA-UASP1, USB3-SATA-U3 and USBC-SATA-V; these feature support for these new 512e Advanced Format drives. Our Plugable Storage System “PSS” products also support 512e large volumes (as soon as 2.5″ drive capacities increase and these drives become available in smaller sizes than 3.5″).
Some docks have a non-standard sector emulation feature that enables using capacities above 2TB on Windows XP 32 bit. But this requires that drives initialized and formatted in a special way, and NOT be used with other SATA controllers in desktop PC’s or other drive docking stations, unless those units also have a matching firmware version and support for this feature.
Plugable USB SATA docks do not support sector emulation for XP. Rather, we’ve chosen to support 3TB+ Advanced Format drives in the standard way without any emulation.
The storage model used by disk makers for the last 10+ years is changing, and this post is an effort to explain how these changes work in detail. In case of issues moving drives between different systems, or when encountering issues using USB attached drives to host enterprise application data, the details here can help understand what factors are at play.
Data is stored fundamentally in bits (bits with a little b). Busses like USB often measure throughput in bits, like USB 2.0’s 480 Megabits per second (480 Mbps) or SATA III’s Gigabits per second (6 Gbp/s). Eight of these individual bits of data make up one of the capital-B “Bytes” that we usually measure data in, be it kilobytes (KB) in a document, MegaBytes (MB) in an MP3, or GigaBytes (GB) of data on a storage volume like a hard drive or SSD. Generally speaking, transfer rates industry-wide are measured in bits so transfer rates appear higher than if they were measured the same way the data is actually stored, in Bytes.
On modern solid state drives and traditional hard or even floppy disks, these bytes are grouped into sectors for actual read/write operations. Over the last decades, almost all storage drives used 512 Bytes per sector to store data since addressing individual bits and Bytes would be impractical.
Having all drives at 512 bytes per sector was nice, as there were few compatibility issues to think about when moving drives between systems or SATA docks, or when cloning them.
512 byte sectors present problems with larger capacity drives (3TB+)- to make way for larger drives, sector sizes had to grow. This presents challenges throughout the “software stack” from the SATA hardware controllers and their firmware, their drivers, the operating system, and even to how applications may sometimes assume certain sector sizes or where sectors will start. Resulting issues are numerous and will take time for the industry to fully work out.
Over the past few years, Advanced Format Drives (512e, AF) drives reporting 512 Bytes/”logical” sector while actually using physical sectors of 4096 Bytes/”physical” sector have gained in popularity due to their higher data density potential, and resulting larger capacities. For more on how these drives work and why the industry switched, read this great ZD net post. Soon, we’ll be seeing drives that use 4096B logical and physical sectors.
|4K native (4K logical sector size)||Supported on the following operating systems:
|Advanced Format or 512E (4K physical and 512-byte logical sector size)||Supported on the following operating systems:
*Except for Hyper-V. See the “Windows support in enterprise” section below.
Specific requirements are listed in the following section. Run only applications and hardware that support these drives.
|512-byte native (512-byte physical and logical sector size)||Supported on all platforms.|
*from Microsoft support policy for 4K sector hard drives in Windows
As you can see from the table above, determining whether you have a 512n (drive with reported and physical sectors of 512 bytes), 512e (the 512 emulation 4096 “Advanced Format” drives with physical 4096B clusters), or 4Kn (drive with both reported and physical sectors of 4096B) is crucial to determine which Windows operating systems will be able to recognize the drive.
On OS X, large volume support is somewhat better, with effectively no limits on volume size in modern OS X versions:
*From Mac OS X: Mac OS Extended format (HFS Plus) volume and file limits
How to check your drive’s sector size
To determine if you have an 512e Advanced Format Drive, open an administrative command prompt and run the following command on the NTFS formatted volume:
fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo [your drive]
[your drive] will be the letter of the disk you’re testing, so c: or d: etc.
The output will look like this, with the bold portion below being the relevant information. Bytes per Sector of 512 and bytes per Physical Sector of 4096 indicate a 512e drive:
C:\Windows\system32>fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo h:
NTFS Volume Serial Number : 0x8a0c5e820c5e68e9
NTFS Version : 3.1
LFS Version : 1.1
Number Sectors : 0x00000001d1bcafff
Total Clusters : 0x000000003a3795ff
Free Clusters : 0x000000003a3671d7
Total Reserved : 0x0000000000000000
Bytes Per Sector : 512
Bytes Per Physical Sector : 4096
Bytes Per Cluster : 4096
Bytes Per FileRecord Segment : 1024
Clusters Per FileRecord Segment : 0
Mft Valid Data Length : 0x0000000000040000
Mft Start Lcn : 0x00000000000c0000
Mft2 Start Lcn : 0x0000000000000002
Mft Zone Start : 0x00000000000c0000
Mft Zone End : 0x00000000000cc820
Resource Manager Identifier : DB59D441-7AD6-11E2-BEE8-00027232D73D’
If your drive reports:
Bytes Per Sector : 512
Bytes Per Physical Sector : 512
This one of the 512n volumes commonly used over the last decade. Support for these drives is universal.
If your drive reports:
Bytes Per Sector : 512
Bytes Per Physical Sector : 4096
The volume is operating in 512e mode, and should be recognized by most Windows Vista (SP1 and later) systems, as well as by newer Windows 7 and 8 PC’s. Windows 7 and Server 2008 users who do not have Service Pack 1 installed need a system update for 512e compatibility.
Macs should also be able to see the volume with no issue, however do not have native NTFS write capabilities, so they may only be able to read the drive.
If your drive reports:
Bytes Per Sector : 4096
Bytes Per Physical Sector : 4096
Then the drive has been formatted with non-standard sector emulation, in order to support 3TB+ drives on Windows XP.
A special release of firmware for the Plugable USB3-SATA-U3 (firmware v12092681f600) is available by special request that uses this non-standard emulation strategy. However, it is not the default and is generally not recommended as it limits moving the drive to other docks with the same emulation strategy.
How to clean and re-initialize a volume
Moving volumes initialized with 4096B sector re-emulation to other SATA controllers (other drive docks or PC SATA connections) may result in drives that are visible in disk manager but with no partitions, and no option to re-format the drive since the “new” (non U3) SATA controller doesn’t support the 4096B sector re-emulation. In this case, wiping the drive is necessary to use it on the new controller.
Wiping a misaligned drive’s partition table will allow the volume to be re-initialized as though it were new, and a new partition table may be written when the disk is re-formatted.
Performing the following steps will destroy all data on the disk selected, so these steps must be performed with extreme caution.
To check for all attached volumes, open an administrative command prompt and enter diskpart, then enter the list disk command as shown below, and select the disk of your choice to clean. After selecting whichever disk number you want to wipe, the clean command will destroy the partition table and allow you to re-initialize the volume.
Microsoft DiskPart version 6.2.9200
Copyright (C) 1999-2012 Microsoft Corporation.
On computer: GRANDCENTRAL
DISKPART> list disk
Disk ### Status Size Free Dyn Gpt
——– ————- ——- ——- — —
Disk 0 Online 111 GB 1024 KB
Disk 1 Online 1863 GB 0 B
Disk 2 No Media 0 B 0 B
Disk 3 No Media 0 B 0 B
Disk 4 No Media 0 B 0 B
Disk 5 No Media 0 B 0 B
Disk 6 Online 1862 GB 0 B
Disk 7 No Media 0 B 0 B
Disk 8 Online 465 GB 0 B
DISKPART> select disk 8
Disk 8 is now the selected disk.
DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk.
From here the disk is blank and can be re-initialized and formatted with whatever partitions are desired. Most consumers will not need to be aware of the other issues that can arise with Advanced Format volumes in enterprise applications.
If the performance of your 512e large volume has degraded when being moved from system to system, partition alignment issues may be the cause. Issues with non-bootable cloned volumes may also be due to improperly aligned partitions. Western Digital and Hitachi offer drive alignment utilities for affected operating systems. Seagate drives should not require alignment. Customers with other brands of drives will need to check with the manufacturer of their drive to determine if an alignment tool is available and/or necessary. Partition alignment issues often affect older Windows Vista and Windows XP systems where drives are frequently accessed on other operating systems.
Before initializing a new drive, using a large volume with Windows XP, or especially before cloning an Advanced Format Western Digital drive, please check the chart below to determine if aligning your drive is necessary for maximum performance and compatibility with your software environment.
Using your WD Advanced Format Hard Drive with a Windows Operating System may require you to run the WD Align Windows software utility after you install your operating system or partition and format the drive as a secondary drive. The WD Align software aligns existing partitions on the Advanced Format drive to ensure it provides full performance for certain configurations. (Please see table for configuration details)
Running Hitachi’s “HGST Align” tool may be necessary for Windows XP or Windows Vista users. Windows 7 and Windows 8 users should not need to use this utility.
Windows support in the enterprise
Most end-users won’t need to worry about drive sector sizes, partition alignment, or any of the details above. Due to the specific issues documented by Microsoft with some of their enterprise applications, thorough planning for drive purchasing and migration is crucial in enterprise environments leveraging the following technologies:
- Hyper-V: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2515143
- Microsoft SQL Server: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/psssql/archive/2011/01/13/sql-server-new-drives-use-4k-sector-size.aspx
- Windows Home Server v1: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2385637
- Microsoft Exchange Server: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee832792.aspx#Phys
- Third-party applications and hardware: Applications and hardware devices may have reliability and performance issues when they are connected to these new drives. Contact your application and hardware vendors about their support policy for these drives.
*from “Microsoft support policy for 4K sector hard drives in Windows.”
For more details on 512e and 4Kn Advanced Format support across Windows versions, application specific issues, other known issues, and unsupported scenarios, read Microsoft support policy for 4K sector hard drives in Windows.
Further details on the evolution from 512n to 512e and 4Kn drives are available in this presentation from IDEMA (International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Association).
Deeper technical details for driver developers are available in Microsoft’s “Advanced format (4K) disk compatibility update (Windows)” article.
Fixing "This Thunderbolt Application Is Not in Use Anymore and Can Be Safely Uninstalled" Error Message
Synopsis – If your Thunderbolt 3 driver or utility version types are mismatched within a Windows host system, you may receive an error message stating, “Application Cannot run – This Thunderbolt application is not in use anymore and can be safely uninstalled” when attempting to run the Intel Thunderbolt Software management utility or the Intel Thunderbolt Control Center utility. This prevents proper management of Thunderbolt devices on the host system. (This problem does not occur on Apple Mac systems.)
Before proceeding with this or any other procedure that makes changes to your system, please ensure you have a full system backup of any and all important data and create a fresh System Restore Point as a precaution. Plugable will not be able to help restore any data or return a system to a working state should things not work as expected. If you do not wish to take this risk, please do not follow this procedure
You will have to be logged on to the system as a User with ‘Administrator’ permissions in order to perform these steps
1. Disconnect any Thunderbolt 3 devices from the host system (this is done to prevent Windows Update from automatically loading any Thunderbolt drivers).
2. Right-click on the Windows Start button and select ‘Device Manager’.
3. Click on ‘View’ from the application menu bar, and click the option ‘Show hidden devices’ (this is necessary because the Thunderbolt controller will not be active if no Thunderbolt devices are connected).
4. Expand the ‘System Devices’ category. Scroll down until you find the entry for the ‘Thunderbolt Controller’.
5. Right-click on the ‘Thunderbolt Controller’ entry and select ‘Uninstall device’ from the context menu that appears.
6. From the ‘Uninstall Device’ window that appears, click to place a check mark within the ‘Delete the driver software for this device’ option.
7. Click the ‘Uninstall’ button.
8. Close Device Manager.
9. Click the search button on the taskbar (looks like a ‘O’) and search for the letters ‘cmd’.
10. Right-click on the ‘Command Prompt’ search result and select ‘Run as Administrator’ from the context menu. If prompted, enter your Administrator password.
11. From the Administrative Command Prompt window, enter ‘sc delete nhi’ (without the quotes) and press enter. You should receive a ‘SUCCESS’ indicator. ** Be very careful to type this command correctly **
This command deletes the ‘nhi’ Windows service presently installed on the system.
Thunderbolt 3 Support and Troubleshooting on Windows PCs
Overview and Drivers
In general, Plugable Thunderbolt 3 Docking Stations and Thunderbolt 3 Dual Display Adapters do not require the installation of any drivers when used with macOS or Windows. When connecting a Thunderbolt 3 device, the host operating system should install all the necessary drivers automatically.
However, there are certain instances with Windows systems where additional driver installation may be necessary when using our Thunderbolt 3 docking stations (these are NOT required on macOS systems):
TBT3-UDV Docking Station:
- Windows 10 – In general, no driver installations are required when using Windows 10. After initial connection if all functions of the dock are working as expected, then no additional action is required. However, when the TBT3-UDV is used with certain eighth generation Intel processor-based Windows 10 systems an updated USB 3.0 driver may need to be installed to ensure the best performance of USB peripherals attached to the TBT3-UDV. We recommend installing the updated Asmedia USB 3.0 drivers here. For additional details, please see our TBT3-UDV product page.
- Windows 7 – When using Windows 7 64-bit (32-bit systems are not supported), you will need to install a separate Intel Network Adapter driver and a driver for the Asmedia USB 3.0 Host Controller.
TBT3-UD1-83 / TBT3-UD1-85 Docking Stations:
- Windows 7 – When using Windows 7 64-bit (32-bit systems are not supported), you will need to install a separate Fresco USB 3.0 Host Controller driver and an Intel Network Adapter driver.
General Thunderbolt 3 Information
Before purchasing or using a new Thunderbolt™ 3 docking station or video adapter for use with your personal computer running Windows, you will want to make sure that your computer can support it and be aware of differences from basic USB devices:
Note: The following does not apply to Apple Thunderbolt 3 systems.
- Many early Thunderbolt 3 PCs require firmware and software updates before all adapters and docks will work.
- Dual display support is optional for Thunderbolt 3 PCs. How many displays are supported over Thunderbolt 3 depends on how the USB-C port has been wired on the system motherboard (up to a max of two), and is not changeable in software or by the Thunderbolt 3 graphics device.
- Support for PC charging (USB Power Delivery) on Thunderbolt 3 systems is optional. Many Thunderbolt 3-enabled PCs do not accept a charge over USB-C, and some PCs only will charge with their own branded power adapters.
- Unlike USB devices, Thunderbolt 3 devices must be manually authenticated (approved) for use by the user before the system will recognize them.
- Host computers equipped with Thunderbolt 3 have the ability to install various updates including NVM (Thunderbolt 3 related Non-volatile memory) and PD (Power Delivery) firmware, UEFI BIOS, supplemental Thunderbolt 3 software utilities (for authentication) and various drivers to resolve potential issues and increase compatibility with new Thunderbolt 3 products as they are released.
- System manufacturers have substantial discretion in how they implement various technical elements and features. As a result, compatibility information is complex. As a result many currently available Thunderbolt 3 systems are not fully compatible with our Thunderbolt 3 dual graphics adapters (we do our best to maintain compatibility tables of the individual product pages). Some systems may only be equipped with a single DisplayPort (DP) Alternate Mode (Alt Mode) line to the Thunderbolt 3 port which limits the port to a single display output. Due to this limitation some systems won’t be able to take advantage of our dual port Thunderbolt 3 graphics adapters regardless of firmware/software updates. This is a physical hardware limitation.
- Many system manufacturers ship systems with older firmware and may or may not have updated versions available for download at this time. The latest Thunderbolt 3 firmware for a specific system cannot be downloaded from Intel directly, as it first it has to be customized by the original system manufacturer. Intel has a Thunderbolt updates page with some update information, but as of this writing the list if fairly small. Currently our TBT3-HDMI2X-83 and TBT3-DP2X-83 adapters require the host system to have a Thunderbolt 3 firmware update with NVM version 14 or higher in order to work properly. The latest UEFI BIOS update from your system manufacturer must be installed before updating the NVM firmware.
Operating System Compatibility
Thunderbolt 3 technology is supported by any operating system which has driver support for Thunderbolt 3. Currently, Plugable supports Windows 10, 8.1, and 7 (64-bit only) and macOS 10.13 or later. Although support for Thunderbolt 3 devices under Linux is steadily evolving, Plugable does not support Thunderbolt 3 devices within a Linux environment at this time.
Authenticating a Newly Attached Device
Click here for this process.
General Thunderbolt 3 FAQ
Q: Can a Thunderbolt 3 dock or adapter work in any system with any USB-C (USB Type C) port?
A: It depends.
- Early Thunderbolt 3 docks and adapters will only work with Thunderbolt 3 USB-C computers and ports and connecting to a USB-C port without Thunderbolt 3 capability will not work. Note that computers and docks may have a mix of Thunderbolt 3 and other USB-C ports that look very similar. Look for the Thunderbolt icon on both sides of the connection to ensure compatibility:
- Current Titan Ridge based docking stations like our TBT3-UDC1 and TBT3-UDZ are backwards compatible with USB-C systems in most cases (with limitations).
Q: How can I identify the NVM version on my system?
A: See “Identifying the NVM” section below.
Q: What if a newer compatible NVM is not available from my system manufacturer?
A: Unfortunately the only option is to contact your system manufacturer and ask when a newer version will be available, and to let them know that until it is, certain accessories you are looking to use will not work.
Q: How can I identify if my system has the necessary two DisplayPort lines to provide dual display output through the Thunderbolt 3 port?
A: Unfortunately in many cases this information is very hard to discern based on the manufacturers published specifications. If your system is not among those listed in our compatibility table above, please contact your system manufacturer for confirmation of how many DisplayPort lines are routed to your Thunderbolt 3 port.
Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter and my monitor configuration changed by itself.
A: This may occur and is considered normal. You can change the main display back to your desired screen through the “Display settings” control panel.
Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter and am only getting a single output.
A: Depending on what Thunderbolt 3 equipped system you have, it may only support a single output because of the DP Alt Mode line configuration. See above “Known Host NVM Versions & DP Lines” to find out if your system has one or two lines.
Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter for the first time and my system crashed (hard lock).
A: Check to see if your system is running the latest Thunderbolt 3 software, NVM, UEFI BIOS, and all other updates from your system manufacturer. If everything is updated, unplug the adapter, reboot the system, and then reconnect.
Q: I connected my Thunderbolt 3 dual display adapter and am not getting any output to either display.
A: If your system has hybrid graphics (combination of built-in Intel GPU and AMD or NVIDIA discreet graphics) make sure the Intel GPU is set to be the primary GPU in the UEFI BIOS.
If you have any questions feel free to contact our support team, we’re more than happy to help!
Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.
Thunderbolt 3 Authentication
Windows systems need to have newly attached Thunderbolt 3 devices authenticated before they can be used. For most computers this process needs to be performed manually through the Legacy Thunderbolt utility installed on your computer. Newer Windows host systems (around November 2018 and newer) may be using an updated driver model, Declarative C
Below we will cover both methods of authentication as well as how to check NVM on older systems to see if an update is required. These processes may vary depending on how the host system Thunderbolt security level is configured in the UEFI BIOS, however, most systems will be set for user authorization or secure connect.
Thunderbolt 3 DCH and Legacy Driver:
Legacy Thunderbolt 3 Authentication (non DCH Thunderbolt 3 drivers & Thunderbolt Utility):
When first connecting a Thunderbolt 3 device to a Windows system, the device must first be authenticated through Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 software. After connecting a Thunderbolt 3 device the first thing that you should see (assuming that the system NVM, UEFI BIOS, drivers, etc are up to date and compatible) is an automatic notification above the system tray notifying you that a new device has been attached. You will want to click OK:
After clicking OK, you may get a Windows User Account Control (UAC) popup asking if you “want to allow this app to make changes to your PC?”. Click Yes:
After clicking yes you should see an application window appear where you will approve the Thunderbolt 3 device that was just attached:
Click on the drop down menu where it says “Do Not Connect” and select “Always Connect”. Then click OK:
To view and manage the approved devices you can find the program sitting in the system tray. You may need to click the caret (up arrow icon) to show all of the running programs then right click on the Thunderbolt icon it and select Manage Approved Devices:
You may again get a Windows UAC prompt, click yes. After clicking yes the below window will open and you can see any approved devices and remove them if you choose.
Thunderbolt 3 Authentication (DCH Thunderbolt 3 drivers & Windows App Store Thunderbolt Utility):
For systems running the DCH version of the Thunderbolt 3 drivers and the Windows Store Thunderbolt Control Center app, many newer hosts will automatically authenticate the attached device using secure connect. For systems where your attached Thunderbolt 3 device is not authenticated automatically via secure connect you can authenticate the device manually. Start by searching the start menu for Thunderbolt and selecting the Thunderbolt Control Center:
Here you should see your attached device:
To approve the device click on the menu button (three horizontal lines) and then click “Approve devices”:
Next you can select “Always connect” and then press “OK” at the bottom of the application:
Your device should then automatically be approved the next time it is attached.
Checking NVM Version (Legacy)
How do I check which version of Thunderbolt 3 software and NVM firmware I am running in Windows?
To determine what version of NVM firmware your system has, the first step is to ensure you have the latest Thunderbolt software version which varies depending on the system manufacturer. You should be able to download it from your system manufacturer’s website.
Once installed you can open the software by searching the start menu for Thunderbolt:
Once open you can find the program sitting in the system tray. You may need to click the caret (up arrow icon) to show all of the running programs then right click on the Thunderbolt icon and select Settings:
Now you should see the settings window. Click on Details to find out all of the Thunderbolt software and controller information:
If a Thunderbolt 3 device has been connected to the system the Thunderbolt software will show you information about the controller. Below you can see the details from our Dell XPS 13 9350 system:
Unfortunately if a Thunderbolt device has not yet been connected to the system, the information about the NVM firmware may not be available within the utility:
If you have any questions feel free to contact our support team, we’re more than happy to help!
Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and/or other countries.