Whether you are gaming, streaming, or simply like to use high performance accessories and peripherals, Thunderbolt™ 4 allows you to do more with your PC.
What is Thunderbolt™ 4? To put it simply, Thunderbolt 4 technology is a fast, universal interface for connecting many types of accessories, including USB and Thunderbolt-enabled devices. Any standard gaming display can also be used, since the Thunderbolt interface is natively compatible with DisplayPort monitors.
When it comes to gaming accessories, a Thunderbolt 4 port gives you a wealth of options. From external capture devices to nimble portable SSDs, here are some of the best Thunderbolt accessories to level up your gaming setup.
Dock All Your Gaming Gear
Thunderbolt 4 ports are compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.2, and USB4 devices, meaning your USB gaming accessories are fair game. A Thunderbolt™ docking station, meanwhile, allows you to seamlessly connect a large quantity of high-resolution, high-fidelity input and output accessories all at the same time.
Thunderbolt™ 4 dock. Use a Thunderbolt™ 4 dock to increase the number of ports you have available. They have up to four Thunderbolt ports for docking Thunderbolt™ and other USB-C accessories. They also often provide additional ports including USB-A, DisplayPort, AUX, Ethernet, and SD card slots.
Not only does a Thunderbolt™ 4 dock let you connect a lot of gear—it also helps keep your desk organized and tidy. With a dock, all those disorderly cables feed into a central Thunderbolt™ hub resting next to your PC instead of snaking around to various ports on the front, side and hard-to-reach rear panel. Desk clutter is minimized, and the ports are readily accessible, making it a cinch to disconnect your gear and relocate.
Gaming peripherals. Connecting wired accessories—like a gaming keyboard, mouse, and headset—to a Thunderbolt™ 4 docking station keeps your desk setup organized and your gear ready at hand.
- Mechanical keyboards let you choose the type of keypress you like, from lightning-fast linear switches to clicky switches with ample tactile feedback.
- A wired mouse designed for gaming provides consistent tracking with adjustable sensitivity, measured in dots per inch (DPI).
- Headsets provide accurate directional audio for identifying sound sources and have built-in microphones for communicating with teammates.
Feel free to get creative with your peripherals. For example, connect a racing wheel or flight yoke to add authentic controls to simulation titles. Multiple inputs—such as the wheel, pedals, and gear shift for racing games—can be docked into one port. Peripherals occupy fewer ports on your computer, leaving more ports open for other uses.
Another advantage of running your simulation peripherals through a Thunderbolt™ 4 dock is that your ports are more accessible. You can place the dock in a convenient spot, giving you extra mobility for building out whatever setup you might dream up. Thunderbolt 4 cables provide top transfer speeds at up to 2 meters (6.56 feet) in length, and connecting peripherals to a Thunderbolt™ 4 dock gives you even longer reach. Learn more about gaming peripherals.
Stream Like a Pro
Connect your live-streaming gear to a Thunderbolt™ 4 dock. The advantages include port expansion, clutter-free cable management, and the ability to quickly connect to your streaming peripherals when you want to stream.
- External webcams often have higher resolutions and better frame rates than webcams integrated into laptops, and therefore provide smoother, clearer video. You can also move them around easily for better camera angles.
- Standalone microphones can provide excellent audio quality for broadcasting your stream. Gaming headsets with built-in mics are another good option. For those who need professional sound quality and features, connect an XLR mic with a Thunderbolt™ audio interface.
- Streaming decks, midi controllers, and programmable macro pads let you map common streaming functions to hotkeys. Switch scenes on the fly, trigger overlays, play background music, interact with your audience, and post messages to social media channels announcing when you go live.
New to live-streaming? Read our guide on how to get started.
Thunderbolt™ external capture device. Adding a Thunderbolt-enabled capture device to your setup can give your live-stream’s video quality a big boost.
External capture devices let you capture and passthrough video without impacting the performance of your PC. That way your in-game performance doesn’t take a hit from the video encoding process, allowing you to play at higher frame rates.
Thunderbolt™ capture devices take advantage of Thunderbolt 4 ports’ high 40Gbps bandwidth. You can stream at up to 4K video footage at 60 FPS and achieve up to 240 FPS at 1080p on your streaming PC (depending on the capabilities of your gaming PC, streaming PC, and your capture device). Learn how to create a dual PC streaming setup here.
Upgrade Your Gaming PC with High-Performance Devices
Connect additional accessories to your gaming rig for improved performance and functionality. Thunderbolt 4 ports support high-speed SSDs, gaming monitors, and external graphics.
Thunderbolt™ SSDs. A fast external drive can be an asset for gaming. For example, you can store your gaming library on an external drive and carry it with you to another PC. Thunderbolt™ SSDs can reach storage speeds up to 3,000 Mbps for a snappy gaming experience, providing quick loading times and helping reduce hitching as games load data on the fly.
A Thunderbolt™ SSD is also useful for saving gameplay footage as they provide the high throughput needed for editing large video files.
Read all about the benefits of gaming on an SSD here.
Gaming monitor. A Thunderbolt 4 port gives you a multitude of monitor options. Connect Thunderbolt™ displays, DisplayPort 1.4 displays, or use a Thunderbolt™ adapter or dock to connect HDMI, DVI, and VGA displays. Your choice.
- A high refresh rate monitor lets you see the advantage of playing games above and beyond 60 FPS. Connect a 144Hz or 240Hz gaming monitor for smoother animation and lower latency.
- A 4K HDR monitor brings out more color and detail. You can also run a dual 4K setup at 60Hz. Alternatively, connect a single 5K or 8K monitor to play a growing number of titles that support these ultra-high resolutions.
- An ultrawide monitor extends your field of view of the game world (in games that support them). Some ultrawide monitors are curved to provide a clear view of the extreme edges of the screen.
To learn more about your options for a gaming monitor, continue reading here.
External graphics. Thunderbolt™ enclosures provide convenient external expansion slots for installing high performance components that require access to your system’s PCIe lanes. They can be a good option for small form factor (SFF) PC or thin laptop users.
A graphics card, for example, can be installed in a Thunderbolt™ enclosure to boost your PC’s graphical capabilities and performance, allowing you to play games at higher video settings.
With Thunderbolt™ 4, the minimum computer PCIe data requirements have increased from 16 Gbps to 32 Gbps, meaning external graphics could see a bump in performance depending on the enclosure’s specifications.
One word of advice: be sure the enclosure is compatible with your PC if you plan on adding an eGFX to your setup.
Experience Gaming with Thunderbolt 4 Accessories
Thunderbolt 4 accessories—including gaming and streaming peripherals, capture devices, monitors, fast storage, and external graphics—elevate your gaming experience. Thunderbolt 4 ports provide a reliable, versatile connection for the high performance devices you want.
To use Thunderbolt accessories, look for a Thunderbolt 4 port on your next PC. You’ll find them in systems with select Intel processors. Thunderbolt 4 technology is integrated into 11th Generation and later Intel Core processors, allowing you to do more with your accessories. Find out what else you can do with Thunderbolt 4 ports here.