The other day I got in a Lenovo Z13 Gen 1 (affiliate link) laptop to review. This one is powered by a Ryzen 6850U processor which performs great graphically on its own but of course would do better with an external discrete GPU.
Up until now you really couldn’t get a Ryzen laptop that could support an external GPU because most (if not all) did not have a Thunderbolt port. Thunderbolt uses a USB-C connector but the underlying technology was proprietary to Intel.
Recently Intel opened up the Thunderbolt architecture which allowed the USB IF to incorporate that technology into their USB 4.0 standard. You’ll now see 40&20 gbps USB 4.0 devices which are functionally the same as Thunderbolt devices along with Thunderbolt compatibility on USB 4 equipped computers.
In my latest video I put this compatibility to the test with the Z13 which has two USB 4 ports built in. I plugged in a Thunderbolt SSD, 10 gig ethernet adapter, and capped it off with an external GPU with an Nvidia GTX 1070 installed. Everything worked just as seamlessly as it does on a Thunderbolt equipped Intel PC.
USB remains a confusing mess but this development does help simplify things slightly for those looking to connect Thunderbolt devices. But don’t worry, the USB IF has plans to keep the confusion going with USB 4 2.0. Yes you read that right. We’ll talk more about that on the next Wrapup.