Can you use Thunderbolt on an AMD Ryzen PC?
Best answer: Yes, but not all motherboards come with a Thunderbolt port. You'll need to make sure to check the rear panel I/O list of ports to see if Thunderbolt is listed.
Thunderbolt is much more commonplace
Thunderbolt has been an Intel project going back many years, and in the earlier days, its most prominent use was by Apple. Thunderbolt 3 was a significant coming of age for Windows PCs, though, with the use of a USB-C port opening it up to a new world of machines.
But if you weren't using an Intel-powered machine, more than likely, you wouldn't have Thunderbolt 3. There were exceptions and Thunderbolt 4 is now much more commonplace on AMD Ryzen platforms. You can build a PC based on either AMD's Ryzen or Threadripper CPUs and have Thunderbolt ports.
You won't find any Thunderbolt ports on more affordable AM4 motherboards, just USB-C ports. Thus, you'll need to pay a little more for the best motherboards. The ASUS ROG X570 VIII Crosshair Extreme has two, Gigabyte's B550 Vision D-P also has two, and even a Mini-ITX board like the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 has a Thunderbolt port.
Why is Thunderbolt better for devices?
The advantage to Thunderbolt is the incredible bandwidth that's possible down one single cable. Besides super-fast data transfers, you can hook up accessories such as docks, external high-res displays, external GPUs, and even daisy-chain together up to six devices.
What you're able to do with your PC is increased tenfold when utilizing a Thunderbolt port. Our own Senior Editor Cale Hunt has done an excellent breakdown of Thunderbolt vs. USB, noting how Thunderbolt 4 can handle at least two 4K displays at 60Hz or one 8K display at 30Hz.
Thunderbolt 4 speeds are also improved over Thunderbolt 3, bumping them from 16Gbps to 32Gbps. If you often use removable storage — like something from our best external hard drive collection — you should see theoretical transfer speeds up to about 3,000MB/s with Thunderbolt 4.
High-quality components, some serious heatsinks for the VRMs, and the best chipset from AMD make the ASUS ROG Strix X570-E Gaming WiFi II one of the best motherboards available for AMD PCs in terms of value.
ASRock's X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX/B3 is a fantastic foundation for a compact PC build with support for even a Ryzen 9 processor, has a Thunderbolt port, and Wi-Fi.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine
- Rich EdmondsSenior Editor, PC Build