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Can you use Thunderbolt 3 on an AMD Ryzen PC?

Asrock ITX TB3
Asrock ITX TB3 (Image credit: Windows Central)

Can you use Thunderbolt 3 on an AMD Ryzen PC?

Best answer: Yes, but right now, there are only a couple of motherboards that support both AMD CPUs and the Thunderbolt 3 standard. These are the ASRock Phantom Gaming ITX TB3 for Ryzen and the Gigabyte Designare TRX40 for the Threadripper platform.

Extremely rare, not impossible

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 the 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're not using an Intel-powered machine, more than likely, you won't have Thunderbolt 3. But there are exceptions, and right now, you can build a PC based on either AMD's Ryzen or Threadripper CPUs and have Thunderbolt 3. But you can't be picky. In each case, you have one choice, and they're certainly not the most affordable.

ITX or Workstation

Asrock ITX TB3

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

If you're building a Ryzen system, then you'll be needing the ASRock Phantom Gaming ITX TB3 motherboard. This Mini-ITX board is something of a Frankenstein, not just because it carries Thunderbolt 3 certification, but because it also sacrifices the traditional AMD cooler mounting system in favor of Intel's. This is mostly down to the space available, but it's a pretty incredible creation.

The Phantom Gaming ITX TB3 also supports Wi-Fi 6 with an included antenna, and as it carries the AMD X570 chipset, you also get super-fast PCIe 4. ITX motherboards are inherently limited by their size, but if you're looking for Thunderbolt connectivity, this is the one. The USB-C port on the motherboard doubles as both USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 3.

If you're building something a bit more workstation-oriented, then you'll be looking for the Gigabyte TRX40 Designare, a motherboard for Threadripper systems that also supports Thunderbolt 3. The implementation is a little less elegant than on the ASRock but still effective.

Gigabyte bundles its GC-Titan Ridge PCIe expansion card with the motherboard, which opens up access to the Thunderbolt 3 connection. And as with the X570 platform, you also get PCIe 4 support as well as Wi-Fi 6 here, too.

One cable, exceptional power

The advantage to Thunderbolt 3 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.

It's still extremely limited in support for AMD users, but hopefully, as time passes, more will get the certification and make it possible.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. 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 covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.