The 6 Best Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Cards

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This wiki has been updated 17 times since it was first published in February of 2019. Originally developed by Intel, Thunderbolt 3 is one of the most impressive features of the relatively new USB type C format. It delivers a theoretical maximum of 40 gigabits per second using the PCIe bus and enables lightning-fast transfers between PCs, peripherals and expansion hubs. The right add-in card will allow supported motherboards to take advantage of this cutting-edge technology. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Gigabyte Titan Ridge 2.0

2. Asus ThunderboltEX 3-TR

3. Gigabyte Alpine Ridge

Editor's Notes

November 20, 2020:

First of all, none of these will work if your motherboard doesn't have the proper connectors to enable Thunderbolt 3. Second, these may take at least a little BIOS tweaking to get working, or a lot if you're using them with a Mac, Hackintosh, or Linux setup. Third, these aren't just some of the best PCIe TB3 expansion cards out there right now, they're just about the only.

With that in mind, the Gigabyte Titan Ridge 2.0 is the best performing for its manufacturer's boards, and it even officially supports some high-end AMD mainboards. If you have an older chipset, the Gigabyte Alpine Ridge might be what you need. Luckily, it's significantly cheaper, although it does lack some key features such as 100-watt Power Delivery.

Similarly for Asus systems, the Asus ThunderboltEX 3-TR is the premium, no-holds-barred version that can drive multiple monitors at once. It doesn't have quite the same manufacturer approval for Ryzen chipsets, but there are some Ryzen boards that it works with - you'll just have to do a little more work to get it up and running. The Asus ThunderboltEX 3 Expansion is the less costly option here as well. The AsRock AIC R2.0, meanwhile, is the only one that's currently available for AsRock boards, although keep an eye on them, because they may release one in the coming months.

February 11, 2019:

Thunderbolt 3 is one of the most interesting up-and-coming connectivity protocols; its blistering top speed enables all kinds of fancy advancements, not least of which the plug-and-play use of high-powered, external GPUs. The current king of add-in cards is without a doubt the Titan Ridge; the nerdiest among us have even confirmed that it will work with some AMD chipsets, given enough tweaking. The Alpine ridge, its older model, is a reasonable choice if your motherboard has the right headers, and all you want it for is quick data transfer. It's also available at less than half the price of the leader. Sonnet's add-in board is designed to turn a TB2 system into a TB3 powerhouse, so keep in mind its somewhat limited compatibility. The Asus is a good mid-range choice, and provides decent charging abilities, while the AsRock may be the easiest to install, but it's been reported to not be quite as fast as the top choice.

Special Honors

MSI ThunderboltM3 There are four major performance motherboard manufacturers, and MSI is one of them. If you have an MSI board with the appropriate headers but no actual Thunderbolt 3 ports, this is the only expansion card currently on the market that you'll be able to use to fix that.

4. Asus ThunderboltEX 3 Expansion

5. AsRock AIC R2.0

6. Sonnet SEL

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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