USB-C is the next wave of cables which look to make our lives easier by offering high charging capacity along with very fast data capability. At the end of 2015 a USB-C cable scandal hit the internet and demanded a closer look at a number of cheap and supposedly “reputable” cables which were causing damage to devices due to poor charging control.
In a post by Dieter Bohn entitled, “USB-C cables are playing Russian Roulette with your laptop,” he explains how trying to get to market first for these cable manufacturers has caused the quality control to be missed:
Over the past year or so, one of the biggest tech stories has been about one of the smallest things: a USB plug. Specifically, the new USB Type-C plug and port, which promises to become the single thing that we can use to connect all our devices, from monitors to phones to computers to whatever we dream up next.
USB-C has the support of the biggest companies in the tech industry. Apple and Google released the first laptops to use it, and now it’s showing up on computers, tablets, and phones all over the place. USB-C is reversible and can deliver huge amounts of both power and data very quickly. Importantly, it’s also backwards-compatible so that adapters and cables can get us through the awkward period between now and when it actually becomes the universal standard.
It’s that last bit that has USB-C in trouble. Right now, if you aren’t very careful, a USB-C cable can destroy your laptop. If you just go to Amazon and buy any pack of USB-C cables you find, you could end up with a wire that can destroy your machine in a flash.
That’s what happened to Google engineer Benson Leung, who, in the course of testing a USB-C cable, destroyed his Chromebook Pixel. It happened instantly. It also happened to me — I used a cheap cable I found on Amazon to charge my Nexus 6P and it drew too much power from my MacBook Air’s USB ports. Apple did a remarkable job engineering the MacBook’s ports — they shut down temporarily to protect themselves — but when they came back online, they only worked intermittently.
The problem is that when you plug a USB device in, it starts drawing power. If it tries to pull too much power, the device that supplies it can burn out. It’s not the Nexus’ fault that my MacBook got fried — it was just doing what it was supposed to do: ask for as much power as it can get. It’s not the MacBook’s fault either — its ports weren’t designed to handle delivering that much juice nor to know that they shouldn’t even try. It is the fault of the cable, which is supposed to protect both sides from screwing up the energy equation with resistors and proper wiring. This kind of failure is possible with any cable, but older kinds of USB devices didn’t draw this much power.
As you’ll find, many of the branded USB-C cables tested by Benson Leung were really designed for mobile devices and couldn’t handle the load of a larger device like a laptop. Unfortunately, this cable is more “universal” than any other so it needs to be able to handle both large and small devices. As AASHISH SHARMA explains in her article, “Beware: Cheap USB Type-C Cables May Harm Your Devices,” some cheaper cables are ok for mobile devices but not for laptops or other high power draw devices….
The cables might be optimal for smartphones, but using the cheap ones for high-powered devices might do some damage. The problem is that the Type-C 1.1 specs clearly allow a power delivery of 3A which is used by the laptops. However, few adaptors are marked with USB to Type-C specifications but do not have an adequate hardware for that purpose.
In other investigation, Leung found that another adaptor manufacturer used easy methods to draw 3A current by using a 10 kΩ resistor rather than the standard 56kΩ. The adaptor would no doubt, Leung says, charge your phones, laptops or notebooks but will cause damage to the cable or the device itself.
Leung has been severe while giving reviews to the products that failed the standard specs.
So, simply said, you can use the cheap Type-C connectors and USB to Type-C adaptors for your smartphones but do not risk your laptop computer with these, instead stick to the official products or rather, the expensive ones.
This scandal first broke at the end of 2015 and while you can still find bad USB-C cables, Benson did all of us a great service by bringing the issue to light. Today most cables are built to much better standards than they were just a few short months ago. Still, be sure to look at end user comments and feedback for any cable you plan to buy.
If you’re looking for power banks which support the new USB-C standard, check my article here and again make sure and get a good cable!
The post Don’t Buy the Cheapest USB-C Cables: Some Can Cause Extreme Damage is courtesy of Best USB Charging Store Blog