It seems that ever since Apple introduced the ThunderBolt to the MacBook Pro last year people have been waiting to see it show up in a PC. After all, Intel developed and owns the ThunderBolt standard (despite people assuming it is Apple technology, they collaborated with Intel then branded it) and Intel works closely with many PC manufacturers so why are there seemingly no PC laptops with a ThunderBolt port?
Ahh, but that statement about PC laptops not offering a ThunderBolt port is actually not entirely true. In fact, Lenovo has two ThinkPad models out that offer a ThunderBolt port. The ThinkPad T430s with an Intel Core i7 processor comes with a ThunderBolt port and the ThinkPad Edge S430 also has it. There are two things to be aware of here though, the ThinkPad T430s with an Intel Core i3 or i5 does not have this port. For whatever reason Lenovo only includes it on the Core i7 models, so there’s an extra incentive to upgrade. The ThinkPad Edge S430 is the other option with ThunderBolt, but it’s not available in the large North American market, Lenovo Australia and Lenovo Europe do however offer the ThinkPad S430.
To take a look at what the ThunderBolt port on the S430 looks like see the image below:
The ThunderBolt port looks suspiciously like a mini DisplayPort, and that’s because it is the same size and uses the same technology and interface. This means you can use a mini DisplayPort connector to hookup to an external monitor, ThunderBolt is backwardly compatible with all DisplayPort devices.
While ThunderBolt seems to be the new drool worthy port to have, it is after all much faster than USB 3.0 for transfer speeds, it is probably overkill for most people’s needs and has limited peripheral support. You have to have high end internal components such as an SSD RAID and then need gobs of bandwidth to really justify the need for the 10GB/s bi-directional interface ThunderBolt offers. The simple fact that USB ports are ubiquitous, support tons of peripherals and USB 3.0 with its 110MB/s transfer speed will suffice for most people means that ThunderBolt won’t be replacing USB anytime soon – nor was it designed to do so.
Still, for those professionals and prosumers who insist on the need for ThunderBolt but don’t want to buy a Mac, right now the ThinkPad T430s with Intel Core i7 and the ThinkPad Edge S430 are the only PC options available for purchase. The ThinkPad T430s with Intel Core i7 starts at $993 on Lenovo.com US while the ThinkPad Edge S430 starts at £665.99 in the UK (about $1,048 U.S. dollars).