USB-C is great and has the support of the biggest tech companies around the world, like both Apple and Google. It 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.
But the problem is, if you aren’t very careful, a wrong USB-C type of cable can destroy your laptop in a flash. When you plug a USB device in, it starts drawing power. And if it tries to pull too much power, the device that supplies it can burn out. It’s the cable’s fault that doesn’t do the job properly to protect both sides from screwing up the energy equation.
Why is this cable made so wrong that it’s capable of destroying a laptop?
Visual observations by Leung:
1. Red wire to G. Black wire to V. So wrong (see image at left)
2. Missing SuperSpeed wires on the back of the connector. Only 4 wires in total. This cable was advertised as a USB 3.1 SuperSpeed cable but is entirely missing the TX/RX (see image at right)
3. Generally a poor job with the soldering of the wires.
It’s that bad.
So what to do to avoid such tragedy when buying a USB-C cable that works and doesn’t fry?
Unfortunately, there is no absolute way that guarantees you get what you are wishing for if you are shopping at the place like Amazon or eBay. But you can still follow the steps below, suggested by TheVerge, to have a better shot at getting a safe USB-C cable that works and doesn’t cost a fortune.
- Know that this is an issue in the first place.
- Know that this one helpful Google engineer is the only person testing and reviewing USB-C cables.
- Go hunting for Leung’s reviews on Amazon (or, alternately, discover this spreadsheet or this website created by Redditors to aggregate his reviews).
- Buy a cable.
Also thanks to the real hero, Leung, a Google engineer, who happens to be the only person actively helping consumers in a broad way on Amazon.