Whether you’re using it to transfer data or to charge a phone, tablet, or laptop, a USB-C cable is a pretty important accessory. We’ve spent the past few weeks testing a number of USB-C cables, and two came out on top in our tests – an overall selection for connecting backup drives, charging phones or charging tablets, and a more rugged cable , it can do all that and charge a laptop.
Best USB-C cable overall
Anker’s Powerline + USB-C cable is durable and functional, with a braided jacket, sturdy connectors, and up to 60 watts of power for fast charging. And it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
The upgrade selection
The Nomad USB-C to USB-C cable is wrapped in a thick, roadworthy Kevlar jacket and supports up to 100 watts of power, enough to charge laptops. A five-year guarantee protects you in case something goes wrong.
Jacob Krol / CNN
Ankers Powerline + has everything you need in a USB-C cable, with a durable design and a great warranty. For $ 16, you can get a 3 or 6-foot gray or red cord. It even comes with a fabric carrying case, making it ideal for taking with you to work or travel.
The Powerline + has a braided outer shell that is soft to the touch but durable, with a double layer of nylon, although not as thick as the Braided USB-C cables from Nomad or Satechi. This outer shell shields the wires underneath, but it’s not unreasonably stiff, and we didn’t notice any excessive heat or warmth while charging. about this a little further below. In our bending tests, we did not succeed in damaging the Powerline + or deforming its shape, nor were we able to tear the cable or cause blisters.
Hard rubber ends give the USB-C ports additional protection and should help minimize the risk of fraying. We had no trouble using these ports through sleeves on multiple phones, including the Pixel 4a 5G and Galaxy S21, and laptops and tablets, and we also had no issues with the cable blocking adjacent ports in a USB-C hub. When pressure was applied to the cable ends, they showed no immediate signs of wear.
We were able to quickly charge the Galaxy S21, Google Pixel 5, and even an iPad Air using the USB-C to USB-C cable. For some laptops, however, the Powerline + will not be the right choice, as it only supports up to 60 watts of power delivery in both the 3 and 6-foot versions. That’s a lot of power for a phone or tablet, but it’s not enough to charge a MacBook Pro. For these devices – like our upgrade pick Nomad – you need a cable that can support 100 watt power delivery.
The data transmission on Ankers Powerline + corresponded to almost all cables we tested. We were able to move content such as photos, documents and music with minimal waiting.
For example, if you need to make USB-C to USB-A connections to connect peripheral devices or to charge multiple devices via a USB-A hub, Anker also offers the Powerline + in a USB-C to USB-A variant at. This model was a bit slower in data transfers and loading times (given the USB-A port), but not significantly. However, if you want the best performance and want to invest in a future-proof cable, we recommend that you opt for the USB-C to USB-C variant and purchase a USB-C power brick for quick charging.
Ankers Powerline + checks all the boxes and costs an affordable $ 16. It’s more durable – and likely will last longer – than the USB-C cable that came with your device.
Jacob Krol / CNN
If you need a USB-C cable that’s more street-going or capable of charging a MacBook Pro or other full-sized laptop, the Nomad USB-C to USB-C cable is your go-to option. And at $ 29.99, it’s not that affordable, but you get a heavily built, really high-quality cable that supports 100 watts of power delivery and can handle all of your USB-C tasks.
We were able to use the 1.5-meter-long Nomad cable with an 85-watt brick from Apple as well as with a 100-watt anchor charger, which we can use with both a 13-inch and a 16-inch MacBook Could charge pro, use safely. We were able to quickly charge a Galaxy S21 Ultra, Fire HD 10, iPad Pro, iPad Air, and even Sony’s WF-1000XM4 headphones.
Nomad opts for a braided design that is considerably thicker than the Anker Powerline + or the other cables we tested. With a thick outer Kevlar braid, we are not afraid that the internal wires will be compromised with daily use. Extensive rubber grommets protect the connector and ensure that the cable does not fray or kink.
This cable bounced back quickly and did an excellent job of maintaining its shape in all of our tests – tight coils, stretches, fits through tight spots. While we would have preferred a carrying case included, an integrated cable tie ensures that the Nomad stays tidy while being transported. Should you still manage to break or tear the cable, Nomad covers it with a five-year warranty. It’s not as good as Anker’s, but it is on par with Belkin and other manufacturers.
The $ 29.99 price tag for a cable may be expensive, but Nomad’s USB-C to USB-C Kevlar option beats the rest we tested, with better design and support for everyone who does want a reliable cable for charging a larger laptop.
Over the past few weeks we’ve tested every USB-C cable with a range of devices including a Galaxy S21 Ultra, Galaxy S20, Pixel 4a 5G, Pixel 5, iPad Air, iPad Pro, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, a 13-inch Macbook Pro and a 16-inch MacBook Pro. We paired it with the supplied charging stone or used an Anker Nano variant for charging tests with many of them.
We charged each device 50% to get a baseline and compared that to the promised charge times to test the charging speed. We also measured how long it took to go from 0% to 100%. Since some cables were shorter (at 3 feet) and others longer (at 6 feet), we also took this into account in the charging times. Longer cables had longer charging times, but nothing was too wild. For data testing, we performed multiple data transfers and backups on a range of devices.
After these data and charging tests, we examined the design of each cable and ran some tests. We paid attention to the materials used, the structure of the connectors and the flex of each cable. Finally, we noted and checked the warranty for each cable.
Anker PowerLine II USB-C to USB-C ($ 17.99; amazon.com)
Anker’s PowerLine II cable replaces the braided outer sleeve with a rubber outer sleeve, and that same style was our pick for the best lighting cables, but we prefer the braided design of the PowerLine + This cable felt stiffer and quickly showed bends. It did well in terms of charging and data transfer, but did not support the promised 100-watt charging specifications in our tests. On the data side, PowerLine II is rated at a full 10 Gbit / s for data transfers.
Anker PowerLine III USB-C to USB-C ($ 19.99; amazon.com)
The PowerLine III is the big brother of the PowerLine II, with a similar structure that uses a malleable rubber outer shell. In terms of charging technology, like the PowerLine +, it is limited to 60 watts and at 19.99 euros a little more expensive.
Belkin BoostCharge Braided USB-C to USB-C Cable ($ 14.99; belkin.com)
The Belkin BoostCharge Braided Cable is available in two styles: USB-C to USB-C or USB-A to USB-C. It’s a sturdy braided cable, albeit quite stiff compared to the anchor. We particularly liked the plastic end caps.
Belkin Mixit DuraTek USB-C Cable ($ 29.99; belkin.com)
Belkin’s DuraTek was one of the lightest we tested, but it didn’t compromise on build quality – this is a braided cable with an inner layer of Kevlar. It’s paired with shiny silver connector caps and a nice rubber cover to protect the cable from fraying or extreme kinks.
Satechi USB-C to USB-C Cable ($ 19.99; satechi.com)
Satechi’s USB-C offering is similar to Nomad’s Kevlar solution, but is less robustly built. Notably, the area near the USB-C connectors doesn’t protrude that far beyond the braided cable, which we feared would damage it when driving with tight bends. It is also designed for 100 watts and performed well in our tests in terms of both fast charging and data transfer.