The Best USB-C Cables of 2020
All in all, we think it is hard to go wrong with the Anker Powerline+ USB-A to C. We feel this cable is one of the most durable options out there. It has a braided outer sheath to protect the cable and a hefty molded strain relief at the base of both connectors to reinforce a typical weak point on charging cables. It's USB 3.0 compliant, so you know you are getting some of the best charging performance you can get and is rated for transferring data at up to 5 Gbps. The Anker Powerline+ is available in both red and black in three and six-foot lengths and includes an attached velcro strap to cut down on your charging clutter.
We honestly don't have many negative things to say about this cable. The reinforced braided sheath makes this cable a little stiffer than some of the other options but we didn't find it to be a huge issue. The connector body on the USB-C side is also a little bulkier, so it can be a bit more difficult to use or completely incompatible with certain phone cases — particularly heavy-duty or waterproof options. It's a great all-around USB-C cable and we highly recommend it.
If you are looking to take advantage of the faster charge rates available with USB Power Delivery, then you are going to need a USB-C to C cable, which is where this Anker Powerline+ option comes in. This is our favorite USB-C exclusive option, offering a durable braided sheath and an overmolded strain relief to keep the ends of the cable from fraying. It provides some top-tier charging and data transfer performance compared to a typical cable, along with a sleek and convenient travel case that keeps your cable nice and organized without a ton of hassle.
However, while this cable does offer some of the best charging specs around, it is only a USB PD 2.0 device. This means that it should charge most smaller devices just as fast as a 3.0 device but it won't transmit as much information and status messages between the device and the charger, which can limit its output — particularly if using it for larger devices like laptops. The USB-C connector is also on the thicker side, so it can get hung up if you are charging a phone with certain ruggedized cases. This durable and quick-charging cable is a great option if you have committed to USB-C power adapters and want to take advantage of all the options Power Delivery offers.
If you are shopping on a budget and don't mind paying for a few cables at once, then we would suggest considering the Cabepow Fast Charge Cord. This product usually comes in packs of 2 or 3 and is one of the least expensive options we have tested when you consider the price per individual cable. It has a hefty braided sheath and an extended rubber overmold for strain relief.
However, this cable might not give you the best charging or data transfer performance. It is listed as supporting up to 3A Fast Charge but is a USB 2.0 cable, so some of the newest devices might not charge quite as quickly as they would with a USB 3.0 or 3.1 cable. It also has one of the slower listed data transfer rates, claiming up to 480 Mbps. We don't think this is too much of an issue, especially if you are just looking to charge smaller smartphone-sized devices, and think it's a great option if you are shopping on a budget and need to get a couple of cables.
If you are shopping for a single USB-C cable on a tight budget, then the AmazonBasics USB-C to A is a solid option. It's a low-cost cable that meets the USB 2.0 standard and is available in black or white. Its data transfer speed is relatively good, listing a maximum rate of 480 Mbps. It also should be able to fast charge most devices — provided you are using the appropriate power source.
Unfortunately, we don't think this cable will be quite as durable as some of its competitors. It lacks a braided cable jacket and doesn't have the most extensive strain relief at its connector bases. It did pass our repeated flex test but we could see some evidence of deformation and a crease forming where we were bending the cable. Overall, it's a cheap cable that delivers solid charging performance at a considerably lower price than the top-tier options.
If you have a PD-compatible device and want to take advantage of that feature while shopping on a budget, then we think the JSAUX USB-C to C Charging Cable is a great choice. This cable costs about the same as some of the other USB-C to C options but comes in a pack of two. This cable has a durable braided cable jacket and a hefty overmolded boot at the base of each connector for tons of strain relief. Each cable also includes a handy velcro tie to keep them neat and organized when not in use or if you don't need their full length while charging.
This cable is a little stiffer and less flexible than some of the other options available. The JSAUX also has a listed maximum data transfer rate of 480 Mbps and is only USB 2.0 compliant, so it can be at a slight disadvantage to some of the top-tier models when it comes to charging and data transfer performance. We think this cable is one of the best options out there if you are shopping for a USB-C to C cable on a limited budget and don't mind buying two at a time.
If you are tired of keeping track of a cacophony of cables for all of your different devices, then the Anker Powerline II 3-in-1 cable is a fantastic option. This cable not only has a USB-C charging connector but also a Lightning connector for iPhones and a micro-USB port for other Android phones or accessory devices. This makes it invaluable for traveling or situations where you need to charge a wide spectrum of devices and don't want to carry multiple cables. It was still capable of "Fast Charging" a Samsung S8 using a QC 3.0 wall adapter as well, so you aren't going to be making too many concessions when it comes to charging performance.
However, the charging connector adapters can be a bit finicky to connect and they seem like a weak point for this product when it comes to durability. Additionally, this cable doesn't have a braided jacket, though it does have decent strain relief at the connector end. We also found a handful of complaints about the Lightning connector offering reduced charging and data transfer performance compared to other cables, but we found this product charged an iPad without issue. It might not be the best if you want the fastest charging or data transfer around but it's a great option to throw in your car or bag to ensure that you always have the right charging cable at hand.
If you are routinely moving files between your devices using a USB-C cable, then the Belkin 3.1 is one of your best options. While this cable might not have been our favorite when it came to charging, it claims up to a 10 Gbps data transfer rate using USB 3.1's SuperSpeed+ protocol. It also seems reasonably durable and can fast charge most devices, provided you use the appropriate power adapters.
However, it does lack a braided sheath and has much bulkier connectors, making it seem a little more cumbersome when hooked up to smaller devices. It also showed some evidence of wear after our fatigue test, with a small crease forming after we flexed the connector over 100 times. It's a great option if you are sitting at a desk and need to move files back and forth from your phone to the computer but we might suggest some other options if you mainly care about convenience and charge performance.
If you aren't a fan of braided cables and are shopping on a budget, then the AmazonBasics USB-C to C is a great option. This cable can fast charge most devices and has an average data transfer rate of up to 480 Mbps, all while being much slimmer and more flexible than some of the beefy braided cables. It's available in a wide range of lengths as well.
This cable is limited to a 15W output (5V, 3A) according to its specs, so it might not be the best choice for charging high-power devices. However, it was still capable of "Fast Charging" a Samsung S8 using a Power Delivery wall adapter. It also isn't going to be as durable with its reduced strain relief and thinner, non-braided cable jacket. It showed some slight creasing after our repeated bend test. We think this is a decent bargain option for anyone who wants a smaller and slimmer cable, provided it meets their device charging needs.
If you are the kind of person who is exceptionally hard on their charging cables and always find the connectors breaking, then you should consider the CyvenSmart USB-C. This cable not only has a braided sheath and molded plastic strain relief but also a metal spring that extends down the cable to keep it from creasing and wearing out. Even better, it's a fairly inexpensive cable when you look at the per cable price — since it is usually sold in packs of three. Plus it offers solid charging performance, claiming a maximum charge rate of 3 amps, and is capable of fast charging a Samsung S8 when using a QC 3.0 power brick.
This cable is only USB 2.0 compliant, so you are limited to a data transfer rate of 480 Mbps and it lists a maximum power rating of 15W (5V, 3A). The spring reinforcement, while it does make this cable seem to be one of the most durable, also protrudes quite a ways back from the connector and can feel restrictive if you are using your device while it charges. We think this is a great option for the serial cable abuser but might be overkill for most people.
If you have iPhones or iPads to charge and want to ensure both compatibility and fast charging, then it's worth going with the Apple USB-C to Lightning cable. While Apple does have the Made for iPhone/iPod/iPad (MFi) certification for third-party cables, buying an Apple-branded product is the easiest way to ensure that you aren't going to have any compatibility headaches with data transfer and charging and that your cable can handle the higher power output of Apple's USB-C power adapters.
Regrettably, this confidence also comes at a cost, with this cable being one of the most expensive of the group. It also lacks the reinforced cable jacketing or connector strain relief prevalent on other options, showing some slight deformation after being repeatedly flexed 100 times. It's a reliable option for owners of Apple devices, even if it might take a more significant bite out of your budget for peace of mind.
Apple products can be notoriously finicky with third-party accessories, so this is the cable you should get if you have one of the newer MacBooks that rely on USB-C cables for charging, particularly the 13" or 15" variety. Apple recommends using power adapters capable of outputting 30-87 watts, which can exceed the ratings on many cables so you are probably better off sticking with the original Apple option if you want the maximum MacBook charging rate possible.
Unfortunately, this Apple product is also a bit more expensive than other cables and we don't think it is quite as durable as some of the braided or reinforced options. We could see a crease forming after our repeated bend test and it has a much smaller reinforced strain relief section than other cables. It's a good option for MacBook users, even if it is a bit more expensive.
The CHOETECH USB Braided Fast Charging Cable is another attractive option if you are shopping on a budget, particularly if you have devices that pull more power. This cable is listed for a maximum of 100 watts (20 volts, 5 amps) and should allow you to take full advantage of all the fast charging options that USB Power Delivery offers. This makes it a great option to fully utilize the increased power output of GaN USB power adapters. This cable comes in packs of 2 and seems very durable, with a larger diameter braided sheath and thick molded strain relief at the base of each connector. Each cable also comes with a handy velcro strap to keep it organized when coiled up.
We did notice that the cable sheath makes this cable a little less bendable than some of the other options out there. The main body of the connectors are also metal, so they are a bit noisier and more prone to scratching when dragged across surfaces than their plastic counterparts. All in all, the CHOETECH is a great bargain option if you need USB-C to C cables and are willing to pay slightly more for the increased power ratings.
If you are looking for a cable for faster data transfer without paying some of the higher prices for a USB 3.1 option, then the Syncwire USB-C is a good option. This USB 3.0 cable has a stated maximum data transfer rate of 5 Gbps, which is considerably faster than the 480 Mbps of most USB 2.0 cables. It's a durable charging cord with a braided sheath and heavy-duty molded strain relief boot. It can fast-charge most devices with a maximum rated current of up to 3 amps.
The cable is a little on the bulkier side and the connector body on the USB-C side is a little thicker than some of the other options, so you can run into issues if you are using this with devices in ruggedized or waterproof cases. We also found a handful of other user reviews noting that their cable didn't work with a Nintendo Switch, but we didn't find that to be an issue in our tests. The Syncwire is a good compromise if you are shopping for USB 3.0 functionality on a budget.
The RAMPOW USB-C cable is a solid option that is fairly inexpensive with a faster data transfer rate. This USB 3.0 cable has a listed file transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps — much faster than the 480 Mbps of a typical USB 2.0 cable. It's available in a wide range of lengths and has a rated maximum power rating of 60 watts (20 volts, 3 amps).
Unfortunately, we did start to see some signs of wear and tear after our repeated bend test, with a few stray fibers coming loose from the braided cable sheath. The USB-A connector also has some sharper edges and both connectors have a smaller molded boot than other cables, so we don't feel it will be quite as durable over time. It might be a good option if you want a longer cable with a faster data transfer rate but otherwise, we preferred other options.
Overall, we didn't find the Aioneus cables to be our favorite. True, they are some of the least expensive options out there when you look at the price of the individual cable; these are typically sold in a 3-pack. They also share some traits, like overmolded strain relief and a braided sheath, with the top cables but this wasn't quite enough to net them one of the top spots.
However, they are listed with a maximum current of 2.4 amps, which will be enough to fast charge many devices but is less than the typical 3 amps or more of the top-tier products. The body of the connectors also just feels a little cheap to use and has sharper edges, making them less ergonomic and comfortable to use. They also only have an average data transfer rate, listed as a maximum of 480 Mbps. All in all, they aren't bad cables and will get the job done but it isn't that much more to get a top-tier option, especially if you want to charge larger devices or as quickly as possible.
Why You Should Trust Us
Taking the lead on our USB-C cable testing and reviewing process, David Wise has over four years of experience comparing products head-to-head for GearLab. He has worked extensively with all sorts of USB charging products, testing and reviewing, wireless chargers, USB wall power adapters, charging stations, and portable chargers. In addition to his extensive experience with consumer charging electronics, he has formal training as a mechanical engineer with a specific focus on DC circuits and lithium battery systems, bringing all of this know-how into the design and execution of our side-by-side testing protocols.
After comparing all the top cables around, we bought all the most compelling USB-C cables on the market today to try out for ourselves. We compared their charging standards and measured their charging rate using USB multimeters, as well as timed how fast each one can transfer large files. We also repeatedly flexed each connector to see if there were signs of any wear and tear, as well as rated and scored how easy it is to keep each cable organized.
Analysis and Test Results
We divided our comprehensive testing process into four different metrics — durability, charge performance, data transfer, and cable organization — each composed of multiple tests. The standout performances in each of these metrics are highlighted in the following sections.
We placed the most significance on our durability metric, rating and ranking the connector strain relief and the cable sheath, as well as bending each cable over 100 times to see if they sustained any damage. Every cable did pass this test, continuing to charge after being repeatedly flexed, but some did show a bit more wear than others.
The CyvenSmart USB-C cable immediately impressed us in this regard and, in our opinion, is one of the sturdiest cables you can get. This cable not only has a braided sheath to protect it from wear and tear, but it also has a larger plastic strain relief and a metal spring to maintain the integrity of the connector even after repeated flexing. It also showed no damage and continued to charge after we folded it over 100 times in our connector fatigue test. However, the overall diameter of the braided sheath is a bit smaller than some of the other cables
A large group of cables — the CyvenSmart, with the Anker Powerline+ USB-C to A, the Anker Powerline+ USB-C to C, the Cabepow, the CHOETECH USB-C to C, the Belkin USB-A to C, the Syncwire USB-C, and the JSAUX USB-C to C — all follow the CyvenSmart USB-C when it comes to durability in our minds. These cables — except for the Belkin — all have a braided exterior sheath to protect them and showed no significant signs of wear and tear after our tests. The Belkin doesn't have a braided jacket but it is much larger and burlier than typical cables, leading us to believe that it should be just as durable as its braided counterparts.
These cables also have a reinforced plastic barrel at the base of the connector to provide additional strain relief. This group of cables all passed our repeated flexing though we could see some definite creases and discoloration on the jacket of the Belkin and a few stray fibers coming loose from the braided jacket on the Cabepow.
The RAMPOW seemed to be just a bit less durable in our minds. It had a few more fibers coming loose after our bend test and has much smaller molded strain relief boots at the base of both connectors.
The Aioneus Braided Phone Cord and the Anker Powerline II 3-in-1 came next in our durability assessment. The Aioneus does have a braided sheath but it seems much thinner and less sturdy than its competitors. It also has a much smaller and less substantial molded strain relief at the base of the connectors. The Powerline II 3-in-1 feels like a typical cable, albeit with a slightly thicker cable jacket. However, we are a little concerned with the different adapters and how they are attached. We could see them getting caught on things frequently and prematurely wearing out compared to the rest of the cable.
The AmazonBasics USB-C to A, the AmazonBasics USB-C to C, the Apple USB-C, and the Apple USB-C to Lightning all struck us as fairly run-of-the-mill when it comes to durability. None of these products have a braided sheath for reinforcement and the molded strain relief is relatively small and less burly than other options. They did all pass our repeated bend test but you can feel a permanent crease starting to form after the 100 bends.
Next, we compared the charging performance of each cable, checking their maximum rated power and if they would successfully charge a Nintendo Switch and a Samsung S8. We also checked to see if the S8 would "Fast Charge" when using a QC 3.0 power adapter.
The USB-C to C cables are at a bit of an advantage here, as USB-A to C cables don't support Power Delivery and won't be able to charge a device as fast, even if they are rated to higher current. However, all of the cables we tested did allow our Samsung S8 — a QC 3.0-compatible device — to "Fast Charge" when we used the appropriate power supply and we didn't have any issues charging our Switch as well.
The CHOETECH is listed with a maximum power rating of 100 watts (20 volts, 5 amps) which should allow it to charge just about every device — including a MacBook — at full speed, provided you are using a power adapter with enough output. The Apple USB-C to C and USB-C to Lightning don't give exact power ratings but they are both listed as being fully compatible with Apple's 87 watt USB power adapter and we would expect these cables to all perform the same, though going with the Apple cables will ensure compatibility with Apple devices.
The JSAUX has a lower listed power rating of only 60 watts (20 volts, 3 amps) and the Anker Powerline+ states that it only has limited charging speeds with larger devices, like a MacBook Pro, dropping both of them in the rankings. The AmazonBasics USB-C to C came next, limited to 15 watts (5 volts, 3 amps) according to its specifications.
Most of the other USB-A to C cables say they are rated for up to 3 amps of charging current, though they won't charge as quickly since most devices can't actually request that much power without using the Power Delivery protocol, so you will usually be stuck at a lower charging rate, even if the cable can physically carry that much current.
Next, we rated and compared the data transfer abilities of each cable, awarding scores off their USB standard and associated maximum transfer rates.
The Belkin USB 3.1 cable is the clear winner, theoretically able to achieve file transfer speeds of up to 10 Gbps.
The Anker Powerline+ USB-C to A, the RAMPOW, the Syncwire, and the CHOETECH all came next, with each of these USB 3.0 cables stating that they can achieve data transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps — just about 10 times faster than the 480 Mbps of the other USB 2.0 cables.
Our last metric looked at anything that made it a little easier to cut down on all the cable clutter in your life, such as travel cases, velcro ties, or elastic straps. This doesn't count for too much of each cable's score — since you can always purchase a separate organizer — but we did find some of the included features to be quite convenient.
The Anker Powerline+ USB-C to C easily snags the top spot, as it includes a travel case with a velcro strap. This is a convenient and easy way to keep your cable organized, especially when traveling.
The Anker Powerline+ USB-A to C, the Anker Powerline II 3-in-1, the CHOETECH USB-C to C, and the JSAUX USB-C to C all include a velcro strap that can stay attached to the cable to keep them coiled neatly.
The Aioneus Braided Phone Cord came with an elastic strap to help minimize mess but it's very easy to lose so doesn't end up being all that helpful, putting it on par with the rest of the cables that don't come with any organizational aids.
We hope that you have found this a helpful breakdown and analysis of the top USB-C cables currently on the market and that this has been useful in your search for a new charging cable, no matter what your power requirements or budget may be.
— David Wise