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Poor quality USB Type-C cables can fry your gadgets

Think that there's no difference between a cheap cable and a quality cable? Think again! Poor quality USB-C cables can easily destroy your devices.

Google engineer Benson Leung has been busying himself testing USB-C cables and adaptor for quality and compliance with the standard. While testing a cable the other day he managed to blow up his test gear.

The cable in question was a USB 3.1 Type-C SuperSpeed cable from a company called Surjtech (this is not a company I've ever heard of previously, and the cable is no longer available on Amazon). Leung connected the cable up to his test gear and thanks to what appears to be sloppy soldering and the use of an incorrect resistor, the cable instantly destroyed a Chromebook Pixel 2 and both of his USB power delivery analyzers.

A cautionary tale, no doubt. Not all cables are made the same, and the smarter that a cable needs to be, the more scope there is for shoddy build quality to destroy stuff.

How can you prevent this from happening to you?

  • Where possible use the genuine cable/adapter/charger.
  • Read the reviews. Leung is taking a very scientific approach to the testing of USB-C cables, but it's worthwhile checking out the reviews for any cables (or adapters or chargers) you're thinking of buying.
  • Steer away from cheap, no-name junk. Looking through Leung's reviews I notice that all the poor quality cables and adapters come from companies that I've never heard of.
  • Stick with companies like Belkin, Anker, or Monoprice and you know you're getting a decent product.

I remember a glut of bad Lightning cables as soon as Apple released its new port, and it seems the same thing is happening with USB-C.

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