USB-C is getting a 240W surge in power — what this means for laptops

MacBook Port
(Image credit: Future)

USB-C power levels are set to see major improvements to handle demanding gaming laptops and 4K monitors, thanks to a new 240 watt (W) "Extended Power Range." Soon, we may not need to lug around a formidable power brick.

Non-profit corporation USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced the upgraded USB Type-C cable and connector version 2.1 specifications, revealing the jump from cables supporting up to 100W to a 240W capacity. With this, more watt-hungry hardware may only need a universal USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 port to deliver power to the device. 

As spotted by CNET, the USB-C new power capacity has been labelled as "Extended Power Range (EPR)," although the 240W option isn't something that is just unlocked. The USB-IF notes there will be specific cables that support the power range — much like a Thunderbolt 4 cable. 

Example of a Thunderbolt 4 cable (Image credit: Future)

USB-C 240W power 

According to the USB-IF document, cables will have icons for users to confirm the USB-C cable can channel 240W power. Currently, there is no mention of when we might see the USB-C EPR cables on the market.

The 240W of power is hugely impressive compared to the current 100W capacity, which you'll find is even more than enough for notebooks including the Dell XPS 13 that comes bundled with a 45-Watt charger and MacBook Pro that includes power adapter varieties of up to 96 Watts.

However, you'll find some of the best gaming laptops demand more power, including the Alienware m15 R4 and Razer Blade 15 that come with a 240W and 230W power adapter, respectively. These machines require this to churn out massive amounts of power, but to be able to use a simple 240W USB-C cable to power it all up means big brands could ditch the bricks.

While the EPR boost will certainly be welcome, it won't accommodate everything. Some devices, including desktop PCs, require more than a 240W charge. That said, the 2.1 USB-C upgrade means there is room to bring even better Power Delivery to devices down the line.

Ports and cable accessories have recently seen big improvements this year, including Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4.0 ports coming to newly launched and upcoming laptops, such as the list of Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake-H laptops. We're also getting capable Thunderbolt 4 docking stations, including the Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 docking station.

That's not all, as we're also seeing monitors capable of the new HDMI 2.1 output. You'll find that Asus' first HDMI 2.1 gaming monitor is perfect for PS5 and Xbox Series X owners. 

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.