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Don't toss the Warranty until you've tested this!!
on March 17, 2016
Apple can be praised for a lot of innovation and boldness. But in a market where Product is "idolized" but the labor to MAKE a product is usually cheapened and sourced out way too much… even an Apple product can suffer from a percentage of quality-control disappointment.
If Apple finds out that "X" % of its cables are shipped defective or become defective in 5 days of use, they may consider it acceptable for the Chinese labor they are sourcing. On the other hand, if it's YOUR S50.00 thunderbolt cable that ends up one of the "X" percent, it feels UNACCEPTABLE.
And whether you know it or not, a "Thunderbolt Cable" is NOT just a "cable". It's a wire with a computer circuit board hidden under the plastic casing at either end of the cable. That makes it computer hardware. Not really a rugged, hardy accessory cable.
Many owners have complained and gotten frustrated by their computer equipment not working properly with their prized Apple computer, sometimes never to deduce that the problem was in this Thunderbolt Cable they bought. A surprising number of Thunderbolt cables DO come defective right out of the package.
Apple's acceptance of this surprising fact, is in their willingness to take back your bad Thunderbolt cable with no arguments at all, and replace/refund it. So in the end, you only have to suffer the shock and frustration of buying a DUD cable.
Please follow this advice, in order to be prepared for and identify a defective Thunderbolt Cable:
1. Stay away from earlier model numbers of this cable. In fact YES, the MD861ZM/A cable in this ad should be avoided too. The MD861ZM/A I bought was defective. The model MD861LL/A is the later generation version from Apple (Apple won't say what id different or changed or corrected in the 1LL/A model, but for Pete's sake, buy it before you buy a MD86ZM/A model. The MD86ZM/A comes wound up in a tight spool and stuffed in an eco-freindly bag. The MD861LL/A comes in a retail box, wrapped in a looser spool, which users recommend is less pull and strain on the cable (remember, this is a piece of computer circuit-board that just LOOKS like an ordinary kick-me cable).
2. Once connected to your MAC, have the MAC run an Identity check on the cable. Go to "About this MAC" in the upper left corner of your screen, click "more info", then "system report", then "Thunderbolt". Your menu should then fill up with nearly 100 word description of the cable, its ID, it's firmware, a ton of computer-geek words you won't understand… All those words tell you you've got a healthy Thuderbolt cable. If all you see in the menu window are 15 words of "cable connected" or "status link 0X7 x XYZ"… then your MAC and this cable are not talking to each other properly---- you've got a defective Thunderbolt.
3. A circuit board, no matter how small, generated heat as it works. Often the Thunderbolt cable is asked to supply electrical power to your device, not just signal information. So you can expect it to get warm after 20 minutes of use. But keep checking the plastic shell at each end of your Thunderbolt. If it is VERY hot, like touching a hot cup of coffee… something is wrong and creating a dangerous amount of Heat (a circuit board's worst enemy)--- you've got a defective Thunderbolt. My 1ZM/A cable got hot at one end only, and was as hot as the car cigarette lighter when I pulled it out of the MAC.
4. Make sure you have a Warranty card in (or on) the package. Apple usually warranties its hardware for a year, and remember, this "cable" is hardware, not a 90-day warranty accessory cable. Keep monitoring your Thunderbolt for any of the symptoms I listed here, and contact Apple at the first sign of trouble.
$50 bucks is too high a price to pay unless your Thunderbolt fully talks to your MAC when you plug in, and never tries to melt itself or your $1500.00 computer. Do the responsible thing, and thoroughly TEST your cable first.
A great "cable" when it's fully functioning. But when it's one of the defective ones, you'll practically have a heart attack. Brand new out of the package, and defective? AAARRGHH!!