The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced that it will increase the power USB-C cables can output to 240 watts (W). The jump should enable more powerful laptops to charge over USB-C than what’s currently available with USB-C’s 100W limit.
Considering many laptops need to pull more than 100W of power from the charger to replenish the battery and operate at full performance, this improvement is welcome. The Verge points out that it could even enable some gaming laptops could work fine with the new 240W spec, although it depends on how much power they need to draw.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean your current charging brick and USB-C cable will start pushing 240W of power to your devices. The USB-IF notes that the new ‘Extended Power Range’ (EPR) system will need new USB-C chargers and cables design to take advantage of the new specification. Further, to (hopefully) cut down on confusion, all EPR cables will be “visibly identified with EPR cable identification items.”
In another part of its announcement, the USB-IF warned of potential issues manufacturers will have to consider when designing their cables. For example, one section outlines possible arcing damage that can occur when unplugging the cable. Still, as long as manufacturers design cables and chargers properly, they should work fine.
As an interesting final note, The Verge put the new 240W EPR USB-C spec in perspective. A high-end gaming PC draws a lot more power, with many PCs using a 650W power supply unit (PSU) or more. Sony’s PlayStation 5 has a power draw of 350W, and the PS5 Digital Edition draws slightly less at 340W (Microsoft has not published power draw for the Xbox Series X).
Apple’s new M1 iMac sports a 143W power adapter, a testament to just how power efficient Apple’s chip is. It also means that theoretically, you could power an iMac with USB-C using the new EPR spec, but the iMac probably doesn’t support the new spec and wouldn’t work with a USB-C power cable.