Does it potentially support Thunderbolt 5 / USB4v2?

Hi all, so this is an honest question to the community as people know more about it I assume. As we know Thunderbolt 5 is at least announced as to be released next year. So, my question is, will the current Framework 16 potentially be compatible with Thunderbolt 5 / USB4v2?

What I mean by this is if it would be possible to build an expansion bay that would use the pcie connections to make such speeds work with the cable? The one thing I know is that thunderbolt has specific chip requirements. So could it work with the current AMD setup through a DIY built expansion bay connector? Or is it sure that a new mainboard would be necessary to make it compatible? I assume we are only talking about USB4v2 here, but wanted to put the branding of thunderbolt here as well just for completeness.

I just want to make sure I am not buying a laptop in late 2023 and then have to buy a new mainboard just to have the technology I was waiting for for long. Thank you!

The expansion bay connector has adequate bandwidth, however does not support display output (without having a dGPU), so any TB5 expansion bay would likely require a dGPU in order to support display output (which is a requirement for TB5).

The space taken up by any decent GPU likely wouldn’t leave enough room to also put a Thunderbolt 5/USB4v2 controller into the expansion bay without making it a massive expansion bay module.

I doubt it will happen. Probably the closest that will happen is an OcuLink Expansion Module may be produced (which would have much more bandwidth but less features than TB5/USB4v2 making it pretty good for eGPUs).

I doubt we’ll see any TB5/USB4v2 without a new mainboard.


Alright, so the last hope is an oculink connection that uses the full 8 lanes which if I understand correctly would be very fast indeed. So just not plug and play, and less features, but speeds are there.

My goodness. The only thing that could shoot down this laptop for me might have just happened. Would be sad to see people receive a Framework 16 in q2 of 2024 and see their mainboard become antiquated…

Anyway, let’s see. But thanks for the update.

I assume we are talking about 80Gb/s or 120/40Gb/s here. USB4 means not much on its own, USBv2 means more options, but doesn’t change the required minimum. Thunderbolt on the other end means I need everything (including certification), so might not be the most useful requirement either

Do you want the full features or only high bandwidth usb?

I think, if the 8 PCI lines have enough bandwidth, a pci to usb card would be possible, but I don’t think FW will create one.

My personal use case is enthusiast gamer via EGPU. So the dream of connecting a high-end Desktop GPU with little or no bottleneck. Now, my situation was to assume Intel is (pardon my French) hopeless and I was going down the oculink route.

Now it appears Intel is getting ready after more than a decade. So my question is, will I have to upgrade my mainboard to have classic thunderbolt 5, plug and play, 80Gb/s or 120/40Gb/s, or is it possible via an adapted expansion bay, i.e. is it even possible?

And I think the question has been answered. So for me this is close to a dealbreaker. Sure, FW16 has oculink potential, but I would by far prefer plug and play tb5 of course.

You have a really weird definition of “antiquated”… or some odd view of the future. When FW16 becomes antiquated, it won’t be due to supporting TB4 instead of TB5.


Well, yes, what I mean is that the speeds will be close to 10 years old out of the box. But sure, its not the most important thing for many I understand.

Or, put another way, it will be compatible with every device you can buy on the day it’s received.

If supporting TB5 is the most important thing for someone, they would have no reason for more than a cursory glance at the FW16, so there shouldn’t be any danger of someone who requires TB5 to have pre-ordered a FW16.

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I still think its the best notebook in the world.

Only thing I am saying is for my use case I may wait until they sell it with the mainboard I always wanted.

Yeah, if you need TB5 speeds for a specific purpose, and you already have a laptop that does everything else you need, don’t kid yourself into thinking that you’ll get those speeds for what you need on a FW16. The odds are stacked against it and you’re better off waiting.


Yes, you are right. Just wanted to ask the tech enthusiasts here about expansion bay.

And no worries, I am not someone who usually wants to start a thread with something like “Why doesn’t framework incorporate a technology from the future now!!!” ;).

Yeah, the important bit about the expansion bay is the difference between “is it theoretically possible to do X” (for which the answer is usually yes) and “is there a meaningful chance I will be able to buy a product that does X” (for which the answer is usually no).

In my opinion, there’s a very low chance of seeing many niche products for a niche product until the second generation motherboard is available as a stocked item at the earliest, and even then there would need to be a fairly unlikely confluence of demand and design support from Framework.

Basically I’ll start looking for cool expansion bad modules a few months after Framework releases a reference design for the case and board along with design support from a contract manufacturer for taking an existing PCIe card design and repackaging it as a module.

In other words, I never expect to see it. :smiley:

Sure, but the oculink “community” is pretty serious, they seem to make it happen.

And I wanted to ask about technical feasibility for tb5 - but it seems the answer is not possible which is fine.

I guess I was just surprised the the “speed” of Intel in developing tb5. :wink:

Let’s see, notebook is just too good, I think I will just go with oculink DIY community in the medium term.

The answer is that it’s technically possible, but it’s not any sort of feasible.

Before making asumptions be sure that the processor can handle it. The references for AMD 7040 are known to handle USB4 40Gb/s by the specifications, so you might wait for the next gen to handle the higher speeds. By then the motherboard might get upgraded for the FW16".

Well, the thread was about whether it is technically possible and people seem to suggest it is not, which is fair enough, so I am not really wondering about the second part yet.

I will wait if there are news on oculink expansion bay by December.

If you are willing to violate spec a bit (and you definitely won’t get certified) and cost is no object I’d say it’s theoretically possible but I agree with @Deuce that it isn’t practically feasible.

Maybe you should, it’s kinda the more important part.

As I said, it was an honest question to the community about potential possibility - and that’s answered by the community.

And I wanted to adjust my post just to make sure it is clear. For me personally this thread has been answered and I have all the information I intended to ask for, but feel free to continue of course.

PS: It’s clear I cannot reasonably expect any expansion bay going in that direction, which is why I started the conversation. And the question was formulated as I did of course due to the fact that the technology is not even on the market yet ;). Certainly don’t assume anyone here knows for sure in October 2023…

Thing is - when these laptops/mainboards are available, there will be one other feature you want to be added. In the end, you wait and will never get a laptop :smiley: Been there… Stopped doing that.
Started to look at what best options I could get with what is available, and took it.


FWIW some of Intel’s 14th gen CPUs don’t support TB5 either.