Quick Tip: You Can Find USB-C Adapter Cables for Charging Some Older Laptops

USB-C charger cable
Michael Crider

I love my ThinkPad T450s. It’s loaded up with cheap RAM, its dual-chamber battery system lets me keep working for an entire day, and the keyboard is freakin’ fantastic. But I’ve kept it on the shelf for a couple of years because I’ve transitioned away from bulky chargers to an all-USB-C mobile lifestyle. That is until I found an adapter on Amazon.

See, most laptops made before about 2017 use a proprietary charger of one kind or another, either the old barrel ports that come in so many different flavors you need a little ratchet set of adapters if you lose it, or something entirely unique, like my ThinkPad’s rectangular charger or the older MacBook magnetic cables. So trying to charge any of them off of a standard USB-C charger would require some kind of Frankenstein mod of the laptop’s motherboard.

Not so anymore. Vendors have started making charging cables with USB-C on one end and proprietary charging cable heads on the other. These are more than just standard cables—they’ve got circuit boards inside that regulate the power flow and won’t fry your laptop or your charger. Because my T450s’s original charger cable from Lenovo uses 45 watts (20 volts x 2.25 amps), I ordered this gallium nitride USB-C charger to match it, and I’m off to the races. It’s approximately a third of the volume of my original charger, and I can use it for all my other stuff, too.

A quick Amazon search found USB-C cables or adapters for Apple Magsafe and various barrel ports, so with a little digging you should be able to find options for plenty of older laptop models. Just make sure you have a charger that can meet or beat the electricity input of your original charger.

ThinkPad Slim Tip-to-USB-C Cable Adapter
Michael Crider Michael Crider
Michael Crider has been writing about computers, phones, video games, and general nerdy things on the internet for ten years. He’s never happier than when he’s tinkering with his home-built desktop or soldering a new keyboard. Read Full Bio »

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