Can I Use an USB-C Port With a PXIe Thunderbolt Controller/Chassis?

Updated Jan 3, 2024

Reported In


  • PXIe-8301
  • Thunderbolt Cable
  • PXIe-1090
  • PXIe-1083


  • Measurement & Automation Explorer (MAX)

Issue Details

  • I have a PXIe Thunderbolt Controller/Chassis (like the PXIe-1083, PXIe-1090 or PXIe-8301) and I want to connect it using a USB-C port/cable. Is this possible?
  • I can see my Thunderbolt controller/chassis in Measurement and Automation Explorer (MAX), but I am not able to connect to it and do not have options available for Test Panels or Self Test. The link LED on the controller is solid amber . I am using a USB-C cable/port. Why can't I communicate with my controller? 


It is not possible to use a USB-C connector or cable or any other type of non-Thunderbolt connector with our Thunderbolt devices. You need to connect your Thunderbolt PXIe chassis/controller to a native Thunderbolt port. Most Thunderbolt ports are identified by a thunderbolt symbol next to the port, as shown in the image below.
  • The most accurate way to tell if a port on your machine is a Thunderbolt connection is to reference its user manual or specification sheet.

Additional Information

  • Thunderbolt cables will fit into USB Type C, but Thunderbolt ports have other capabilities built on top of the USB Type-C form factor that is not in the USB Type-C specification, such as higher throughput and bidirectional PCIe and DisplayPort lines. Because of this, while you can see your controller, you are unable to connect with it since it does not have the proper data transfer mechanisms.
  • In some cases when you connect the module to your computer, the Windows operating system may disable the Thunderbolt functionality by default. If you see the amber LED despite you have connected the device to a native Thunderbolt port with a Thunderbolt cable, make sure you enable the communication in Windows.
  • NI does not sell nor recommend any PCIe cards with Thunderbolt ports since we have not tested them with our products and cannot guarantee their compatibility.