Explore the key distinctions between USB-C and Thunderbolt, two popular types of cables and connectors, in this comprehensive guide. USB-C (Universal Serial Bus Type-C) and Thunderbolt symbolize two diverse, yet broadly utilized, standards for cables and connectors. They play an integral role in digital technology, predominantly facilitating data transfer and power supply between a range of devices and systems.
USB-C, an evolution of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard, is a more recent addition to the array of connectors. It features a compact, reversible plug, rapidly becoming the go-to standard for diverse data transfer and power supply functions. The universal adaptability of USB-C, coupled with its broad device compatibility, renders it a favored choice among manufacturers and consumers
Quick reference links
Thunderbolt, on the other hand, is a hardware interface that was initially developed by Intel in collaboration with Apple. It is known for its remarkable data transmission speeds, which far outstrip those achievable with USB-C. Due to its high-speed capabilities, Thunderbolt is particularly favored in professional environments where transferring large amounts of data quickly is paramount, such as in video editing or heavy data processing tasks.
What is USB-C
USB-C, or USB Type-C, is a type of USB (Universal Serial Bus) connector. USB-C is a standard for connectors and cables used to transmit both data and power. USB-C is reversible, which means that, unlike previous USB types, you can plug it in either way.
Here are some key features of USB-C:
- Size: USB-C is smaller than its predecessor, USB Type-A, which makes it more suitable for smaller devices like smartphones and tablets.
- Speed: USB-C can support different versions of the USB standard, including USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 3.1 Gen 2. Depending on the standard it’s supporting, the speed can vary from 480 Mbps (USB 2.0) to 10 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 2).
- Power: USB-C can deliver up to 100 watts of power, which is enough to charge a laptop.
- Versatility: USB-C can transmit data, video, and audio. A single cable could be used to connect your device to a variety of peripherals, including monitors, external drives, and printers.
What is Thunderbolt
Thunderbolt is a hardware interface that connects external peripherals to a computer. It was developed by Intel and Apple. Thunderbolt 3 and onwards it uses the same connector as USB-C.
Here are some key features of Thunderbolt:
- Speed: Thunderbolt is significantly faster than USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 supports speeds up to 40 Gbps, and the latest version, Thunderbolt 4, maintains these speed capabilities while enforcing stricter hardware requirements for a more consistent user experience.
- Daisy Chaining: One of the key features of Thunderbolt is the ability to daisy chain up to six devices, which means you can connect them one after the other in a series. This can greatly reduce cable clutter.
- Power: Like USB-C, Thunderbolt can also deliver up to 100 watts of power.
- Display Support: Thunderbolt 3 can support two 4K monitors at 60Hz, or one 5K monitor at 60Hz. Thunderbolt 4 can support up to two 4K displays or one 8K display.
Difference between. Thunderbolt and USB-C
There are a number of differences between Thunderbolt and USB-C, this includes the speed of data transfer, compatibility, and more, you can see the key differences between the two standards below.
- Speed: The main difference between the two is speed. While USB-C can transfer data up to 10 Gbps (for USB 3.1 Gen 2), Thunderbolt 3 can transfer data up to 40 Gbps.
- Cost: Thunderbolt cables and devices tend to be more expensive than USB-C. This is because of the higher data transfer rates and the ability to daisy-chain devices.
- Compatibility: USB-C ports can be used with USB-C cables as well as Thunderbolt 3 cables, but Thunderbolt ports are needed to get the full functionality of Thunderbolt cables.
- Display Support: Thunderbolt supports more displays and higher resolution displays compared to USB-C.
- Daisy Chaining: Thunderbolt supports daisy chaining, but USB-C does not.
We hope that you find out guide on the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt useful, if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please leave comments below.
Image Credit: Mishaal Zahed
Filed Under: Guides, Technology News
Disclosure: Some of our articles include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, TechMehow may earn an affiliate commission. Learn about our Disclosure Policy.