Thunderbolt 3 and USB C. These words you might have seen often on websites while buying a laptop and you might have thought these are just ports. But did you know what makes them different from each other and which one is the best among them? So here we are with this informative article that will make you learn the difference between the two.
So, let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
What is Thunderbolt 3?
Thunderbolt 3 is a connectivity technology that is an amalgamation of Displayport, PCI express and DC power technologies. It is developed via the partnership between two companies i.e Intel and Apple. Thunderbolt 3 travels at a speed of 40 Gbps. It is faster than its former Thunderbolt 2 connector for a data connection. It evolved from the mini display port connector to a port shaped like USB C. And the amazing part is, it is also compatible with cables and devices made for USB C. Thunderbolt 3 ‘s smooth connection between laptop or desktop computer and with an external graphics card boosts the performance in activities like gaming with no delay. It also provides improved signal reception with high-definition quality when interacting with virtual reality headsets. Thunderbolt 3 is also capable of presenting two 4k displays or a 5k display at 60Hz for a great visual experience. It also has the capability of native audio support.
What is USB C?
USB C has also evolved with time just like a thunderbolt. It has types and versions of it. And let me make it clear. Types and versions are two completely different things. Type signifies the shape and design of the port. While the version signifies its capabilities and compatibility with other cables. Now USB types include USB Type -A, USB Type-B, and USB Type-C. USB versions include USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2. This was a little trivia for understanding the difference between types and versions.
USB – C ports are used by almost all devices that support USB 3.1. It delivers power outputs of 100 watts at 20 volts and has a speed of transferring data of 10 Gbps. USB-C also allows larger devices to get charged. The USB-C design can connect with the device no matter which side is up. And it is also capable of presenting a 4k display but with no audio support.
Now coming to the differences
Thunderbolt 3 has the capabilities of USB-C. But, USB-C does not have the capabilities of Thunderbolt 3. The Thunderbolt 3 port has the same design as USB-C port. If you try to connect the thunderbolt3 cable to the USB-C port, it will operate but would have restrictions on some of its capabilities. While one can plug USB-C device into thunderbolt port and it would work properly but will transfer at a speed of USB-C port i.e 10 Gbps.
Thunderbolt 3 has better performance than the USB-C when it comes to speed and display. The thunderbolt 3 can present video content on two 4k displays and one 5k display. While the USB-C port can only present only one 4k display. Thunderbolt 3 can transfer data at a speed of 40 Gbps and while USB-C can transfer at 10Gbps speed.
So can we conclude thunderbolt 3 is the best?
You can conclude that Thunderbolt 3 is comparatively better than the USB-C port. But the USB-C port is also not that bad. You don’t need to rely on thunderbolt 3 every time. Because USB-C port has evolved itself with time and it is also versatile. It is much better than its former ports. Now you may be thinking that all devices should come with Thunderbolt 3 ports. But you may not be aware that to equip a device with thunderbolt 3 port it needs to have special hardware which eventually increases the cost of a laptop or a computer. So, if you are capable of paying extra then go for thunderbolt port enabled devices. Otherwise, USB-C ports are not that bad.
USB4 is on its way and it’s catching up with thunderbolt rapidly.
So this was all about the two popular ports Thunderbolt and USB-C.