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.
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.
Thunderbolt 3 Is Fast
Thunderbolt 3 is a type of data connection that allows for extremely fast data transfer speeds. It can transfer data at up to 40 Gbps, which is around four times as fast as USB 3.1. Thunderbolt 3 can also be used to connect to external displays and other devices, and it supports the DisplayPort 1.2 standard.
One of the main advantages of Thunderbolt 3 is that it uses the same connector as USB-C, so it is compatible with a wide range of devices. Thunderbolt 3 is also backward-compatible with older Thunderbolt technologies.
Thunderbolt 3 Is Versatile
Thunderbolt 3 is also very versatile. You can use it to connect to a variety of devices, including external hard drives, monitors, and even eGPUs. Thunderbolt 3 is also the only connection type that can be used to connect a Mac to a PC. Thunderbolt 3 is a versatile interface that provides a single connector solution for DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, USB, and PCI Express devices. It’s also bidirectional, so it can provide up to 40 Gbps of bandwidth in both directions.
Thunderbolt 3 is a special standard for connecting a computer to accessories, allowing for high data throughput of up to 40 Gbps. Thunderbolt 3 also supports video and power. It’s basically everything you need to get your computer up and running.
Thunderbolt 3 offers a single-cable solution for both data and video, which means you don’t have to worry about which cables to use for what purpose. Thunderbolt 3 is also bi-directional, which means it can send and receive data at the same time.
Thunderbolt 3 is a great option if you need a lot of data throughput or if you need to connect to a variety of devices.
Thunderbolt 3 Can Charge Devices
Thunderbolt 3 is capable of delivering power to charge devices. While this is not the primary purpose of Thunderbolt 3, it is a handy feature. You can charge devices by connecting a Thunderbolt cable to the Thunderbolt port on your laptop. The other end of the cable connects to the device you want to charge. Thunderbolt 3 cables can also be used to charge devices that have a USB-C port. You can use a Thunderbolt 3 to USB-C cable to charge devices like smartphones and tablets.
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.
USB-C Is Slightly Less Versatile
One of the advantages that USB had over other computer ports is that it worked with a variety of devices. You could plug in a USB hard drive, or a USB memory stick, or a USB webcam, and so on. USB-C is no slouch in this department, but it’s not as universal as USB-A.
While USB-C is designed to work with a variety of devices, it’s not compatible with everything. For example, you can’t use a USB-C cable to connect a USB-A device like a USB memory stick to a USB-C device. If you want to connect a USB-A device to a USB-C device, you’ll need to buy an adapter.
The same is true in reverse. If you have a USB-C device and want to connect it to a device with a USB-A port, you’ll need a USB-C to USB-A adapter.
This isn’t a huge inconvenience, but it is something to be aware of.
USB-C cables also come in different varieties, which can be confusing. Some USB-C cables are designed for data transfer, while others are designed for charging devices. Some cables support both data transfer and charging, while others only support one or the other.
USB-C Charges as Well as Thunderbolt 3
USB-C is a cable standard that supports both data and power. It is increasingly common on laptops and mobile devices. The new iPad Pro, for example, uses USB-C for display output, data transfer, and charging. The MacBook uses USB-C for charging, data transfer, and display output. Most USB-C cables and adapters can provide up to 60W of power, which is enough to charge a laptop.
Thunderbolt 3 uses the USB-C connector, but is a separate technology that provides significantly more data bandwidth and more power. Thunderbolt 3 ports can provide up to 100W of power—enough to charge a laptop and power a 4K display.
Now coming to the differences Between Thunderbolt 3 Vs USB C
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.