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USB-C vs Thunderbolt 3: What’s the Difference?

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Even if you are the most tech-savvy person on the planet, there are still things that will surely make you scratch your head. One of these is the difference between USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3.

Thunderbolt has undergone so many changes through the years with Thunderbolt 3 is the latest version. Thunderbolt 3 now comes integrated with USB-C to provide a universal port to the consumers that make USB-C the port’s shape and Thunderbolt 3 being the internal capability.

Due to this notable upgrade, a lot of people can’t help but get confused on what makes these two different in the first place.

To know the difference between USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3, it is important to know the capabilities of both to get a clearer understanding of what makes one unique from the other.

What is USB-C?

USB is available in many versions and types. The types of USB refer to the design and shape of the port and cable. USB versions, on the other hand, pertain to the cable compatibility and capabilities like power or speed.

The versions and types have changed through the years similar to Thunderbolt. The most common types of USB include USB Type-C or USB-C, USB Type-B, and USB Type-A. As for USB versions, these include USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.0, USB 2.0 and USB 1.1.

Almost every device that supports USB 3.1 uses USB-C ports, with some delivering power outputs of 100W at 20 volts with 10Gbps speed. USB-C offers unique capabilities in charging. Its power output makes it possible to charge both your smartphone and larger devices that eliminate the need for excess wires for charging.

Why use Thunderbolt 3?

Thunderbolt 3 can travel at a speed of 40Gbps that make it twice as fast as the Thunderbolt 2 when it comes to the data connection. The swift connection of Thunderbolt 3 between an external graphics card and desktop or laptop monitor allows for improved performance in different activities like gaming with very little delay to none at all. This also enhances the high definition quality and signal reception during an interaction with Virtual Reality or VR headsets for the finest performance.

Thunderbolt 3 has the ability to present video contents on two 4K displays or a single 5K display at a speed of 60Hz for an improved visual experience. It doesn’t only allow audio and video out and data transfer as it also charges devices and gives power from any type of port.

Why is Thunderbolt 3 better?

Thunderbolt 3 got the capabilities of USB-C. USB-C, however, doesn’t have the capacities of Thunderbolt 3. The design of the port of Thunderbolt 3 is similar to that of USB-C port. But, if you want to connect your Thunderbolt 3 cable to your USB-C port, you will experience some restrictions on capabilities.

As far as video display and speed are concerned, Thunderbolt 3 has a better performance than USB-C. The speed allows faster access to more data, unlike USB-C. USB-C can work at only 10Gbps while Thunderbolt 3 can work at as much as 40Gbps. USB-C can only present a single 4K display while Thunderbolt 3 presents video content on a single 5K display or two 4K displays.

Now that you know the difference between USB-C vs Thunderbolt 3, make sure you use the one that best suits your purpose.

Related: USB-C vs USB

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By Cartez Augustus

My name is Cartez and I'm a blogger from Houston, Texas focusing on content marketing strategies and tech gadgets.