Thunderbolt 3 vs USB Type-C: What are the key differences


Thunderbolt was earlier thought to be a replacement for USB but with Intel announcing that the forthcoming Thunderbolt 3 will have USB Type-C connectors, the path is much clear for a single port to feed all. In these times when having one of the two ports as a feature specification is becoming a consideration for purchase, device manufacturers are surely very confident about the future of connectivity.

What then is the difference between Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C? They surely can not be the same, and it is probably the reason for unison.

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What are they?

The USB-C is a standard, oval-shaped, connector that was developed by the USB Implementers Forum. It is compact and fully reversible, with both the up and down sides similar as well as both ends of its adapter designed to be the same. This implies that you do not have to mind the side of entry when inserting into a port, the way you would for USB-A or USB-B.

Thunderbolt 3, on the other hand, is an emerging technology for connecting external devices to PC that runs on a USB-C connector and cable. It is used to interconnect varying devices such as external hard drives, high-end audio interfaces and monitors, hubs, docks, expansion chases, as you wish; with just a limited amount of cable.

Read More: Everything you need to know about Thunderbolt 3

The difference

 Thunderbolt 3USB-C
Data Transfer speedsUp to 40GbpsUp to 10Gpbs
Power Supply15 to 100 watts100 watts
Background CompatibilityYes. Compatible with Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 via a Thunder AdapterYes. Compatible with Older versions via adapter

Power Supply

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Thunderbolt 3 can provide 15 watts of power, with up to 100 watts of optional power, to their devices. USB-C can supply up to 100 watts of power to devices, reducing on the cable burden, and thus is the reason for its embedment in Thunderbolt 3.

Backward Compatibility

Thunderbolt 3 requires a Thunder Adapter to work with Thunderbolt and Thunderbolt 2 devices, just as USB-C’s USB 3.1 standard is compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 with an adapter.

Data Transfer Speeds

Thunderbolt 3 offers users a variety of connectors to meet their financial capabilities.

CableTransfer Rates
CopperUp to 20 Gbps
CopperUp to 40 Gbps
OpticalUp to 40 Gbps over longer distances

A typical port provides a maximum speed of 40 Gb/s throughout, four times faster than the ports that USB-C connectors use and any other external connector available. Thunderbolt devices transfer both audio and video data, steadily and simultaneously.

Support Features

USB-C cables can ably work with Thunderbolt 3 ports, just as Thunderbolt cables can work well with USB-C ports. The only limitation here is that the thunderbolt platform is only available on Intel processors implying that a cross-connection will not support thunderbolt features.

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The notable difference between the two is that Thunderbolt 3 is a technology that uses USB-C for cabling and connections. You got that.



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