Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C: Which one is the Best?


Almost everyone is confused by the comparison between the Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C without knowing what are these two terms really means. Before that, if someone looked into the previous generation USB ports, compatibility and the speed is also much more complicated as there’s a ton of them. But to understand the two difference between Thunderbolt 3 and USB type c, we don’t need to know about the whole lineup.

Before we jump into the deep down information, if you just want to know the difference between the Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C, he short and the easiest answer is USB-c is a physical port standard while the Thunderbolt 3 is a data standard. The way how these two things mixed up is the Thunderbolt 3 is using the USB-C as the physical interface and that’s it.

The USB type c doesn’t tell us anything about the speed because some of the USB-c ports can run at a slow speed of 480 Megabits per second which is equal to the speed of USB 2.0 while some can be fast around 10 Gigabits per second which is a USB 3.1 speed. The speed depends on what data transfer method they utilize.

USB Ports Evolution Over Years
USB Ports Evolution Over Years

In standard USB-A or USB-B ports, the pins are on the side so they can only be plugged in one way but with the use of type-c cables, it can be plugged in either way. Most of the USB Type-C connectors runs on USB 3.0 or 3.1 standards which can transfer data at a speed of 5 Gigabits or 10 Gigabits respectively. And as a side note users can no longer will see something like USB 3.0, USB 3.1 and USB 3.2 because it all have been changed and this will help you to get out from the problem of mixing up all the names at any time.

Previous NameCurrent Name
USB 3.0USB 3.2 Gen 1
USB 3.1USB 3.2 Gen 2
USB 3.2USB 3.2 Gen 2×2
Naming Standard – Before and After

USB type-c is just a connector and it doesn’t have any kind of an interface. It supports all types of USB technologies along with USB 2.0 to the latest USB 4.0 but the USB 4.0 will only support the type-c connectors. Thunderbolt 3 is an interface developed by Apple and Samsung using the 24 pin arrangement. And also it uses the type-c connector which will be the same in the Thunderbolt 4 version as well.

Before the March of 2019, the manufacturers had to pay a heavy royalty fee to implement thunderbolt 3 technology in their products which is why there’s a limited number of products by that time and all those products were much more expensive. But later the things got changed and no longer the OEMs need to pay that much huge amount s royalty fee which increases the use of thunderbolt 3 over the products. Mainly the thunderbolt 3 can be seen more frequently on Apple products, laptops and some motherboards and external GPUs.

Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C

According to the science, these two terms cannot be compared because the Type-C is just a connector and Thunderbolt 3 is an Interface. If we can consider USB type-c to a single USB technology, the main difference will be there with the speed of data transfer. Thunderbolt 3 has a data transfer rate of 40 Gigabits per second which is nearly four times faster than a USB3.1 type-c version.

If you wonder why it’s not compared to the USB 3.2 version, in the 3.2 technology the only difference is there are two 3.1 interfaces so it can double the speed. Yet the USB 3.2 is not very familiar inside the market so it’s more relevant to compare the Thunderbolt 3 with USB 3.1 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 according to the latest naming standards.

Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C Speed Comparison
Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C Speed Comparison

According to the speed comparison before there’s no doubt that Thunderbolt3 technology is the fastest method for data transferring. This makes thunderbolt technology to get more used in external graphics cards as it needs to transfer data faster with the system to give better performances. Even with the Thunderbolt 4, the transfer rate will remain at 40 Gigabits per second but there will be more side features coming with it.

Does It Worth to Buy Thunderbolt 3?

Although there are devices using the Thunderbolt 3 protocol, it doesn’t mean that you can get the whole speed that’s mentioned on the product itself. Especially with the external devices and external graphics cards, you need to go through the reviews and spec sheets for real-world user experiences to figure out whether the device gives the real benefits of using the Thunderbolt 3 and also for the extra cash that you are spending over it. Typically a device or a cable using Thunderbolt 3 worth more which means more expensive. Furthermore, these type of external storages or any devices will be useful if you are doing a bandwidth-heavy task, consistently transferring files in and out.

External GPU
External GPU

Apart from that Thunderbolt 3 supports high-resolution displays working as a DisplayPort alternate mode, 100W of power up to targetted devices and also can be connected to any cool stuff with a PCIe Express device you want. In that case, Thunderbolt will not be a bad option but always make sure you really needed it or it will be just a waste of your money. Moreover, that keep in touch with the latest updates and reviews so you won’t get missed.

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