USB-C vs Thunderbolt

USB-C vs Thunderbolt

Because Thunderbolt and USB Type C share a connector, we frequently mistake them for one another. The plugs used actually have the exact same shape, however, it’s important to realize that different transmission protocols are being used. If USB-C uses USB 3.1, Thunderbolt uses Thunderbolt 3. Of course, this does not prevent them from sharing the same port.

The unique features of Thunderbolt

Thunderbolt is a high-speed interface that combines PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols for data transfer and display connectivity. It was developed by Intel and is used in a variety of devices, including computers, displays, and peripherals. Here are some of the unique features of Thunderbolt:

  • High speed: Thunderbolt supports data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps, which is much faster than USB-C. This makes it ideal for transferring large files, such as video and audio files, quickly.
  • Dual protocols: Thunderbolt combines PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols, which allows it to support a wide range of devices and peripherals, including displays, storage devices, and networking devices.
  • Dual 4K display support: Thunderbolt 3 supports dual 4K displays, which means that you can connect two 4K displays to a single Thunderbolt 3 port and use them as a single display or as two separate displays.
  • Power delivery: Thunderbolt 3 supports power delivery, which means that it can provide power to devices that are connected to it. This is useful for charging devices or powering devices that don’t have their own power source.
  • Daisy chain support: Thunderbolt 3 supports daisy chaining, which means that you can connect multiple devices to a single Thunderbolt port using a series of cables. This can be useful for reducing the number of ports that are needed on a device and simplifying connectivity.

Overall, Thunderbolt’s high speed, dual protocols, dual 4K display support, power delivery, and daisy chain support make it a unique and powerful interface for a wide range of devices and applications.

What USB Type C and Thunderbolt have in common

USB Type-C and Thunderbolt both use the same physical connector, which is a reversible connector that is shaped like a rectangle with two rows of pins. This means that you can use a Thunderbolt cable with a USB Type-C port and vice versa. However, there are some differences between the two standards:

  • Protocols: While both USB Type-C and Thunderbolt use the same physical connector, they use different protocols for data transfer and display connectivity. USB Type-C uses the USB and DisplayPort protocols, while Thunderbolt uses the PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols.
  • Speed: Thunderbolt supports faster data transfer speeds than USB Type-C. The maximum data transfer speed of Thunderbolt 3 is 40 Gbps, while the maximum data transfer speed of USB 3.2 is 20 Gbps.
  • Capabilities: Thunderbolt has additional capabilities beyond data transfer and display connectivity, such as support for dual 4K displays, power delivery, and daisy chaining. USB Type-C does not have these capabilities.

However, many other characteristic differs, you can get more details in this video:

The effectiveness of Thunderbolt and USB Type C

Thunderbolt can connect two 4K devices at once since it has a substantially faster transmission rate. With USB-C, this is not possible. In addition, it is compatible with a wide range of additional transmission protocols. Because of this, if you need to work with multiple monitors, we advise it. With a speed of 40 GBps, it must be acknowledged that Thunderbolt’s performance is unparalleled.

Thunderbolt is a proprietary technology

Thunderbolt is a technology that is only used by Apple and Intel and whose initial versions made use of the MDP (Mini DisplayPort) connector. This is in contrast to USB-C, which was developed by a group of companies and can be incorporated into any device without paying royalties. As a result, at first, it was impossible to find a computer with an AMD processor that is compatible with this specification. Apple has demonstrated, however, that Thunderbolt can function without an Intel processor thanks to its Apple Silicon Macs.

How can I quickly distinguish Thunderbolt 3 from USB-C?

There are a few ways to quickly distinguish Thunderbolt 3 from USB-C:

  • Look for the Thunderbolt logo: Thunderbolt 3 ports and cables are usually marked with a small lightning bolt logo. This logo is usually located next to the port or on the cable itself.
  • Check the speed and capabilities: Thunderbolt 3 supports much faster data transfer speeds and has additional capabilities such as the ability to support dual 4K displays and power delivery.
  • Check the device specifications: You can also check the specifications of the device to determine whether it has Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports.

By using one or more of these methods, you should be able to quickly distinguish Thunderbolt 3 from USB-C.

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