USB-C vs. USB 3: What's the Difference?

For years, USB advanced at a predictable rate – USB2 was faster than USB, USB3 was faster than USB2, and now, USB4 is even on the horizon. In the last few years, the once-simple standard has broadened and become more confusing. There are now multiple types of USB3, including USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.1 Gen 2, USB 3.2 Gen 1x1, USB 3.2 Gen 2x1, USB 3.2 Gen 1x2, and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. Then, on top of that, there’s the question of USB-C. How does it fit in?


D0n’t feel bad if you find this confusing. The USB-IF has done everything it possibly could have to ensure nobody can make sense of which USB standard a device supports, partly by repeatedly changing the name of previous standards as it updates brand guidance. The following table shows the relationship of USB standards to each other::

The following standards all refer to the exact same product: USB 3.2 Gen 1x1, USB 3.1 Gen 1, USB 3.0. These ports all transfer data at up to 5Gb/s. Similarly, USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 also refer to the exact same standard. Hardware that complies with this specification can transfer data at up to 10Gbit/s. I’m not sure if anyone is shipping USB 3.2 Gen 1x2, because it’s an odd hybrid with USB 3.0’s original encoding scheme but USB 3.1 Gen 2’s bandwidth. Finally, there’s USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, which is also it’s own specific standard without reference to previous products.

USB-C does not automatically mandate the use of any specific USB speed . USB-C is a physical cable standard that can support anything from USB2 to the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 connection speeds, depending on the type of cable you own.

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