Thunderbolt 3 vs USB-C: what's the difference?


(Symbol credit score: Pixabay (by means of denvit))

Ports: There positive are a large number of them, and the diversities between them may also be complicated. Thunderbolt three can now do the entirety USB-C can and extra, or even looks as if a USB-C, since they’ve the similar port form. However they don’t seem to be the similar—you’ll’t attach a USB-C cable to a Thunderbolt three port, or vice versa. 

This temporary breakdown of the diversities between Thunderbolt three vs USB-C must lend a hand transparent issues up, in order that you recognize what you might be getting when studying spec sheets. Briefly, Thunderbolt three ports are a lot more robust and flexible, however require costlier cables.


There are a number of USB varieties and variations, however with out coming into the specifics in their relatively complicated naming schemes, let’s simply center of attention on USB-C. It is been round since 2015 and has since change into a connection same old in good telephones or even in PC desktop instances and gaming laptops. Its port form is probably the most noticeable distinction between the former B and A variations; it is a 24-pin doubled sided connector, so there is no guessing which aspect must be dealing with as much as plug it in.

USB-C ports are use by means of virtually all units that make stronger USB three.1 Gen 1 and USB three.1 Gen 2, such a lot of fashionable PC desktops and laptops now have those ports on their I/O panels. Additionally, USB-C ports ship energy outputs of 100 watts at 20 volts and speeds of 10Gbps, and will fee huge and small digital units in a relativity quick time frame. Additionally, it may well most effective provide on one 4K show at a time.

In contrast to Thunderbolt three, USB-C calls for a DAC to output audio, or a USB Sort-C to HDMI cable, often referred to as HDMI Alt Mode—even though Intel was once at one level operating on a USB audio same old that may have made the three.5mm audio jack out of date, however it isn’t transparent if they’ve deserted that or now not. 

Elgato Thunderbolt 3 mini dock

Elgato Thunderbolt three mini dock

(Symbol credit score: Elgato)

Thunderbolt three

Thunderbolt three is recently probably the most up-to-date model of this connection sort, having first been offered into the tech-space in 2015, the similar time as USB-C. Information can shuttle throughout Thunderbolt three at 40Gbps, which is two times as rapid because the Thunderbolt 2 connection and 4 instances as rapid as a USB-C connection throughout USB three.1—so long as the cable is 1.6-feet or shorter. The rest longer and that pace drops all the way down to 20Gbps, however there are energetic cables that retain the highest pace, however price much more.

Like a USB-C connection, it may well fee units and lets in information switch, however a Thunderbolt three connection can provide video content material on as much as two 4K presentations or one 5K show at 60Hz and supply a sign spice up for VR headsets. Moreover, Thunderbolt three may be able to audio output. Throughout, it has better efficiency in the case of video and audio output, and information switch, than a USB-C.

Bring to mind it as DisplayPort, PCIe Third-gen, and USB three.1 all rolled into one connection. However since Thunderbolt three makes use of discrete Thunderbolt chips to function, their cables won’t paintings when you plug them right into a USB-C port, although they’re the similar form.

However that isn’t all—Thunderbolt connections additionally come as docking stations that help you simply plug in peripherals or attach an Ethernet cable. Elgato has a couple of of those, together with different manufactures. 

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