Thunderbolt 3 Vs. USB-C: What's The Difference?

SAN DIEGO- (July 24, 2017) No matter how tech savvy you are, there is one thing that makes everyone scratch their head...the difference between Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C. Thunderbolt has evolved over the years (Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 2, and Thunderbolt 3). The newest version- Thunderbolt 3- has now integrated USB-C in order to provide consumers with a universal port, making Thunderbolt 3 the internal capability and USB-C the shape of the port . Because of this upgrade, many are confused about the difference between the two. Let's take a look at the capabilities each in order to grasp a clear understanding of the differences between the two.

 Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 3 travels at 40Gbps, making it twice as fast as Thunderbolt 2 for data connection. Thunderbolt 3's swift connection between a laptop or desktop monitor and an external graphics card allows for enhanced performance in activities such as gaming, with little to no delay. It also provides a boost in signal reception and high definition quality when interacting with Virtual Reality headsets for optimal performance. 

Thunderbolt 3 can present video content on two 4K displays or one 5K display at 60Hz for a heightened visual experience. Not only does it allow data transfer, video and audio output- it can charge devices and give power from any port!


There are many USB types and versions. USB types refer to the shape and design of the cable and port. USB versions refer to their capabilities (such as speed/ power) and cable compatibility. The types and versions have evolved over the years like that of Thunderbolt. USB types include USB Type-A, USB Type-B, and now USB Type-C (USB-C). USB versions include USB 1.1, USB 2.0, USB 3.0., USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 3.1 Gen 2. 

USB-C ports are used by almost all devices that support USB 3.1, some deliver power outputs of 100 watts at 20 volts and speeds of 10Gbps. USB-C provides unique charging capabilities. The power output allows larger devices to be charged as well as your everyday smartphone- eliminating excess charging wires.


Thunderbolt 3 has the capabilities of USB-C, but USB-C does not have the capabilities of Thunderbolt 3. The Thunderbolt 3 port has the same design as the USB-C port. However, if you were to connect a Thunderbolt 3 cable to a USB-C port you would have restrictions on capabilities.

Thunderbolt 3 has greater performance when it comes to speed and video display. It's speed allows for quicker access more data when compared to USB-C. Thunderbolt 3 works at 40Gbps while USB-C works at 10 Gbps. Thunderbolt 3 can present video content on two 4K displays or one 5k display while USB-C can present one 4K display. 


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