What Is the Difference Between USB-C and Thunderbolt 3?

The USB-C vs Thunderbolt 3 debate has been going on for a while, and it’s not likely to end anytime soon. The two technologies are very different in how they work, but both have their pros and cons depending on what you need them for.

Thankfully, we can help you figure out which technology is best suited for your needs with this article. Let’s start by looking at how these ports function differently from each other so we can get an idea of when they might be useful to use in certain situations. Then we will take a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of each connector, so you know if it’s right for your situation or not before making the purchase.

What is USB-C, and how does it work

USB-C is a type of connector designed to work with the USB 3.1 and can also be used with Thunderbolt, DisplayPort, and other protocols for data transfer. It’s an incredibly versatile connector, and it’s also one of the reasons why USB-C is so appealing.

It can be plugged in without any additional cables or accessories because the cable and the connector are combined to help save space and time when plugging in your phone or laptop. The downside to USB-C is that not all devices will come with this port when you purchase them.

You’ll find that most newer laptops will have a USB-C connector, but if you’re looking for an older laptop, you may be out of luck. Fortunately, you can purchase an adapter that will allow you to connect your older devices with ease.

What is Thunderbolt 3, and how does it work

Thunderbolt 3 has many of the same features as USB-C. However, there are a few differences when it comes down to bandwidth speeds and port availability. Thunderbolt 3 transfers data faster than any other connector that was ever created before it, and it’s also backward compatible with older versions of USB-C connectors.

This means that if your laptop doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3 on it, you can still use the connector by purchasing an adapter for your USB-C device to work on the old port type.

One thing that makes Thunderbolt 3 stand out from other ports is that it’s available on multiple devices, including more than just laptops. It’s available on a wide variety of computers, and even external hard drives have this port so that you can use them with ease.

The biggest downside to all of this is that the connectors aren’t as widely compatible with each other as USB-C is. You’ll find that only certain types of devices have Thunderbolt 3 ports on them, so you can’t just use any device to transfer data between one another.

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USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3: What are the Advantages?

When it comes to USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3, there are a few advantages that USB-C has over Thunderbolt 3. First and foremost, USB-C is much more widely compatible with other devices than Thunderbolt 3 is. You can find USB-C ports on various devices, including older laptops, and all you need is an adapter to make it work.

Another advantage that USB-C has is that it doesn’t require any additional cables or accessories to work. The cable and the connector are combined into one, so it’s very easy to plug in your device when you’re in a hurry.

Thunderbolt 3 has a few advantages of its own, one being the high bandwidth speeds. With this technology, you can transfer files at lightning-fast speeds, which is helpful if you have massive files that take up all of your hard drive space.

The final advantage to Thunderbolt 3 is that it includes multiple protocols inside of it so that you can use more than just one type of data transfer. Using just USB-C, you’re limited to using “USB” protocols. However, with Thunderbolt 3, you can use it for other types of data transfers as well.

USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3:What Are the Disadvantages?

There are a few disadvantages that come along with both technologies. For starters, USB-C is only available on certain devices that you purchase. You won’t find this port on older laptops, and if you try to plug your old device into a new laptop, it’s not going to work. You’ll need to purchase an adapter to connect your old hardware properly with the new hardware.

Another disadvantage is that USB-C can be more expensive than other USB versions because it’s a newer technology. It was only introduced in the past few years, and older versions like 2.0 and 3.0 are much less expensive than the newest version.

Thunderbolt 3 has its own set of disadvantages, one major one being that you can’t use this port for charging purposes even though it transfers data. This means that if you want to use the USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3 port for charging purposes, you’ll need to purchase another cable.

Another disadvantage is that it doesn’t work on laptops in the same way that USB-C does. You cannot use Thunderbolt 3 on your laptop unless it has this technology built into it, which isn’t going to be very easy considering that it’s a newer technology.

USB-C vs Thunderbolt 3: Which is Better for You?

When it comes to USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3, it can be tough to decide which is the best option for you. Both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consider them all before making a decision.

USB-C is widely compatible with other devices and does not require any additional cables or accessories to operate. The cable and the connector are combined into one, so it’s very easy to plug in your device when you’re in a hurry. However, USB-C is only available on certain devices that you purchase. You won’t find this port on older laptops, and if you try to plug your old device into a new laptop, it’s not going to work. You’ll need to purchase an adapter to connect your old hardware properly with the new hardware.

Thunderbolt 3 has a few advantages, one being the high bandwidth speeds. With this technology, you can transfer files at lightning-fast speeds, which is helpful if you have massive files that take up all of your hard drive space.

The final advantage to Thunderbolt 3 is that it includes multiple protocols inside of it so that you can use more than just one type of data transfer. Using just USB-C, you’re limited to using “USB” protocols. However, with Thunderbolt 3, you can use it for other types of data transfers.

The biggest disadvantage to both technologies is that they’re not compatible with older hardware. If you have an old USB device, it won’t work on a newer laptop that uses Thunderbolt 3 or vice versa. In addition, you might also run into charging issues when using the right cables for these ports.

Thunderbolt 3 doesn’t allow users to charge their laptops or devices; this must be done through another port or cable. Other than that, the only other disadvantage is the cost of these cables and accessories. Thunderbolt 3 cables can be more expensive than USB-C cables because they are a newer technology. However, you should expect to pay more for this type of quality when purchasing any top-of-the-line hardware.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I connect Thunderbolt 3 to USB-C?

No, Thunderbolt 3 is based on the USB-C connector but uses an interconnect technology that requires it to be mated with a Thunderbolt 3 cable or device (such as the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter). You can’t connect Thunderbolt 3 to USB-C.

What are the maximum supported Thunderbolt 3 data rates?

Thunderbolt 3 provides two 40 Gbps channels. In lab testing, we have observed sustained transfer rates over Thunderbolt 3 as high as 28 Gbps.

How much power can Thunderbolt 3 provide?

Thunderbolt 3 supports up to 15 watts of power delivery. For charging a MacBook Pro while using it via the laptop’s USB-C ports, you’ll need a 29 or 61 watt adapter.

Can I daisy-chain Thunderbolt 3 devices?

Yes, but because of bandwidth limits, you can’t connect more than two Thunderbolt 3 devices. It’s possible for example to have a Thunderbolt 3 graphics processor connected to the first device and then have other devices connected at the end. You can also connect Thunderbolt 2 or earlier devices via

Final Words

The new USB-C connector has been set to replace the old ports. However, Thunderbolt 3 is quickly catching up in popularity and may be a better option for you, depending on your needs. If you wonder which one of these two connectors is best for your business or personal computer, give us a call! We can help determine what will work best with your current technology and ensure that all future updates don’t disrupt how well it functions.

Mike Anderson
Mike is a PC hardware enthusiast who has been writing about PCs and technology since he graduated from Iqra University. He started blogging about 5 years ago as a way to share his passion for technology with others, and he continues to write today because he loves it.