What Exactly Is The Difference Between Thunderbolt 3 & USB Type C?

As technology has continued to develop in recent years, the modern workforce has focused on increasing productivity and efficiency. For design practitioners, one of the things they are doing almost every day is transferring various data, signals or files from one device to another via different types of cable. For the average person, determining which cable to use can be a confusing process. This is because, as far as appearance is concerned, different cables often look identical to each other. And picking the wrong cable can result in unnecessary losses, such as a reduction in transmission speed.

To further satisfy designers' needs for efficiency and productivity, several transmission protocols have been introduced in recent years. Of these, Thunderbolt™ 3 (Thunderbolt™ 3) and USB 3.1 Gen2 Type C (hereinafter referred to as USB Type C) are often easily confused by users. So what exactly is the difference between these two types of transmission cable?

What Exactly Is The Difference Between Thunderbolt 3 & USB Type C?

To clarify the difference between these two cables, you first need to clarify the concepts of the terms Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 and Type C. In fact, Thunderbolt™ 3 and USB 3.1 are data transfer protocols. The main difference between the different transfer standards is the transfer rate. USB 3.1 is divided into USB 3.1 Gen1 and USB 3.1 Gen2, with USB 3.1 Gen1 having a maximum transfer rate of 5 Gbps and USB 3.1 Gen2 having a maximum transfer rate of 10 Gbps. Type C is an interface specification, and there are other interface specifications such as Type A and Type B.

What Exactly Is The Difference Between Thunderbolt 3 & USB Type C?

One of the reasons why users tend to confuse Thunderbolt 3 with USB Type C is that both cables use the Type C connector specification and look almost identical. Now to better distinguish the two, Apple's latest Thunderbolt 3 cables come with the Thunderbolt logo on them.

Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type C have the same interface but are paired with different transfer protocols, Thunderbolt™ 3 and USB 3.1 respectively.

Despite the differences in transfer protocols, Thunderbolt 3 and USB Type C can share the Type C interface. For example, if a user connects from the USB Type C port of a laptop to the Thunderbolt 3 port of a monitor, it will also expand for normal use. The only difference is that the transfer bandwidth will be reduced from 40 Gbps to 10 Gbps due to the bandwidth limitations of USB 3.1 Gen2.

More and more devices are now equipped with USB Type C ports, but careful users will find that some USB Type C only supports charging and data transmission, not video signal transmission. That's because there are multiple protocols for USB Type C ports, so not all USB Type C ports are fully functional. If you want to connect your USB Type C equipped laptop directly to a display with Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type C, make sure that your laptop's USB Type C port supports DisplayPort Alt Mode, an alternative mode that allows native DisplayPort HD digital signals to be transmitted via USB Type C. transfer.


So, which is better, Thunderbolt 3 or USB Type C?

What Exactly Is The Difference Between Thunderbolt 3 & USB Type C?

From the comparison above, it is easy to see that the Thunderbolt 3 interface offers higher bandwidth, enabling it to support two 4K displays, while providing faster data transfer speeds. In addition, Thunderbolt 3 is also compatible with more transfer protocols than USB Type C, which means it can be used with more types of devices. If a designer needs to connect multiple monitors while working, the Thunderbolt 3 interface features a daisy chain function that allows designers to easily display one large image on multiple monitors.

For designers who need to use two 4K monitors at work, the Thunderbolt 3 is the better choice as USB Type C can only support one 4K monitor. Of course, if you only need one 4K monitor and have budget issues, then a USB Type C monitor can adequately meet your needs. In addition, due to the higher bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3, it takes less time to use Thunderbolt 3 when designers are finished and ready to send files. If you often need to transfer larger file sizes, such as video, then Thunderbolt 3 would be more ideal, whereas if you mainly transfer smaller file sizes, you may not necessarily need Thunderbolt 3.

So if you want to be more productive, the Thunderbolt 3 may be the better choice for you. After all, faster transfer speeds and wider compatibility mean greater productivity and efficiency.

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