Home Tutorials Understanding USB-C vs USB-3: What is the Difference?

Understanding USB-C vs USB-3: What is the Difference?

When you are talking about USB-C vs USB 3, what is the difference between the two?

USB-C tells you the shape and hardware abilities of the cable connector. While on the other hand USB 3 tells you the data transfer protocol and speeds of the cable.

The following are the detailed differences and what you need to know.

The easiest way to understand the differences between USB-C and USB 3 is that one is described as the connector (USB-C), while the other one is the cable technology (USB 3).

USB-C vs USB-3

USB-C is the newest and latest generation of USB connectors that offer you a reversible plug that you can insert into the device without inserting it wrong.

It is also able to provide more power to your devices. You may also not take it very serious USB-C vs USB-3.

USB 3 signifies several generations of USB cables which include USB 3.0 and also USB 3.1. Each one of these offers for very fast data transfers that is up to 10 Gbps.

(You may also see the term USB 3.2. This term was introduced in an attempt to re-brand or rename USB 3.0 and 3.1. It is the same specification, but ((in some of the circles) USB 3.0 is now called USB 3.2 Gen 1, and USB 3.1 is called USB 3.2 Gen 2.

More importantly, though, they are still the same specifications which you have come to know as USB 3.0 and USB 3.1.)

USB 3.0 was introduced in the year 2008, it improved USB data transfer speeds for up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0. In the year 2013, the USB 3.1 standard doubled data transfer speeds to 10 Gbps.

This difference is important. A USB 3.1 cable is much more expensive to manufacture than a USB 2.0 cable.

Since the USB-C connector works on any of the USB cable, which includes USB 2.0, marketers of cheaper USB cables sell the cables marketed as “USB-C”, which leaves the USB 2.0 specification in a small print.

If you are searching for a USB cable that is capable of high-speed data transfer rates, just be sure that it is USB 3.0 or higher, despite the connector type.

(There is another marketing trick which is to sell USB cables as “USB 3.1 Gen 1”. This is a term that refers to USB 3.0. If you really want a USB cable with 10 Gbps data transferability, look out for “USB 3.1 Gen 2” on the packaging.

USB-C and USB are Different, But they are Important

When it comes to how easy and simple it is to use a USB cable, only the connector type (USB-C) really matters. USB A and B type cables depend at all times on inserting the connector correctly as well as the port shape.

USB-C connectors have pins that connect in spite of which way you insert it. This removes the confusion and it improves the usability.

Whether the cable is 2.0 or 3.0 it has little impact on how easy it will be to use it.

On the surface, understanding the compatibility may feel a bit confusing. So let’s remove that confusion with an example. Let’s suppose that you have:

  • A printer which is capable of USB 2.0 with a USB Type-B connector
  • A USB cable rated for USB 2.0
  • Your computer USB port which is rated for USB 3.1

Now in this case, so long as both ends of the cable fit into the proper ports on the printer as well as the computer, the USB 2.0 will work. This is because the PC’s port rated for USB 3.1 is backward compatible with both of the cable and the printer.

Here is another example of a scenario:

  • A new printer which is capable of USB 3.1
  • The computer end of the printer cable is a USB-C type of connector
  • Your PC USB port is USB A, without having any of the USB-C ports

In this case, it won’t work, because your computer does not have a USB-C port.

Actually, the most common compatibility problem which people have with USB-C is that they do not have a USB-C port on their devices.

Ever since USB 3 tech is backward compatible with all of the older devices and ports, you mostly cannot go wrong with buying a cable rated for USB 3.0 or 3.1 With these cables, you will enjoy much better data transfer rates if both of the devices which you are connecting are capable of that.

While on the other hand, you would not really want to buy a cable with a USB-C connector if whether the device you are connecting or your computer does not have a port that will support that connector.

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So, always purchase your cables based on the USB type (A, B, or C) of the port which you are plugging into each end.

Here are some of the findings on USB-C and USB 3:


  • It is the term which is used for the USB connector.
  • It has the smallest shape of all of the USB plugs.
  • Has a reversible connector.
  • Capable of up to 100 watts.


  • It is the term that is used for USB cable type.
  • The transfer speeds are up to 5 Gbps.
  • It includes 3.1 versions up to 10 Gbps.
  • It is compatible with multiple USB connectors.

Data Transfer Rates:


  • It can be used with any type of USB cable. Check Price
  • It does not affect data transfer speed.


  • This one is capable of up to 10 Gbps of transfer speed. Check Price
  • It is capable of up to 5 Gbps of transfer speed.
  • While USB 2.0 only supports up to 480 Mbps of transfer rate.

The differences and distinctions between USB-C and USB 3 are almost explained all throughout this article. Read more: Can You Get Ibis To Paint On The Computer?


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