Thoughts And Comparisons Between USB And Thunderbolt

Today I am gonna compare USB and Thunderbolt. I am comparing which I think is the better one. Which is gonna be the long-term contender. I go over the differences between the two and the advantages of both. That’s what this article gonna be about.


Comparisons Between USB And Thunderbolt

Now about USB, I don’t think I have to explain. I have pretty sure everyone’s familiar with it. It’s a data transfer interface. And then Thunderbolt is also used for data transfer. But it’s basically a combination of PCI Express and DisplayPort. So in addition to connecting computer peripherals and hardware. You can also connect displays to it.

usb vs thunderbolt

Now USB 3.1 is the latest iteration of USB. Although it isn’t that common yet in 2016 we’re probably gonna see it become more common and more devices. Basically, USB 3.1 supports up to 10 gigabits per second of data transfer. Also, in USB 3.1 is support for the new USB Type-C connector. This is a reversible connector on like any of the other USB connectors. And then also for Type-C, it supports up to 100 watts of power. So you can run a lot bigger devices of it.

Now Thunderbolt 3 is the next version of Thunderbolt. And it supports up to 40 gigabits per second of data transfer. This is double the previous version Thunderbolt 2, which was 20 gigabits per second. So even Thunderbolt 2 was faster than USB 3.1. And the cool thing about thunderbolt is that you can actually daisy chain devices together. So with one port you can actually connect up to six different devices throw one Thunderbolt input into the computer. And interestingly the Thunderbolt 3 connector is going to be the USB Type-C connector. So how does that work?


Well, Thunderbolt 2 actually used a DisplayPort connector. But Thunderbolt 3 one still be more universal. So they’re actually using the USB Type-C connector and it’s going to be compatible with USB 3.1 devices. So with a Thunderbolt  3 cable interface, you basically get three in one.

  1. You have the DisplayPort for driving monitors.
  2. You have USB if it’s just a USB device.
  3. And then you also have the PCI Express for the maximum 40 gigabits per second data transfer, if that device supports it.

So you might be thinking that Thunderbolt right now appears to be better in every single way. And really if you just look at the technology it pretty much is. But there’s one drawback and that is that it’s proprietary. If a company wants to make a device that supports Thunderbolt, they have to pay a royalty fee or licensing fee to Apple every time they want to use it. So if they want to make a product it’s going to be more expensive to make and, therefore, more expensive for the consumer.

My Thoughts Between USB And Thunderbolt

Now USB also has a licensing fee but it’s very small and pretty much just nominal. You also have to consider that most devices consumer devices like phones are never going to need 40 gigabits per second. So why would a company spend the extra licensing fee on a Thunderbolt interface, if it’s not required if it’s never going to be used.

I think the Thunderbolt will have a place. But in most cases USB is gonna be good enough and it’s also much cheaper and also backward compatible with other USB. So it’s really universal. I think the Thunderbolt is mostly just gonna be used for professional applications and instances where you really need that kind of speed. But in most cases I’m pretty sure that USB is going to still reign as the universal connector.


So those are just my thoughts and comparisons between the two. As you can probably imagine both of them are very good interfaces. And Thunderbolt does have that huge advantage with speed. But USB is just so ubiquitous right now. I’m curious what you guys think so I look forward to hearing from you in the comments section. And if you like this article be sure to share it.