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The Difference Between USB-C Cables and Thunderbolt

Premium devices are starting to incorporate Thunderbolt over USB-C, giving users more options and arguably better performance. It may not be immediately obvious how Thunderbolt improves on USB-C, so here’s a rundown of the key facts on the two.

USB-C Cables

USB-C is meant to be the latest standard cable, a connector that all devices should use to make connecting between each other easier. It offers a number of upgrades over previous USB types, including being able to insert upside down or right-side up.

Hundreds of companies around the world are committed to USB standards and have adopted USB-C for most of their devices and accessories.

The Benefits of USB-C

There’s a lot of features packed into USB-C. They support very high-speed data transfer, with different classes of USB available through USB-C. In addition to this, USB-C supports digital video signals just like an HDMI cable does.

USB Type-C cables are extremely versatile and finds use across a wide range of devices, not just phones and tablets.

Thunderbolt Cables

The latest iteration of Thunderbolt, Thunderbolt 3, is in many ways similar to USB-C. The connector is the same shape, with the ports supporting USB-C cables. However, Thunderbolt 3 cables have transfer speed twice as high as the very best USB-C cables on the market.

This is a massive increase that opens the door to new applications, including 4K video streaming to multiple screens at once.

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The Adoption of Thunderbolt 3

Many companies are starting to incorporate Thunderbolt 3 ports into devices. The ports still support standard USB-C devices while opening the door to newer ones. Thunderbolt 3 is already seeing use as a connector for new 6K monitors.

Many of the top-of-the-line laptops today features Thunderbolt 3 ports in order to future proof, anticipating that the cables will one day be standard.

Figuring Out Which is Which

Many users won’t be able to easily identify if their device has Thunderbolt or just USB-C. Most devices don’t have any special markings for the ports, while some have thunderbolt symbols. The packaging for devices and cables should state what type they are.

Labeling is inconsistent, but any devices featuring both Thunderbolt and USB-C ports will differentiate the two in some way.

Which Port is Right?

Thunderbolt ports open up a lot of great options, but when are they the right choice? The perks only come into play when both devices being connected are Thunderbolt compatible, not just one of them. Older devices won’t be able to use this technology.

At least for now, the only people who really need to be sure they’re getting Thunderbolt are professionals that deal with large data transfers like video artists. That said, you can shop at PrimeCables.ca for both Thunderbolt 3 cables and USB-C cables.

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