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.

4d932 thunderbolt cable adapters thunderbolt cable adapters

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 for both Thunderbolt 3 cables and USB-C cables.

Is USB Type-C and Thunderbolt the Same Thing?

No, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt are not the same thing but they’re close – sort of. Let us explain!

It was in the early 1990s that the USB standard was first published and since then, USB interfaces have changed quite a bit to accommodate the growing technology. Today, USB-C is the accepted standard and is easily one of the most popular consumer cables in the world. USB-C does not describe the technology inside the cable. Instead, USB-C describes the type of connector and plug on the end.

USB-C is about the third of the size of the previous USB-A standard and provides quite the upgrade in functionality. The USB-C is used to charge devices from laptops and smartphones to all sorts. Very powerful and even hailed by some as ‘future-proof’, the USB-C connector is reversible as well meaning that there is no wrong way to plug it in.

Now let’s talk a little bit about Thunderbolt. The USB-C is the connector and so the technology inside is Thunderbolt. Approximately a decade ago, all the talk was about Firewire for high data transfer. Thunderbolt replaced Firewire, allowing the opportunity to share more power among multiple devices and to sync and charge at far faster capabilities than what was previously possible. Today’s latest Thunderbolt standard has up to 40Gbps bandwidth, reduced power consumption, and is reportedly able to move as much as 100 watts of power.

Therefore, Thunderbolt USB-C cables make for some of the most advanced in history. As technology continues to progress, Thunderbolt is just the beginning to capitalizing on the limitless uses of USB Type-C. In the years to come, USB-C is likely to remain as the standard – with or without Thunderbolt – helping millions of Canadians hook up and connect their devices.

In the USB Type-C PrimeCables category, some of the biggest selling items include the 1m USB-C to USB 3.1A Charging/Sync Cable with Aluminum Alloy Connector – White – PrimeCables® – 1/Pack for $5.99, the USB-C 3.1 to HDMI & USB 3.0 & RJ45 & Type-C Charging Adapter – 15CM – PrimeCables® for $43.99, the USB-C Adapter, USB Type C to Micro USB Convert Connector – PrimeCables® – 1/Pack for $3.99, and the USB-C to USB 3.1 M/F Cable Adapter, OTG Compatible – White – PrimeCables® for $6.99.

Now that the Type-C and Thunderbolt differences have hopefully been made somewhat clearer, please don’t hesitate to browse the PrimeCables to buy your USB Type-C on discount. All orders above $49 receives fast, free shipping to anywhere in Canada. In addition, there are free returns and a 1-year guarantee on all USB Type-C cables purchased through PrimeCables. Buy today to begin tapping into some of the fastest sync and charge cables in Canada!