Nowadays, there are so many different kinds of wires and connections. Some of the most popular are USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, and USB 4 – but what’s the difference?
I’m Michele from Rocketyard. Here’s what you really need to know.
USB-C is a connection type. USB-C is not Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, or USB-4. It is only the connection that those technologies use. To understand the difference between those technologies you have to go past the USB-C connector, even though they all share it.
Thunderbolt and USB-4 are a communication standard, or protocol, that provides a set of features for a computer to interact with devices through that USB-C connection.
All three of these technologies use the USB-C connection type to connect to computers and devices.
The difference between Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 is that Thunderbolt 4 guarantees certain specifications that are optional with the Thunderbolt 3 standard. Thunderbolt 4 is always 40 Gigabits per second, while Thunderbolt 3 and USB-4 can operate at either 20 or 40 Gigabits per second.
The difference between Thunderbolt 3 and USB-4 is purely in the name. The actual standards are identical. In fact, Intel gave the Thunderbolt 3 standard to the USBIF which allowed for the adoption of the technology on USB-4 devices. As far as compatibility and performance goes, they are practically the same even though the names are different.
As far as cables go, regardless of whether the device is USB 4 or Thunderbolt 4, it’s best to purchase a Thunderbolt 4 cable to work with any of those devices to guarantee full compatibility.
Since Thunderbolt 4 includes support for USB and DisplayPort, if you see the Thunderbolt logo – a small lightning bolt and the number four on the cable – you know that connection can do it all.
I’m Michele from Rocketyard. Thank you for watching.