What is the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt

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Have no doubts, we are going to solve the problem between USB-C and Thunderbolt that has been generated in recent years with the launch of this connector and this standard.

No more doubts, let’s see what is the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt. Over the past few years, a number of new standards and connectors have emerged that, unfortunately, have only done more than confuse users when choosing their next cable for their mobile, computer, tablet, or even headphones.

The first thing we need to bring to the table is the difference between standards and connectors. The standard is, to put it in some way, what marks the speed, charging power, and functionality of both the ports and the cables that are used on a day-to-day basis to connect any type of device.

The connector, on the other hand, is simply the physical element that is integrated as the final part of the cable or encapsulated in the devices as a connection port. Unfortunately, the connector ends up being the most distinguishable element for users and that ends up causing confusion due to this bad association.

When we talk about the USB-C port, we are referring to the metal end of the cables of mobile phones launched in recent years or the connection ports of devices such as the latest generation iPad Pro. It is simply that, the physical element that allows devices to connect both to others and to electrical current.

This is the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt

Since it’s just the physical connector, why are some USB-C ports faster than others or support higher charging speeds? Because of the standard that has been built into those USB-C ports or cables. The standard can be, for example, USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 which makes transmission speeds much faster.

In fact, buying a USB-C is not a guarantee of having a cable, in the case of looking for a connector, that can offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps. To achieve this, you have to look at the connection standard that is integrated into this connector, cable, or port, since it is what makes the difference.

Having made this clear, we go with Thunderbolt, which, logically, is a connection standard that uses the USB-C connector to connect with devices. This standard, which was created by Intel with the collaboration of Apple, allows data transmission of up to 40 Gbps to be offered, in addition to other functionalities.

Among the features is that Thunderbolt is a standard for both data transmission and information transmission, allowing video and audio signals to be sent at the same time. Of course, not all Thunderbolt is the same since, as with USB, there are different versions that extend its advantages.

In short, the difference between USB-C and Thunderbolt lies in the concepts of connector and connection standards. USB-C is merely the connector, while Thunderbolt is a connection standard that comes with its own implications: speeds up to 40 Gbps, video streaming, audio streaming, and power.

How can you tell USB-C from Thunderbolt?

As we’ve said, all current Thunderbolt connectors are USB-C, but not all USB-C connectors are Thunderbolts. Of course, companies have made it easy for users looking for a Thunderbolt cable. First, these cables come at a significantly higher price than a conventional USB-C cable.

Based on the price difference, you also have to take into account the lightning silkscreen that is included in the Thunderbolt ports and cables. This icon is the main item to look for when shopping for a Thunderbolt cable as it allows these cables to be distinguished from any other.

This icon will appear both on the cable and on equipment that integrates a Thunderbolt port. In addition, to make it easier for users to choose a USB-C and Thunderbolt cable, the characteristics of the cables will soon be indicated on the outside: data transfer speed and charging power, in addition, in case of only offering to charge what will leave indicated.

In this way, the charging speed, as well as the transmission speed of USB-C, will be displayed on the cable box and eliminate mistakes. For its part, Thunderbolt will continue to use its classic lightning icon to indicate to users that it is a device that allows data, sound, and image transfers and allows charging simultaneously.

Taking into account the advantages of Thunderbolt, if you are going to renew your laptop, the best thing you can do is choose a device that integrates this standard. Of course, it should also include more USB-C ports with the most current USB standard in order to offer a higher speed in data transmission when connecting, for example, an SSD or a smart mobile device.

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