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MagSafe vs. USB-C: Which Charging Method Should You Really Use?

MagSafe vs. USB-C

MagSafe vs. USB-C: Which Charging Method Should You Really Use?

Key Points

  • MagSafe and USB-C are two different charging methods for MacBooks.
  • MagSafe offers stable and efficient charging with a maximum power output of 140 watts.
  • USB-C is a multi-purpose connector that allows for connection of peripherals, displays, and power delivery.
  • MagSafe is more effective in preventing damage to the charging port, while USB-C is more versatile and can be used for data transfer.
  • MagSafe is compatible with newer Apple laptops, while USB-C is a supported charging method for all recent Apple laptops.

MagSafe vs. USB-C: how should you charge your MacBook? One of the biggest surprises with the release of the Apple Silicon line of computers was the reimagining of the old MagSafe charger. They used to be the only way to deliver power to the older MacBook family of laptops before being phased. The modern MacBook Pro running an M2 chip has the option of running both charging ports.

That said, why should you choose one over the other? Realistically, you could tote your MagSafe charger and the accompanying charger block around and do just fine. However, there are some notable differences to keep in mind when looking at both of these charging technologies. So, let’s dive in and see which one works best for Apple fans.

MagSafe vs. USB-C: Side-by-Side Comparison

MagSafeUSB-C
PurposeProvide stable and efficient charging to compatible Apple laptopsMulti-purpose connector for connection of peripherals, displays, and power delivery
Maximum Power Output140 watts100 watts
Fast Charging SupportYesYes
Compatible LaptopsApple laptops manufactured after 2022All recent Apple laptops
Data Transfer SupportNoYes
Charger Included with LaptopYesYes
Safety FeaturesMagnetic latch to prevent the cable from damaging the portNone
Authentic Apple MagSafe Charger
Apple 60W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter for MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina Display
$72.00
  • Magnetic DC connector easily disconnects from your laptop if you trip over the cord
  • Prevents fraying or weakening of the cables
  • Guides the plug into the system for a secure connection
  • LED status light at the head of the DC connector
  • Includes AC cord and AC wall adapter
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/11/2024 09:46 pm GMT

As you can likely see, both charging ports offer some benefits. MagSafe does appear to have an edge at first glance, but it does bear further exploration. The most notable feature to spend any time focusing on is the improved magnetic latch introduced with the new MagSafe standard. This prevents accidental damage occurring to your laptop’s charging port in a public area.

MagSafe vs. USB-C: What’s the Difference?

With some of the larger details out of the way, it is time to take a closer look at how these charging standards match up. They ostensibly use identical power sources, but the overall capabilities when comparing both greatly differ. The only shared commonality you’ll find is the use of a USB-C charging port to connect to the main block when heading to a wall outlet.

Power Delivery

magsafe vs. usb-c
USB-C allows for the use of peripherals while also charging your laptop’s battery.

When it comes to efficient power delivery, both of these charging standards handle themselves quite well. The MagSafe charger has greater overhead for power delivery and allows for speedy fast charging. However, when you look at the charging block packaged with new Apple MacBooks, you’ll see one similarity.

Any new charging block that ships with an Apple laptop is going to come with a USB-C output port by default. You can plug in your typical USB-C cable and effectively use it as a charging port on your laptop. However, the MagSafe does allow all IO ports to stay open while you charge your laptop.

Simply speaking, if you’re looking at fast charging, both of these standards perform quite well. You can go from 0 to 50% in just under five minutes on the latest MacBook laptops. As such, it’ll come down more to user preference than anything else.

Other Functionality

When it comes down to other functionality, the MagSafe isn’t really in the running. The cable is intended solely for power delivery and little else. USB-C is a multi-function port that does much more than just charge your laptop. You’ll use it to hook up external accessories like a mouse, keyboard, and even an external display.s

USB-C is a standard that is built with versatility and flexibility in mind. Throughput isn’t even part of the equation when taking a closer look at the capabilities of the MagSafe charger. Where MagSafe truly shines is in power delivery.

However, any of the USB-C ports found on a modern Apple laptop are quite smart. You can plug up a USB-C charging cable to any of them and receive the same effective power delivery while simultaneously being connected to an external display or dock.

Maximum Charging Rate

magsafe vs. usb-c
The latest MacBooks can charge up to 140 watts on MagSafe.

The maximum charging rate of both these standards is where you’ll see real differences arise. MagSafe has a larger maximum charging rate, operating at up to 140 watts of effective power delivery. With the right sort of charging block, you can get your laptop topped off in no time at all.

Now, USB-C isn’t a slouch by any means with a maximum output of 100 watts. You’ve still got access to fast charging, albeit not quite at the same rate. However, when it gets down to it, you’re looking at fast charging measured in minutes rather than hours.

As such, it could be forgiven to allow for a little more time when it comes to charging. However, you are sacrificing an IO port when utilizing a USB-C port. It might be that MagSafe proves to be the more potent option thanks to its higher wattage and power delivery mechanism.

Effectiveness

In terms of overall effectiveness, the tip of the hat has to go to MagSafe. It is simply the best charging standard when looking at a modern MacBook. The charging port is less prone to damage thanks to the magnetic latch implemented, a real selling point even when looking at the MacBooks of yesteryear.

In terms of versatility, the USB-C is king. You can effectively take an iPad Pro, MacBook Pro, and iPhone 15 and use the same charger between all three devices. Further, you can take that same charging cable and use it for transferring data from your portable handheld devices to your laptop.

This does make it more versatile as a whole, but it lacks the faster charging speed found with MagSafe. If you’re utilizing a certified Thunderbolt 4 charger, it still isn’t even coming close to the 140 watts on offer from the newer standard.

Compatibility

Compatibility is where the USB-C wins out. The original MagSafe standard was phased out in 2015, and replaced by the then-new USB-C. As such, if you’re a Mac fan, you’ve likely got a compatible charger and accompanying block lying around somewhere in your house.

MagSafe chargers are only going to be found on newer Apple computers, meaning you’ll have to invest in a laptop to use it. It looks to be the standard going forward, with the USB-C power delivery method still being present.

However, if you are purchasing a new MacBook Pro or Air, it might be worth sticking with a dedicated charging cable to retain your precious ports for other accessories.

Fast, Efficient Charging
Apple 96W USB-C Power Adapter
$44.99
  • Pair with USB-C to MagSafe 3 cable or USB-C charge cable for fast charging
  • Go from 0 to 50% charge in about 30 minutes with fast charging
  • Wide compatibility with USB-C devices and charging cables
  • USB-C charging cable sold separately
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/11/2024 10:06 pm GMT

MagSafe vs. USB-C: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • MagSafe was introduced with the release of the 14-inch MacBook Pro and 13-inch MacBook Air.
  • MagSafe allows for effective power delivery while maintaining open IO ports.
  • MagSafe looks to be included in all future MacBooks going forward.
  • USB-C is still a supported charging method for MacBooks.
  • USB-C provides a maximum of 100 watts of power while MagSafe delivers 140 watts.

MagSafe vs. USB-C: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

So, which of these charging standards is a clear winner? If you’re operating solely in a vacuum, then MagSafe is going to be the winner time and time again. However, there is something to be said about carrying one charger for multiple devices. USB-C might not be a perfect solution, but it does minimize the amount of cabling you have to tote around in your laptop bag. Overall, it is going to come down entirely to user preference.

  1. Apple 60W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter for MacBook Pro with 13-inch Retina Display
    $72.00
    • Magnetic DC connector easily disconnects from your laptop if you trip over the cord
    • Prevents fraying or weakening of the cables
    • Guides the plug into the system for a secure connection
    • LED status light at the head of the DC connector
    • Includes AC cord and AC wall adapter
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/11/2024 09:46 pm GMT
  2. Apple 96W USB-C Power Adapter
    $44.99
    • Pair with USB-C to MagSafe 3 cable or USB-C charge cable for fast charging
    • Go from 0 to 50% charge in about 30 minutes with fast charging
    • Wide compatibility with USB-C devices and charging cables
    • USB-C charging cable sold separately
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    02/11/2024 10:06 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

Is MagSafe available on all Apple Silicon computers?

No, only the most recent models can use the MagSafe charger.

Can you still use USB-C charging with a MacBook?

You can, and it is still a great way of charging your MacBook.

What sort of charging block can MagSafe use?

Any USB-C charging block that is Apple-certified will work with a MagSafe cable.

Is MagSafe supported by the iPad?

No, newer iPad models use USB-C.

Is MagSafe reliable?

Yes, it is highly reliable for dedicated power delivery.

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