- USB 2.0 transfer rate capability was advanced with the 3.0 update.
- The rates are 480 Mbps versus 4.8 Gbit/s.
- With extra connections, the 3.0 allows more data bandwidth and for signals to be sent and received simultaneously.
If you’re like most computer users, USB (Universal Serial Bus) is something that you’ve used many times without giving it a second thought. While many people use their USB ports and cables to charge devices such as cellphones, USB was developed to make transferring data between a host device and a peripheral device fast and easy.
If, for example, you have a digital camera and want to transfer or copy your photos to your computer’s hard drive, you simply have to connect the two devices via their USB ports using the corresponding USB cable. Your computer will automatically detect what type of device you’re attaching and load a driver that will allow your camera to operate.
“Yes,” you may be saying, “But how does the data transfer from my camera to my computer via the USB cable?” Let’s find out.
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) was developed as a standard to define communication protocols between computers and electronic devices. USB refers both to the USB ports and cables with USB connectors. They are most frequently used in 2021 as charging cables for smartphones and tablets, but their primary purpose is for data transfer between computers, smartphones, and tablets to accessories like controllers, keyboards, printers, and scanners.
Of course, the amount devices made to be used with a computer has grown immensely since the concept was first introduced. Every industry in the known world has found innumerable uses for USB connections. Where there’s a specialized piece of equipment, there’s usually a USB connection to manage it through a computer interface.
Like any technology, the USB design has not stood still. The original line of USB 1.0 ports is hard to find, but USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are found nearly everywhere. On desktops, you can identify a type-A USB port, the traditional rectangle USB port shape, by its color. Grey usually stands for USB 2.0. Blue usually means it is a USB 3.0. The color isn’t the only difference.
USB 3.0 is an advanced form of USB 2.0 with a faster transfer rate. USB 2.0 ports are only able to reach a 480 Mbps transfer rate even over short, efficient connector wires. 3.0 can reach speeds over ten times faster at 4.8 Gbit/s. This is due to four extra connector wires inside a USB cable. These extra connections allow more data bandwidth, but also allow for signals to be sent and received simultaneously.
The modern consumer is likely to associate USB 3.0 with the Type-C form factor and “fast-charging”. The massive bandwidth allows tablets, smartphones, and other electronics to pull a higher amount of power from the wall. The transfer rate of 4.8 Gbit/s is so fast that the cable can be used as a replacement for high-definition display cables and still allow for power throughput and extra device interaction. This is evident in devices like mobile touch-screen displays with USB C connections or portable VR headsets like Oculus(excuse me, Meta) Quest 2.
USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0 Side-by Side-Comparison
|What it is
|data transfer port
|data transfer port
|data transfer and device charger
|data transfer and device charging
|universal serial bus 2.0
|universal serial bus 3.0
|USB 3.0, USB 3.1, USB C
|USB 3.1, USB C
What is the USB?
The Universal Serial Bus is the standard male-female connection system used to allow computing peripherals, accessories, and even other computers to talk to each other. Put simply, they allow data transfer to occur from one device to another. It was originally designed to help connect office devices like scanners and printers to either office computers or home computers. The use of the USB port and USB cables has far surpassed its original purpose. Now, USB ports and cables can be seen on nearly every electronic device with rechargeable batteries or the need to transfer data like video from a hunting camera.
The Types of USB
USB can be confusing at first. There are three different shape types of USB adapters and two active versions. There are also “mini” variations to some port types that act as adapters for devices with limited surface space for ports.
The Three Main Types of USB
- Type-A: This is the traditional rectangle USB shape.
- Type-B: This type is shaped more like a square with the corner cut off. It is a slightly higher bandwidth port connection commonly used for printers and scanners.
- Type-C: C is the new standard for USB. It has no right side, which means it can’t be inserted into a device the wrong way. It also has the fastest capabilities and is often used for high-end features like Thunderbolt, fast-charging, and smart HUB connections.
- USB 1.1 – Released in 1998, 1.1 was only able to transfer 12Mbps with a max power output of 2.5V, 500 MA.
- USB 2.0 – Released in 2000, 2.0 increased transfer rate to 480 Mbps with a max power output of 2.5V, 1.8A.
- USB 3.0 – Released in 2008, 3.0’s transfer rate is 4.8 Gbit/s with a max power output of 5V, 1.8A.
- USB 3.1 – Released in 2015, 3.1 has a transfer rate of 10 Gbit/s with a max power output of 20V, 5A.
- USB Mini A – Mini A is a small boat-shaped port meant for smaller devices.
- USB Mini B – Mini B was the next attempt at fast and small USB connection, this port was used for the PS3 controllers.
- USB Micro A – Micro-A was more and even smaller than the Mini A.
- USB Micro B – Micro B was once a standard charge/data transfer connection for early smartphones.
USB 2.0 vs. USB 3.0: 10 Must Know Facts
- USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Type-A connections can be swapped. However, 3.0 features will not be fully functional in a USB 2.0 port, while 2.0 will work perfectly in a 3.0 port.
- USB cable adapters can be used to allow your USB cables to be compatible with more devices.
- USB 3.0’s transfer rate is ten times faster than USB 2.0
- Modern desktop setups often come with both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. They sometimes even include USB 3.1 Type-C ports as well.
- Type-A ports can be either USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or USB 3.1.
- Older USB connections can connect to new USB ports.
- USB cables are interchangeable as long as the ports are the correct type for the device and support the correct version of USB for the device’s features.
- USB ports are often exposed and should be kept away from potential obstructions. USB-C ports can be made to be Waterproof and are more resistant.
- Type-A ports for both USB 2.0 and 3.0 can be damaged if the cable adapter is placed in the port incorrectly. If the adapter won’t go in easy, do not force it.
- USB are replaceable. In handheld produces, this has to be done with some dismantling and soldiering. In a desktop computer, USB ports can be removed or added at will provided the motherboard has support for extra slots.
Let’s look at some more articles about USBs!
- USB 4: Twice as Fast as the Previous Generation. These guys just keep getting faster and faster! How much faster can they get in the next version?
- Best USB-C To Lightning Cables That Actually Work. We’ve found the answers to help get these units to function together.
- The 6 Best USB-C Cables For Every Use. It’s important to have the hardware to take advantage of the speed of your USBs.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©iStock.com/PatrikSlezak.