What is The Difference between Thunderbolt and USB-C?

Whenever you are required to charge an electronic gadget, whether a mobile device or connect a peripheral to a PC or Mac, you may require various types of USB ports or Thunderbolt ports for a seamless experience. However, choosing between these two or telling them apart can be complex. This is because the USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 share certain specifications like the identically shaped connectors and cables, which are physically compatible with one another.

thunderbolt vs usb c

Both Thunderbolt and USB-C ports allow for fast data transfer and device connectivity. However, they have their own set of differences. Thunderbolt can avail powerful and faster ports to allow data transfer which speeds up to 40 Gbps compared to USB-C ports, where data transfer speed can vary depending on the version of the port.

On the other hand, USB-C supports a wide range of devices due to universal standards, but Thunderbolt is only available on higher-end devices. Hence, Thunderbolt is more expensive than USB-C. This article will explain the key differences between Thunderbolt and USB-C, what their uses are, so you can make an informed decision on which one is best for your needs. Read on to find more.

What is Thunderbolt? 

Thunderbolt is a high-speed input and output technology. Intel first developed this in collaboration with Apple in 2011. In later times, this technology was combined with PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols to enable data transfer which now rates up to 40Gbps, which is twice as fast as today’s fastest USB-C port offering 20Gbps maximum speed.

This makes Thunderbolt one of the fastest ports available in the market. Thunderbolt port allows daisy-chaining up to six devices to simultaneously deliver power and video signals. Apart from data transferring, Thunderbolt can unlock additional capabilities of the connected displays and expansion docks. Comprehensively speaking, Thunderbolt 3 and 4 are USB-C connectors on steroids.

What are the benefits of using Thunderbolt technology?

There are many advantageous features associated with Thunderbolt technology.

  • High-speed data transfer

Thunderbolt technology can transfer data at a rate of up to 40 Gbps, making it one of the fastest data transfer technologies available.

  • Dual protocol support

It can support both PCI Express and DisplayPort protocols, allowing it to handle a wide range of tasks from data transfer and video output to connecting peripherals.

  • Daisy-Chaining

Thunderbolt allows users to connect up to six devices to a single port using a daisy-chaining configuration. This means that multiple devices can be connected to a single Thunderbolt port, reducing clutter and making connecting and disconnecting devices easier.

  • Versatile capabilities

Thunderbolt also supports power delivery, which means that it can charge connected devices, including laptops and displays. It is compatible with USB-C, which means that it can be used with a wide range of devices.

  • High-quality audio and video transmission

Thunderbolt can transmit high-quality audio and video, which makes it ideal for connecting to high-resolution displays and audio equipment.

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Key features of Ugreen Thunderbolt 3 Cable 40Gbps:

  • It allows for dual 4K@60Hz video outputs and single 5K@60Hz video output
  • The data transfer rate is up to 40 Gbps
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  • 100W power delivery charging


Background on USB-C  

USB-C stands for Universal Serial Bus, an industry-standard connector for transmitting data and power on a single cable. At first glance, the USB-C connector resembles the earlier micro-USB connector; however, it is more oval-shaped and a little thicker to fit its best function. There is no need to guess which end goes where because the standard cables have the same connector on both ends.

USB connector was introduced in 2014, and the C-type was designed to replace the standard USB-A and USB-B connectors and other legacy ports like VGA and HDMI with single or versatile ports. It supports fast data transfer rates, high power delivery, audio and video transmission, and more. USB-C was developed by the USB Implementers Forum, which included Apple, Microsoft, HP, and Intel, which are now widely adopted industry standards.

What are the benefits of using USB-C technology?

There are multiple advantages to using USB-C technology.

  • Reversible design

The biggest benefit of USB-C is its reversible design. Since you can’t force it in the wrong way, it simplifies the connection and virtually removes any possibility of breaking the cable or the port you’re plugging it into.

  • Fast data transfer

Up to 20Gbps of the fastest USB protocol can be used to transmit data using Type-C ports.

  • Support high-bandwidth applications

USB-C also supports high-bandwidth functions like controlling high-definition displays and quick external storage.

  • Charge all devices

USB-C makes using fewer chargers to power all of your devices possible, which is much more practical. Additionally, it signifies less potential environmental waste.

  • Carry power in two directions

Unlike the outdated system that uses a jumble of cables, USB-C PD is flexible and transmits power and data in both ways. Your devices can be set up in a central “hub and spoke” configuration or in a continuous “daisy-chain” configuration.

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Key Features of Ugreen USB-C to USB-C 100W Fast Cable 2 Pack

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Key Differences between Thunderbolt and USB-C  

In order to make a better decision between Thunderbolt Vs. USB-C, here are some key differences to look out for:

  • The highest data transfer speed of a Thunderbolt 3 cable is 40 gigabytes per second, which is double the speed of a USB-C cable. However, to achieve these data transfer rates, you must use a Thunderbolt cable with a Thunderbolt port and not a USB-C port.
  • High-end laptops and desktop computers commonly have Thunderbolt ports, which are often used to link external hard drives, displays, and other devices. Wireless mice, keyboards, speakers, and smart home appliances all presently offer USB-C ports that can be used for both power delivery and data transfer.
  • Thunderbolt supports a default charging speed of 15 watts, i.e., 6X faster than USB-C.
  • Thunderbolt 4 port can connect up to two 4K 60hz DisplayPort or HDMI monitors using a compatible dock. With the help of adapters, video can be output from the same USB-C port to displays with HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, and other kinds of video connectors thanks to USB-C’s Alternate Mode.


Whether it’s Thunderbolt or USB-C ports, both enable high-speed data transfer technologies. However, being developed on high-end technology, Thunderbolt has some advantages over USB-C, which might make it a better choice in certain situations. It is faster than USB-C and supports dual protocols. They can be used for high-performance devices and also supports power delivery.

If you have such needs, then Thunderbolt would be a better choice between Thunderbolt Vs. USB-C. However, it is more expensive and does not support all devices. If you simply need to connect everyday peripherals like keyboards, mice, and external hard drives, then USB-C is likely sufficient. It’s always a good idea to check the specifications of your devices before purchasing one.

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