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USB 2.0 Vs. USB 3.0: What is the Difference?

In this guide, we will explain the difference between USB 2.0 and 3.0.

Are you confused about the difference between USB 2.0 vs 3.0? Know which is suited for your needs by learning all about the differences of each here. This guide will explain the difference between USB 2.0 and 3.0.

History Of The USB Drive

Before developers even invented USBs, computers had already utilized parallel and serial ports to transfer data. Printers, joysticks, mice, and keyboards all use individual ports. On top of that, custom drivers and an expansion card were required to connect a device to a computer. Other types of ports couldn’t even run simultaneously.

When developers created USB ports, they designed the port to handle up to 127 devices while providing compatibility.

Developers created USBs in the ’90s to define communication protocols, including connectors and cables, between various electronic devices (scanners, printers, and others) and computers. These soon became the standard for connecting electronics and gadgets to computers.

Gadgets like smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles can connect to computers through USB ports, which allow communication and charging.

In November 2008, developers released USB 3.0, eight years after developers released USB 2.0. In 2014, they released USB 3.1. Now onto the difference. We’ve highlighted the key differences between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 below. Keep reading

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USB 2.0 Vs USB 3.0: Power Usage

USB 2.0 can provide up to 500 mA current, whereas USB 3.0 is capable of providing up to 900 mA current. Also, USB 3.0 can deliver more USB power when the need arises and conserve power when the USB flash drive is connected but not being used.

USB 2.0 Vs. USB 3.0: Physical Differences

The USB ports for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 also differ visually. USB 2.0 has a black “block” inside the USB port, while USB 3.0 has a blue “block” inside the USB port. The more recent USB 3.1 port also differs visually in that the “block” inside the USB 3.1 port is red.

USB 2.0 Vs USB 3.0: Data Transfer Rate

USB 2.0 transfer speed is 480 megabits per second (Mbps), while USB 3.0 transfer speed is 4,800 Mbps. This means USB 3.0 is approximately ten times faster than USB 2.0. USB 3.1 has also been released and has a data transfer rate of 10,000 Mbps. This is twice as fast as USB 3.0 and twenty times as fast as USB 2.0.

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USB 2.0 Vs USB 3.0: Backward Compatibility

USB 3.0 ports are completely backward compatible. Therefore, the drive will work normally when a USB 2.0 drive or earlier versions are connected to a USB 3.0 port. However, it is important to note that a USB 3.0 drive is also compatible with a USB 2.0 port. But, a USB 3.0 drive will exhibit the same transfer rate as a USB 2.0 drive when connected to a USB 2.0 port. In other words, a USB 3.0 drive must be connected with a USB 3.0 port to achieve the high data transfer rates USB 3.0 is known for.

USB 2.0 Vs USB 3.0: Larger Bandwidth

USB 2.0 offers a one-way communication path. This means the data are both sent and received over the same pathway. Thus, USB 2.0 can only send or receive data at a given time but not do both. On the other hand, USB 3.0 uses two separate unidirectional data paths, each with a dedicated function: one for sending data and the other for receiving data. This means that USB 3.0 can simultaneously send and receive data.

USB 2.0 Vs. USB 3.0: Larger Number of Wires

USB 2.0 has four connector wires, while USB 3.0 has a total of 9. The presence of these five additional wires increases the bandwidth of USB 3.0 by permitting two-way communications simultaneously. The superior performance of USB 2.0 vs 3.0 has caused an increase in popularity for the USB 3.0 USB drives.

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USB 2.0 Vs USB 3.0: Price

In terms of price, USB 2.0 vs 3.0 differs significantly. You can buy an affordable USB 2.0 on the market, such as an 8-gigabyte (GB) USB 2.0 flash drive for less than $10. With USB 3.0, it will be more expensive, especially those that offer the fastest transfer speeds. It can reach up to $40 if you opt for those that offer said speeds. 

You might want to consider how you’ll use the drive. If you’ll be using it frequently and transferring huge files, USB 3.0 might be a better choice since its superior speeds can cut down transfer time. We should note that price will always be less of an issue when buying from Everything But Stromboli. Regardless of brand, we bring wholesale prices every day, especially when you buy in bulk. You can shop our selection of 2.0 and 3.0 USBs here!

USB 3.1

  • The newest version of USBs is the 3.1, which provides several major improvements compared to the USB 3.0.
  • USB 3.1 can power any device.
  • Its data transfer speed can reach up to 10 gigabits per second

The USB 3.1 is usually associated with the USB-C connector because it’s the connector type that can support the features of the USB 3.1 standard. It can support up to an impressive 10,000 cycles of usage.

What Is USB 3.1 Gen 1?

USB 3.1 Gen 1 is similar to USB 3.0, and in fact, the existing USB 3.0 connectors have been named USB Gen 1. However, the transfer speeds remained the same even with the name change.

USB 3.1 Gen 1 has a power capacity of up to 900 mA at 5V and speeds of up to 625 megabytes or 5 Gbps. The USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector also looks like the USB 2.0 A connector with a blue interior.

Gen 1 has more than one connector type with the slim micro-B and bulky type B, also known as the “printer.” However, these types of connectors cannot support the full power of Gen 2.

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What Is USB 3.1 Gen 2?

Developers launched the USB 3.1 Gen 2 in July 2013. Unlike Gen 1, which had only gone through a name change, several upgrades were made on the USB 3.1 Gen 2. It has the same transfer rate as Gen 1, which is 5 Gbps, but its maximum speed can reach 10 Gbps.

However, only the USB Type-C connector can keep up with the bandwidth and full power of Gen 2. Aside from that, its cable length is only limited. Devices and cables that support Gen 2 aren’t that common yet.

Understanding USB Type-C Connector

The USB Type-C connector is just a connector, not a USB standard, to clarify some confusion. While its construction enables some of Gen 2’s features, the connector doesn’t determine the USB standard’s power transfer and speed.

The devices at both ends of the cable determine the power and speed capacity. The problem is buying the USB standard and connector is that most people confuse USB 3.1 with Type-C. If you purchase cables with Type-C connectors on both ends, they can support Gen 2’s features.

USB Type-C surpasses the older versions of connectors, which helps create a universal connector type and drops the mini and macro versions. With a transfer power of up to 5,000 mA at 20 V, you can secure a strong connection with this connector.

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Diekola Yusuf
Diekola Yusufhttps://www.novabach.com
Founder & CEO of Novabach - Yusuf is a Tech enthusiast. Fascinated by Computers and all sorts of Technology. He writes news, updates, walkthroughs, guides, troubleshooting tips, and how-to tutorials on gadgets and consumer electronics.
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