USB-C vs. Thunderbolt: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?


  • USB-C and Thunderbolt cables may look similar, but there is one small detail that helps differentiate them: a Thunderbolt port and cable have a small lightning symbol on the product, while standard USB-C cables are denoted by their USB symbol.
  • USB-C has become the norm for most devices due to its symmetrical oval shape and its ability to combine data transfer, charging, and support for other protocols like PCIe and DisplayPort.
  • USB 4, which runs on an open version of Thunderbolt 3, offers a data transfer rate of 40 Gbps, support for an 8K resolution monitor, and power delivery up to 100W, but not all USB 4 ports will include these features.
  • Thunderbolt 4, the latest protocol until Thunderbolt 5 releases next year, also offers a 40 Gbps transfer rate and supports two 4K displays. It has better protection against DMA attacks and can transmit data over 2 meters without losing speed.
  • Thunderbolt 4 is more expensive and requires a Thunderbolt device to fully benefit from its functionality, so it may not be for everyone.

Ted’s Take:

Well, well, well, it seems like Thunderbolt and USB-C are in the ring, duking it out for the title of best connector. USB-C is like the popular kid in school, with its symmetrical oval shape and ability to do it all. Meanwhile, Thunderbolt is the rebel, with its lightning symbol showing off its power. USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4 are like twin siblings, both offering a 40 Gbps transfer rate, but Thunderbolt 4 flexes a bit more with support for two 4K displays and better protection against attacks. However, Thunderbolt 4 is a bit snobby, requiring a Thunderbolt device to fully unlock its potential. So, whether you choose USB-C or Thunderbolt, just remember that they both have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s like choosing between a sports car and a luxury vehicle — they both get you where you need to go, but one might make the journey a bit flashier.

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