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USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3

Jamie Powell

Thunderbolt is a trademarked technology that offers fast data transmission and charging power. The first two versions have a Mini DisplayPort interface, while the third has a USB connector.

USB-C and Thunderbolt are interchangeable and function similarly

Thunderbolt 3 is a USB-C port, but faster, more versatile, and more powerful. Here’s a quick comparison of the two’s properties:


The data connection speed of 40 Gbps works as long as the cable is 1.6 feet or shorter.

According to the FAQs, Thunderbolt 3 ports are compatible with USB devices and cables. Thunderbolt 3 cables can work as USB-C cables and good-quality USB-C cables may work as Thunderbolt 3 cables.

While USB-C devices can be plugged into a Thunderbolt 3 port and still function, the same can’t be said when you connect a Thunderbolt 3 device to a USB-C port. The device’s Thunderbolt chipset does not function in a USB-C port.

Thunderbolt is exclusive to Apple

Intel developed Thunderbolt with Apple, which has carried such ports on its laptops and desktop computers like the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Intel, however, wants more products to incorporate the protocol.

To that end, the computer chip manufacturer announced in 2017 that it is making the Thunderbolt 3 specification available to computer manufacturers free of royalties. USB4, whose architecture is based on the Thunderbolt protocol, was released two years later.


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