What is USB Type C?

What is USB Type C?

What is USB Type C?
USB, or universal serial bus, is a device that plugs into your computer to communicate with other devices.

Leading The Charge - USB Type C

USB Type C banner image

USB, or universal serial bus, is a device that plugs into your computer to communicate with other devices. There are different types of USB connectors that work with different port versions that determine the transfer speed of the USB connector. Many USB ports can be located on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. USB devices can power an assortment of peripherals such as keyboards, mice, headphones, hard drives, and more.

These cables also have charging capabilities for a number of portable devices. While we'll be going over what a USB Type C is, note that there are other USB types such as micro usb cables and mini usb cables such as, USB Type A and USB type B, as well as their counterparts, USB Micro-A and USB Micro-B and USB Mini-A and USB Mini-B.

USB Type C port is the newest USB Type to take over the tech world and, by all accounts, it is here to stay. You may be asking yourself – what is USB-C, what makes it so special and exactly how it different from its predecessors? We’re here to answer all of your questions.

What is USB-C?

USB-C will soon do away with all proprietary power adapters and USB cables in a call to unify all devices once and for all. It has the ability to transfer data, provide power, transmit audio and video, and power HDMI devices.

It is the new industry standard connector and, as we’re sure you’ve noticed, the new norm with many PC manufacturers and software developers. USB-C is bridging the gap between Apple and everyone else, unlike the Lightning and MagSafe connectors, which had only limited acceptance beyond Apple products. USB-C is on the path to making all other USB cables obsolete.

Different types of USB

How is it different from my current USB connectors?

Well, first off, you know how there's a 50/50 chance you'll get the plug orientation correct on the first try, but somehow you get it wrong 90% of the time? Those days are over. USB-C functions both ways and, an added bonus, both ends of the cable are the same, allowing for reversible plug orientation. The USB type C connector and port are similar to the Micro USB, making it small enough to work within the slightest peripherals as well as charge and syncing.

Secondly, it's fast. We're talking really fast. The default protocol is 10Gbps, which is essentially twice as fast as the previous USB 3.0. Note the USB 3.1 is still available in the Type A connector at 10Gbps, but the smaller, thinner USB-C is the new standard on the latest phones and tablets, rendering the larger standard connector obsolete without an adapter.

USB-C is backwards compatible with USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and older, and cables with USB-C to Type-A connectors are available to ease the transition into the new standard as we continue to move towards an exclusive USB-C world.

Version Introduced USB Types Max Transfer Speed
USB 1.1 1998 USB-A
12 Mbps
USB 2.0 2000 USB-A
USB Micro A
USB Micro B
USB Mini A
USB Mini B
480 Mbps
USB 3.2 Gen 1 2008 (USB 3.0)
2013 (USB3.1)
USB Micro B
5 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2 2013 (USB 3.1) USB-A
USB Micro B
10 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 2017 (USB 3.2) USB-C 20 Gbps
USB 4 Gen 2x2 2019 USB-C 20 Gbps
USB 4 Gen 3x2 2019 USB-C 40 Gbps

One cable, one port for all

As we mentioned above, USB-C transmits data, provides power, transmits audio and video, and can even power HDMI devices. Plus, all Thunderbolt 3 cables will work as USB-C charging cables and vice versa.

Thunderbolt allows for daisy chaining devices and transmitting high-definition audio and video signals and can move as much as 100 watts of power, enough to transfer large amounts of data to and from computers. Many laptops are already using Thunderbolt 3 ports, some with up to four connectors (Apple's MacBook Pro). USB-C cables are the ultimate cross-platform connector and we're only just beginning to unlock its potential.

USB Image going into laptop

USB standards have come a long way from being introduced back in 1998. While USB Type C was first shown in 2000, in the past few years it has really gained traction and has become the standard for the USB 4.

The standards of a USB Type are associated with its connector and speed. The USB 1.1 only accepted the USB Type A and Type B connector types and had a max data transfer speed of 12 Mbps. Fast forward to today, USB 4 has a max data transfer speed of 40 Gbps but USB 4 only accepts a USB Type C connector. With these kinds of stats, it’s safe to say USB-C is here to stay.