USB-A vs. USB-B vs. USB-C: What's the Difference? USB Types Comparison

USB-A, USB-B, USB-C: USB Cable Types & Standards Comparison

In this article, we clarify the difference between the three main types of USB connectors—UAB-A, USB-B, and USB-C—by comparing their USB standards, speed and bandwidth, charging power, and more capabilities utilized in our daily lives, including video and network transmission.

You can navigate to the related paragraph by clicking the links in this outline.

USB - Universal Connector for Electronic Devices

What's the difference between USB and USB-C?

USB, or Universal Serial Bus, serves as a vital link connecting computers, mobile devices, and external peripherals. Recent advancements, particularly the introduction of USB-C (Type-C) technology and the establishment of international regulations, have significantly diminished the limitations of USB, contributing to its widespread adoption.

Learn more about USB-C: What Is USB-C Used For? Charging, Display, Thunderbolt, Everything

Types of USB Connectors

Generally, any USB interface can communicate with one another when used with the appropriate adapters or cables. USB-A, USB-B, USB-C, and micro USB are all different types of USB connectors, and they may support different USB standards.

USB charger types, different USB ports: USB-A, USB-B, USB-C, Lightning, USB Mini B, & USB Micro B.

USB-A vs. USB-B vs. USB-C: Specification Comparison Chart

What's the difference between USB-A and USB-C? We draw a comparison between the three main types of USB connectors and the USB standards they support. In this chart, you can see USB speed (bandwidth), charging power, and capability supported by different standards and types. We will explain the details further in the following paragraphs.

USB	Types Chart: USB connector types, USB speed, USB standards, power, DP Alt Mode, and network connectivity comparisons.

What is USB-A used for? USB-A is often used to connect devices like keyboard & mouse, external hard drives, and webcams.

Looking for a USB Extender? >> Explore SC&T USB 3.2 Gen1 USB-C Extender
SC&T USB 2.0 CAT5e Extender 140M

Understanding and Comparing USB Standards and Capability

USB Speed: How Fast Does USB Go?

The data transfer rates of USB depend on its version:

  • USB 4.0 can reach an impressive 40 Gbps (40 gigabits per second).
    As of now, USB-C is the sole interface supporting USB 4.0. Unfortunately, there are no standardized visual indicators for USB 4.0, so consumers must rely on product labels and specifications.

  • USB 3.2 can achieve 10 Gbps (10 gigabits per second).
    You can distinguish USB 3.2 from the older 2.0 version by its ports with a blue interior.

  • USB 2.0 can attain a maximum rate of 480 Mbps (480 Mbps per second).
    Ports with a white interior differentiate USB 2.0 from USB 3.0.

  • USB 1.0 can achieve 12 Mbps (12 Mbps per second).
    It's less commonly used and features white interior ports.

What does a USB cable look like? USB colors: Black and blue USB ports stand for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, respectively.

What is SS USB? >> Common USB Symbols

USB Power: USB Charger Capacities


USB-C Power Delivery can support charging power up to 100W.

Generally, USB 4.0 has incorporated Power Delivery, so all USB 4.0 devices should support PD. Still, you need to check the specifications of USB-C devices below USB 4.0 for PD compliance and supported wattages. Device manufacturers may specify the wattage levels, with 18W, 36W, 60W, and 100W being common.

The USB Type-C charging port and adaptor by Apple Inc. supports 20W power charging. USB-C PD supports up to 100W.

USB-A Charger

While USB-A generally supports a 4.5W charging capacity, its widespread use has led to the development of technologies like USB Quick Charge/Fast Charging. These technologies, such as QC 1.0 through QC 4+, can support up to 18.5W.

However, it's important to note that these are not inherent to the USB standard, and manufacturers might adjust voltage and current to achieve this power level. For instance, Apple's iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max can utilize a current of 9V/2.03A to achieve approximately 18W of power.

Consequently, USB-A devices do not necessarily support Quick Charge/Fast Charging; it's important to verify the specifications when purchasing the equipment.

USB-A vs. USB-C: Charger power. Some manufacturers develop USB-A charger technologies such as USB Quick Charge / USB Fast Charging.


USB-B devices are less common and are primarily used for data transfer in devices like external hard drives, printers, and scanners. The printer USB cable is often connected via the USB-B interface.

USB Micro B is often used in external hard drives, printers, and scanners.

USB Video and Audio Transmission

USB video and audio transmission enables the transfer of source imagery (from computers or mobile devices) to a display (such as a screen or projector) using a single USB cable. This function is similar to HDMI, DVI, and VGA. Currently, only USB-C offers direct video transmission through DP Alt Mode, whereas USB-A and USB-B do not support this feature.

USB-C DP Alt Mode supports audiovisual transmission, which is distinctive from other USB interfaces.
Do all USB-C cables support video? Learn more about USB-C video and DP Alt Mode.

USB Network Connectivity

Both USB-A and USB-C support network transmission. This application is useful when your desktop computer lacks wireless capabilities and network interruptions occur. You can share your phone's network by connecting it to your desktop via the USB port, allowing your desktop to remain online even during network disruptions.

USB internet connectivity.

USB-C: A Hub for Versatile Data Types

To understand the types of signals USB-C can transmit, it's helpful to check the USB-C hubs available in the market. These hubs adapt the signal types that USB-C can transmit. Nevertheless, keep in mind that the end devices may not always support USB-C, necessitating transitional interface devices. As USB-C becomes prevalent in mobile devices, these devices will offer greater convenience to users.

USB-C capabilities: Video & audio, power, USB data, and Ethernet.
  • Video Transmission (DP, HDMI)
  • Audio Transmission (3.5mm)
  • USB Data Transmission (USB)
  • Network Transmission (RJ45)
  • Power Transmission

Explore the Versatile HDMI USB Switch: 4K 60Hz HDMI/USB-C Presentation Switch

Different Types of USB Ends: Which One Should I Use?

In the upcoming years, we can expect the introduction of USB-C versions across a wide range of products, with many of them already available in the market. These encompass monitors, mice, keyboards, smartphones, webcams, headphones, speakers, and flash drives. With the majority of devices that once used USB-A transitioning to Type-C versions, the critical question arises: How should we select the right USB devices? When it comes to adapting to the changing landscape of USB interfaces, here are a few key aspects to consider.

Everyday Use and Reliability

For everyday use with standard accessories, USB-A remains a dependable choice. However, USB-C is quickly gaining ground and offers greater versatility.

USB-A vs. USB-C: USB-A is common to see on general USB devices, while USB-C is also getting popular.

Future-Proofing Your Tech Setup

To future-proof your tech setup, USB-C emerges as the preferred option due to its expanding usage and enhanced capabilities. The global trend is shifting towards USB-C, driven by factors such as EU regulations and the strategic plans of major manufacturers like Apple. As these industry leaders embrace USB-C, other accessory manufacturers are likely to follow suit, gradually adapting to USB-C applications.

The EU has regulated that small electronics should be equipped with a USB-C charging port.
USB-C ports on laptops, such as MacBook.

Adapters and Compatibility

First and foremost, there's no need to worry about parting with your existing devices. Adapters are readily available to seamlessly bridge the gap between USB-A, USB-B, and USB-C interfaces. However, it's essential to keep in mind that each USB interface has its inherent limitations. For example, USB-A can't replace HDMI or DP for video transmission, while USB-C provides greater versatility in this regard.

What does a USB-C adapter look like?

USB Cable Types & Standards

In addition to adapters, it's crucial to ensure that you have the appropriate USB cables for your devices. Selecting the right cable can significantly enhance the performance of your devices.

What does a USB-C cable look like? USB charging cables: Thunderbolt 3 vs. USB 3.1 (USB-C).

Addressing Potential Challenges

It's also worth noting that not all devices seamlessly support USB-C. Transitioning to USB-C may sometimes involve troubleshooting to ensure compatibility. Being prepared for potential challenges can streamline the process and prevent any unexpected issues.

In Conclusion

In the ever-evolving realm of technology, the choice among USB-A, USB-B, and USB-C connectors ultimately depends on your specific requirements. Each of these interfaces has its unique advantages and limitations, making them suitable for various scenarios. As you navigate the dynamic landscape of technology, a comprehensive understanding of these connectors will empower you to make well-informed decisions.

2023-11-02 3:00 pm

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