Thunderbolt ports look exactly like USB-C ports. But they are speedier & the 2 have major inner differences. Here are how to tell the two apart & some crucial tips about which one is better for data transfer, charging and other uses.
Instead of making you guess, let us walk you through the differences that are there between USB-C and Thunderbolt & explain which one should be used depending on what kind of device is needed to be connected.
What Is USB-C?
USB stands for Universal Serial Bus. It is a connector that is industry-standard for transmitting both power and data on one single cable. USB-C connectors look similar to the old micro-USB connector when you first look at them. Though it has a more oval shape & is slightly thicker for accommodating the best feature of it: it can be flipped. A USB-C connector includes no upside down or right side up unlike the USB Type-A. You need to line it up & plug it in. There are standard cables that also include the same connector at every end, so users need not wonder about which end goes which direction.
What Is Thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3 ports look the same as the USB-C ports. Indeed, the connectors of them are physically identical. They can do anything a USB-C port can, mostly, except it is faster. Indeed, the Thunderbolt is referred to as one superset of USB-C. Users can plug USB-C devices into a Thunderbolt 4 or 3 port on their PCs & it will work just fine.
Is Thunderbolt the same as USB-C? How to tell the difference?
While USB-C ports which support Thunderbolt can be more capable than the ones which don’t, it is not always very easy to determine the difference between these two. MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptop devices of Apple include as many as 4 Thunderbolt ports. Although, none of them includes identifying marks or a label of any kind. Users are just supposed to understand that they are all Thunderbolt ports. There’s the same theory for USB-C ports of some other devices.
In such cases, there is only one way for users to determine what they are looking at. They will just have to read the specifications of the product on the packaging. Although, it can also be checked on the website of the manufacturer or the documentation can also be checked. The same is true for cables. A few Thunderbolt cables and ports include little lightning bolts that are emblazoned on them. The others don’t. Since users will need a thunderbolt rather than a cable of USB-C for unlocking every capability of Thunderbolt ports, they should read the packaging closely.
Many other devices, like laptops, include both Thunderbolt 4 and USB-C ports, usually identified with lightning-bolt and USB symbols respectively. In actuality, Thunderbolt and USB-C labelling are inconsistent at least.