USB Speed Comparison: USB 1.0/USB 2.0/USB 3.0/USB 4.0

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What is USB?

USB is an acronym for Universal Serial Bus. It was designed to simplify and improve the interface between laptops and desktops and peripheral devices, such as cell phones, computer accessories, and monitors, compared with previously existing standard or ad hoc proprietary interfaces. It’s an excellent substitute for interfaces like serial and parallel ports and has become prevalent on many devices. 

It was developed to connect external devices to personal computers by eliminating the abundant connectors behind PCs, improving the use cases of existing interfaces, and making software configuration more manageable for gadgets connected to USB. 

Finally, it permits higher data transfer speeds for external devices and Plug and Play features. 

Computer keyboards and mice, disk drives, network adapters, video cameras, printers, and digital telephones are some devices and components that you can connect through a USB. 

This technology continually evolves from an era where cables were designed specifically for connecting to, communicating with, and supplying power to our gadgets and peripherals. USB4 is the latest generation, and it signifies a significant enhancement in power, video resolution, and data transfer rate.

Types of USB ports and connectors 

Each generation of USB connectors and ports offers improved functionality. They pave the way for compact and lighter devices. But again, these improvements also increase the complexity of features and capabilities and make it more challenging to choose the most suitable cable or peripherals for your needs. 

There are four versions of USB: USB 1, USB 2, USB 3, and USB 4:


It was developed in 1996 and is the earliest version of the two connection types, created by various companies like Microsoft, and IB, to name a few.

It was designed to establish a standard that you can operate across different gadgets, connecting technologies and creating the desired universality. The USB Implementers Forum regulated this technology. 

These small selections of reliable connectors made operating and powering multiple devices seamless for users. The original data transmitting speed which was 12 megabits per second was swift for that technological era.

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This connection type is suitable for devices that utilize lower bandwidths.

USB 2.0

The beginning of the 2000s saw a newer USB version, even though it didn’t become available for sale until November 2001. It’s also called the “Hi-Speed USB,” and it offers significant improvements over USB 1.1. This increased bandwidth to clock a data transfer speed of 480Mbps.

However, the USB 3.0 standard supersedes the USB 2.0, offering improved processing and data transfer rates; this allows the use of old cables. And the wider bandwidth was designed to support devices that needed higher bandwidth, like larger storage devices, cables for transferring data, and video adapters, to name a few.

USB 3.0

USB 3.0 incited the “SuperSpeed” era. It kicked off with a 5GB per second data rate when manufacturers released it in 2008. The improvements include:

● Wider bandwidth that clocks up 4.8Gbps.

● It facilitates full-duplex interaction.

● Improved connectivity power.

● Streaming support.

● Fast Sync technology.

● Enhanced power capabilities.

● Better power management.

The USB 3.0 also enhanced backward compatibility with earlier USB versions to allow the support of later and earlier versions by controller cards. It was designed to be ten times better than its predecessor, so it’s no surprise that professionals in the industry call it “the next generation of connectivity.”

This newer specification is excellent for better efficiency, broader bandwidth, and enhanced performance for gadgets and peripherals that need these functionalities, such as larger hard drives and video adapters.

USB 3.2

The USB 3.2 version was launched in 2017, and it supported SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+. It also included a pair of additional transfer modes that clocked up to 10Gb and 20Gb per second.

Moreover, the USB-C connection needed to be used to achieve the 20Gbps speed because the developments took advantage of the connector.

Gen 2 is an improved version of Gen 1, so labeling it USB 3.2 didn’t feel right, especially because USB 3.2 was only a minimal improvement in port compatibility and performance.


The latest USB version uses a USB-C to USB-C cable, and we need these devices to support 20 Gbps or 2.4 GB per sec. It can also support 40 GB per second if a short 0.8 meters Gen 3 cord is used.

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The Thunderbolt 3 protocol Intel includes USB4, designed with the protocol specifications in mind. Additionally, this protocol is efficient enough to allow you to plug external graphics cards into your computer as you wish.

So, the power delivery support is one of the notable features of the latest version. It clocks up to 100 W (5A/20V) USB4 and preserves the compatibility of earlier versions.


The difference between USB versions 2 and 3 is the data transfer speed. However, that’s not all that differentiates these two generations:


USB 2.0 tops the speed of 480 Mb per second, while USB 3.0 clocks a data transfer rate of 5 GB. This faster capacity of USB 3.0 is valuable for transferring and backing up significant amounts of data, like external hard drives. You should take note that these speeds are under optimal conditions.

Connector Wires

The USB 3 was designed with nine connector wires to offer increased bandwidth and speed, while the previous generation had four.

Power Output and Efficiency

USB 2 is much slower and less power efficient than version 3.

Backward Compatibility

USB 3.0 ports have been designed to support backward compatibility; they can be used with other versions, including the previous generation. This ensures compatibility when you connect a USB 2.0 drive to a 3.0 port. But inserting a USB 3.0 device into an earlier generation port will reduce its speed.

Interior Color

You can use a blue or black block in the port to identify the difference between the two generations of USB devices. The blue block is for 3.0, while the black belongs to USB 2.0.

Larger Bandwidth

The second generation of USB offers a one-way communication path, meaning you can send and receive data via a single pathway. Therefore, it can only do either at once.

USB 3.0 utilizes two distinct unidirectional data paths designed for a particular purpose; one for sending and the other for receiving data. This means that USB 3.0 can execute both functions at once.

Other types of USB Ports and Connectors

You will typically find a minimum of one of these three different types of USB ports on a host of gadgets. USB‐C is preferred for its small size, fast data transfer rate, and ability to carry up to 100W of power on newer devices. The USB connector standards are types A, B, and C.

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USB Type-A

This type is found on almost every gadget – laptops, desktops, TVs, and media players. However, third-generation connectors are designed with internal pins, and their universal form factor allows you to use them for diverse Type-A ports, including USB 1.1.

But the data transfer rate depends on the capacity of the previous generation.

USB Type-B

The Type-B port has two different configurations for connecting printers and external storage drives to computers. The first one is used for USB 1.1 and 2.0 protocols, and the second works with USB 3.0 and USB4.

USB Mini-B

MP3 players, digital cameras, and some other compact gadgets use this type. And you can choose between four or five-pin ports and connectors.

USB Micro-B

This option offers two different configurations for the second and third generation of USB devices. Android devices and external hard disks use this connector type.

USB Type-C

The USB Type-C was designed for smaller, lighter, and sleeker form factors. It’s thin enough to support a tablet or mobile phone and accommodate personal computers, and newer laptop models are designed with only USB-C ports for multiple use cases.

Lightning is also similar in function to USB‐C but uses a different connector.

USB Functionality

USB standards permit hosts like tablets and personal computers to connect with hardware components and other gadgets on the most fundamental level. However, developments in specifications make the USB more than a data interface.

Some of the most recent USB functionalities available on many gadgets may provide the functions:

● Power Delivery.

● Battery Charging 1.2.

● USB On-the-Go (USB OTG).

● DisplayPort Alt Mode.

● USB Docking.


The Universal Serial Bus has evolved because of demand for faster and more comprehensive data transfer rates. The latest gadgets also require improved access, capability, and convenience. ByteCable is a leading manufacturer of USB cables, you can visit for more data cables.

And the current functionality levels are more valuable than when the USB was first introduced. Manufacturers improved versions of this technology, with each generation even more enhanced and functional than the previous one, contributing to more remarkable efficiency. Several more will be introduced, leading to even more levels of functionality and performance.

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