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USB 2.0 vs 3.0 Dissimilarities that Will Give You Better Ideas

USB 2.0 vs 3.0, the acronym USB is brief for Universal Serial Bus, which is an industry-standard that establishes specifications for cables and connectors for connection and power supply between computers, peripheral devices, and other storage devices.

The USB standard was released in the year of 1996, currently maintained by the USB Implementers Forum.

There have been three generations of USB specifications: USB 1.0, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0.

And USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are commonly used on various electric devices.

What is USB 3.0 and USB 2.0?

Developed in the 1990s, the Universal Serial Bus (USB) standard was developed to define communication protocols, including cables and connectors, between computers and electronic devices such as printers and scanners.

As the number of devices multiplied in quantity and types, the USB port was adopted as the basic connection portal.

Devices like smartphones, PDAs, tablets, smartphones, and video game consoles can connect to computers with USB ports allowing recharging and communication thereby replacing the requirement of adapters and power chargers.

USB3.0 was released in November 2008, almost eight years after the release of USB 2.0.

Over five years later, in 2014, USB 3.1 was released with widespread use expected in 2015.

USB 2.0 vs 3.0 Ultimate Differences

In terms of USB 2.0 vs 3.0 speed, USB 3.0 offers superior speed and a higher efficiency power management compared to the more common USB 2.0. Also, USB 3.0 ports are backward compatible.

But, when a USB 3.0 device is connected to a USB 2.0 port, the data transfer speeds will be limited to USB 2.0 levels.

1. Physical Differences

The USB ports for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 also differ visually. Figure 1 illustrates the visual differences between the three types of USB ports:

  • USB 2.0 has a black “block” inside the USB port.
  • In contrast, USB 3.0 has a blue “block” inside the USB port.
  • The more recent USB 3.1 port also differs visually in that the “block” inside the USB 3.1 port is red.

2. Data Transfer Rate

USB 2.0 transfer speed is 480 megabits per second (Mbps), while USB 3.0 transfer speed is 4,800 Mbps. This means USB 3.0 is approximately 10 times faster than USB 2.0.

More recently, USB 3.1 has also been released and has a data transfer rate of 10,000 Mbps. This is twice as fast as USB 3.0 and twenty times as fast as USB 2.0.

USB 2.0 vs 3.0

3. Backward Compatibility

USB 3.0 ports are completely backward compatible. This means when a USB 2.0 drive or earlier versions are connected to a USB 3.0 port, the drive will work normally.

It is important to note that a USB 3.0 drive is also compatible with a USB 2.0 port.

But, a USB 3.0 drive will exhibit the same transfer rate as a USB 2.0 drive when connected to a USB 2.0 port.

In other words, a USB 3.0 drive must be connected with a USB 3.0 port to be able to achieve the high data transfer rates USB 3.0 are known for.

4. Power Usage

USB 2.0 is capable of providing up to 500 mA current, whereas USB 3.0 is capable of providing up to 900 mA current.

Also, USB 3.0 is capable of delivering more USB power when the need arises and conserve power when the USB flash drive is connected but not being used.

5. Larger Bandwidth

USB 2.0 offers a one-way communication path. This means the data are both sent and received over the same pathway.

Thus, USB 2.0 can only send data or receive data at a given time but not do both.

USB 3.0 uses two separate unidirectional data paths, each with a dedicated function: one for sending data and the other for receiving data. This means USB 3.0 can simultaneously send and receive data.

6. Larger Number of Wires

USB 2.0 has a total of four connector wires, while USB 3.0 has a total of 9.

It is the presence of these five additional wires that increases the bandwidth of USB 3.0 by permitting two-way communications simultaneously.

The superior performance of USB 2.0 vs 3.0 has caused an increase in popularity for the USB 3.0 USB drives. Many of our clients are opting for a USB 3.0 upgrade.

7. The Price

In terms of price, USB 2.0 vs 3.0 differs significantly. You can buy an affordable USB 2.0 on the market, such as an 8-gigabyte (GB) USB 2.0 flash drive for less than $10.

With USB 3.0, it’s going to be more expensive, especially those that offer the fastest transfer speeds. It can reach up to $40 if you opt for those that offer said speeds.

You might want to consider how you’ll use the drive, so you would know if USB 2.0 is enough.

If you’ll be using it frequently and transferring huge files, USB 3.0 might be a better choice for you since its superior speeds can cut down transfer time.

USB 2.0 vs 3.0 Cable

When it comes to cables, USB 3.0 has a faster transfer rate (4.8 Gbps) and power transfer (900 mA) than USB 2.0.

It doubles the number of wires in the cable from four to eight, making power transfer a lot better than USB 2.0.

USB 3.0 also has various connectors, commonly blue, which also means USB devices that utilize different connectors may not be compatible with USB 2.0 equivalent cables.

Although USB 2.0 connectors may fit into 3.0 ports, data transfer might not run at optimal performance because of the different wiring configuration of the two USB standards.

While USB 3.0 cables may still be used for USB 2.0 ports, it will run on the slower USB 2.0 speeds since the device determines transfer rates, not the cable.

For best results and to maximize the features offered by the USB type, it’s best to match the USB cable with the port.


USB Cable Feature

USB 3.0 cable is capable of high power consumption and a faster data transfer rate.

The presence of nine connector helps in consuming more power and make compatible with USB2.0. It is best to match the USB cable with a USB port for the best outcomes.

USB 3.0 not only have superior speed than USB 2.0 but also have higher bandwidth, better management of errors, higher power consumption, long length of the cables and minimum delay in optimization etc.

USB 2.0 vs 3.0

USB 2.0 vs 3.0: Which One Should You Choose

In terms of USB 2.0 vs 3.0 from various aspects, USB 3.0 offers superior speed and a higher efficiency power management compared to the old USB 2.0.

Also, USB 3.0 is backward compatible. The only defect of USB 3.0 is that it is more expensive than USB 2.0.

So if you don’t mind the price, you can choose USB 3.0. if you have a limited budget and you just use it to move documents and other small files, the USB 2.0 is enough for you.

Keep in mind that many types of devices won’t perform faster just because they use USB 3.0.

If you use a USB 3.0 mouse and keyboard, you won’t see any enhancement in speed.

Frequently Asked Questions

QUES: Isn’t USB 2.0 fast enough?

ANS: Well, yes and no. USB 2.0 for many applications provides sufficient bandwidth for a variety of devices and hubs to be connected to one host computer.

However, with today’s ever-increasing demands placed on data transfers with high-definition video content, terrabyte storage devices, high megapixel count digital cameras, and HD video capture and portable media players, 480Mbps is not really fast anymore.

Furthermore, no USB 2.0 connection could ever come close to the 480Mbps theoretical maximum throughput, making data transfer at around 320Mbps (40MB/s) – the actual real-world maximum.

QUES: Are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 Compatible?

ANS: As with USB 2.0, 3.0 is also backward compatible with its predecessor. It supports 2.0 devices, but the older technology limits its power and data transfer rate.

Likewise, it’s compatible with 3.0, but it still sticks to its own power and data transfer rate.