TECH TIPS - USB 3.1 EXPLAINED

WHAT IS USB 3.1 Type C?

USB 3.1 was the new standard of USB connection technology.
The USB 3.1 standard included a number of new features, most notably SuperSpeed+ or Gen2 data speed. SuperSpeed+ allowed USB 3.1 to transfer data at a speed of 10 Gbps.

This means it could transfer a year’s worth of music in just 10 minutes or a Full HD movie in just 30 seconds. The new standard also allowed USB 3.1 to provide power delivery, alternate video mode and data transfer through a single cable.

A New Generation

But, while being fully backward compatible the naming convention was at times a little confusing, and that has since been revised. What we have now is:

USB 3.2 Gen 1: which was known as USB 3.0, and previously renamed to USB 3.1 Gen 1. This is the original USB 3.0 specification, it can transfer data at up to 5Gbps.

USB 3.2 Gen 2:  was previously known as USB 3.1, and then later as USB 3.1 Gen 2. It offers speeds at up to 10Gbps.

USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 became it’s the newest and fastest spec, with speeds at up to 20Gbps .

 

Now we have USB4 and Thunderbolt4. Still using the Type C connector but with speeds up to 40Gbps, 8 x faster than USB 3.2 Gen 1. Also offering 8K video and Power Delivery in one cable.


IS TYPE C THE SAME AS USB 3.1?

It’s not quite the same. USB Type C is a physical connector while USB 3.1 refers to the format and speed the data is sent in. For more information on USB Type C take a look through our USB Type C Explained guide here


WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USB 2.0 AND USB 3.1?

You will still find USB 2.0 is commonly used on devices such as mice, keyboards or even webcams. USB 2.0 doesn’t support the higher data transfer rates of USB 3.1 and instead caps out at just 480Mbps with support for only 0.5A of power compared to the 5,000Mbps and 0.9A supported by USB 3.1.


WHAT ARE POWER DELIVERY AND ALTERNATE MODE?

You’ve probably seen those terms around quite a bit on modern USB devices or cables. For an explanation of these terms take a look at our Guide to USB Type C which explains power delivery and alternate mode.


HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DEVICE HAS A TYPE C PORT OR AN OLDER USB PORT?

An easy way to check is by inserting a cable. Type C connectors are reversible so will work no matter which way it is inserted into the port, while older USB connectors such as Micro-B only work when inserted with a specific orientation. This guide also provides a simple reference as to what each USB connector looks like so you can check if they will fit your device ports.


WHAT IS HDR?

Here is a link to our in-depth HDR FAQ


WHAT ARE THE OTHER FEATURES OF USB TYPE C?

There are two optional features that are common with USB Type C cables, and these features need to be supported by both the cable and the devices used.

Power Delivery or PD – This does exactly what you would expect. Delivers power from 15W up to 100W to charge a device. Most phones currently support charging between 15W and 30W, with laptops supporting between 45W and 60W.

Alternate Mode – Currently Alternate Mode is only widely supported by a single standard, DisplayPort. With DisplayPort Alternate mode a USB Type C cable can be used as a video cable similar to a normal DisplayPort cable, but only if the device it’s connected to supports alternate mode.


ANYTHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW?

Well you should now have a basic idea about USB Type C but if you need more information on USB in general why not take a look at our in-depth Guide to USB 3.1 

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