Article ID: 000096924 Content Type: Product Comparison Last Reviewed: 10/13/2023

Is Thunderbolt™ the Same as USB-C?


Difference between Thunderbolt™ 4 and USB-C.


How Thunderbolt™ 4 and USB-C may be distinguished.


Thunderbolt™ and USB Type-C are different. USB Type-C is the connector type with an oval shape that both Thunderbolt™ (version 3 & 4) and USB (version 3 & 4) cables and devices use.

There are two main differences between Thunderbolt™ and USB Type-C.

  • The first is speed. Thunderbolt™ max speed is up to 40Gbps, USB Type-C max speed is up to 20Gbps.
  • The second is that Thunderbolt™ sets higher minimum requirements.  Thunderbolt™ 4 certification requires support for power, data, and video with a constant 40 Gbps bandwidth. USB cables, devices, and ports may be limited to a variable range of data speeds, with no guarantee of display quality. 

Thunderbolt™ 4 is not the same as USB-C; however, Thunderbolt™ 4 uses the USB-C connector type, recognizable by its oval shape.

Cross-Compatibility Between Thunderbolt™ and USB

Various USB standards, including USB 3.2 and USB 4, also use the USB-C connector type, and these cables and ports are cross-compatible with Thunderbolt™ 3 & 4. When devices with different capabilities are connected, the connection will only support the lowest common data rate. For example, you can plug a USB 3.2 cable into a Thunderbolt™ 4 port, and the port will negotiate data, power, and video signal capabilities with the connected device at a USB 3.2 level.


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Features of Thunderbolt™ 4 Advantages,

Thunderbolt™ 4 offers distinct advantages over USB-C with a more flexible and expansive set of capabilities. Productivity, content creation, and gaming applications can all benefit from Thunderbolt™ 4 technology with cleaner workspaces and more bandwidth to support more accessories.

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