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USB4 vs. Thunderbolt 4: Similarities and Differences Explained

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Author : PURPLELEC
Update time : 2023-08-08 14:10:41
  USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 were released within one year of each other, and while there are some similarities between these two computer interfaces, there are just about as many differences.
  Together, they mark a dramatic shift in hardware connections from one-use ports to multifunctional interfaces that can be used to achieve pretty much anything.
  USB 4.0 vs. Thunderbolt 4: Technical Specifications
  The specifications of both communication protocols are listed below side-by-side for easy comparison.

USB4

Thunderbolt 4

Connector

Yes

Yes

Minimum PC Bandwidth

20Gbps

40Gbps

Maximum PC Bandwidth

40Gbps

40Gbps

Minimum Video Output Requirements

One 4K display

Two 4K displays

Minimum Data Transfer Requirements

    • USB 3.2—10Gbps

    • PCIe—32Gbps
    • USB 3.2—10Gbps

Required Wake from Sleep

No

Yes

Intel VT-d based DMA Protection

No

Yes

Thunderbolt Networking

No

Yes

Minimum Power Delivery (maximum)

7.5W (240W max)

15W (240W)

Universal 40Gbps cables up to 2 meters in length

No

Yes

  USB4 vs. Thunderbolt 4: Similarities and Differences
  You've read about the specs, but what are the specific similarities and differences between the two?
  Similarities
  Both protocols use the USB Type-C connector to transfer data and power and connect devices. Other similarities include the same maximum bandwidth, DisplayPort support, and the ability to power devices.
  Also, USB4 builds upon the same protocol as Thunderbolt 4.0, which makes both interfaces cross-compatible. This means that devices that support Thunderbolt 4 will also support USB 4, and vice versa. However, Thunderbolt 4 devices will have additional features and capabilities beyond those of USB 4 devices.
  Differences

  As for the differences, Thunderbolt 4 is basically USB4 with extra features. It assures you that you are getting the very best of what USB4 has to offer, doubling the number of 4K displays you can run from a single port, the base bandwidth, and the power rating.
  It also has a higher data transfer rate of 32Gbps and supports some other features, such as wake from sleep, DMA protection, and a mandatory charging port.
  Although the connectors have the same shape, you can generally tell a USB port apart from a Thunderbolt one by the logo next to the port. USB4 ports will have the USB symbol and either “20” or “40”. Thunderbolt 4 cables will usually have the lightning bolt with a 4 underneath. However, identifying Thunderbolt 4 ports on computers without looking at the spec sheet is not possible.
  Thunderbolt cables are also able to work passively, that is, without a built-in electric circuit. This means that normal cables (without boosters) are capable of maintaining the maximum bandwidth of 40Gbps even at up to lengths of two meters, while USB4 is incapable of supporting 40Gbps on cables that are two meters or longer and reduces the data rate to 20Gbps.
  Laptops and docks with USB4 will be cheaper than those with Thunderbolt 4 due to the lower requirements. The USB4 protocol is also likely to be more widespread among users for the same reason.
  Which Is Better?
  There is no doubt about it. Thunderbolt 4 is superior to USB4, but it may not be the best option for you, depending on your preferences.
  If you are looking for an interface that offers the absolute best in power and performance, then look no further than Thunderbolt 4-enabled hubs, docking stations, and laptops. On the other hand, if you are more concerned about price and having a wide selection of accessories to choose from, then USB4 may be the best option for you.

     
      Thunderbolt 4 USB C Dock Station


USB-C4.0/Thunderbolt interface: Support USB4.0 (40Gbps rate transmission).

USB A3.1 port: supports USB 3.1 and is backward compatible with USB3.0/2.0/1.1/1.0.
DC: Support DC 20V 6A (Min)
Support Mac OS, Windows, Linux and other systems.
docking stations