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USB4 vs. Thunderbolt 4: Similarities and Differences

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Update time : 2024-01-18 11:40:20

  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.

  USB 4.0 vs. Thunderbolt 4: Technical Specifications

  The specifications of both communication protocols are listed below side-by-side for easy comparison.

USB 4 devices

  USB4 vs. Thunderbolt 4: Similarities and Differences


  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.


USB 4 devices

  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 mini-mum power rating.

  It also has a higher mini-mum 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 mini-mum 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.

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