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You hear about various USB ports in daily life but get confused when thinking about the difference between them. In this article, we will discuss USB2.0 and USB3.0. 

So let’s start to compare USB2.0 vs USB3.0.

usb 2.0 vs usb 3.0

USB 2.0 is now heritage technology and has been with us for almost two decades. USB 3.0 is a replacement and it has been around for some years, yet there is a puzzle for non-tech.

USB 2.0 standard was released in April 2000. It is capable of the maximum signal speed of 480 Mbps. This is the theoretical maximum that you do not actually get. I will explain this in a minute more. The USB 2.0 is also capable of transmitting electricity to 0.5A for charging or powering devices.

USB 3.0 standard was released in November 2008 and many changes came. It is capable of up to 5 Gbps signalling speed when compatible with USB 2.0 and even USB 1.0. USB 3.0 compatible devices can handle up to 0.9A for fast charging. If the device is USB 3.0 compatible, charging with this increasing throughput decreases by at least 25%.

USB 3.0 has already been removed by USB 3.1, which was released in 2013. This brought us the USB-C connection cable. USB 3.0 is fast and can handle more power. Thanks to new dual-bus architecture, USB 3.0 can play well with the old USB specifications and can work with low, full and high-speed buses of USB 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0. This is the reason that you can plug a USB 2.0 device into a USB2.0 port in USB 3.0 device and all this works as it should. Although this will showcase the output as per the USB 2.0 specifications.

Data Throughput

I mentioned above that the maximum theoretical signalling speed of USB 2.0 is 480 Mbps and USB 3.0 is 5Gbps enabled. It is considered to be the theoretical maximum because there are other obstacles to consider. The main reason is the quality of the device you are using.

For example, a premium quality USB 3.0 memory stick will usually perform faster than cheap. It is below the speed of the internal bus and the speed of flash memory within the stick. The transfer rate can vary considerably. On average, the USB 2.0 flash drive can move anywhere between 8 Mbps and 9.5 Mbps. A USB 3.0 device anywhere between 11.5 Mbps and 286 Mbps. As you can see, the difference between them is important.


As discussed while discussing USB types, USB 2.0 is capable of charging the device at 0.5 A, while USB 3.0 is capable of 0.9A. While the difference seems small, it can be important. If you use a compatible USB 2.0 cable to charge a smartphone, charging Samsung Galaxy on max from blank to full will take about 8 hours. I claim it because I did it. Using a USB 3.0 port and the USB 3.0 cable, it only gets less than 5 hours.

It’s still longer than charging using the main charger but still a very convenient way to keep your device running.

How to tell which USB port is?

A quick visual inspection of the USB port can tell you whether it is USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 or not. There should be a grey colour strip inside a USB 2.0 port while A USB 3.0 port will be having a blue colour strip. It has been adopted as an international standard. So wherever you purchase any of your computer parts, these colours should be the same.

USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

If you have the option, you should always use USB 3.0 ports. They are fast and can handle more power. If you use a gaming mouse and keyboard or charge a phone, USB 3.0 is definitely the way to go. But USB 2.0 is not out fashion. It is still popular due to low cost at some places compared to USB 3.0 devices or cables.

Most of the motherboards, desktop computers, and laptops should be included in at least each. The device to preferred for using them depends on how you use your computer. If you are a gamer, then your gaming periphery will take more advantage of the extra speed. If you use the camera or take a steady charging device, then there it should take precedence.

Keynotes from this article:
1. Data transfer rate: USB 3.0 is 5.0Gbps whereas USB 2.0 is having maximum 480Mbps.
2. The data interface in USB 3.0 uses full duplex data transfer using dual bus architecture compared to older USB version. USB 2.0 is half-duplex.
3. The number of signal lines, USB3.0 has 8 signal lines. 2 for USB2.0 support, 4 for superspeed communication and remaining 2 for power and ground.
4. USB3.0 support packet transmission. It has three layers. Physical layer, Link layer and protocol layer.
5. In USB3.0 packets are routed, allowing links that are not involved in communication to remain in low power state for power management.

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