USB Type-C, or USB-C, is a USB connector shape that both older and newer USB standards can adopt. This means that the USB 2.0 and USB 3.2 standards can all use the USB Type-C connector shape.
The new shape allows you to connect from either side, unlike other USB types such as USB-A and USB-B. USB-C can also support USB Power Delivery and DisplayPort Alternate Mode.
|Original Name||Old Name||New Name||Marketing Name|
|USB 3.2||N/A||USB 3.2 Gen 2×2||SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps|
|USB 3.1||USB 3.1 Gen 2||USB 3.2 Gen 2||SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps|
|USB 3.0||USB 3.1 Gen 1||USB 3.2 Gen 1||SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps|
|USB 2.0||N/A||N/A||HighSpeed 480 Mbps|
Initially, when USB 3.1 was introduced, USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum) changed the name of USB 3.0 to USB 3.1 Gen 1 while the new ‘USB 3.1’ was dubbed USB 3.1 Gen 2.
In March 2019, USB-IF announced USB 3.2 and again changed the naming structure. USB 3.0 is now USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.1 is USB 3.2 Gen 2, and USB 3.2 is USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.
Note that only the USB-C connector can use the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 standard.
Update: USB-IF updated the logos, making it easier to determine the maximum supported speed of the port.
USB-C: DisplayPort Alternate Mode & Power Delivery
USB-C can transfer audio/video signals if your device supports DisplayPort Alternate Mode.
Additionally, it can charge a device if it supports USB PD (Power Delivery) with up to 100W (depending on the device).
We have a dedicated USB-C monitor list consisting of displays that support DP Alt Mode and Power Delivery of at least 45W up to 100W.
Thunderbolt & USB4
Thunderbolt 3 controller shares the same connector type as USB-C but offers up to 40Gbps of data transfer (with short active cables) or 20Gbps (with long passive cables). It also supports DisplayPort Alternate Mode and Power Delivery up to 100W.
USB-IF also announced the ‘USB4’ specification, which is based on the Thunderbolt protocol. Just like Thunderbolt 3, it uses the USB-C connector, has data transfer speed up to 40Gbps, and it will support display interface and power delivery. Further, it is backward-compatible with USB 2.0, USB 3.2, and Thunderbolt 3.
However, unlike Thunderbolt 3, USB4 will be royalty-free, so it will be more widespread and affordable than Thunderbolt 3 devices.
Thunderbolt 4 improves upon the previous version by increasing the minimum PCIe data to 32Gbps from 16Gbps, adding improved security and the ability to wake a PC from sleep via peripherals connected to a dock.
USB4 Version 2.0 bumps up the speed to 80Gbps when using proper active cables. It also brings support for the latest versions of DisplayPort and PCIe, as well as USB 3.2 data tunneling over 20 Gbps.
USB-C 2.1 with Extended Power Range
The new USB-C 2.1 revision brings support for USB Power Delivery 3.1 (48V and 5A), resulting in a maximum of 240W power charging when using EPR (Extended Power Range) cables.
Micro USB vs. USB-C
Both USB-A and USB-B connectors are quite big, which was an issue for devices such as slim smartphones, console controllers, digital cameras and so on.
This led to the creation of other shapes of the USB connector, such as micro-USB and mini-USB.
As you can see in the picture below, a USB-C connector looks like micro-USB, though it is more round, and more importantly, it can plug in the device facing either way.
Since USB-C is backward compatible, you can still connect your micro-USB and other USB devices to a USB-C port by using a proper adapter.