USB 3.0 vs 2.0 - differences, advantages and features of choice

USB 3.0 is the latest version of the Universal Serial Bus standard released in 2008. It offers increased data transfer speeds - up to 4.8 Gbps, increased maximum bus power, improved power management, as well as new connectors and cables that provide higher transmission speeds and additional performance. The introduction of this technology began in 2009 with USB 3.0 adapters (PCIe and ExpressCard), which made it possible to install new ports 3.0 in modern computer systems. The hubs were followed by an additional 3.0 extension. To achieve high data rates, cables and devices must support 3.0. Currently, most devices 3.0 are external hard drives, hard drive docks and flash drives.

What is the difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

USB and its versions

The USB 2.0 standard was released in April 2000. It is capable of supporting a maximum signal speed of 480 Mbps. This is a theoretical maximum that you really won't get. USB 2.0 is also capable of transmitting electricity up to 0.5 A for charging or powering devices.

The USB 3.0 standard was released in November 2008, and its changes have taken technology to a new level. It is compatible with USB 2.0 and even USB 1.0 with data rates up to 5 Gb / s. USB 3.0 compatible devices can withstand up to 0.9 A for fast charging. If the device is compatible with USB 3.0, charging with such an increase in bandwidth is reduced by at least 25%.

USB 3.1, which was released in 2013, gave us a USB-C interconnect cable. USB 3.0 is fast and can transfer more power. Thanks to the new dual-bus architecture, USB 3.0 can work well with older specifications, as well as low, full and high-speed USB 1.0, 1.1 and 2.0 tires. This is the reason that you can connect a USB 2.0 device to port 2.0 on device 3.0, and it will all work correctly.

backward compatibility

Since its inception, the USB protocol has passed three major revisions: USB 1, 2.0 and 3.0 / 3.1. The main difference is that specification 3.0 requires full backward compatibility with USB 2.0 devices. However, not all ports 3.0 or the computers to which they are connected will be backward compatible with USB 2.0 properly. Here are some ways to troubleshoot USB 3.0 issues:

  • Determine if your computer has USB 3.0 ports.

Look at the physical ports on your computer. Port 3.0 will be marked either in blue on the port itself, or by marking next to the port. either "SS" (super speed) or "3.0".

  • Check the system properties of your computer.

For Windows computers: go to the device manager, find the list of universal serial bus controllers at the bottom of the list and expand it. If the list shows 3.0, XHCI, or Super Speed, you have ports 3.0.

For Mac: Open About This Mac - More Information - System Report. In the "Hardware" section, select "USB". If the device supports the latest standard, there will be a choice (s) for USB 3.0.

Depending on the operating system and computer model, it may be necessary to update the latest versions of the chipset drivers for compatibility with the 3.0 architecture. For example, Windows 7 and earlier versions are incompatible with USB 3.0, so drivers are required for any 3.0 ports on your computer. To find the USB 3.0 chipset, open Device Manager, expand the list of universal serial bus controllers, and expand it. Find a list of Host Controller and / or Root Hub. Check out the chipset manufacturer (for example, Intel) and visit their website to make sure you are up to date with the latest drivers.

IMPORTANT. If you are using Windows 8 or 8.1, USB 3.0 should already be supported by default. However, if you have problems, it is recommended to update or reinstall USB 3.0 chipset drivers using the same method as above.
  • The last option for Windows users that can be performed only with detailed instructions from the manufacturer of your computer is to disable the xHCI controller in the BIOS of your system.

This will actually disable the USB 3.0 feature, so Windows will see all ports as USB 2.0. Connecting a USB 2.0 device to a USB 3.0 port using a USB 2.0 hub can be an effective workaround for any problems you find just from port 3.0.

Increase in speed

The maximum theoretical data transfer rate in version 2.0 is 480 Mbit / s, and in USB 3.0 it is 5 Gbit / s. This is considered a theoretical maximum, because there are other obstacles that must be taken into account. The main reason is the quality of the device you are using. For example, a super memory card 3.0 is usually faster than a cheap one. It is slower than the internal bus and flash memory inside the flash drive. The transfer rate can vary greatly - on average, a flash drive 2.0 can reach 8-9.5 Mbit / s. The USB 3.0 device is 11-286 Mbps. As you can see, the difference between them is enormous. Another difference USB 2 from USB 3 - 2.0 is able to charge the device by 0.5 A, and 3.0 - by 0.9 A. Although the difference seems small, it can be important. If you use a compatible USB 2.0 cable to charge your smartphone, charging the Samsung Galaxy from minimum to full will take about 8 hours. Using the USB 3.0 port and USB 3.0 cable, charging will take only 5 hours. But it is still longer than charging with a native charger, but still a very convenient way to keep the gadget working.

Technical features

There are several significant differences between 2.0 and 3.0. First, the data transfer rate: USB 2.0 offers a transfer rate of 480 Mbps, and 3.0 - from 4.8 Gbit / s - is 10 times faster. Please note that the transfer rate also depends on the device used, the type of bus, USB ports and the quality of the wire. The second major difference is the addition of another physical bus - doubling the number of wires, from 4 to 8. Additional wires require more space in both cables and connectors. Finally, the last major difference lies in the available power and power management of 3.0 products. USB 2 provides up to 500 mA, while version 3 provides up to 900 mA, which allows energy-efficient devices to be bus-powered. In addition, technology version 3.0 allows you to increase energy efficiency with less power consumption in standby mode or completely turn off the power when not in use.

External differences

A quick visual check of the USB port will show the difference and help determine which port you are dealing with. Inside 2.0 there should be a strip of gray, while 3.0 will have a strip of blue. This decision was approved as an international standard. Therefore, wherever you buy any components, these colors should be the same. If possible, always use version 3.0. They are fast and can handle more power.

What are the differences between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 cables?

Cables 3.0 provide a higher data transfer rate of 4.8 Gbps, as well as an additional power transfer of 900 mA, doubling the number of wires in the cable from 4 in 2.0 cables to 8 in 3.0 cables. USB 2.0 cables transfer data at a speed of 480 Mbps and provide power up to 500 mA. USB 3.0 cables also have different connectors that are blue on the inside. This means that any device using different connectors cannot use cables equivalent to 2.0. In addition, although slot 2.0 physically fits into port 3.0, another wiring configuration still does not allow for the correct transfer of data.

Price of devices

Modern manufacturers continue to produce flash drives and other devices of the old generation 2.0 in parallel with the new versions 3.0 and 3.1. The cost of the first usually does not exceed $ 10, while drives that support USB 3.0 can cost up to $ 40. If your computer does not have USB 3.0 ports and it is not too old, then you are probably lucky. If you need to upgrade a desktop or laptop, there are many adapter cards with one or more USB 3.0 ports. Adapter cards usually have two USB 3.0 ports.

If you have a PC, you will need a PCI Express or PCIe card, and you must have a free PCI Express slot on your computer to install it. If you are brave enough to open your computer, do this by disconnecting the system from the network, and install the card in an empty PCIe slot. When you turn it on again, the computer should detect the new card and automatically install the drivers, or ask for a disk containing the necessary drivers. If you are uncomfortable opening the case, you can always buy a card and find someone more qualified to install it.

If you have a laptop, it should have an ExpressCard slot. ExpressCard is a high-bandwidth expansion slot that is commonly found on laptops manufactured no later than 5 years ago. If you have an old PC Card (also called PCMCIA) laptop or Cardbus slot, you will not be able to use the latest ExpressCard peripherals.

There are two form factors for ExpressCard slots and peripherals. ExpressCard / 34 slots and peripherals are 34 mm wide, and ExpressCard / 54 slots and peripherals are 54 mm wide. The 34 mm slot accepts only 34 mm cards, and the 54 mm slot accepts 34 mm and 54 mm cards. In any case, all ExpressCard USB 3.0 adapters are at least 34 mm wide, so if you have an ExpressCard slot in your laptop, you can plug in one of these adapters. For security, insert the ExpressCard adapter into your computer when it is turned off. After turning on the computer, it must detect the adapter and automatically install the drivers or request a disk with the necessary drivers. That's all you need to do. This way you can breathe new life and speed into your old computer.

How to choose

In order not to get lost in the variety of standards and slots, familiarize yourself with the most popular formats of USB connectors:

  • A-Type is a standard rectangular port on computers and other devices.
  • Type-B - most cables for USB 2.0 printers, scanners and some external hard drives are type B connectors. They are small and square.
  • C-Type is the newest connector on the market. They have a symmetrical design that eliminates the cable connection problem. Most likely, the C connector will be found on the device, since most computers stick type-A. The exception is the latest Macbook Pro, which is equipped with Thunderbolt 3 ports, developed by Intel supporting Type-C. There are many AC cables that work on both versions 2.0 and 3.0. Just remember that the charging speed will ultimately be limited to the USB version.
  • Micro B-Type - used on phones, tablets, external drives, some cameras and many other devices. Due to its small size and relatively cheap production, this port is already built in everywhere and is unlikely to disappear soon.
  • Mini-b (5-pin) - if the cable is too big for your mobile phone, it may be a Mini-b 5-pin. It is found on digital cameras, GPS devices, some DV cameras, external drives and similar equipment. This connector is gradually being replaced in favor of the Micro B-type.
  • Mini-b (4-pin) - even smaller than the Mini-B 5-pin, Mini-B 4-pin has also been replaced by the newer Micro B-Type.

As you can see, the difference between USB 2.0 and 3.0 versions is enormous - from external parameters to the speed of information transfer. You can get more detailed information about the version that your gadget or PC (laptop) supports on the manufacturer's website or in the instruction manual.