A USB-A vs USB-C comparison is just what you need if you’re trying to figure out the differences between these two ports. These are the two most common types of connectors you’ll find on modern PCs, for good reason: USB ports and cables allow you to transfer data and power between devices.
But while you’re probably familiar with USB ports, you might not know how USB-A and USB-C ports stack up – and it’s important to know when it comes time to buy the best laptop or laptop. best computer for your needs.
Superficially, USB-A and USB-C have different connector types. The former features a flat, rectangular horizontal connector while the latter has a smaller rectangular connector with rounded edges.
These superficial differences indicate that each type of USB cable has very different capabilities, and that’s why it’s important to know the difference: so you know if your USB device is compatible with the port you want to plug it into, and what you can achieve with this.
Without further ado, here’s a detailed breakdown of the big differences between USB-C and USB-A.
What is USB-A?
USB-A ports and cables have been around for a while and as such are the ones most people are familiar with. USB-A connectors have a rectangular horizontal port with pin connectors on the bottom side. This design means that the connection only works if the cable is inserted correctly. If you try to insert the cable the wrong way, you will encounter resistance — don’t force it!
USB-A has fallen out of favor since the introduction of USB-C in 2014, but many modern devices still have at least one USB-A port. After all, there are still millions of peripherals and devices that require a USB-A connection. This is the main reason why USB-A won’t completely disappear any time soon, despite being an older type of connection.
What is USB-C?
USB-C (or USB Type-C) is slowly becoming the standard port for consumer devices. Almost every new laptop, tablet or phone has USB-C connectivity. Indeed, the type of connection solves many problems associated with USB-A. It also has many features that surpass its predecessor.
USB-C ports are smaller and thinner than USB-A. Due to the symmetrical connector design, you don’t have to worry about how you insert the cable into a port (thank goodness). With an adapter, USB-C is backwards compatible with USB-A and with various connection types, including HDMI.
Power Delivery support lets you charge large electronics like laptops via USB-C. Support for SuperSpeed and SuperSpeed+ (via USB 3.0 and above) enables faster data transfer speeds. USB-C is also compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4, which is why you’ll often see laptops and desktops with USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 combo ports – the port supports either another cable.
What is USB 3.0 and above?
USB 3.0 (aka USB 3.1), 3.2, and 4.0 are USB data protocols for USB connections and refer to the data formats the port can handle. In general, the higher the number the better, and you should be able to determine which version(s) your USB device supports by looking at the packaging and/or the manual.
Simply put, the more advanced versions of the USB protocol allow for faster data and power transfer. Most of us can’t care enough to tell the difference between USB 3.0 and USB 3.2, but it’s good to know how it all works.
USB 3.0 can achieve transmission speeds of up to 5 Gigabits per second (or 5 Gbps), while USB 3.1 can reach up to 10 Gbps. However, USB 3.2 has two 10 Gbit/s lanes and is therefore capable of reaching 20 Gbit/s.
Both USB-A and USB-C ports can support USB 2.0 to 3.2, which makes the whole thing a bit confusing since a USB port has both one type of connector (USB-C versus USB-A, or rounded versus rectangular) and a USB specification that reveals just how capable it is.
However, the newer USB 4.0 specification can reach up to 40 Gbps and is only available in USB-C form.
USB-A vs. USB-C: which is better?
USB-C is undeniably the superior connection type due to its higher data transfer rates, ability to charge large electronic devices, and balanced connection port. This is why it is becoming the industry standard and will become ubiquitous in the near future. That said, USB-A isn’t completely useless. In some cases, you may need it via USB-C.
Millions of devices still use USB-A ports. Machines without USB-A ports, such as the new 14-inch MacBook Pro and Dell XPS 13 Plus, can put you at a disadvantage if you don’t have an adapter. After all, an external hard drive or SSD with a USB-A connection won’t do you any good if you can’t connect it via USB-C. Plus, the USB-A designed for USB 3.0 is still more than enough for everyday computing and even transferring large photos or videos, if you don’t mind investing the time.
So while USB-C is objectively better than USB-A, USB-A still has its place in the computing world and should be around for several more years.