There are six main differences between USB 2.0 vs 3.0. Not only is there a difference in size, but a handful of others (like transfer rate and bandwidth to name a few) that distinguish the different USB versions. Read on to learn more about their differences and which version is best suited for you.
RELATED: What Is USB 3.0?
In this article:
- USB 2.0 vs 3.0
- Physical Differences
- Data Transfer Rate
- Backward Compatibility
- Power Usage
- Larger Bandwidth
- Larger Number of Wires
USB 2.0 vs 3.0: Explaining the Difference
USB 2.0 vs 3.0
USB 3.0 offers superior speed and a higher efficiency power management compared to the more common USB 2.0. Also, USB 3.0 ports are backward compatible. However, when a USB 3.0 device is connected to a USB 2.0 port, the data transfer speed will be limited to USB 2.0 levels.
The USB ports for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 also differ visually. Figure 1 illustrates the visual differences between the three types of USB ports:
- USB 2.0 has a black “block” inside the USB port.
- In contrast, USB 3.0 has a blue “block” inside the USB port.
- The more recent USB 3.1 port also differs visually in that the “block” inside the USB 3.1 port is red.
Data Transfer Rate
USB 2.0 transfer speed is 480 megabits per second (Mbps) while USB 3.0 transfer speed is 4,800 Mbps. This means that USB 3.0 is approximately 10 times faster than USB 2.0.
More recently, USB 3.1 has also been released. USB 3.1 has a data transfer rate of 10,000 Mbps. This is twice as fast as USB 3.0 and twenty times as fast as USB 2.0.
Related: USB 2.0 Frequently Asked Questions
USB 3.0 ports are completely backward compatible. This means that when a USB 2.0 drive or earlier versions are connected to a USB 3.0 port, the drive will work normally.
It is important to note that a USB 3.0 drive is also compatible with a USB 2.0 port. However, a USB 3.0 drive will exhibit the same transfer rate as a USB 2.0 drive when connected to a USB 2.0 port. In other words, a USB 3.0 drive must be connected with a USB 3.0 port to be able to achieve the high data transfer rates USB 3.0 are known for.
USB 2.0 is capable of providing up to 500 mA current, whereas USB 3.0 is capable of providing up to 900 mA current. Also, USB 3.0 is capable of delivering more power when the need arises and conserve power when the USB drive is connected but not being used.
USB 2.0 offers a one-way communication path. This means that the data is both sent and received over the same pathway. Thus, USB 2.0 can only send data or receive data at a given time, but not do both.
USB 3.0 uses two separate unidirectional data paths, each with a dedicated function: one for sending data and the other for receiving data. This means that USB 3.0 can simultaneously send and receive data.
Larger Number of Wires
USB 2.0 has a total of 4 connector wires while USB 3.0 has a total of 9. It is the presence of these 5 additional wires that increases the bandwidth of USB 3.0 by permitting two- way communications simultaneously.
The superior performance of USB 2.0 vs 3.0 has caused an increase in popularity for the USB 3.0 USB drives. Many of our clients are opting for a USB 3.0 upgrade.
Download this infographic now and reference it later:
Check out this video about the difference between USB 2.0 and 3.0:
May the above-mentioned details about USB 2.0 vs 3.0 help you in deciding which type to opt for yourself. If you are interested in ordering a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0, let our sales team know and they will be happy to get back to you!
Did we miss anything on our discussion about USB 2.0 vs 3.0? Tell us in the comments section below!
- Origin of USB Flash Drives
- Flash Drive Sizes and Storage Questions Answered
- Promotion Strategy Using USB Drives
Editor’s Note – This post was originally published on January 11, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.