Find out the essential differences and similarities of two of the fastest USB types in this comparison of USB 3.0 vs 3.1.
In this article:
- What Are USB 3.0 and 3.1?
- USB 3.0 vs 3.1: When Were They Released?
- USB 3.0 vs 3.1 Speed: How Fast Are Their Data Transfer Speeds?
- Who Can Use USB 3.0 and 3.1?
- Why Should You Upgrade to USB 3.0 and 3.1?
- Where Can You Buy USB 3.0 and 3.1?
USB 3.0 vs USB 3.1: The 6 Things You Need to Know
Note: This discussion doesn’t refer to the Universal Serial Bus (USB) power source or the physical connector types. Instead, it’ll focus on the transfer speed (rate) when we compare USB 3.0 vs 3.1.
What Are USB 3.0 and 3.1?
The USB 3.0 series is one of the current industry standards, along with USB 2.0. As such, devices and gadgets released in recent years use this USB type.
You’ll find this at the ends of power connectors, data cables, and flash drives. USB 3.0 has two parts:
- Plug (male part) — You’ll find this at the end of your power connector, data cable, or flash drive
- Receptacle (female part) — Your device’s USB port where you connect the plug into
USB 3.0 also goes by the name SuperSpeed USB. You can tell the difference between USB 3.0 and its predecessors by its blue port interior as well as its initials “SS,” which stand for SuperSpeed.
A few years after its original release, developers updated USB 3.0. They also renamed it USB 3.1 Gen 1.
Because of the upgrade applied, USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 are essentially the same. All the features of USB 3.0 are present in its successor.
As a matter of fact, the USB Implementers Forum, Inc. (USB-IF) considers these two USB types to be “synonymous.”
Yet, a big advantage that USB 3.1 has is it can support a feature called Power Delivery 2.0. This means that compatible ports can supply up to 100 watts of power to the device they’re connected to.
As such, you can charge laptops using a single USB cable. This feature is common in laptops that use the USB-C standard.
Note, though, that while USB 3.1 can support USB-C, they’re not the same thing.
USB 3.0 vs 3.1: When Were They Released?
USB 3.0 became available in the market in 2008. This was seven years after the release of USB 2.0, its predecessor.
Compared to the previous USB version, USB 3.0 brought significant improvements:
- Faster data transfer speed
- Backward compatibility with previous USB versions
- Higher power output
- Lower power consumption
In 2010, the first set of devices equipped with USB 3.0 went on sale in the market.
The year 2013 saw the release of USB 3.1 Gen 2. The main improvement it brought was even faster data transfer speed than USB 3.0.
USB 3.0 vs 3.1 Speed: How Fast Are Their Data Transfer Speeds?
From the 480 megabits per second (Mbps) data transfer speed of USB 2.0, USB 3.0 upped it approximately 10 times faster at 4,800 Mbps. It transfers data at a speed of 5 gigabits per second (Gbps).
USB 3.1 Gen 2 came with an even faster data transfer speed of 10 Gbps. This is 10,000 Mbps or 1,250 megabytes per second (MBps) — twice as fast as its predecessor and 20 times faster than USB 2.0.
RELATED: Do Data Transfer Speeds Matter?
Who Can Use USB 3.0 and 3.1?
New versions of the Universal Serial Bus come out every couple of years, each time with new improvements. This gives users enough time to get used to the latest version, but the question is, will they render the older generations of USB useless?
The great thing about the newer USB generations is they’re backward compatible with their successors. That is why even when a new version comes out, you won’t have to immediately change your cables and replace your USB ports.
Gadgets and devices also catch up fast with the latest USB version, so they’re already equipped with the current standard. You may already be using USB 3.0 and 3.1 without even knowing it!
The downside is, if you pair two different USB versions together, you’ll get the data transfer speed of the older version. It will still work because of backward compatibility, but you won’t be able to maximize the speed the newer version offers.
You can enjoy the transfer speeds of the newer versions by pairing versions of cables and ports that match. Basically, this means your device, host connection, and cables should all support USB 3.0 or 3.1.
USB 3.0 is backward compatible with USB. 2.0. Likewise, USB 3.1 is backward compatible with its two predecessors.
There are some scenarios, however, when they may not work together:
- The USB plugs aren’t compatible with each other physically
- When the bus-powered USB devices require more power than the USB version can provide
Why Should You Upgrade to USB 3.0 and 3.1?
These newer versions of USB have more benefits to offer than previous ones like USB 2.0 and 1.1. Here’s a list of what you can enjoy with USB 3.0:
- Faster data transfer speed — This lets you transfer files faster, from documents to HD movies.
- Higher power output — You can charge devices faster when you use USB 3.0 cords as their power output is higher compared to the previous versions.
- Lower power consumption — USB 3.0 consumes a lesser amount of power, so you don’t have to worry about it draining your battery fast when in use.
When you compare USB 3.0 vs 3.1 Gen 1, you’ll find that they are practically the same. Yet the latter, newer version (particularly USB 3.1 Gen 2) also offers advantages of its own:
- Twice the speed of USB 3.0 — You can enjoy a whopping data transfer speed of 10 Gbps when you use devices, USB host connections, and cables that support USB 3.1 Gen 2.
- Power Delivery 2.0 support — When you’re able to maximize the 100 watts of power that Power Delivery 2.0 supplies, you can charge your laptop using a single USB cable.
Where Can You Buy USB 3.0 and 3.1?
The USB 3.0 series is a current industry standard. That means the devices launched after its release back in 2008 and 2013 are already most likely equipped with USB 3.0 and 3.1.
Yet if you’re looking for a specific device such as a flash drive, data cable, or power connector, you can visit your local electronics store. You’ll find them at department stores or at shops that sell electronic devices.
It’s best that you bring your gadget when you visit stores so you can check the compatibility right away. Remember that although these newer versions are backward compatible, there are still limitations that may hinder it.
You can also check online stores like Amazon, Walmart, and Ebay for the USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 device you need.
If you are looking to buy USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 flash drives in bulk for gifts or giveaways, visit the Promotional Drives website. We offer a wide range of USB flash drive designs you can customize to fit your needs.
When you compare USB 3.1 vs 3.0, you’ll really see their differences and why they are superior to their predecessors. The most notable one is the USB 3.0 vs 3.1 speed, which you can enjoy when you use compatible versions together.
Learning more about technology will help you make an informed choice. This way, you will also be able to find exactly what you need and get the value for your money.
Which USB version do you use or prefer? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!