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You heard about this new technology that is starting to appear on new computers & smartphones. It’s a new way to connect peripherals to your devices. It’s called USB-C, but what’s all the hoopla about? That’s what Geek Easy Computers wants to answer for you in this installment of “Answers to Common Questions”.


First of all, if you are not familiar with what exactly USB is, check out this previous post called “The Ubiquitous USB Port Explained” to get up to speed. We covered all of the ins and outs of USB in that article, so we are just going to cover what’s new and different about USB-C in this post.


USB-C is a new industry standard connector cable for connecting and/or powering devices. It was developed and certified by the USB Implementers forum. There are over 700 companies as members including such heavyweights as Apple, Microsoft, HP, Intel, Dell, and Samsung. That means that the new standard is more likely to be accepted by the majority of PC and peripheral manufacturers.


USB-C is gaining in popularity for several reasons:


  • Size – because of it’s super slim profile, manufacturers can put the port on their ever thinner laptops and tablets.
  • Speed – USB-C (for the most part) is USB 3.1 capable, which is theoretically twice as fast as USB 3.0, or about as fast as the original specs for Thunderbolt. For clarification, USB-C is the physical type of connector pictured above. USB 3.1 is the new speed standard but it’s generally just called USB-C.
  • Compatibility – USB-C supports many types of devices, so expect it to be used in lieu of or with adapters for DisplayPort, HDMI, standard USB, power and VGA.
  • Thunderbolt – USB-C is the new physical connector for Thunderbolt 3 by Intel. This will replace previous Thunderbolt versions in the same way that Thunderbolt (primarily used by Apple) replaced Firewire (primarily used by Apple and on AV equipment) as the alternative to USB 1 and 2. Intel is making Thunderbolt 3 ports accept USB 3.1 devices, but not all manufacturers’ USB 3.1 ports that use the USB-C cable will necessarily support Thunderbolt 3 devices. The Thunderbolt trademark icon will be present by USB-C connectors and on cables that support the Thunderbolt 3 standard.
  • Easy of Use – USB-C might look similar to Micro USB at first glance, but one of the best features is that USB-C fits both ways. Meaning that as long as it’s lined up right it will slide into the port with ease. No more having to flip the cable over to find the correct orientation!
  • Power – A USB 2.0 port supplies about 2.5 watts of power, or enough to charge your smartphone or a small tablet. USB-C Power Delivery spec increases that amount to 100 watts, and its bi-directional so the device can send or receive power. Data can be transmitted at the same time power is being received.


USB-C isn’t physically backward compatible with previous iterations of USB. You can’t plug a USB-C connector into a USB 2.0 port and vice versa. But all’s not lost for your existing peripherals! USB 3.1 is compatible with older versions of USB, you just need a physical adapter to change the end to USB-C. You can then plug in your older devices and they should work fine.


USB-C will be appearing on devices more and more from nearly everyone as it is rapidly accepted as the new standard in connectivity. Some manufactures, such as Apple, have already embraced USB-C; while others, such as Google on their Chromebook Pixel, have both USB-C and USB 2.0 ports. That will probably be the case with many manufacturers for the foreseeable future.


Geek Easy Computers – Making Technology Easier!


me_smile Adonis Pointer is a photographer, a collector of vintage razors, and a certified technology geek!
Adonis has been involved in computer technology since well, a LONG time! He has been involved in nearly every aspect of the industry from sales to repair to training to consulting. As the Social Media Manager he writes the majority of the posts on the Geek Easy Computers blog.


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