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Do USB Cables Have Different Speeds?

Various USB cables and ports.

This piece touches on the speed of different USB cables and how faster they transfer data. The abbreviation “USB” is short for the term Universal Serial Bus. It is an industry-standard extension to the personal computer architecture for connecting peripherals to computers and other electronic devices.

It is an equipment interface that was built so that gadgets like PC mice, consoles, printers, advanced cameras, scanners, PDA’s, and MP3 players can effortlessly communicate with PCs. Computer producers initially started to supplant serial ports with USB ports in 1997. Today, every PC available contains no less than 4 ports for USB connections.

Data Transmission by USB

USB cable connecting phone to laptop.

USB allows you to charge and transfer files irrespective of the source and storage. USB Ports have become very much useful, paving the way for smaller, lighter, and more portable devices. As new standards bring more speed, power, and versatility to the market, they also bring a complex assortment of features and capabilities, to consider which type of USB to use in terms of data transfer capacity.

To know data transfer rates, let’s look at the design of the USB connector.

A USB connector has four pairs of pins, also known as lanes, that transmit and receive data from various sources.

Types of USB Cables and their Connectors

Before we dive into understanding USB speeds, we will first check out the various types of USB cables. The following are the 3 types of USB cables in use.


USB cable and charger.

It is the most common in use. With its rectangular connector, it is the pillar of connection between PCs and gadgets.

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USB cable type b

It was launched in collaboration with major printer manufacturers. They got interested in its shape and design–that it would fit well into their printers.

USB B has several variants:

  • The USB B Mini has sprung up to great use by many users.
  • The USB B Micro is a miniature connector utilized in more seasoned and less expensive devices. 
  • USB B Micro Super Speed is frequently utilized on external hard drives. It has 10 pins compared to Micro-USB’s 5 pins.

USB C expands on the features of USB A and Micro-USBs. It has a one-way through-port, and can be connected to whichever end you like.

USB Speeds

One of the factors that determine USB speed is its specification according to the norm. For example, USB 3.0 is faster than USB 2.0.

The types of USBs are genuinely straightforward as they appear to be unique. The speeds of the USB are measured using megabytes and gigabytes. Recall that a megabyte (MB) is many times bigger than a megabit (Mb). To make the contrast simpler, we start by comparing the USB speeds in megabits per second, and gigabits per second.

USB 1.1

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It is also referred to as Full-Speed USB. USB 1.1 reaches speeds up to 12 megabits per second (12Mbps). That is identical to 0.125 megabytes per second (MBps). This is an old USB type and is compatible with current USB types.

USB 2.0

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It is also referred to as a Hi-Speed USB. USB 2.0 possesses surprising speeds up to 60MBps, or 480Mbps. The specification for this USB type is popularly used in most devices and docking stations are still being used in gadgets and docking stations.

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USB 3.0

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Also known as SuperSpeed), it has a much higher speed of an incredible 5 gigabits per second (5Gbps), which is equivalent to 625MBps or 5,000Mbps. Unfortunately, the splitting of USB 3.0 into several variants can be confusing for the user. The following are USB 3.0 variants:

  • USB 3.1 was launched in July 2013, and is divided into two more variations. USB 3.1 Gen 1 is equivalent to the USB 3.0 SuperSpeed specification, at 5Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 is named SuperSpeed+, which has speeds of 10Gbps. The 10Gbps form was referred to at the same time as “USB 3.1 Rev 2,” “USB 3.1 Gen 2,” “SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps,” and “SuperSpeed+”.
  • USB 3.2 possesses all prior 3. x USB specifications, and adds another three transfer rates. Namely, USB Gen 1×1, USB 3.2 Gen 2×1, and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. The multiple factors identify the lanes in the USB.

USB Cables in Detail

Different types of USB cables

The following looks in detail, at USB cables

USB 1 and USB 2

USB 1 and 2 cables have just four wires. Information is persisted in a solitary differential pair that changes direction. This is a half-duplex transfer. The half-duplex data transfer means that one channel has to wait for the other channel to complete the data transfer before it begins its transfer. The highest speed of USB 1 and USB 2 transfers data is 480Mbps.

USB 3.0 and USB 3.1

USB 3.0 and 3.1 are upgraded with new links to a sum of nine wires in the cable. The four wires of USB 2 are retained. They are useful in slower data transfers. On top of these four wires, two extra twisted pairs in addition to the ground are added to the link. The USB 3.0 transmits data in the range of 5 gigabytes per second while a USB 3.1 transmits data up to 10 gigabytes per second. A USB 3.2 takes advantage of all four lanes to achieve a 20 gigabyte per second data rate.

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USB 3.1 Variants

  • USB 3.1 Gen 1 permits up to 5 Mbps speeds in full-duplex mode. The actual speed rate can be 4 Mbps because of the 8-to-10bit scrambling data passage.
  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 possesses similar links and connectors as Gen 1, and with the additional upgrade, its speed is 10Mbps. However, factoring in the clock rate of 10 Mbps, and changes of 128-to-132-piece scrambling, the actual data transfer rate is 9.7 Mbps.

10Mbps speed is the quickest you can get with a USB link that has an “A” connector on one side.

USB C Versus USB 3.2

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USB C links are becoming frequently used. The USB C connector has 24 pins. The connector is symmetric, so it connects in two directions, 180 degrees separate. In analogy to USB 3.1, the USB C jack wires the different sides of the connector together as perfect representations of one another. Therefore, it is a 12-circuit connector that works appropriately no matter how you plug it in.

The research discovered that a USB link with a USB C connector at the two ends had 24 wires. These 24 wires include 4 high-speed twisted pairs, not just two like a USB link with an “A” connector. So, an appropriate set of USB regulators could double the information rate by utilizing two transmit and two receive pairs. This is how a USB 3.2 performs.

Looking into the four unique USB 3.2 modes:

  • USB 3.2 Gen 1×1 (likewise USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 3.0): 5/4 Mbps.
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 (likewise USB 3.1 Gen 2) 10/9.7 Mbps.
  • USB 3.2 Gen 1×2: 10/8 Mbps,
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2×2: 20/19.4 Mbps.
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The initial two modes consist of 9-wire USB links and “A” plugs.

The second two modes require the entire transmission mode to utilize USB C connectors and 24-wire links (as well as a regulator that upholds USB 3.2 x2 modes). This essentially means that, albeit reverse compatible, quicker links never go quicker because the gadgets utilized at one of the two closures lack compatibility. As this is a normal data transfer in reverse compatibility gadgets.