The Difference Between USB 2.0 vs 3.0

Categories: News & Resources, Tips & Tricks

There are six main differences between the universal serial bus (USB) 2.0 vs 3.0. Not only is there a difference in size, but also a handful of others (like transfer rate and bandwidth to name a few) that distinguish the different USB versions.

When you’re done, go read our updated article on USB 3.0 vs 3.1 vs 3.2 by clicking here.

USB 2.0 vs 3.0 Difference

In terms of USB 2.0 vs 3.0 speed, 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. But, when a USB 3.0 device is connected to a USB 2.0 port, the data transfer speeds will be limited to USB 2.0 levels.

1. The USB ports for USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 also differ visually.

  • 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.

2. 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 USB 3.0 is approximately 10 times faster than USB 2.0. More recently, USB 3.1 has also been released and 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.

3. Backward Compatibility

USB 3.0 ports are completely backward compatible. This means 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. But, 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.

4. Power Usage

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 USB power when the need arises and conserve power when the USB flash drive is connected but not being used.

5. Larger Bandwidth

USB 2.0 offers a one-way communication path. This means the data are 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 USB 3.0 can simultaneously send and receive data.

6. Larger Number of Wires

USB 2.0 has a total of four connector wires, while USB 3.0 has a total of 9. It is the presence of these five 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.

7. Price

In terms of price, USB 2.0 vs 3.0 differs significantly. You can buy an affordable USB 2.0 on the market, such as an 8-gigabyte (GB) USB 2.0 flash drive for less than $10. With USB 3.0, it’s going to be more expensive, especially those that offer the fastest transfer speeds. It can reach up to $40 if you opt for those that offer said speeds. You might want to consider how you’ll use the drive. If you’ll be using it frequently and transferring huge files, USB 3.0 might be a better choice for you since its superior speeds can cut down transfer time. We should note that price will always be less of an issue when you buy from Everything But Stromboli. Regardless of brand, we bring wholesale prices every day, especially when you buy in bulk. You can shop our selection of 2.0 and 3.0 USB’s here!

USB 2.0 vs 3.0 Cable

When it comes to cables, USB 3.0 has a faster transfer rate (4.8 Gbps) and power transfer (900 mA) than USB 2.0. It doubles the number of wires in the cable from four to eight, making power transfer a lot better than USB 2.0. USB 3.0 also has various connectors, commonly blue, which also means USB devices that utilize different connectors may not be compatible with USB 2.0 equivalent cables. Although USB 2.0 connectors may fit into 3.0 ports, data transfer might not run at optimal performance because of the different wiring configuration of the two USB standards.

While USB 3.0 cables may still be used for USB 2.0 ports, it will run on the slower USB 2.0 speeds since the device determines transfer rates, not the cable. For best results and to maximize the features offered by the USB type, it’s best to match the USB cable with the port.

That’s it! These differences may seem minor but some of them are important to note. At a time where time is even more essential, knowing if a 3.0 USB could save you significant time is worth knowing. Head over to shop our USB Flash drives and choose what’s best for you today!