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USB Type-C Cables

Thank goodness for USB Type-C cables. After so many confusing changes to the USB standard over the years, USB-C cables can connect your old USB-A drives to the modern USB-C ports on your computer. There are also cables to connect other devices to your USB-C port, such as HDMI and DVI.

Are all USB Type-C Cables the same?

The short answer is no. “USB Type-C” refers to the physical connection at the end of the cable, but the data transmission which goes through the cable can be another matter entirely. To simplify, three of the most common standards of data transfer (bandwidth) used in Type-C USB cables are USB 4, USB 3.1 (Gen 2) and USB 2.0. The bandwidth of a USB 4 cable is 40 Gb/s, while for a USB 3.1 (Gen 2) cable, it’s 10 Gb/s, and USB 2.0 has a transfer rate of only 480 Mb/s. Note that a USB-C to USB-C cable which only supports USB 2.0 transmission is called a “Synching and Charging” cable. If you want a cable that delivers the full speed of USB 4 or USB 3.1 (Gen 2), look for the words “Full Feature”.

Which Type-C Cable should I get?

This depends on what you want to use it for. If you want the fastest possible data transfer rate, get a USB-C cable that supports USB 4 (40 Gb/s). If you only want a cable for synching or charging your phone, get an inexpensive Type-C charger cable. You can also get cables to connect the USB-C port of your computer to your older peripherals, using connections such as USB-A to USB-C, HDMI and Lightning. Also, if you get a full feature cable for USB 4 or USB 3.1 (Gen 2), it will support a power transmission of up to 100W.

Are Type-C Cables Universal?

Yes. You’ll find USB-C ports on most modern computers and even smartphones. This is going to simplify everything going forward. However, you mustn’t confuse the USB-C connectors at the ends of the cable with the internal workings of the cable itself. For example, if you buy a “Synching and Charging” USB-C cable because of its lower price and try to use it to connect your computer to an external drive, you will find it agonisingly slow. This is because the cable is throttled to USB 2.0 speed, which is eighty times slower than you’ll get with a USB-C cable designed for USB 4 speeds!