In our previous blog, we talked about what the difference was between Thunderbolt 3 and 4 ports and how differentiating their requirements can meet your device/workspace needs which you can read here.
USB4 was announced back in 2019 and in the tech world, we received a wave of USB4 products such as docks and cables with ground-breaking capabilities. Most USB4 connections were introduced to 2020 devices which is why we are still coming around to fully understand what this port can now offer. It serves as an upgrade over the previous tech and provides better port usage, faster transfers, and daisy-chaining of display ports and PCle to external devices. It also uses a Type-C connector, which offers up to 40 Gbps of data transfer and 100W of power.
We had USB 3.1 Gen 1 which offered data transfer speeds of 5Gbps) and USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps), which recently became USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 respectively, following the introduction of a new USB 3.2 generation which boosted speeds to 20Gbps. It can all become quite cumbersome with the nuances associated with connection ports, but Intel have stated that no further iterations in the name and this will simply stay as “USB4”.
USB4 takes on the physical connection of USB-C but the technology derivative of the Thunderbolts. That’s right – your cable could have both USB-C and USB4. Intel has designed USB4 to bring Thunderbolt 3 equivalent speeds and faster level of performance to all vendors across the board. USB4 is backward compatible with older tech, if it fits that “c-shaped” port used for USB 4.0 devices. That combination of high data throughput and power delivery means it can act as a singular cable for displays. It can handle two 4K displays or one 5K display over a single connector. It also has enough data throughput to connect external graphics cards to desktops and laptops.
The adoption of USB4 ports in device manufacturers will have to produce hardware which in turn, will cost more than the previous tech to implement. This will undoubtedly mean that older USB ports will likely hang around for some time yet and not all connections require USB4 technology i.e., hooking up mouses or keyboards.
Don't buy a USB4 or any other type of cable that doesn't specifically state what technology it uses. Some off-brand cables may be vague about this, leaving you with a cable that slowly transfers data or is not effective at charging devices.
The cord length is important too! Each connection technology has a recommended maximum length before the data transfer and power degrades. The maximum length for an official USB4 cable is currently only 0.8m, so if you see a cord longer than that for sale, it doesn’t meet the standards.
The name of USB4 is a big improvement over the extremely confusing naming conventions of its predecessor, but it’s not as clear as it could be. For example, lots of devices with USB4 support don’t say “USB4” but instead “Thunderbolt 4” without mentioning that Thunderbolt 4 ports are also USB4 ports. The USB4 switchover will take time, but it will eventually start to gain serious momentum for all our tech devices.
What USB4 devices are you interested in getting? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org as we may be stocking soon!