Difference between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

USB, the term that we almost always use in our everyday digital lives, but do we really know what it does?  It is actually the short term for Universal Serial Bus that defines cables, connectors and communications protocols, and even power supply for electronic devices like your computers and cell phones. So what are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0?


USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0
A USB 2.0 Cable

USB 2.0

Released in the early 2000’s, it is an expansion of the old model USB 1.1. The good thing about the upgrade is that it’s backward compatible, meaning USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 use the same cables and connectors. While it is indeed backward compatible, it thus however will maintain the transfer rate of the older model which is at most 12 Mbit/s.

With the upgrades of the USB, it generally focuses on its transfer speed, and in USB 2.0’s case, it went up from 12Mbit/s to a reading speed of 34.8 MB/s and a writing speed of 30.6 MB/s, generally speaking of course. Regarding its charging and power, it has the capacity to deliver 0.5 A which would theoretically power up your electronic device within 7 hours and 48 minutes.

A USB 3.0 Cable
A USB 3.0 Cable

USB 3.0

Designed November 2008, it came 8 years after your USB 2.0 and is said to have a much faster data transfer rate. It has a reading speed of 75.2 MB/s and a 74.5 MB/s writing speed, which is more than 200% of your USB 2.0. It also is backward compatible with your USB 2.0 but will be limited to your USB 2.0’s transfer speed.

Ports and cables may be the same as your USB 2.0 and USB 1.X but with your USB 3.0, you’ll have a colored blue port as an identification; it has 9 wires inside its cable instead of 4 (number of wires within the cable of USB 2.0), and a shorter cable length at 3 meters instead of 5 (max cable length for USB 2.0). Regarding its charging and power, it has the capacity to deliver 0.9 A which would theoretically power up your electronic device within 5 hours and 8 minutes.

USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

What’s the difference between a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0? Since USB 3.0 is an upgrade to your USB 2.0, the difference lies in the efficiency of its use.

With your USB 2.0, you’ll get a slower speed transferring your data from one device to another, and considering that the speed is doubled and even 10 times faster with a super speed USB 3.0, it is a big difference especially when most of your work involves USB’s. Even if you do not, charging electronic devices may make the big difference for you with its higher power output at 0.9 A.

Aside from its efficiency, prices also differ, whether it may be cables, storage devices or hubs you’re looking for. Take SanDisk Cruzer Fit CZ33 16 GB USB 2.0 and SanDisk CZ43 16 GB USB 3.0 as an example. Having USB 2.0 will cost you around $5 while USB 3.0 will be a bit pricier at $7.

So to put it simply, the difference is their efficiency in all aspects. USB 3.0 might be more costly but it does come with a better result.

Comparison Chart

USB 2.0 USB 3.0
Has a Reading speed of 34.8 MB/s Has a Reading speed of 75.2 MB/s
Has a Writing speed of 30.6 MB/s Has a Writing speed of 74.5 MB/s
Is distinguished by the color Gray Is distinguished by the color Blue
Power output of 0.5 A (7 hrs 48 mins charge time) Power output of 0.9 A (5 hrs 8 mins charge time)
4 wires within its cable 9 wires within its cable
Is generally less expensive with similar product Is generally more expensive with similar product


You can refer to the video below for an actual speed test between the two.