Differences Between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

You probably know that there are two most common types of USB system – USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. You may wonder what the differences between these two systems are, and how you can identify and distinguish them apart from the other. In this blog, we explain what these two USB systems are, and the telltale differences between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

USB 2.0 vs USB 3.0

What is USB?

USB, short for Universal Serial Bus, is an industry standard released in 1996. USB is an interface for data exchange between electronic devices such as computers, peripheral devices (mouse, digital cameras, printers, keyboards, scanners, etc.), and storage devices (external hard drives and flash drives). USB supports the transfer of electrical power.

Different types of USB ports exist, each with its peculiar features. The notable ones are:

  • USB 1.x: Supports a data transfer rate of up to 12 Megabits per second (Mbps) for up to 127 peripheral devices.
  • USB 2.0: Also called Hi-Speed USB, because it is faster and more functionality than its predecessor. The most popular of the USB standard, USB 2.0 was introduced in 2000, and supports a maximum transfer speed of 480 Mbps.
  • USB 3.0: Also known as SuperSpeed USB, the 3rd USB standard was released in November 2009 as an upgrade to USB 2.0. USB 3.0 supports the data transfer rate of up to 5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) – about 10 times faster than the speed of USB 2.0.

USB 2.0 vs. USB 3.0

Although USB 2.0 used to be the most popular version on devices, USB 3.0 is now gradually replacing 2.0.

Here are the major differences between those two USB versions.

Physical Appearance

USB 2.0 connectors have white or black inserts, while the USB 3.0 has blue inserts and bears the 3.0 logo.

Number of Connectors and Bandwidth

In terms of the wire connections, USB 2.0 has 4 connector wires and supports half-duplex communication. On the other hand, USB 3.0 has a total of 9 connector wires, and supports a full duplex exchange.

Data Transfer Rate

In the USB 2.0 vs. 3.0 race, USB 3.0 leads. USB 3.0 supports a data transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps (625MB/s) – almost 10 times faster than USB 2.0, with the maximum speed of 480 Mbps (60MB/s).

Backward Compatibility

USB 3.0 ports are backward-compatible. This means that when USB 2.0 drives still work normally when connected to a USB 3.0 port. Also, USB 3.0 drives are compatible with USB 2.0 ports. However, a USB 3.0 drive connected to a USB 2.0 port will only work at USB 2.0 speeds.

Power Delivery

While USB 2.0 can provide up to 500 mA current, USB 3.0 can provide up to 900 mA current, delivering up to 4.5 W at 5 V. This means during charging, USB 3.0 devices charge faster than USB 2.0 devices.


In terms of price, USB 3.0 drives are generally more expensive than their 2.0 counterparts. The higher the transfer rate of a USB 3.0 device, the higher the price.


It’s obvious that USB 3.0 is more superior to USB 2.0 in comparison. USB 3.0 offers faster transfer rate, more efficient power delivery and supports a full duplex data interchange. However, USB 3.0 drives are more expensive than USB 2.0 devices.

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