Is Thunderbolt faster than USB 3?

Icon ask Sir Apfelot

Icon ask Sir ApfelotQuestion: I would be interested in whether the Thunderbolt interface is faster or slower than USB 3. I ask because I want to buy an external hard drive and am unsure which port it should have.

Answer: In terms of data transfer, Thunderbolt 1 is already faster than [USB 3-> usb-3], because USB 3 theoretically transfers data at 4,8 GBit per second, while Thunderbolt 1 transfers at 10 GBit per second. The new version of the [Thunderbolt interface-> thunderbolt] called "Thunderbolt 2", which has already been introduced, even shovels data through the bus at 20 GBit / s. As I said, these are the theoretical values. In practice, however, it is a bit more complicated because when you have Thunderbolt hard drives and USB 3 hard drives compares, then you will find that both are about the same speed. This is due to the slow access time of the mechanical hard drives, which are the bottleneck of the story. If, however, SSD hard drives are used as the storage medium, then the Thunderbolt hard drive is also faster than the USB-3 hard drive in practice.

For other applications, such as a [hub-> thunderbolt hub] for video, audio and other external devices, Thunderbolt is of course better than USB 3, as the Thunderbolt interface can transport all kinds of data. For example, you will never be able to control a monitor with a USB-3 connection.

I hope I helped you a bit with that!


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  1. […] Counted, you will have noticed that there is no Thunderbolt interface on the dock. This is of course due to the fact that the dock is completely based on USB3 [...]

  2. Claus D. from F. am M. says:

    Monitor to USB is possible!
    I already have an external USB 2.0 graphics card from Logilink in operation.
    Email etc. and the Adobe CS palettes are now on the 22 ″ second screen.
    It is practically an adapter from USB to VGA for the Mac.
    PS .: Thanks for the many good tips on this page!

    • sir appleot says:

      Halo Claus! Yes, ok ... with an external graphics card you can also operate a monitor via USB. ;-)
      What is the name of your USB graphics card? I didn't think that the speed of USB 2 would be enough for a monitor, but interesting that it works!
      Best regards!

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