Characteristics and differences between USB 3.0 and 2.0

Most of the peripheral devices to the computer are connected using a USB port. However, many do not even realize that there are several port specifications, and the most common at the moment are USB 2.0 and 3.0. Is there a difference between them? Can a flash drive with a USB 3.0 port be connected to 2.0 and vice versa?

The main differences between USB 2.0 and 3.0

USB is a serial interface for connecting peripheral devices (mainly on a computer, but not only on it).

The port’s standard was adopted in 1996. Its most common specification – USB 2.0 appeared in 2000, USB 3.0 – in 2008.

Windows introduced support for version 3.0 only for Vista and Windows 7, Linux began to support USB 3.0 from version 2.6.31

The key feature of this port is their full compatibility. A USB version 3 device can be connected to USB 1.0. At the same time, it will work fully, but with the limitations of the USB specification. For example, if you connect a USB 3.0 flash drive to USB 2.0, the maximum read speed will be limited by the limits of the USB 2.0 port. All other differences between USB 2.0 and 3.0 are shown in the table.

Table: Comparison of USB 2.0 and 3.0 Parameters

Parameter USB 2.0 USB 3.0
Data access speed 480 Mbps (according to specification, in practice – 2 times less) 5 Gbps (according to specification, in practice – 1.5-2 times less)
Number of contacts four 4 + 4 (the last 4 contacts are used only on compatible devices)
Maximum amperage (does not apply to chargers where not all contacts are used) 0.5 A 0.9 A
Maximum wire length for data transmission (no data corruption) 5m 3m
Operating systems supporting the standard Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, MacOS, Linux Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10, MacOS, Linux (starting from kernel version 2.6.31).

Video: Compatibility of USB Interfaces of Different Versions

USB 3.0 is sort of a modified version of USB 2.0 with faster data rates and slightly higher amperage. In any case, the ports are absolutely compatible, so devices with a USB port will always fit together. Should you pay extra for USB 3.0? In most cases, no. This is only required when using ultra-fast external drives with access speeds in excess of 30-40 MB / s (external hard drives or SSD).

by Abdullah Sam
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