Thunderbolt 4 vs Thunderbolt 3 vs USB 4: What’s the Difference?

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Thunderbolt 4 vs Thunderbolt 3 vs USB 4: What's the Difference?

Among the most popular and widely used data transfer technologies, we have Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB4. These are all high-speed connections designed to meet the needs of various devices, including laptops, MacBooks, desktop computers, external hard drives, and other peripherals. In this article, we’ll compare Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB4 to help determine the right choice for you.

Thunderbolt 4 vs Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 4

Thunderbolt 4 is the latest of the Thunderbolt family of technologies. It is the successor to Thunderbolt 3 and boasts several key improvements over its predecessor. Some of the critical benefits of Thunderbolt 4 include increased data transfer speeds, improved video performance, and a more versatile and streamlined design.

Thunderbolt 4 vs Thunderbolt 3

Data Transfer Speeds

Thunderbolt 4 supports data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps, the same as Thunderbolt 3. However, the difference is the minimum bandwidth of up to 32GB and multiple displays support. This means you can transfer large files much faster than before, such as 4K videos or high-resolution images.

Video Performance

Another major improvement in Thunderbolt 4 is the increased video performance. Thunderbolt 4 supports up to four 4K displays, which significantly increases over Thunderbolt 3, which supports up to two 4K displays. This means connecting multiple high-resolution displays.

Design

Thunderbolt 4 includes support for USB4, which means you can use a single cable to connect to Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 devices. This eliminates the need for multiple cables, saving you time and reducing clutter.

Thunderbolt 3

Although Thunderbolt 3 is now considered a previous-generation technology, Thunderbolt 3 still offers high performance and versatility.

Thunderbolt 4 vs Thunderbolt 3 vs USB 4

Data Transfer Speeds

Thunderbolt 3 supports data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps, which is still fast compared to other technologies.

It supports up to two 4K displays. You can connect multiple high-resolution displays to your device and enjoy an immersive visual experience.

Compact Design

Finally, Thunderbolt 3 has a compact design, which means that it is easy to carry with you and use on the go.

USB 4

USB4 is the latest iteration of the USB family of technologies. It is designed to be fast, versatile, and compatible with many devices. Some of the key benefits of USB4 include fast data transfer speeds, support for multiple displays, and compatibility with USB-C.

Data Transfer Speeds

USB 4 supports data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps, which is fast enough to quickly and easily transfer large files, such as 4K videos or high-resolution images. This makes it an excellent choice for people who need to transfer large amounts of data quickly and those who want to connect multiple high-performance devices to their computers simultaneously.

Difference between Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3

Difference between Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3

Thunderbolt 4 supports up to two 4K displays or one 8K displays, while Thunderbolt 3 supports a maximum of two 4K displays or one 5K display. This makes Thunderbolt 4 a more robust and versatile option for users who need to connect multiple high-resolution displays.

Another critical difference between Thunderbolt 4 and 3 is the minimum required specifications for computers and devices. Thunderbolt 4 requires computers to have at least an 11th-generation Intel Core processor and integrated Thunderbolt 4 controller, while Thunderbolt 3 only requires a 7th-generation Intel Core processor and a separate Thunderbolt 3 controller.

Thunderbolt 4 also includes several new features and improvements, such as improved security, support for DisplayPort 2.0, and more.

Differences between USB4 and Thunderbolt 4

 Differences between USB4 and Thunderbolt 4

Compatibility distinguishes USB4 and Thunderbolt 4. Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 both transfer data at 40 Gbps. Since many device manufacturers use a standard, USB4 is more flexible and compatible with more devices.

Thunderbolt 4 supports more devices than USB4. Thunderbolt 4 supports four 4K displays or two 8K displays, but USB4 supports only two. Users with multiple high-resolution displays have less power with USB4. It is still a good choice for users who need to connect high-performance devices like external hard drives, cameras, etc., to their computers.

USB 4 has several new features and improvements, such as working with DisplayPort 2.0 and better power delivery. Because of these features, USB4 is a better choice for people who need to connect many devices to their computers.

Conclusion: Which is the Best Option for You?

Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, and USB4 all offer fast and versatile solutions for connecting devices to computers. The best option for you will depend on your specific needs and the devices you want to connect to your computer.

FeatureThunderbolt 4Thunderbolt 3USB4
Bandwidth40 Gbps40 Gbps40 Gbps
Video Output8K resolution at 60Hz (with DisplayPort 1.4), 4K resolution at 120Hz5K resolution at 60Hz (with DisplayPort 1.4), 4K resolution at 60Hz8K resolution at 60Hz (with DisplayPort 2.0), 4K resolution at 120Hz
Dual MonitorTwo 4K displaysOne 4K displayOne 4K display
Power DeliveryUp to 100WUp to 100WUp to 100W
Data Transfer SpeedUp to 32 GbpsUp to 20 GbpsUp to 40 Gbps
ChargingLaptops and Devices with up to 100WLaptops and Devices with up to 100WLaptops and Devices with up to 100W
Compatible DevicesThunderbolt 4-enabled devicesThunderbolt 3-enabled devicesUSB-C enabled devices

Thunderbolt 4 is the fastest and most compatible way to connect multiple high-resolution displays and other high-performance devices to your computer. Thunderbolt 4 may not work on all computers, so you may need to upgrade.

USB4 is an excellent option for a more flexible, compatible solution that works with more devices. It has fast data transfer rates and standards many device manufacturers use.

If you have a computer with Thunderbolt 3 and don’t need to connect multiple high-resolution displays, Thunderbolt 3 is a good option for professionals who need to connect high-end devices and accessories.

Adeel Younas
WRITTEN BY

Adeel Younas

Adeel Younas, Editor in Chief of TechWafer, is a tech reviewer and creator specializing in PC hardware and artificial intelligence.

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