USB 3.0 Type C vs. Thunderbolt vs. FireWire Drive Transfer Speed Comparison

Updated: October 10, 2016 / Home » Computer PC Hardware

Speed is not a factor unless you often perform large file transfers, such as backing up the server or copying gigabytes of files. You should note that these speed are theoretical speed, in fact, you will never experience these speed in everyday life.

See Also ➤ Increase Maximum Transfer Size of USB From 64KB to 2MB in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

The thing with Thunderbolt is that it is mainly an Apple Mac thing, this is because most computer manufacturers decided not to support Thunderbolt technology, therefore it is safe to conclude that Thunderbolt will probably not see the day of light. USB on the other hand is backwards compatible and provides more than enough speed and power for everyday use. The USB technology will always be the main connector in many more years to come.

USB 3.0 Type C vs. Thunderbolt vs. FireWire Drive Transfer Speed Comparison

01 – Comparison Between Various Connector

The newest technology is always better, but there are times it is better to wait for a few months. This can be seen with Apple’s Firewire and Thunderbolt technology, which is dying a slow death as the industry moves to the latest USB Type C connector.

If you plan to buy a new portable Hard Disk or Power Bank, always choose those that offers USB 3.0, even if it is 10 or 20% more expensive.

ConnectorRate (byte/s)Power
USB 1.1
0.192 MB/s
2.5 W
USB 2.0 High Speed
1.5 MB/s
2.5 W
USB 3.0 SuperSpeed
625 MB/s
2.5 - 7.5 W
USB 3.1 SuperSpeed+
3,750 MB/s
2.5 - 7.5 W
USB Type C
20,000 MB/s
2.5 / 4.5 / 7.5 / 15 W
FireWire 400
50 MB/s
FireWire 800
98 MB/s
FireWire 1600
196 MB/s
FireWire 3200
393 MB/s
1,250 MB/s
300 MB/s
Apple 30 pin
1.5 MB/s
Apple Lightning
15 MB/s
5 - 12 W

02 – Advantage of USB Type-C

  • Entirely new design tailored for emerging product design including Apple laptops.
  • New smaller size with reversible plug and orientation cable.
  • Supports scale-able power charging.
  • Designed to establish future USB performance needs.

03 – MiniUSB vs. MicroUSB vs. Lightning Comparison

These connectors only differs in term of physical design, the transfer speed still depends on which USB technology they are using. This can be seen with Lightning Cable that uses the older and slower USB 2.0 technology.

17 comments on “USB 3.0 Type C vs. Thunderbolt vs. FireWire Drive Transfer Speed Comparison

  1. Gravatar

    If you’re using PC or a mac, USB 3.0 is still a better option. Why use a hardware that doesn’t work on other devices? Who really cares about speed? maybe for a small group of people.

    • Gravatar
      Andrey Rivers [ Reply ]

      What’s the difference between USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt?

      • Gravatar

        LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series 120GB

        • Gravatar

          Then the problem is with the storage device not the connection.

        • Gravatar

          In data transfer from storage to another similar Thunderbolt is 3 times faster. In other words, the files that now require 12 sec to transfer to mobile storage can be done in 4 sec. You can get out of office 8 sec sooner!

          But Thunderbolt is much more important technology for networking. IP over Thunderbolt is instant 10GB/s Ethernet, and for video (which is what most home users use it for.)

          It totally rocks and we haven’t even talked about power over Thunderbolt!

    • Gravatar

      Why not. All current production Mac’s are compatible. PC cards available but I’d be careful with that for a while.

      All my Macs now networked with IP/Thunderbolt. After all the time I waste downloading Office files (boring) from my cloud to my Surface Pro III before I can even start working it fun to have a network faster than a mofo.

  2. Gravatar
    Stephen Shankland [ Reply ]

    USB 3.0 can’t match Thunderbolt for speed, but it’ll be ubiquitous, and it’s a huge step up

    • Gravatar

      How fast are the MacBook’s USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports?

    • Gravatar
      Thorin Klosowski [ Reply ]

      Turns out that the newest, latest USB 3.0 bus powered notebook storage devices are as fast or faster than their Thunderbolt counterparts.

  3. Gravatar
    Jason Hiner [ Reply ]

    The only drawbacks to USB 3.0 versus Thunderbolt are 1.) it’s half as fast (5Gbps for USB 3.0 vs. 10Gbps for Thunderbolt) and 2.)

    • Gravatar

      Thunderbolt offers speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second

  4. Gravatar
    microsoft [ Reply ]

    SuperSpeed USB 3.0 will match Thunderbolt performance in 2014

  5. Gravatar
    Robin Parrish [ Reply ]

    Thunderbolt will always be a niche technology

    • Gravatar

      Or several niches like daisy chaining video devices. Pretty cool stuff. It’s late 2015 and no one has beaten Thunderbolt in bidirectional data speed and electrical power power. But there will always be some faster.

      Why do ppl take these things personally. Team USB is butthurt. I don’t even take sports so seriously.

  6. Gravatar
    Lady Gaga [ Reply ]

    thunderbolt enabled devices
    intel thunderbolt card
    light peak vs thunderbolt
    how fast is thunderbolt

  7. Gravatar

    You got the USB 2.0 completely off – USB 1.1 can do 1.5Mbs for things like keyboards and mice, and 12Mbs max for data. USB 2.0 can do both legacy speeds plus 480Mbs. The biggest difference is that USB makes the CPU work harder than the others.

  8. Gravatar
    Andrew [ Reply ]

    The transfer rates shown in the photo are different from the rates shown in the table. Which are correct?

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