USB C 101: FAQs About The Port That Replaces Other Ports

HDMI Licensing recently announced that HDMI can now be connected directly to USB C, making USB-C a more versatile interface of transferring data. Since Apple use USB C on its MacBook, this interface has become a new standard for most laptop and smartphone companies. If you recently purchased a laptop or smartphone, you will very likely to notice that the traditional rectangular USB Type A ports are replaced by a capsule-shape USB Type C port. So what is it and how you can use it? We have listed the frequently asked questions about USB Type-C.

What is USB C

USB C, or USB Type-C, is a type of USB 3.1 connector designed for mobile devices like laptop and mobile phone. Comparing to its predecessors, USB Type-A and Type-B, the USB C is not only smaller in size, but also provides many great improvements, one of which would be the reversible interface, allowing users to plug in the connector either facing up or down. USB Type C port

USB Type C port. By Andreas Pietzowski, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Another great feature of USB Type C is that as a branch of UBS 3.1, the USB Type-C ports can not only provide up to 10 Gbps of data transfer speed in theory (AKA SuperSpeed Gen 2), but also transfer high quality video signal and power, so by using proper accessories, you can transfer data, video and power with only one port (more on this later). Currently USB Type C ports are compatible with the following specifications:

  • HDMI
  • Thunderbolt 3
  • DisplayPort
  • MHL

Is USB C the future?

Very likely, because major mobile device manufacturers are ditching traditional Type-A and B and start using Type-C. One of the first manufacture that started to use USB-C is Apple, who used USB-C port on it New MacBook released in 2015, after that, other manufacturers, including Google, Lenovo, Dell, Asus etc. are releasing their USB Type-C laptops. The reason why manufacturers love this interface is probably because the small size and rich features of this USB port allows them to focus on the device itself, so that they can make their devices smaller. However, to use USB-C interface with other traditional connectors, you will need to use a proper accessory in between as a bridge.  

What laptops have USB C

Here is an incomplete list of laptops that have USB Type C:

  • MacBook Pro 2016
  • MacBook Air 2014
  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • Lenovo Yoga 900
  • ASUS Transformer book T100HA
  • HP Spectre 13 x360
  • LG gram-15Z960-A.AA75U1
  • Dell XPS 13
  • Acer Aspire R 14 (R5-471T-52EE)
  • Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro VN7-572TG-775T
  • Dell Precision 15 7000 Series

And more… 

How to use USB C with other interfaces like USB Type A and HDMI There are two ways for you to make use of the USB C port, the easy way and the best way. The easy way is to use a USB Type C cable or adapter directly. Depend on the feature you need at the moment, you can use either a USB-C to Type-A cable / adapter or a USB-C to HDMI cable / adapter. This is the standard approach to use a USB C port, and it is very easy and intuitive, however when you have many devices to connect at the same time, you will run into problems, as most of the USB C laptops only provide one to two port(s). The recommended cable would be the Nylon Braided HV-CB723X USB C to USB A Cable. The best way for using a USB Type C port is to use a USB C Hub that provides many ports, so that you can use multiple devices at the same time. Our new released USB C Hub HV-TPC68 provides three USB 3.0 ports that transfer data at 5 Gbps, one HDMI port that support up to 4K of video resolution, one SDHC port that support up to 2TB of SDHC/SD memory, and a smart charging port that charge your laptop with power between 14.5V to 20V based on the model of your laptop. This will be the one-stop solution for your data, video and power transferring needs, so it would be the ideal way for people who need to use multiple devices at the same time.

Is USB C Thunderbolt

Yes and no. Before Thunderbolt 3, the Thunderbolt 2 and 1 have the same kind of interface, which is an Apple’s own interface; but in 2015, Apple’s new Thunderbolt 3 uses the same interface as USB-C, so Thunderbolt 3’s cable can be used as an USB Type C cable interchangeably. However, Thunderbolt 3 is still not USB C as Thunderbolt 3 devices use encrypted chips that will not work on USB-C ports, also Thunderbolt 3 ports provide higher data transfer speed (40 Gbps) than Type C.  

Is USB C backwards compatible

As a type of USB 3.1, the USB Type-C ports can be used with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices, but again, you’ll need a proper accessory to connect your devices.  

Does USB C support video / audio USB C supports specifications like HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, DisplayPort, and MHL, so it can transfer high quality video and audio signal to your TV or monitor.  

Will USB C replace USB A

Actually no, at least not for now, because USB Type-C and USB Type-A are both port types of USB 3.1, and USB 3.1 version of Type-A ports will be available on desktop PC. However, in the future if they find it necessary for PC to get smaller and the size of USB ports is in the way, then they may replace USB Type-A with a smaller port like USB C. 

What else do you want to know about USB Type-C? Please let us know in the comment.


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