Comparing USB 2.0 and 3.0 and the Types of USB Cables Used for Gaming Devices

USB devices have become more popular than ever before. Almost all consumer electronic devices that are being made today have ports and connectors that facilitate USB connectivity. While USB plugs may look pretty much similar in all electronic devices, there have been a series of USB generations that have led to the progressive development of USB technology. But before looking at some of these generations or versions of USB cables used for gaming devices, we need to understand what a USB is and how USB cables are used for gaming devices.

A USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a plug-and-play interface that’s used to connect different electronic and peripheral devices, including gaming devices. USB cables used for gaming devices enhance the quick communication between these peripheral devices and the computer, also making the transfer of data between storage devices and the computer easy and fast. They are commonly used to connect gaming devices such as controllers, keyboards, and mice to the computer. 

Since the release of the first USB generation in 1996, there have been three additional USB generational releases. The four generations are USB 1.0, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 4.0, all differing in speed and functionalities. In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at two of the most popular USB generations today; USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

USB cables used for gaming devices are able to support the newest versions of USB technology, which allows for faster data transfer between the gaming devices and the computer.
USB hubs and ports allow various peripheral devices to be connected to a PC. Image Source: Amazon.

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The Development Of USB 2.0 And 3.0

The innovation of the first generations of USB, USB 1.0 and USB 1.1, paved the way for transferring data between devices. 

USB 2.0 was released in April 2000 and provides data transfer rates of 480 Mbps, which is 40 times faster than the previous USB 1.1 version. USB 3.0, was later released in 2008 and offers a data transfer rate of about 4,800 Mbps, which allows for a 10 times faster transfer of data than a USB 2.0.

The DTR (data transfer rates) of these earlier generations ranged between 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps) and 12 Mbps. These transfer rates were initially sufficient, but as PCs and the necessity for various peripherals started growing, there was a need for an improvement in the data transfer rates. This led to the development of subsequent USB versions; USB 2.0 and USB 3.0. This video tutorial by ScienceABC ll explains a bit more about USB cables.

Here is an overview of the two main USB types:

USB 2.0

As the number of PC users in the late 20th century increased, there needed to be a better and faster way that allowed users to manage and transfer data. This led to the development of USB 2.0 like this data transfer cable has. The USB 2.0 was given the brand name, High-speed USB, as its data transfer rates were 40 times faster than previous versions. USB 2.0 also introduced USB on the go, which is the ability to connect two devices without needing a host or a computer.

Even though USB 2.0 had better-improved features and performance than previous versions of USB, they were backward-compatible with devices with previous USB versions and it was possible for users to connect previous versions of USB to any computer with USB 2.0 ports and vice versa. 

You may find our article about how to fix a gaming mouse that is lagging interesting as it includes steps on how to replace a faulty USB port if troubleshooting reveals the USB port to be the problem. 

Although USB 2.0 is much faster than the previous generation it is still compatible with USB 1.0 gaming device connections.
The USB 2.0 was given the brand name, High-speed USB, as its data transfer rates were 40 times faster than previous versions. Image Source: Amazon.

USB 3.0

Eight years after USB 2.0 was released, a more sophisticated and efficient version, USB 3.0 like this cable has, was released. USB 3.0 made it very easy for users to manage and transfer large amounts of data. The versions of this third generation of USB had very high data transfer rates. For example, USB 3.0 had data transfer rates of 4 Gigabits per second (Gbps), USB 3.1 had data transfer rates of 10 Gbps, while USB 3.2 had data transfer rates of 20 Gbps. Hence, they made data transfer very fast. No wonder they were given the brand name SuperSpeed USB.

The different versions of USB 3.0 were also backward-compatible with USB 2.0. Thus, it was possible to connect USB 2.0 to computers that had USB 3.0 ports and vice versa. This paper by Anderson D. et al is a brief review of the USB 3.0 implementation, focusing on USB 2.0 backward compatibility. The goal is to provide a short and concise description of USB 3.0 to give a good understanding of the technology. 

Another unique feature of USB 3.0 was its full-duplex data transmission as explained in this article from the Journal of Modern Cable Television Technology. It was possible for USB 3.0 to transfer and receive data simultaneously, and this advanced feature made it very attractive and well-received by users. 

The different versions of USB 3.0 also supported shorter cables, making them very easy to carry and use, and widely preferred by users who love simplicity. The USB 3.0 versions can be identified by taking a glance at the color of their ports. The USB 3.0 port is blue, USB 3.1 port is green, and the USB 3.2 port is red.

The port of a USB 3.0 cable for PC peripherals and gaming devices is easily recognizable by its blue color.
The USB 3.0 data transfer is ten times faster than the USB 2.0 data transfer and provides superior cable performance and error-free data transmission. Image Source: Amazon.

The Differences Between USB 2.0 And USB 3.0 

Based on the speed and functionalities of USB, we have seen that USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are the two most popular versions of USB at the moment. Having considered some features and characteristics of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, let us now look at the differences between these two versions of USB.

While USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 may appear similar at a glance, they differ from each other in several ways. 

Firstly, USB 3.0 has a faster data transfer rate than USB 2.0. Secondly, USB 3.0 is backward compatible, meaning it can work with devices that use older USB standards. Thirdly, USB 3.0 has more connector wires than USB 2.0. Fourthly, USB 3.0 has improved power management features and can supply more power than USB 2.0, which is important for gaming devices. Finally, USB 3.0 has a blue interior color while USB 2.0 has a white interior color, which can be used to differentiate between them.  

USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 are different in the following ways: 

Data Transfer Rate 

One of the main differences between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 is their data transfer rates or speed. While USB 2.0 has a data transfer rate of 480 Mbps, USB 3.0 has a data transfer rate of about 4,800 Mbps. This very fast speed of USB 3.0 makes them ideal for backing up and transferring large amounts of data, as they would do so within a short time interval.

Backward Compatibility

Backward compatibility is the ability of a USB to work well with other versions. USB 3.0 ports are completely backward compatible, which means they can work well with previous USB versions, including USB 2.0. So, if you plug a USB 2.0 drive or cable into a USB 3.0 port, the USB 2.0 will work at its full speed. However, when a USB 3.0 cable is plugged into a USB 2.0 port, the USB 3.0 will not work at its full speed, it will only work within the speed limit of USB 2.0. Our article about how to fix a mouse that is disconnected discusses the issues that might arise from faulty USB ports and how to fix the problem. 

Number of Connector Wires

Another feature that differentiates USB 2.0 from USB 3.0 is the number of connector wires they both have. While USB 2.0 has four connector wires, USB 3.0 has nine. The increase in the number of connector wires in USB 3.0 is also another reason why they have better data transfer speed and bandwidth than USB 2.0. This faster speed also makes charging USB devices a breeze. 

Power Output and Conservation

Comparing the power output of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, you’ll see that USB 3.0 has more power output than USB 2.0. While USB 2.0 provides a maximum current of about 500 mA, USB 3.0 provides a maximum current of 900 mA. This higher output current of USB 3.0 also increases the amount of power they deliver. Thus, USB 3.0 not only charges USB devices faster than USB 2.0, but they also support devices that consume more power. Apart from having a higher power output, USB 3.0 is also better at conserving power, especially when no device is plugged into its port, thus preventing the wastage of power. Our guide on how to charge a wireless keyboard highlights the charging capabilities of USB ports. 

Color of the Interior

Far from their performance and work efficiency, another very easy way of differentiating USB 2.0 from USB 3.0 is by checking the color of their interior. The ports of USB 2.0 are always black while those of USB 3.0 are always blue.

Summary of the Differences Between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0

Features USB 2.0 USB 3.0
Year of release 2000 2008
Data transfer rate (speed) 480 Mbps 4,800 Mbps
Backward compatibility Partially backward compatible Totally backward compatible
Number of connector wires 4 9
Power output 500 mA 900 mA
Color of the interior Black Blue
Maximum cable length 30 Meters 18 Meters

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What are the Types of USB Cables?

We have seen how the speed and performance of the different versions of USB have improved with time. Technological advancement has also led to the improvement in the physical design of USB ports and connectors, which has had an impact on their performance. Let us now take some time to look at the different types of USB cables we have today.

USB cables used for gaming devices can be classified based on the shapes and physical design of their ports and connectors. The six different types of USB cables are: USB Type-A, USB Type-B, USB Type-C, Mini-USB, Micro-USB, and Lightning cable.

These are the different types of USB cables:

1. USB Type-A

USB Type-A, or USB-A as it’s sometimes called, is the most popular type of USB standard that currently exists. The connectors of USB-A are always flat and rectangular. Type-A USB cables like this usually have a USB-A port at one end, while the other end of the cable is usually of a different port. Type-A USBs are commonly found in computers, flash drives, and keyboards. Our article about wired keyboards and wireless keyboards looks at the USB connectors that both power and connect these devices to the computer. 

The most common type of USB found on the cables of gaming devices and other peripherals is the USB TYpe-A.
The Type-A USB is the most popular type of USB and its connectors are flat and rectangular. Image Source: Amazon.

2. USB Type-B

The connectors of USB Type-B are usually square shaped and they have a protrusion at the top of the connector. These USBs can be commonly seen in large devices like scanners and printers.

USB type-B cables are usually found on cables for large devices like printers and other equipment used for working and possibly gaming.
Type-B USBs have a square shape with an upward protrusion. Image Source: Amazon.

3. USB Type-C

USB Type-C connectors are usually small and thin, having an asymmetrical and oval shape. Apart from having a different physical appearance from USB-A and USB-B, the connectors of USB-C cables like this are also known to be reversible. Their connectors have no right-side-up, thus users can plug them into their ports without having to check if they are upside down. Type-C USB is now becoming more common for smartphones and other smart devices and is gradually replacing Type-A and Type-B USB in gadgets and other electronic devices. This article from Microchip provides a detailed overview of the features and benefits of the USB Type-C cable, and how it compares to other USB cables. 

Type-C USB cables are becoming more popular for smartphones and other smart devices.
Type-C USBs are becoming more popular nowadays, and their connectors are known to be reversible. Image Source: Amazon.

4. Mini-USB

Mini-USB A and B like this are the smaller versions of Type-A and Type-B USBs. Their connectors usually have four to five pins and they come only in two versions USB 1.1 and USB 2.0. Though it’s quite difficult to find them in devices today, they can sometimes be found in certain devices like MP3 players, game controllers, and digital cameras, where they’re used for either charging these devices or for transferring data.

Mini-USB cables are usually needed for certain gaming devices like controllers and other electronic devices.
A Mini-USB is a smaller version of Type-A and Type-B USB. image Source: Amazon.

5. Micro-USB

The Micro-USB like this is a much smaller version of Type-A and Type-B USB. They usually come in two versions USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, and are commonly found in portable devices where they’re either used for data transfer or charging these devices.

A Micro-USB is only available in USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 and is usually used for charging or data transfer.
A Micro-USB is a much smaller version of Type A and Type B USBs and is often used in portable devices. Image Source: Amazon

6. Lightning Cable

Lightning cables like this aren’t a type of USB cable. They’re just connectors that were specially designed by Apple. They came into existence in 2012 with iPhone 5, and they were designed for charging iPhones and also connecting them to other devices.

USB lightning cables have a connector that is compatible with apple products for charging and connecting different apple devices.
Lightning cables are exclusively used with Apple devices. Image Source: Amazon.


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