I sit and stare at my colleague’s MacBook Pro every day, and wonder – how do you survive with only USB Type-C ports?
As I rock a Windows 10 gaming laptop, with almost every port under the sun onboard, the restriction of options would feel suffocating.
More devices are shipping with USB-C ports as their main interfaces, though, and for good reason.
Compared to USB Type-A ports, the USB-C port offers a range of powerful features and can fulfil a variety of roles.
Smartphones have switched to the new port thanks to its faster charging and data transfer capabilities, and many modern laptops include USB-C ports.
As stated, Apple’s MacBook Pro has fully embraced the powerful new technology and ships exclusively with USB-C ports.
The reason for this is simple – the impressive capabilities of USB-C.
The USB-C port is smaller than USB-A while offering greater capabilities, allowing it to replace both microUSB and standard USB Type-A ports on devices.
The new port is also symmetrical – meaning first-time insertion.
“USB-C” refers to the physical connector of the port, which is a 24-pin, double-sided, and contains:
- 4x power pins
- 4x ground pins
- 8x super-speed data pins
- 4x high-speed USB data pins
- 2x SBU pins
- 2x CC pins
Most USB-C ports support the USB 3.1 data transfer standard, which comes in two varieties.
USB 3.1 Gen 1 offers maximum data transfer speeds of 5Gbps, while USB 3.1 Gen 2 boosts data speeds up to 10Gbps.
While these speeds are impressive, the even-faster Thunderbolt 3 standard developed by Intel takes top spot.
Thunderbolt 3 is a powerful interface which can support data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps, along with other features.
This technology is not supported by older USB connectors and could be one of the biggest motivations for hardware manufacturers switching to USB-C.
USB-C also supports modes for the transmission of other signals through its interface.
It can be used to transmit video signals and drive displays at resolutions of up to 3,840 x 2,160, for example.
This is compatible with both HDMI and DisplayPort interfaces, and is ideal for slim laptop designs which struggle to fit HDMI or DisplayPort ports into their frame.
The ability to use USB-C ports to drive displays mean that users will also no longer need to search for separate cables, especially if their monitor accepts USB-C as a direct input port.
USB-C also supports the USB Power Delivery standard.
While previous-generation ports could only deliver 15W of power, USB-C with power delivery can support up to 100W through a single cable.
This means you could power your entire laptop via one of its USB-C ports, as it s the case with the MacBook Pro.
With four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports, the MacBook Pro can use any port for power delivery, display connection, or data transfer.
Better portable drives
External hard drives are becoming increasingly common, especially with the increased need for mass storage and data backups.
However, transferring large amounts of data over a USB connection has historically been relatively slow.
With a USB-C, however, you can move data at more than double the rate of previous-generation interfaces.
This makes it viable to purchases products like a USB-C external SSD, as you can take full advantage of its speed.