Look at any laptop in the market nowadays and you’ll see a range of different ports – but all will have something in common. What is it? A USB-C. Technically known as USB C or USB Type-C, the port is a 24-pin USB connector system you use to connect a range of devices, including monitors, smartphones, tablets, hard drives, monitors, audio interfaces and even for charging your laptop.
What is USB-C
At the most basic level USB-C refers to the specific type of USB plug. Plus, some specifications for its cables and wirings. Merely referring to a cable as USB-C only gives an idea of what a cable looks like. It gives no clue whatsoever about its configurations based on distinguishing it into different types.
Almost all the peripherals that plug into your PC via a USB-A connector (also known as ‘USB’) are rectangular connectors. At the other end of the cable, there can be connectors of different styles, such as the Micro USB used by most modern devices.
Although beneficial from a connectivity viewpoint, this sort of arrangement has one shortfall, it requires you to pack the correct cables always. As such, you need to always ensure that you have a spare in case the original goes missing. USB-C simplifies this by instilling a standard format across all devices so that you can have the same connector at both ends of the cable. Noting this, the significance of these peripheral standards cannot be denied.
There are 3 main criteria that are used to differentiate USB-C from other cables are,
- Power capability
- Supported data protocols
Even though USB-C doesn’t describe any speeds and power capabilities, it does have minimum specifications. For instance, all USB-C cables should support at least 3 Ampere (60 W power) electric current.
Read: Laptop has only USB C Port; How do I use other devices?
USB-C is just a connector, while USB 3.0. USB 2.0 and USB 1.0 refers to the speed at which data transfer occurs. A USB-C cable can use one or more of these USB standards and based on these standards a USB-C cable will have different maximum speeds. So, even though USB-C happens to be the most modern connector, it could still support USB 2.0, which has same maximum speed as regular USB 2.0 which is around 480 MBPS. Other standards of USB-C like USB 3.1 Gen 2 supports ‘SuperSpeed’ = 10 GBPS.
You need to see the labeling to find at what speed the cable can transfer data. Also, you can look for a cable that marks itself as USB-C ‘FULL FEATURED’ cable. It means the cable supports the latest USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds of 10 GBPS and is backward compatible with USB 2.0 as well.
If you are not aware, a ‘FULL FEATURED’ is an actual term from the specification document. As such, no cable can be called so if it doesn’t support the required configurations.
Supported Data Protocols
A USB-C may use different data protocols also called as ‘Alternate Modes’. Currently, 4 different alternate modes exist. These include,
- DisplayPort – delivers higher resolution, faster refresh rates, and deeper colors over a single cable
- Thunderbolt – A hardware interface developed by Intel. Allows the connection of external peripherals to a computer.
- HDMI – capable of sending high-definition video and audio from a source device to a display
- MHL – used for connecting smartphone to TVs
Each Alternate Mode has different capabilities which are pretty much arbitrary in their individual cables. For instance, Thunderbolt 3 cable can be used for USB 3.1, Displayport 1.2 and Thunderbolt itself.
Read: Best USB-C Monitors.
How to add USB-C Port to Windows laptop
If you need to upgrade your desktop or notebook computer, there are plenty of adapter cards that offer one or more USB 3.0 ports but you need to keep few points in mind while adding a USB-C port to your Windows 10 PC like, would you use a:
- Computer networking hub
- USB hub
A USB hub is a gadget with multiple USB ports gracing it. You can use any of them to plug into your laptop’s USB port. It supports up to eight devices.
The USB hub can be further classified into:
- Powered Hubs
- Non-powered hubs.
Powered hubs help in connecting multiple devices. It is important to mention here that not all devices are capable of running from USB hubs. As such, you’ll need to plug it directly into your laptop’s ports. However, your laptop will give you a warning message every time you try to run it.
This post will help you if USB-C is not working or recognized.