What are the differences between USB 2.0 cables and USB 3.0 cables?
USB 3.0 cables facilitate the faster transfer rates of 4.8Gbps as well as the additional power transfer of 900 mA by doubling the amount of wires within the cable from 4 in the 2.0 cables to 8 in the 3.0 cables. USB 2.0 cables transfer data at 480 Mbps and provide power up to 500 mA.
USB 3.0 cables also have different connectors (typically blue on the inside) as can be seen in the image below alongside the 2.0 counterpart connectors. This means that any device that uses the different connectors cannot use the 2.0 equivalent cables. In addition while the 2.0 B connectors physically fit into the 3.0 B ports the different wiring configuration does not allow proper data transfer. The A connectors still work properly so any 2.0 device with a 2.0 cable can be used with 3.0 ports or hubs.
To sum up:
USB 3.0 devices require 3.0 cables
USB 3.0 cables can be used with 2.0 devices and ports if the connector types fit (no B Male or B Micro connectors) but the transfer rate will fall back to 2.0
USB 2.0 cables can be used with 3.0 ports but the transfer rate will fall back to 2.0
What do you need to get the maximum throughput on a device?
In order to achive the full USB 3.0 Super Speeds (4.8 Gbps) the following items are required:
1.A USB 3.0 port in the computer or laptop (inbuilt USB 3.0 port OR adapter with 3.0 ports installed in PCIe 2.0/2.1 or EC 2.0 slots)
2.A USB 3.0 cable that connects the external USB 3.0 device to the 3.0 port, which is typically provided with the 3.0 device
3.A device that supports USB 3.0 like a hard drive, card reader, or a camera
Diagram USB 3.png
NOTE: If the use of a 2.0 device, cable, or port is used the resulting transfer rate lowers to USB 2.0’s 480 Mbps.
Does a USB 3.0 port also support USB 2.0 devices?
Yes, USB 3.0 ports support USB 2.0 devices but they are held to the 2.0 limitations of transfer rates and power.
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