USB Type-C is a relatively new standard, this is why most people do not know it yet. However, this will change soon, because this new standard is a lot more versatile than USB Type-A. If you are wondering, what exactly you can do with your notebooks USB-C connection or where the differences between the different USB-variants are, our FAQ-site will help you.
For USB-C there are different cables. USB-C to USB-C cables allow you to charge a type-C device with a Type-C charger or to connect two USB type-C devices. USB-A to USB-C cables are often used to charge phones or to connect type-C devices to a ?regular? USB port.
USB-C mini docks, dongles and adapter
These devices still use the USB-protocol but use a hub and other chips to extend their functionality. They have at least one USB type-A connector, often a type-C port for charging and sometimes card readers, audio, video or LAN ports.
USB-C port replicators
They are a lot bigger and bulkier than dongles, but also offer a lot more functionality. All of them can charge the device, have multiple USB ports, offer a LAN connection for a reliable and fast network connection and sometimes even multiple display connections. Sometimes they even have an on/off switch, so that you can access the full potential of your device via a single cable.
Thunderbolt 3 port replicators
They offer the same connections as their USB-C counterparts, but more of them via a faster connection. You can also daisy chain additional thunderbolt devices off of them to connect a lighting fast SSD or even an external GPU.
The newest USB standard is made to carry more than just USB signals. It can do a lot more than its predecessors. However, its functions can become a bit confusing. This is why we have listed the most prominent of its possibilities here for you.
USB-data-transmission: All USB Type-C connectors, except those only meant for charging, can transmit USB signals. Although they can use whatever version of USB they want. If your phones USB-C plug uses USB 2.0, data transmission will be relatively slow. However, most USB-C connectors in computers use either USB 3.0 (aka USB 3.1 Gen 1) with 5 Gbit/s or USB 3.1 (aka USB 3.1 Gen 2) with 10 Gbit/s. Exact information on your device can be found at its manufacturer.
Power delivery: USB-C allows charger and charged device to communicate with each other. Therefore, they can negotiate the right amount of voltage/current needed, up to 5 A at 20 V can be transmitted which is up to 100 watt. This even allows you to charge your notebook using USB Type-C.
Video: USB Type-C can also carry a DisplayPort signal. So, if the port supports it, an adaptor can be used to connect a monitor to it. Also, some smartphones support MHL, which allows the connection of a HDMI Display via an adaptor cable.
Thunderbolt 3: Thunderbolt 3 was designed by Intel from the ground up to be transmitted via USB-C. It transmits an internal PCI Express signal, which can transfer up to 40 Gbit/s. There are hardly any limitations to what types of devices can be connected. Many solutions for external GPUs are available and you can also use it to connect high-speed LAN for workstations. It is also frequently used for connecting lightning fast external storage or docks, which fan out to multiple ports for USB, audio, video, and networking. Almost everything, that can be connected to a desktop using an expansion card dan be connected via Thunderbolt. Additionally, Thunderbolt can be daisy-chained to allow the connection of multiple devices via one port, which then share the bandwidth. Finally, Thunderbolt also carries a DisplayPort signal and allows for charging of the device.
Further alt-modes on the way. It is safe to say that more alternative modes for USB-C are on their way. However, this will not only make the connection more versatile, but also more confusing for consumers. For example, there already is a mode for the connection of virtual reality headsets.
The different USB Types A, B and C differ only in their physical form, the USB protocol they transmit is the same.
USB Type-A is meant for the host, usually a PC, this host therefore has a USB Type-A socket.
USB Type-B is used for the connected device, like a printer or hard drive. Next to the squarish connector there are also Type-B Mini and Micro connectors which are found on smaller devices like phones.
USB Type-C is the newest formfactor and has been published in 2014. It is meant for hosts and clients alike and one of its main advantages is, that it is reversible. It also supports many other features and can do more than transmit USB.