In previous posts, we’ve detailed the various USB versions (USB 2.0, 3.0 etc.) and form factors (Type A vs. Type C) commonly found on desktops and laptops. With newer systems though, you may start to see yet another USB type listed known as USB 3.2. But what is USB 3.2 and how does it compare to USB 3.0 vs 3.1 vs 3.2? And what the heck is USB 3.2 Gen 2×2?! Stick around to find out.
What is USB?
Universal Serial Bus, or USB, is a connection protocol designed to allow PC components and peripherals a standard method of communication. Founded – and now regulated – by a non-profit group called the USB-IF, USB was originally designed to replace the multitude of proprietary connection types that proliferated the early PC world. Ironically though, with the number of various USB types and form factors now available, USB is currently anything but “Universal.” Still, USB remains the standard basic connection for nearly all PC related devices, no matter how muddy that water may be.
What is USB 3.2?
Simply put, USB 3.2 is as rebrand of all USB 3 connections and devices. What had originally been called USB 3.0 is now 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.1 becomes 3.2 Gen 2, and the newest kid on the block is 3.2 Gen 2×2. Confused? Rightfully so. Here’s a quick grid that should help clear things up for you.
|New name||Old name||Original name|
|3.2 Gen 2×2||N/A||USB 3.2|
|3.2 Gen 2||USB 3.1 Gen 2||USB 3.1|
|3.2 Gen 1||USB 3.1 Gen 1||USB 3.0|
Older boards and devices may still use some of the older nomenclature whereas newer devices will use the new branding, but they’re equal in everything but name.
USB 3.0 vs 3.1 vs 3.2 vs Thunderbolt
Now that we’ve established USB 3.2 Gen 1 and Gen 2 are just USB 3.0 and 3.1 by another name, we can move on to comparing those speeds to the only actual new USB version: 3.2 Gen 2×2.
|3.2 Gen 2×2||20Gbps|
|3.2 Gen 2||10Gbps|
|3.2 Gen 1||5Gbps|
As you can see, while 3.2 Gen 2×2 does double the max speed of previous gen, it can’t touch the 40GBps of Thunderbolt 3/4. Still, at 20GBps, USB Gen 2×2 is fast enough to prevent bottlenecking with nearly any device, even if it does lack the versatility and total bandwidth of Thunderbolt. Unless you have a specific application or device that requires the Thunderbolt interface, Gen 2×2 is more than capable.