USB 3.1 Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 What’s the Difference

Because of the advanced technology and continual updates, understanding USB’s different features has become a real challenge. At the same time, the availability of a wide range of options makes selection a USB trickier!

Still, people appear to be confused by the distinctions between USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1, and Gen 2. Fortunately, it’s relatively straightforward to grasp once you’ve dug into the subject. To make it clear for you how these two vary from each other, we are here for you. Keep on reading and learn about both before you get the one for yourself!

USB 3.1

The latest USB for linking computers with various devices is USB 3.1. It was launched back in 2014, and it has transfer speeds of10 Gbit/s, which was twice as fast as its archetype.  Another name for USB 3.1 is Gen 2, which has a speed of 10Gbps. USB 3.0 supports data transmission rates of up to 5Gbps. The USB 3.0 is usually referred to as USB 3.1 Gen 1. (5Gbps).

  1. USB 3.1 is that it indicated free from linear and simple numerical naming strategy.
  2. It has a USB-C port and can transfer data at speed of10Gbps.
  3. It has also included several different new connectors.
  4. Your USB host connection, connectors, and device must all be in sync if you want to obtain the transfer speeds.

The USB has high compatibility with USB 3.0 and 2.0:

  1. The cables of USB-B 3.1 are incompatible with 2.0 ports.
  2. USB-C cables do not work with USB A or USB B ports without an adapter.
  3. The transfer speeds of USB 3.1 may not work either with USB 3.0 or 2.0, resulting in lower transfer rates and poor performance.
  4. USB 2.0 is not compatible with devices that require higher power than it can provide.

Generations of USB 3.1

USB 3.0 has two generations, USB 3.1 Gen 1, and USB 3.1 Gen 2:

  1. USB 3.1 Gen 1: SuperSpeed, 5 Gbit/s (0.500 GB/s) data transmission rate over 1 lane with 8b/10b encoding; same as USB 3.0.
  2. USB 3.1 Gen 2: SuperSpeed+, with a new data throughput of 10 Gbit/s (1.212 GB/s) across a single lane using 128b or 132b encoding.

USB 3.1 Gen 1:

To preserve compatibility with the previous specification, “USB 3.0” was upgraded to “USB 3.1 Gen 1,” with the most recent version dubbed “USB 3.1 Gen 2.” However, not all companies were quick to update their marketing materials and promotions to reflect this change. The term “USB 3.0” was still used interchangeably with “USB 3.1 Gen 1.”

USB 3.1 Gen 1 is identical to USB 3.0. When USB 3.1 Gen 1 was released, all existing USB 3.0 ports were renamed USB 3.1 Gen 1. So, thanks to the power of changing the standard, those cables and devices now support USB 3.1 Gen 1.

The standard did include some modifications, such as the USB Type C connector found on current MacBook Pros. The amount of data handled by gadgets equipped with USB has increased in recent years. In addition, the speed and size of media formats have increased.

As a result, the market has been humming with enthusiasm over USB 3.0, a new interface standard that allows data transfer ten times quicker than previous products. It demonstrates its stress-free usability, for example, when downloading a 25GB HD film. While USB 2.0 takes 14 minutes, USB 3.0 takes only 70 seconds.

    1. USB 3.1 Gen 1 provides speed up to 5 Gbit per second (625 MB/s) and power of up to 900 mA at 5V.
    2. The connector has been altered to ensure compatibility with existing USB devices and cables. Gen 1 offers multiple connector types. It is supported via the USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector, which looks like a USB 2.0 connector.
    3. There’s the big Type B connector and the tiny Micro-B connector. These connectors cannot provide the full power of the USB 3.1 Gen 2 specification.

USB 3.1 Gen 2

The USB Implementers Forum announced the first update to the specification, USB 3.1, a few years after USB 3.0. The USB 3.1 update enhanced the encoding scheme to reduce overhead, resulting in a faster data transfer rate of up to 10Gbps over a single lane, known as SuperSpeed+.

    1. USB 3.1 Gen 2 can transfer data at 10 Gbps, known as SuperSpeed+. It achieves this technically by employing 128b/132b encoding in a full-duplex communications mode. Full-duplex communication is interesting because it allows information to be delivered and received simultaneously. That’s why it’s quicker.
    2. Provides significant performance enhancements to satisfy the needs of USB storage, display, and docking applications.
    3. Allows end-users to move material between devices quickly, easily, and without worrying about compatibility.
    4. Compatible with existing USB software stacks and device class protocols, existing 5Gbps hubs and devices, and USB 2.0 products.
    5. Allows devices from many suppliers to communicate in an open design while preserving and exploiting existing USB infrastructure.
    6. Allows system OEMs and peripheral developers enough flexibility and market distinctiveness without the expense of carrying outmoded interfaces or losing compatibility.

What is the difference?

  1. The primary distinction between Gen 1 and Gen 2 of USB 3.1 is the transfer speed. That is the most noticeable distinction between them. Other distinctions are too technical for you to understand or care about. In any case, the USB 3.1 Gen 1 transfer speed is 5Gbps, whereas the USB 3.1 Gen 2 transfer speed is 10Gbps.
  2. Another distinction is that USB 3.1 Gen 1 can be used interchangeably with USB 3.0; however USB 3.1 Gen 2 cannot. Because Gen 1 has the same power as the USB 3.0 and can deliver up to 900 mA at 5V.
  3. In terms of aesthetics, the USB 3.1 Gen 1 is significantly larger than the USB 3.1 Gen 2. The Gen 1 version includes connectors for the printer and the Micro-B connector. It’s similar to a 2-in-1 connector. On the other hand, Gen 2 is frequently associated with the USB Type C connector.

The difference between USB 3.1 and USB 3.0 is nearly entirely determined by bandwidth. Both connectors work the same whether you use a more standard USB-A or USB-B connector or any different micro and tiny USB connectors.

What matters is their generation, not the connector header. That also applies to USB-C ports, whereas USB-C devices often support the speedier USB 3.1 or even 3.2 standards—not always. Many USB-C charging cables are only capable of USB 3.0 or even 2.0 speeds. While USB 3.1 outperforms USB 3.0 in terms of speed, their successor outperforms both of them.


The USB has been a reliable connector for many devices and systems since nearly two and a half decades ago. It has continually kept up with increasing speed and feature demands. It is now one of the most comprehensive connectors available.

However, this is dependent on the version of USB you use, with older generations not having the same capabilities as the most recent.

When comparing two competent ports, USB 3.0 vs. 3.1, USB 3.1 nearly always wins. The difference between USB 3.0 and 3.1 isn’t significant, but it can make a significant impact depending on the devices you own and what you want to do with them.

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