Different Types of USB Cables Explained

If you're currently in the market for USB cables, you're probably wondering which type of cable is right for you. While it's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options, don't fret. This handy guide will explore the various types of USB cables currently available and help ensure that you're able to make an informed decision when shopping around. So if USB cables have piqued your interest, simply read on to learn everything you'll need to know.

Data Transfer Rate

The most important factor in your decision should be your cable's data transfer rate. To this end, there are three primary types of cables: traditional, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, all of which feature significant speed differences.

Traditional Cables

Traditional USB cables, also commonly referred to as USB 1.1 cables, are cables that feature a transfer rate of 12 megabytes per second. These types of cables work well with older USB components, but virtually any device manufactured within the last seven years will require a USB 2.0 cable to operate to its full potential. As a result of being somewhat outdated, traditional cables are very seldom sold in stores anymore and typically must be purchased from online retailers.

USB 2.0 Cables

USB 2.0 cables, which were introduced into the market nearly a decade ago, are in many respects the successors to traditional cables. USB 2.0 cables are roughly 40 times faster than their 1.1 counterparts and feature an impressive transfer rate of 480 megabytes per second. As previously stated, USB 2.0 cables are pretty much the norm nowadays with regard to speed and any USB device you purchase will more than likely need to be run through a USB 2.0 cable in order to properly function.

USB 3.0 Cables

USB 3.0 cables, which were initially unveiled in late 2008, have a transfer rate that is roughly ten times faster than their USB 2.0 counterparts. At present, there are no devices that require a USB 3.0 cable to run properly, but as technology continues to advance, USB 3.0 cables will most likely succeed USB 2.0 cables as the USB cable standard.


When shopping around for a USB cable, you should also be aware of the type of connector you'd like your cable to feature. To this end, there are two primary types of cables: Type A cables and Type B cables, both of which feature connectors that are custom-made to accommodate certain devices.

Type A Cables

Type A cables are perhaps the most common type of USB cables currently available. These cables feature rectangular connectors and are generally used to connect common USB devices to personal computers, laptops and USB hubs.

Type B Cables

Type B cables feature square connectors and are used almost exclusively to connect printers, scanners and printer/scanner combos to personal computers, laptops and USB hubs. In many cases, USB devices that require Type B cables will come packaged with them.

So there you have it. When making your selection, just remember everything you've learned from this handy guide and you'll have no problem choosing the right USB cable.