USB-C. Huh?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Laisha, Dec 16, 2016.

  1. Laisha macrumors member


    Could someone please explain to me what a USB-C port is about and why it is apparently preferable to a regular USB port?

    Please type slowly because I know next to nothing about this.
  2. coolbreeze macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2003
    Extremely versatile port. It's the future, despite the current teeth gnashing and such.

    Get on board now or later, but everyone will be on board in a few years.
  3. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Its the most recent industry-standard USB post specification, which aims to finally solve the wired computer interfacing. USB-C is a very versatile connector that supports very fast data transfer and power delivery. The 2016 MBPs implement Thunderbolt3 via USB-C connector, which allows them to support daisy-chainable storage devices or displays with very high speed. At the same time, the USB-C port supports the USB3.1 data transfer interface (10Gb/s), video out, 100W power delivery and many other things.

    In short: its a port that serves as your high-speed data port, charging port, ethernet port, external display port, whatever port, and its industry standard on top of it. Right now, its still a relative novelty, but every new laptop is now adopting it and the number of existing peripheral devices is raising quickly. In a short while, when the market is more filled with useful stuff, you could for example do things like use a single-port dock to charge your MBP and connect it to all the devices on your desk. Or use third-party external batteries/battery packs. And so on.
  4. jerryk macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    All that is correct, but the biggest thing for many users, like my mom, is it that is a symmetrical plug. It works no matter which way you plug it in.
  5. enzom21, Dec 16, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016

    enzom21 macrumors 6502

    Nov 2, 2008
  6. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    I can't believe I let that one out :) Thanks!
  7. coolbreeze macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2003
    I honestly feel like the iPhone will have no choice but to go USB-C at some point. I know Apple just loves its proprietary ports, but it makes a lot of sense, especially given the USB-C MacBooks.
  8. Rhinoevans macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2012
    Las Vegas, NV
  9. Laisha thread starter macrumors member


    Jeez. Thank you ALL!

    Just one more question: If I use an adapter to connect, say, an older device like, say, a printer, I assume I lose the speed benefit?
  10. David58117 macrumors 65816

    Jan 24, 2013
    What's the chance a new spec comes out in a year or two as adoption rises, and everyone who jumps on now is on the out pretty quickly? Something like a USB 2 vs USB 3 scenario.
  11. Jefe's MacAir macrumors 6502

    Nov 21, 2010
    It's the best thing since sliced bread. You just don't know it yet.

    And I fully suspect the next iPhone to use USB-C or at least one of the models will be offered with it. Likely the highest level.
  12. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Floppy-floppy, speedy-speedy, teeny-tiny, chargey-wargey.
  13. protoxx macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2013
  14. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    The chance of that is zero (but read on below). Btw, USB3 was released 8 years after USB 2.

    Let me be more precise though. Please do not confuse USB-C and USB1/2/3. USB-C describe the connector. That connector is designed to be very future-proof and adaptable (in fact, that connector can theoretically implement a variety of different data communication protocols). Currently, the USB-C connector in the MBP implements Thunderbolt3 (which is basically opening up PCI-E lanes from the CPU to the outside) as well as USB3.1 and video out etc. protocols. There is no doubt that in the future there will be things like Thunderbolt4 or USB4 or whatever. But for the foreseeable time, all of them will be implemented via the same USB-C connector. Basically, in few years time new computers with USB-C will most likely support more connection options (faster speeds etc., audio output etc.). But you won't really be 'out' with your older USB-C capable computer. You just won't be able to use all that 'new' stuff. Like you wouldn't be able to run an 8K monitor off your USB-C port as your hardware implementation is too slow for it, where a new computer could. But you could still connect a contemporary fast external storage, it will just run slower to accommodate for your outdated hardware.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 16, 2016 ---
    BTW, I am very serious when I say that USB-C is probably the most significant thing to happen to personal computers since the ULV CPUs. It dawns a new era of connectivity, where you just take your laptop anywhere and connect to anything, using the same port and the same cable. We are talking about dongle/free and adapter/free connectivity here. Yes, right now the landscape is a bit fragmented and there are a lot of confusing cables and devices with weird capabilities But that is all transitional stuff. As adoption reaches a critical mass, the USB-C infrastructure will grow more and more standardised.
  15. EndlessBuffoonery macrumors regular


    Nov 11, 2016
    There's a couple reasons.

    1. The big one is how many things you can use it for. If you have an HDMI port on your computer it can only do one thing. Send out video. If you have a power port (or MagSafe connector like older MacBooks have) then it can only do one thing (i.e. charge your computer). With the old version of USB, it could only really do one thing (send data/power). The Thunderbolt/USB-C ports on the new MacBook can do anything you want them to. Plug in a monitor and it sends video. Connect your power brick to the USB-C port and it charges your device. Connect it to a hard drive and it sends data. It does anything you want it to.

    2. It's much faster than the old version of USB. You'll get much faster data transfer between hard drives, much better video output than previous video formats, etc.

    3. The port is reversible. You don't need to orient the connector and port the right way. It's a minor convenience but a really nice one IMO.
  16. xraydoc macrumors 604


    Oct 9, 2005
    Older devices will run at the speed they're designed to run, so things won't necessarily run faster. The old device's speed is fixed, but it doesn't cause any other function of the computer to slow down. A printer, however, isn't going to print any faster because it's connected to a faster port. The mechanics are the rate-limiting step.

    However, to simply connect, you can use a USB-C to 'standard' USB adapter or you can simply replace the whole devices cable with one that has a USB-C connector on one end and the device's connector on the other (presuming the device's cable is removable). Doesn't get you any speed increase, but simplifies things as no adapter is required.
  17. Easttime macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2015
    Just got my first device with USB-C and this is the cat's meow. (Whatever that means, come to think of it.)

    Update: in case you're wondering: cat's meow
  18. OldGuyTom macrumors regular

    Sep 6, 2013
    The problem with USB C isn't technology, it's that there still aren't very many devices available for it. If you go to an online computer store and do a search for USB C you may get a few hundred devices listed, with most of them being adapters (USB C to USB 3, etc). Do the same for USB 3 or 2 and you get thousands. Since when is Apple so concerned about "leading edge" technology? Wasn't this the same company that lagged on adapting USB 2 devices and instead kept using USB 1 devices on it's iBooks back in the day? A truly useful computer for the state of technology today would have multiple I/O ports...maybe one USB C, a few USB 3, a few Thunderbolt, and an direct ethernet connection. The new MacBook Pro is nothing but a toy for non-serious users.

    My theory on the use of USB C in the new MacBook Pro is that Jony Ive probably thought other ports, like USB 3 and ethernet were ugly and they might additionally force the build to actually be slightly thicker (GASP!!!!!!:eek::eek::eek::eek::eek::eek:). Jony Ive doesn't see the computer as a versatile tool, but a fashion accessory whose primary purpose is to look striking when Paris Hilton sashays across the front pages of the National Enquirer.
  19. chabig macrumors 68040

    Sep 6, 2002
    The USB-C Port fully supports those thousands of USB 2 and 3 peripherals.
  20. protoxx macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2013
    USB-C is a physical connector, not a protocol. Like USB-A, USB-MINI-A, USB-MICRO-A, and on.

    There are usb2, usb3, usb3.1 first gen (same as usb3) and usb3.1 second generation protocols. Probably could be usb 1.1 but why?
  21. thesaint024 macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2016
    suspension waiting room
    Man, you really are an "old guy" if you are this cynical about such a great technology. USB-C can do literally ANYTHING. Your legacy ports can only do that ONE thing, most of which are not even used. We now have 4 ports that can do it all, out of any one of them. Enjoy hauling around those unused ports 24/7 in your "mobile" computer. I thought only people excited by new technologies were on MR.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 17, 2016 ---
    Great post. Sometimes we take for granted not everyone is as geeky as we may be. "Type slowly". Haha.
  22. Salaryman Ryan macrumors member

    Salaryman Ryan

    Dec 28, 2015
    Yeah, I really hope they will since there were confirmed rumors that they will drop the headphone jack. I guess they still want to milk lighting for all its worth first.
  23. protoxx macrumors 6502a


    Oct 10, 2013
    Another abuse of absolutes. Until a usb-c port can safely teleport me and a group of friends and supplies safely to a habital planet in the Andromeda Galaxy and back at will you can't even come close to "literally ANYTHING".
  24. calaverasgrande macrumors 65816


    Oct 18, 2010
    Brooklyn, New York.
    I'm staying far away from USB-C right now. There are still a lot of awkward things that need to be sorted out. Especially in terms of adapters to video.
    I am however excited about the lack of wrong-endedness on cables. And that there is no up or down on the connectors. This makes plugging things in between USB-C native devices super painless. By the time I buy my next Mac hopefully this will have matured.

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