On the sides of our laptops, on the back or front of our office machines, they are everywhere! Sockets, connectors, ports … call them what you want, we prefer the name “ taken “ and therefore we will use this term throughout this article.
Some outlets receive data, some send data, and still others do both. This is the case of USB sockets (Universal Serial Bus), for example, which are the most widespread and the most … protean.
Before, it was simple …
A few years ago, it was easy to spot its category at first glance. The shape of the socket (rectangular, either full size or trapezoid, or microUSB), the color of the stopper defined the standard (black for USB 1 or 2, blue for USB 3). In less than 10 seconds, we knew what we were dealing with.
Today is a nightmare. USB 3 sockets full frame, rectangular, are no longer necessarily blue. They can be black, red (see photo below) or even green as on the Razer Blade 15. It’s not easy to put a label on them.
And as soon as we venture into the jungle USB Type-C, it’s even worse. Two takes that look identical may be technically different. Must be distinguished the connector and his standard.
To identify them, the small logos which are now generally affixed nearby remain your best allies. We still have to understand them. Here are the keys to help you decode these modern hieroglyphs.
A good diagram is better than a long explanation. One of the documents provided by Intel for the presentation of Thunderbolt 4 helps us in decrypting the logos most often affixed next to or above the USB and Type-C sockets of our machines.
On the top line, you have the detail of all kinds of versions of USB Type-C some of which are common to full frame USB 3.
” SS “ for Super Speed, which now refers to generation 3 of USB.
- SS 5 = USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gb / s)
- SS 10 = USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gb / s)
- SS 20 = USB 3.2 (2×2 at 20 Gb / s)
- SS D = SS 5 or 10 or 20 + DisplayPort
” The arc of a circle “ will designate generation 4 of USB as soon as it is released.
- Arc 20 = USB 4 (20 Gb / s)
- Arc 40 = USB 4 (40 Gb / s)
” Lightning »Designates today the Thunderbolt 3 and tomorrow the Thunderbolt 4.
Note: And to fully exploit the potential of your USB Type-C or TB socket, you must also have a cable at: follow the guide !
When a small stack encompasses standards, this means that the USB Type-C socket can be used to carry current, for example to recharge the battery of the device. It of course retains its other properties.
Practical case on the Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED XB
On the left side there is two USB 3 sockets full size and one of Type-C.
The logo common to the two blue sockets indicates “SS” without further mention. So it isUSB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gb / s).
The Type-C is surmounted by the letters “SS” and the little lightning bolt that designates the Thunderbolt 3. Information redundancy from Gigabyte, but better too much than not enough.
Too easy for you? OKAY ! We have found for you another example of a (beautiful) cocktail taken on the sides of the Asus Zephyrus G14.
On the top photo there is – from left to right – a USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 (mention “SS10”) and two sockets USB 3.2 Gen 1.
In the photo below, the USB Type-C plug is type 3.2 Gen 2 (mention “SS10”), but this inscription is included in a battery so we can reload the machine. And the “D” indicates that it is also a mini DisplayPort type video output.
Come on, one last example – easy – for the road, because we can’t resist it. A clue ? Monomanic apple.
Apple MacBook Air 2020, like all MacBooks by the way, is only equipped with sockets Thunderbolt 3 that let current flow, to recharge the battery. There are two on this model but the Pro have up to 4 depending on the model.
Other exotic USB acronyms
Well, it’s time to take a look at the other logos. All manufacturers do not adopt the same … it would be too simple. However, there are redundancies. For example, in the photo below, Acer’s future Swift 5 proudly displays, from right to left: a Thunderbolt 3 socket, a classic USB socket, an HDMI output and a power input.
Of course, it is the classic USB socket that interests us here. We notice that there is a logo in the shape of a stack near it. Be careful, this does not mean that you will be able to recharge the PC battery via USB. On the other hand, you can connect a device to this outlet to recharge it when the PC is on standby or off.
Same function but different logo: example with the one we found on one of our old test Alienware.
No Thunderbolt on the left USB socket (first generation 3.0 but not blue) but the ability to recharge a device connected to this socket when the machine is on standby or off. The right socket is a “classic USB 3.0” for the time, but today it would be called … USB 3.2 Gen 1. Did you find it? It’s starting to come in!
We also find, on computers that offer only Thunderbolt 3, a logo representing a small outlet next to one or more connection holes. This means that in addition to its arsenal of usual skills, this socket is also used to recharge the PC battery.
Finally, on one of our personal laptops, a Dell G3, we found a USB Type-C jack which is, in fact, a mini DisplayPort video output (nom de guerre: USB-C DisplayPort Alt-Mode). It does just that, impossible to pass data. It’s unusual but know that it exists.
Here you are, you are normally ready to storm the sides of your machine and understand (finally!) Everything the small logos of the USB sockets mean. Or, in any case, decipher all the acronyms framed and duly standardized by the USB-IF, the chief USB consortium.
You will also be armed to better understand the technical data sheets relating to connectors – more or less detailed – that can be found on the sites of PC brands or online brands. If the identification of USB sockets is no longer a secret for you, we invite you to tackle the nomenclature of Intel and AMD processors because, there too, there is something to heat the brains.