While USB 4 may be the latest and fastest generation, the most common USB ports on PCs and peripherals have a "3" in the version number, specifically USB 3.2 or USB 3.1 or even 3.0. When you're looking at spec sheets, you'll also also see generation numbers after the USB 3.2 or 3.1 so, for example, there's USB 3.2 Gen 1, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and even USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. And yet some ports with different version numbers actually have the same speed! Confused yet?
Fortunately, when you get past all the confusing decimals and generation numbers, it's easy to determine what speeds you can expect from your USB ports, cables and devices. You just need to know the lingo, which we outline below.
The version numbers are confusing and don't mean much as USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.2 Gen 1 are all interchangeable and operate at 5 Gbps while USB 3.1 Gen 2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 are the same, operating at 10 Gbps.
In fact, the USB-IF (USB Implementers Forum), which creates the standards, has told us several times that it would prefer manufacturers not to use these version numbers at all and instead list their products as either SuperSpeed, SuperSpeed 10 Gbps or SuperSpeed 20 Gbps or as just USB 5 Gbps, USB 10 Gbps and USB 20 Gbps.