How fast is USB 3.0 SuperSpeed really

USB 3.0 SuperSpeed

First we got USB 1.1, then we got USB 2.0 and now we have got USB 3.0. So how fast is USB 3.0 (SuperSpeed) actually and will it make a difference? That is what I will try to answer in this post.

The History of the Universal Serial Bus (USB)

The specification of the USB standard was started by 7 companies back in 1994: Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Nortel. They wanted it to be easier to connect devices to PC’s and agreed that the industry need a common standard. There have been multple releases of the standard over the years, but I will focus my review on the 3 most common used:

  • USB 1.1 Full-speed (1998)
  • USB 2.0 Hi-Speed (2000)
  • USB 3.0 SuperSpeed (2008)

They really have made it hard to come up with new names for future versions of the standard after already have been using the names: Full-speed, HighSpeed and SuperSpeed. I wonder what they will be calling version 4.0? How about WarpSpeed 😀

You might think that USB 3.0 is kind of old since the standard was completed already back in 2008, but according to Wikipedia the first devices for USB 3.0 was presented in January 2010 and just like with USB 2.0 it took a while before supported devices was available for consumers.

How fast is USB 3.0 SuperSpeed?

According to the specification this is the maximum speed of the different versions of USB.

  • USB 1.1 Full-speed – (12 Mbit/s or 1.8 MB/s)
  • USB 2.0 Hi-speed  –  (480 Mbit/s, or 60 MB/s),
  • USB 3.0 Superspeed –  (5 Gbit/s or 625 MB/s)

But is USB 3.0 it really that fast in practice?

The short answer is no! You are not going to copy files to an USB stick with 625 MB/s. Reason number one is that the disk you would be copying from is most likely not able to read the date that quick and your USB stick is properly not able to write the data with that speed either. If you think about it you have properly never seen a USB 2.0 device being even close to a transfer of 60 MB/s. However, I have made a little test on video that will show you how my Kingston USB 3.0 device will perform in first a normal USB 2.0 port and then in a new USB 3.0 port:


Will USB 3.0 is not as fast in as the specification might let you think but it is for sure a lot faster than USB 3.0 and for sure something to keep in mind when buying new devices or a new motherboard. I was able to get the following transfer-rates with my Kingston DT Ultimate G2 16GB memory stick:

USB 2.0 HiSpeed – 28 MB/sec.
USB 3.0 SuperSpeed – 76 MB/sec

How about you? Do you have any USB 3.0 devices? Fell free to drop me a comment below or share this post by clicking on one of my social buttons below.

About the author:
I am an IT Professional that has this blog as a hobby project in my spare time. I have been in the IT business since 1996 and want to share some of the thing I have picked up over the years, with people who visit this blog.

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29 Responses to How fast is USB 3.0 SuperSpeed really

  1. Fauzul says:

    With the advent of Thunderbolt technology do you think that USB 3.0 will still be relevant?

    • Thomas says:

      It is hard to say. No doubt that Thunderbolt is faster than USB 3.0, but USB has been around so long and it is backward compatible. It is not always enough to be the fastest to be successful, but I guess that only time can tell.

      • techtikus says:

        Interesting, USB drives has certainly been around longer and well supported by a lot of devices and manufacturers. I guess it will take some time before the USB becomes obsolete.

        I’ve read in CHIP Malaysia though the December issue that by middle of this year, Thunderbolt will make its way to the PC.

        It will be interesting to see who prevails. Thunderbolt at first maybe quite pricy at first but so as well was the USB when it first came out.

        If many adopts the technology then I think that the USB may receive the same fate of that the floppy disk.

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  4. Mack says:

    I’m personally looking forward to SuperMegaAwesomeSpeed USB – and that’s from someone who used to load his software from a cassette player 😉

  5. William says:

    Technology goes forward at a fast pace, that’s for sure. But, at the moment, is there yet a need for that fast USB connections? Hmm, true, that might change quickly. I suggest that the next one is SpeedOfLight. And the next, SpeedOfLightToThePowerOfWarp :]

  6. Getting access to the gigabytes of data on your external storage devices is excruciatingly slow as it trickles thru the USB 2.0 port, or at least, that’s how it feels these days as storage devices store more data and USB 2.0 just can’t get the job done fast enough. USB 3.0 at least for now is the answer for external access. The EC03 card from SilverStone installs into a single lane PCI-E gen 2.0 slot and gives you two internal USB 3.0 ports. SilverStone also provides a 3.5” I/O bay and the necessary cabling to bring the ports to the front of your case. Most motherboards do not have USB 3.0 ports and even when they do most motherboards rarely provide more than two USB 3.0 ports usually hardwired to the back panel I/O. The benefits of USB 3.0 over 2.0 are substantial, with an approximate 10 fold increase in speed. If you have been wanting USB 3.0 capability but don’t want to swap motherboards then the EC03 can upgrade your system at a reasonable cost.

  7. Aman Kashyap says:

    You are right Thomas about the USB 3.0. USB 3.0 is faster than the previous version, USB 2.0. Also the speed of USB 3.0, in fact any USB depends on the device on which or from which you are transferring the data like USB version of the pen drive, rpm of the portable disk, also on you hard disk rpm.

  8. Matt Kinsella says:

    I remember back in the late 90s people telling me that USB would not survive because Firewire was much better. over 10 years later USB is still going strong.

    • Thomas says:

      You are so right and maybe Firewire was better than USB, but it was USB that was built-in to every motherbord and not firewire. I guess the world only need on standard to connect their devices.

  9. Amit says:

    That is really cool video ..Thanks for posting

  10. Kevin Malmo says:

    Nice video post…
    is that your doing the demonstration in the video?

  11. James Martin says:

    Hello, How can I faster my USB 2.0 port.
    Thank you.

  12. san francisco seo says:

    Having the lightening speed and more fast then USB 2.0.

  13. Jeremy says:

    Just transferred some movies off my external hard drive to my computer. Ext. drive was 3.0 ready and plugged into a usb 3.0 port, going to a RAID0 array of SATA3 disks. Transfer speeds were a steady 84-89 Mb/s. So yeah, vast improvement over USB2.0, just not what the big companies were advertising, can give ya my full computer specs if you wish just for further analysis.

    Edit: Just did a batch transfer to test before I posted, 12 movies (6.72 GB), FROM external drive to computer peaked at 107MB/s but dropped to a steady 55MB/s, FROM computer to external was a peak of 89MB/s with a low of 84MB/s. Apparently my RAID0 is a little slow at writing, I might have to rethink these hybrid drives.

  14. Marty says:

    Every new technology brings something better to the table and is ultimately a better solution. People need a bit of time to get on board and companies to offer full compatibility for USB 3.0 to become the new standard.

  15. Tekified says:

    I think you all need to get the Kingston HyperX USB 3.0 drive 🙂 Bridging the gap between the advertised 10x USB 2.0 speed to real world USB 3.0 speeds

  16. Rashmi Sinha says:

    USB 3.0 is a huge jump for technology and data rate transfer. My computer doesn’t support it and i am very dissapointed but the next one will be surely compatible with it!

  17. Sammy Dolan says:

    I shoot a lot of movies on my phone and the difference in transfer speed to my PC between USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 is incredible, my new motherboard has several USB 3.0 ports and it takes about half the time to transfer files from my phone to my PC.

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