New USB-C 2.1 standard: 240 watt charging, speeds up to 40Gbps and 8K at 120 fps


The USB-C connector gets an upgrade with the new USB-C 2.1 standard to deliver up to 240 watts of power. Performance that should multiply USB-powered systems and speed up mobile device charging. The USB-C 2.1 connector is also full of new features for video by democratizing USB 4.0 and DisplayPort 2.0 to provide a speed of 40Gbps and support up to three screens in 8K UHD at 120 fps or 16K UHD at 60 fps.

USB-C: the universal connector

In just a few years, USB-C has become the standard on most devices. The connector can be found on smartphones, tablets, DAPs, and even the latest generation of computers are abandoning USB-A in favor of the many advantages of USB-C. Today, it’s possible to charge almost anything via USB, from portable Bluetooth speakers to DIY tools and kitchen accessories. USB has become the most common solution for powering consumer electronics and mobile systems. Power strips with USB ports are becoming increasingly common, as is its implementation in vehicles and wall outlets.

The USB-C port has become the standard for many devices, as seen here on the Shanling M6.

USB-C 2.1: charging up to 240 watts

Increasing the current capacity of USB-C from 100 watts to more than 240 watts (48V/5A) is in line with this by making it possible to further extend the possibilities offered by this connector and power larger devices. With this level of power, it will be possible to power large laptops and desktops, but also screens and game consoles. As the president of USB-IF – the organization responsible for developing the standard – explains, “100 watts has served many purposes, but there are markets that require more power such as gaming laptops or perhaps a docking station that can distribute more power to the equipment connected to it.”

With a current capacity of 240 watts, the USB-C 2.1 standard will allow many devices to be charged and powered via USB.

USB-C 2.1: how to benefit from it?

To deliver a hefty 240 watts of power, the new USB-C 2.1 standard harnesses the USB Power Delivery Extended Power Range protocol, or USB PD EPR. The latter has been appearing in devices since the second half of 2021, said USB-IF. However, it will be essential to use a USB-C 2.1 and EPR certified cable to ensure compatibility. We can also expect a redesign of lower power cables, now called Standard Power Range, which will reach a maximum of 60W at 5V and 2A. The current highest performing cables, which can transport up to 100W at 5A, will be replaced by EPR cables.

To take advantage of 240-watt charging, it will be essential to use a USB-C 2.1 and EPR certified cable.

USB-C 2.1: development of USB 4 and DisplayPort 2.0

The new USB-C 2.1 cables should accelerate the democratization of the USB 4.0 standard which offers a maximum speed of 40 Gbits. The latter has already started to appear on some computers, notably those with a Thunderbolt 4 port. DisplayPort will also be upgraded to version 2.0 which will allow, thanks to Alt Mode, to simultaneously manage up to three 8K UHD screens (7680 x 4320 pixels) at 120Hz with 10-bit HDR encoding, or a 16K screen at 60Hz in 10 bits. USB-C 2.1 is therefore emerging as a major competitor to HDMI cables and seems to have already won the battle in the IT sector.

With its many advantages, USB-C 2.1 is poised to replace all other ports on computer systems.

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