Ethernet vs USB: Difference and Comparison

We need a particular sort of interface between the nodes to connect devices and transfer data. So far, this is being achieved by two legendary data-transferring mediums: the Ethernet and the USB.

Back in those days, the internet was not used for what it is used to today. The Internet transported data and messages between the government and the military.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ethernet is a wired networking technology that allows computers to communicate with each other over a local area network (LAN). At the same time, USB is a technology used to connect devices to a computer.
  2. Ethernet can transmit data faster than USB, making it better suited for large data transfers and streaming media.
  3. Ethernet requires a physical connection between devices, while USB can connect wirelessly or with a physical cable.

Ethernet vs. USB

The difference between USB and Ethernet is their speeds. USB has a rate that ranges from 1.5 Mbps – 10 Gbps. In contrast, Ethernet has a speed ranging from 100 Mbps to 10 Gbps. Ethernet does not support power transfer data, but USB supports power and data transfer.

Ethernet vs USB

Ethernet is a local area network or LAN which only acts over a short distance. Due to this, there are 1000s of Ethernet connections worldwide.

Similarly, USB is a local network in which USB cable assemblies are some of the most commonly used and practiced cables feasibly.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonEthernetUSB
ProtocolEthernet uses a Wired protocol – e.g., cat5/5e.USB uses the Asynchronous Serial Protocol.
Type of ports/cablesCat 5, Cat 6, Cat 6a, and Cat 7 are all types of cables an Ethernet network can use to draw connections to the device.Standard A and Standard B are two types of ports used to establish stable connections of USB.
Connection PatternThe connection pattern is both bus and star topology.The connection pattern is of star topology.
No. of Devices Ethernet can connect from 32-256 devices in one go depending on the cable.USB can connect to 127 devices in one shot or a single period.
Type of networkEthernet is a Local area network (acts over a certain distance). USB has a greater radius than LAN and a lower radius of the internet bandwidth of WAN.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet was renamed IEEE 802.3 in recent times. Ethernet is one of the methods of connecting computers using switches or bridges as connectors.

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Cables can be glass or plastic typed (optical fiber and co-axial twisted pair cables). Its layer of connection can be further divided into two subparts such as,

  • Physical layer and
  • Datalink layer.

Ethernet uses LAN (local area network) to gain connections and forms a star topology.

The physical layer is all about cabling devices. It uses RJ-45 with both half Duplex and Full Duplex connections. For a link internally, it uses NIC or Network Interface Card and the USB for external connection.

Cat 5 has a speed range of 100 Mbps, Cat 6 with a speed range of 1 Gbps, Cat 6a with 10 Gbps, and Cat 7 with a capacity of 10 Gbps.

The data link layer includes two key elements, namely:

  • Logical link control and[LLC]
  • Media access control[MAC]

Advantages of Ethernet:

Ethernet has an enormous data transfer speed with a maximum of 10 Gbps. It is a widely accepted form of the data transfer port. It provides ease of installation and setup.


What is USB?

USB or Universal Serial Bus replaces legacy port and quick pairing of devices. It uses the Asynchronous serial protocol as a connection and file transfer protocol. Types of USBs based on their versions and their speeds are given below:

USB 1.0 2-12 Mbps

USB 2.0 480 Mbps

USB 3.0 5 Gbps    

USB 3.0 10 Gbps

Advantages of USB:

  • It works with low-cost devices. 
  • No power supply for most devices (100 mA to 500 mA). As mentioned above, the connected devices have a minimal current collection.
  • Robust error detection. It finds errors in the robust encoded codes.
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Disadvantages of USB:

  • It comprises a complex protocol.
  • Fees are applied to the USB.
  • Challenging word problems with USB signaling.

Some types of data transfer packets include handshake packets and token packets.


Main Differences Between Ethernet and USB

  1. USB and Ethernet were tested using the data transfer speed measure test to know which performed the best, measured in the means of Mbps.
  2. USB can connect multiple devices at the same port. But Ethernet doesn’t do so.
Difference Between Ethernet and USB

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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25 thoughts on “Ethernet vs USB: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article provides solid foundational knowledge about Ethernet and USB. I would recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the differences between the two.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Young Joel. The article serves as a valuable source of information for those seeking clarity regarding Ethernet and USB.

  2. The historical context provided was interesting. It helped understand the evolution of the internet and data transfer methods.

  3. While Ethernet’s high data transfer speed is impressive, I do believe that the ability to connect to 127 devices in one shot makes USB more versatile.

  4. Great piece of information explaining the differences between Ethernet and USB. I had a basic understanding of them but I now I know the details. This will help me in my networking essentials class.

  5. The article did justice to explaining the technical aspects of both Ethernet and USB. I found the discussion about the connection pattern to be particularly enlightening.

  6. The information provided here is thorough, but I feel that the advantages and disadvantages of USB could’ve been explained in more detail.

  7. This article was an insightful read. The detailed information regarding the data link layer provided a comprehensive understanding of Ethernet.


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