Ethernet vs USB, What’s a Difference Between? [Comparison].

Ethernet vs USB: Well, both the cables connect with the PC through their ports, but there is a difference between Ethernet and USB in terms of the connection and integration of computer peripherals.

Since you are reading this, that means you are one of the computer users. Knowing the difference between Ethernet and USB will help you understand PC’s connection stuff by which you can resolve the troubleshoot problems at home.

Ethernet vs USB

In this article on ‘Ethernet vs USB,’ I will explain the meaning of both terms as well as the difference between Ethernet and USB with a chart table for better understand. Let’s get started:

Ethernet – What Is It?

Ethernet is a standard method of connecting wired computers. It provides an important interface and provides partner hardware, including PCs, switches, and routers. The Ethernet port (also known as a jack, socket, or LAN port ) opens the computer’s network equipment into which Ethernet cables connect.


You might see an Ethernet port on the back of a computer or the back or side of a laptop. A router typically has multiple Ethernet ports to accommodate various wired devices on a network. You can connect wired network hardware on an Ethernet LAN, MAN, or a WAN from this port.

Ethernet ports

A typical Ethernet interface has an RJ45 connector at each end. It is no thicker than a telephone interface. On both sources, the Ethernet ports are similar to telephone jacks but broader to some extent. You can connect or disconnect devices from the Ethernet network without damaging them during operation.

Ethernet doesn’t just connect devices to the Internet. You can also connect devices, for example, desktop to desktop, desktop to laptop (although an adapter may be needed), computers to printers, and other commonly used peripherals in the home or the office.

Do You Know: The most common Ethernet cable used today is the 10 Mbps, the one invented by Xerox, Digital and IntelR in 1980.

USB – What Is It?

USB stands for “Universal Serial Bus,” which refers to a connection protocol that allows various computing peripherals to be linked to an electronic device for data exchange and operations development.


It is commonly used for connecting computing input devices, output devices, as well as I/O devices such as mice and keyboards, webcams, video cards, mini speakers, scanners, printers, external storage drives, smartphones, and, in some cases, charging the battery of the connected device.

On the one hand, the USB ports are incorporated into a USB card inserted into a PCI slot. It is, therefore, basically a port that works as a connection socket between different devices.

USB port

The cards and USB ports are of great help when incorporating new equipment into the Digital Computer since they eliminate the strict need to use parallel ports.

Ethernet vs USB: Comparison with Chart Table.

Comparison Factor



1. Meaning

Ethernet is a network protocol that controls the method of communication. It is the most widely used method of establishing communication between computers and devices on a local area network (LAN).

USB responds to the acronym Universal Serial Bus and refers to a connection protocol that allows various peripherals to be linked to an electronic device for data exchange, operations development.

2. Identification

Ethernet looks like a large telephone cable. It has a plastic tab on the end that will get inside the attachment when you insert it in the back of your computer.

A USB cable has metal connectors that are flat and broad on both ends. This end connects to your computer. These can be recognized by a trident symbol, which shows a medium-sized circle associated with three lines. One line ends in a square, the second with a smaller circle, and the third in a triangle.

3. Capability

USB can provide a small amount of power for computing devices; USBs are not power-hungry. There are even devices like coolers, USB mini vacuum cleaners, and such that do not interface with the processor but draw power from the USB port.

On the other hand, Ethernet only transfers data and not power. The devices at both points need to have their power source.

4. Connection 

Connections via Ethernet are dedicated directly to network activity. It is recommended to use a cable length only as long as needed because signal strength degrades over longer lines.

Whereas USB connections are dedicated to sharing bandwidth between connected high-speed devices plus charging to other computing devices.

5. Best For

Ethernet is the most suitable choice for connecting a broadband modem with your computer. Ethernet is more than sufficient to handle broadband connections at a local area network since it doesn't share resources with other devices.

USB is the best option for charging devices and transferring data like software, files, applications, and other programs between the micro computing devices like desktop, laptop, smartphone, and tablet

6. Types

There are three different types of USB cables based on the design of the connectors and ports: USB Type A, USB Type B, and USB Type C.

There are several types of Ethernet cables, such as Cat5e RJ45 Booted, Cat6 RJ45 Booted, Cat5e RJ45 Shielded, PatchSee Cat5e RJ45, Cat5e RJ45 LSOH, and among others.

7. Cable Length

The cable length ranges from 1 meter to 30 meter maximum. 

The length of ethernet cables starts from 1 meter to 100 meter in some cases even more longer.

8. Transfer Speed

USB transfer speeds typically range from USB 1.1 at 12 Mbps, USB 2.0 at 480 Mbps, USB 3.2 at 10 Gbps, and the latest USB 4 generation reached up to 40 Gbps.

Ethernet network speeds typically range from standard Ethernet at 10 Mbps, Fast Ethernet at 100 Mbps, while Gigabit Ethernet supports at 1000 Mbps, and for 10 Gbps speed you need 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

9. Fastest

The bandwidth speed of Ethernet is slower than the 4th Gen of USBs.

In comparison with Ethernet, USBs have high data transfer speed.

Different Types of USBs’ Speed

USB's Types & Speed.

Different Types of Ethernet’s Speed

Ethernet speed.

Main Difference Between Ethernet and USB.

  1. The main difference from USB to Ethernet is because USB is used to integrate computer components such as consoles, mice, keyboards, printers, and others. At the same time, Ethernet is planned to mantain connections between individual PCs to prepare roaming data.
  2. USB is a “peripheral device” in the first place. Since it is a standard for “connecting with,” essentially all processing is completed in hardware. On the other hand, in Ethernet, packet processing is performed by software. Therefore, the processing power of the USBs is almost negligible. The device connected by Ethernet has a very average CPU (no matter how low the processing power is).
  3. Ethernet is more complicated than USB as a whole. Still, high processing power and high power consumption (and a high amount of money) are required at the cost of that. Therefore, USBs can be used for devices that sufficient to communicate with a fixed host, and Ethernet can be used with various hosts according to the need. For example, “Printer Use Ethernet for sharing with multiple hosts.”
  4. The USB was designed to minimize the number of wires used in computers. The goal was not achieved, but a single interface was developed to replace all peripheral ports. On the other hand, Ethernet has been around the Internet for over 30 years and was designed for connecting Internet related peripherals.

Final Words

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