USB-C has truly become the universal port to rule them all but it isn’t a clear-cut victory yet. In addition to Thunderbolt 3 and 4, which is like USB-C but isn’t, implementations of USB-C features can vary from device to device. Things might get a bit more confusing once a new USB-C specification comes out that more than doubles USB-C Power Delivery’s supported output from 100W to 240W.
USB technology has really come a long when if we’re now counting power output at 240W. Initially designed just for data transfers, even the older USBs became good conduits for powering peripherals and even charging phones. With USB-C, the doors were opened for powering even some laptops and this addition to the spec will let it power even hungrier ones.
The USB Implementers Forum or USB-IF industry group that oversees the development of USB standards just announced what it calls the Extended Power Range option. With this update, USB-C can theoretically support power levels of up to 240 watts, a lot more than the 100W max it has today. This is a critical update as there are a lot more devices and peripherals today that need more than just 100W to work.
In theory, this means that a single USB-C cable can be used to power up and connect some gaming laptops, printers, and even power-hungry monitors. It may even be used eventually to power appliances that don’t go beyond that 240W level. Of course, the USB-C spec also covers data speeds and upcoming updates will also take the technology to the next level in that aspect.
In practice, expect this EPR to be a mess at first. Implementations even with USB-C Power Delivery (PD) at 100W or below have been inconsistent across cables and chargers even today. The USB-IF will naturally require proper labels on such products but, as history tells us, that doesn’t always work in consumers’ favor.