What is the difference between a supercharger and turbocharger?

Posted 1/19/2016 by Phillip Perez

Lets face it, we have all wondered what the major differences between a turbocharger and supercharger are. They both can potentially add serious HP & TQ to your Mustang while maintaining everyday drive ability, but how do they make their power? Is there a upside to running a turbo vs a supercharger? We are here to finally answer this age old question!

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The Basics

Turbochargers and superchargers are known as forced induction systems. This means that either will compress the air flowing into your engine, which provides more power. This act of wizardry will crank out ft/lbs boost and add as much as 50% more power into your Mustang's engine. The main difference between the two is how they achieve this.


A turbo will use the exhaust from your Mustang to produce its energy. The exhaust gases pass through the exhaust pipping and a turbine which will itself spin the compressor. It does take a little while for the turbo to produce boost, which is referred to as "turbo lag", and can result in your Mustang lunging forward after boost is built during spirited driving. Also the size of your turbocharger can impact power with a smaller one producing more a lot boost faster, resulting in less turbo lag. The turbocharger is considered more efficient overall than a supercharger.


A supercharger's power output comes from a belt directly connected to the engine. Superchargers compress air, creating boost by forcing air directly into the motor. A supercharger can add as much as 46% more HP because the increased air will allow more fuel to be added to the combustion chamber. A supercharger will not produce any lag, the power arrives as soon as you hit the throttle.

Different Types of Superchargers

  • Centrifugal
  • The impeller design inside a supercharger compressor is very similar to a turbocharger's compressor impeller. The centrifugal supercharger compressor creates its boost via a very rapidly rotating impeller that draws air into the center of the supercharger compressor.
  • Roots
  • The roots type supercharger is two counter-rotation meshed lobed rotors. During each rotation, a specific fixed amount of air is trapped and moved to the outlet port where it is compressed.
  • Twin Screw
  • Th twin screw supercharger is two counter-rotating screws. During each rotation, specific fixed amount of air is trapped and moved to the outlet port where it is compressed.

Turbocharger and Supercharger Differences   - Turbocharger and Supercharger Differences


Both the supercharger and turbocharger will produce a huge amount of power in your Mustang. On one side of the spectrum, the supercharger has the ability to create more power lower in the RPMs. On the other side, you can have tremendous power in the upper rpms with the turbocharger. Wouldn't it be nice if you could run both? The arguments can go on forever. Determining which is better for you comes down to the simple question "What do I plan on doing in this Mustang?". Both are roughly the same price, however maintenance plays a big part in the decision of most. A supercharger will require low maintenance while a turbocharger has a lot more places that things can potentially go wrong. Once you make your decision you can sit back and let the fun begin!