# Contradictory Vce values in transistor datasheet

So I'm a hobbyist mostly working with micro-controllers and simple low voltage digital circuits and I always thought the TIP120 transistor is a useless one for me because it has a Vce(sat) of around 2V. But yesterday I was testing it in a circuit and I realized that the Vce is actually way below that. So I got curious and read the datasheet again thinking maybe I had made a mistake and then I realized that Vce values are contradictory in it.

In the Electrical Characteristics table it states that Vce(sat) @ Ic=3A, Ib=12mA is 2 Volts (in the Max. column):

But further down in the Typical Performance Characteristics section you are presented this:

Here even the hfe is the same so at 3 Amps you have the same 12mA of base current that was specified in the table. But as you can see Vce is 1V here as opposed to the 2V stated in the table. And at 5 Amps it's ~1.3V as opposed to 4V(!) stated in the table.

So what's going on here exactly? 4V compared to 1.3V is a lot of difference. Is it because the table is stating the maximum? If so, what factor can cause Vce to change so much given that Ib and hfe are the same?

• The figure may be typical value while the table as you have mentioned is the maximum value.
– AJN
Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 6:05
• @AJN Yes it's the "Typical Performance Characteristics" section. What's the difference? Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 7:03
• If you bought, say, 100 of these transistors, most of them will follow the curve (or close to it). But a few of them will have VCEsat up to 4V due to variations in manufacturing. Manufacturer doesn't guarantee the typical value for any single transistor sold to you. If you want to guarantee a low value of VCEsat in your circuit, choose another part number or buy this part in bulk and discard all the large VCEsat ones yourself (not economical).
– AJN
Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 7:12
• @AJN Ah I see. I just read somewhere that typical characteristic curves are "marketing BS" and should be disregarded. But what you said makes more sense. Thanks. Commented Jul 28, 2020 at 7:25