When developing software applications, choosing the right programming language is crucial. Two popular programming languages that are frequently compared are Rust and C++. Both languages offer high performance, control over memory management, and low-level system programming capabilities. So which should you choose?

In this comprehensive article, we'll take a deep dive into Rust vs C++ to help you make an informed decision.

So, keep reading to find out which is best for your next project.

Table of Contents

What is Rust?
What is C++?
Memory Management
The Learning Curve and Syntax
Ease of Development and Debugging
Community and Support
Use Cases
Popularity and Trends
Future of Rust and C++

What is Rust?

Rust is a systems programming language that tries to deliver the performance of C and C++ while also incorporating memory and thread safety. Mozilla designed it and launched it in 2010, with the first stable release in 2015.

Rust also supports functional and procedural programming methods and offers an easy-to-learn and grasp syntax. Rust's package manager, Cargo, provides a centralised mechanism for managing dependencies and constructing projects.

Since then, Rust has become prominent in the programming world, particularly in systems programming, web development, networking, and cloud computing.

The Benefits of Rust

  • Memory safety guarantees prevent common mistakes like null pointer dereferences and buffer overflows
  • The ownership concept provides proper memory management
  • The borrowing and lifetimes mechanism ensures thread safety and prevents data races
  • High-performance code production is frequently on par with C++ or faster in some cases
  • The modern and expressive syntax allows for easier code building and maintenance.

Disadvantages of Rust

  • Relatively young language with a smaller ecosystem than established languages like C++ or Java
  • Locating specific libraries and tools can be challenging
  • The syntax may be complex for developers from other languages
  • Emphasis on performance can lead to more complex code than in different languages, making it more difficult to read and understand.

What is C++?

C++ is a popular high-performance programming language, particularly in game creation, systems programming, and scientific computing. It’s a C programming language extension with object-oriented programming, generic programming, and exception management capabilities. Bjarne Stroustrup designed it in the 1980s as a general-purpose computer language.

The Benefits of C++

  • High-performance language suitable for applications like game engines and scientific simulations
  • Supports direct memory manipulation and system resource access
  • Portability allows code to run on multiple operating systems and hardware architectures
  • A vast and active community providing comprehensive libraries and tools
  • Versatile language supporting several programming paradigms for multiple applications.

Disadvantages of C++

  • Broad library and toolset can be overwhelming for some developers
  • The complexity of the language can be intimidating for newcomers
  • Memory management can be error-prone, leading to difficulties like memory leaks and dangling pointers
  • It lacks built-in concurrency capabilities, making it more difficult to develop concurrent programs.

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Performance is an important consideration when selecting a programming language. Rust and C++ are famed for their speed, but how do they compare?

Comparing Rust vs C++ performance

In general, the performance of Rust and C++ is equivalent. Both languages are compiled and offer direct memory access and low-level control over system resources. Rust's ownership model and borrowing system enable memory and thread safety without requiring a garbage collector, resulting in quicker and more predictable performance. C++'s more extensive library support can sometimes produce more efficient code than Rust.

Benchmarking the two technologies

Several benchmarks have compared the performance of Rust vs C++ in various use situations. The Computer Language Benchmarks Game is a prominent benchmark that analyses the performance of computer languages in diverse tasks such as numerical algorithms, file I/O, and string manipulation.

In most instances, C++ surpasses Rust in this benchmark. On the other hand, Rust outperforms C++ in some tests, such as binary trees, where Rust is more than twice as fast as C++.

It's important to note that benchmark results can vary based on the use case, hardware, and compiler utilised. To evaluate which language suits their purposes, developers should consider their performance requirements and benchmark their code in their specific use case.

Memory Management

Memory management is critical in programming languages because it impacts performance, safety, and dependability. Memory management algorithms in Rust and C++ differ, affecting their applicability for different applications.

Rust memory management

Rust employs a novel method of memory management known as ownership and borrowing. This technique guarantees memory safety at compile time, eliminating the requirement for a garbage collector at runtime.

The ownership mechanism assures that at any given time, only one variable has to write access to a portion of memory, eliminating data races and memory corruption. The borrowing mechanism permits multiple read-only references to the same memory piece, improving memory efficiency.

C++ memory management

Manual memory management is used in C++, giving developers low-level control over memory allocation and deallocation. This method is flexible and can result in efficient code. Manual memory management, on the other hand, can result in issues such as memory leaks, dangling pointers, and buffer overflows. This can be difficult to debug and jeopardise security.

Comparing memory management in Rust and C++

Although Rust and C++ support direct memory access, Rust's ownership and borrowing scheme ensures memory safety without losing efficiency. Manual memory management in C++ can result in efficient code but requires careful management to avoid problems. Rust's memory management can also make concurrent programmes easier to write because it ensures thread safety without using locks or mutexes.

Overall, Rust's memory management provides a unique method that balances efficiency, safety, and reliability, making it an appealing alternative for developers searching for a memory-intensive language. However, manual memory management in C++ can still be a viable choice for some applications, particularly those requiring fine-grained control over memory allocation.

The Learning Curve and Syntax

The syntax and learning curve are key elements when selecting a programming language. Developers must examine how easy a language is to learn and how comfortable they are working with its syntax.

Rust syntax

The syntax of Rust is similar to that of C++ and other C-like languages, with curly braces denoting code blocks and semicolons denoting statement ends. Rust, on the other hand, has various unique characteristics, such as its ownership and borrowing system, which can take some time to grasp completely.

C++ syntax

The syntax of C++ is similar to that of C, with curly braces denoting blocks of code and semicolons denoting the end of statements. C++, on the other hand, contains some unique features, such as templates and operator overloading, which can take some time to master completely.

Comparing syntax

Overall, each language has its own set of features and peculiarities that developers must understand. While Rust and C++ have comparative syntax, Rust's ownership and borrowing structure might be challenging to grasp. But templates and operator overloading in C++ can also be difficult to get.

Here's an example code snippet that showcases some of the key differences between Rust and C++:

Rust code:

fn main() {
    let x: i32 = 5;
    let y: i32 = 10;
    let z: i32 = x + y;
    println!("The sum of {} and {} is {}", x, y, z);

C++ code:

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

int main() {
    int x = 5;
    int y = 10;
    int z = x + y;
    cout << "The sum of " << x << " and " << y << " is " << z << endl;
    return 0;

This code shows the main differences between the languages:

  • Type annotations: Rust requires variables to be explicitly annotated with their type, while C++ employs type inference based on their initializers.

  • Memory safety: Rust's ownership model prevents data races and null pointer dereferencing at compilation time, while C++'s manual memory management can cause dangling pointers and buffer overflows.

  • Error handling: Rust utilises Result types and match, while C++ uses exceptions and try-catch blocks.

  • Syntax: Pattern matching and closures make Rust's syntax more compact and expressive than C++.

Rust's learning curve

Because of its ownership and borrowing system, Rust has a steep learning curve. Developers must understand the ownership concept and borrowing system to design safe and efficient code in Rust. Rust, on the other hand, can be a powerful and efficient language once developers grasp these notions.

C++ learning curve

Because of its low-level control over system resources and manual memory management, C++ also has a steep learning curve. To design efficient and safe C++ code, developers must grasp pointers, memory allocation, and deallocation.

Comparing learning curves

The learning curves for Rust and C++ are both steep but for different reasons. Rust's ownership and borrowing mechanism can be difficult to grasp, whereas C++'s low-level control over system resources can be overpowering. However, once developers become acquainted with the languages, they can be robust and efficient development tools. When deciding between Rust and C++, developers should evaluate their demands and experience.

Ease of Development and Debugging

When deciding between Rust and C++, developers should evaluate their development and debugging experiences. The simplicity of development and debugging can substantially impact the development process's productivity and efficiency.

Rust development experience

Rust features a powerful toolchain, which includes a package manager (Cargo) and a build system, making it simple to manage dependencies and build projects. Rust also significantly emphasises error management and provides developers with useful error messages. The Rust community is vibrant and supportive, offering many resources from which developers can learn and seek assistance.

C++ development experience

C++ also has a strong toolchain, which includes several popular IDEs, compilers, and building systems. However, managing dependencies can be more complex than in Rust. The language's low-level control over system resources might complicate development.

Rust debugging experience

Rust features a unique feature called "borrow checker," which may detect many common memory-related issues at build time, making bug-free programmes easier to develop. Rust also includes many debugging tools, such as the Rust debugger (rust-gdb) and the Rust Language Server, to assist developers in debugging their code.

C++ debugging experience

Debugging tools for C++ include the GNU Debugger (GDB) and the Visual Studio Debugger. However, because memory-related issues can be harder to spot in C++, debugging can be more complex than in Rust.

Comparing development and debugging experiences

Rust and C++ have powerful toolchains and debugging tools. However, Rust's emphasis on error handling and borrow checking might make writing bug-free code easier. Rust's package manager and build system can make dependency management easier than C++. C++, on the other hand, has a larger developer community, and many popular libraries and frameworks are developed in C++, making accessing resources and problem solutions easier. Finally, the choice between Rust and C++ will be determined by the project's requirements and the developers' expertise and preferences.

Community and Support

When selecting a programming language, it is critical to consider community and support. The availability of resources, the size of the developer community, and the degree of support can all substantially impact the speed and efficiency of the development process.

Overview of the Rust community and support

Rust has a fast-developing development community that comprises both industry experts and enthusiasts. The Rust community is noted for its friendliness, support, and activity. The official documentation for Rust is substantial and well-written. There are various online forums and chat rooms where developers can seek assistance and discuss their experiences. Third-party libraries and frameworks can also be easily found and used thanks to Rust's package manager (Cargo).

Overview of the C++ community and support

C++ has been around for decades and has a thriving developer community. C++ has many widely used and supported libraries and frameworks, such as Boost and Qt. There are multiple C++-specific online forums, discussion boards, and numerous books and online resources for developers to learn from.

Use Cases

The final decision between Rust and C++ will be determined by the project's specific requirements and the developers' preferences. Both languages have advantages and disadvantages, and each shines in specific use scenarios.

Rust applications

Rust is a programming language for systems that provides memory safety, concurrency, and speed. Because of Rust's memory safety features, it's a popular choice for designing safety-critical systems like autonomous vehicles, medical equipment, and aerospace applications. It's a good choice for creating high-performance, dependable programmes like operating systems, web servers, and browser engines.

Rust's speed and memory efficiency make it ideal for creating high-performance applications like game engines and machine learning algorithms. Rocket, Rust's web framework, is also gaining popularity among developers for developing web apps.

Companies that use Rust: Figma, Discord, and Coursera.

C++ applications

C++ is a sophisticated and adaptable programming language used in various applications, from system software to game creation. C++ is well-known for its excellent performance. It is widely used in applications requiring rapid execution, such as real-time systems, 3D graphics, and scientific computing.

C++ is a popular programming language for creating operating systems, compilers, and database systems. C++'s object-oriented programming capabilities make it ideal for creating complex software applications like enterprise and finance systems.

Companies that use C++: Adobe, Microsoft, and Apple.

Popularity and Trends

When selecting a technology for a project, the popularity of a programming language is a crucial element to consider. A popular language will likely have a larger community, greater documentation, and more resources available. We will look at the popularity and trends of Rust and C++ in this part.

The popularity of Rust and C++

Rust is a new programming language that was released in 2010. Despite its youth, Rust has grown in prominence in recent years. Rust was named the most popular programming language in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2022 for the seventh year. Rust was also placed fourth among the most desired programming languages, indicating that developers are eager to learn and use Rust.

Love vs. Dreaded programming, scripting, and markup languages: 2022 Stack Overflow survey
Love vs. Dreaded programming, scripting, and markup languages 2022. Source: Stack Overflow


Most popular programming, scripting, and markup languages: 2022 Stack Overflow survey
Most popular programming, scripting, and markup languages 2022. Source: Stack Overflow


C++ is an established programming language that has been around since the 1980s. It has been a popular language for system software, game creation, and high-performance computing for decades. C++ is a popular programming language with a strong community and a vast ecosystem of libraries and frameworks.

Rust is a relatively new language whose popularity has grown dramatically recently. The number of Rust contributors on GitHub continually expands. Mozilla, Dropbox, and Microsoft use Rust in their projects. The popularity of Rust is projected to grow further.

C++ has been a popular programming language for decades, and its popularity has remained reasonably consistent over time. However, with the advent of other technologies, like Rust and Go, some developers are abandoning C++. Despite this, C++ is still a popular programming language, particularly in industries that require outstanding performance and low-level control.

Rust vs C++ interest over time (2020-2023) from Google Trends
Rust vs C++ interest over time (2020-2023). Source: Google Trends

Future of Rust and C++

When deciding between Rust and C++, as with any technology, it's critical to evaluate the future of both. Here's a quick look at the future of these two technologies:

Rust's future

Rust has grown in popularity in recent years, and the future seems promising for this language. The Rust team constantly tries to improve the language's features and make it more user-friendly for developers. Furthermore, the Rust community is active, producing many new libraries and tools regularly.

Rust's ability to provide memory safety while still providing low-level control is one of its most significant features. This feature makes Rust an excellent language for system-level programming, which will remain an important area of growth in the future.

Rust is also well-suited to high-performance computing, making it an ideal choice for data processing and scientific applications. As more developers adopt Rust, we should expect the language's popularity to grow and its breadth of applications to expand.

C++'s future

C++ has existed for almost 40 years and is still one of the world's most frequently used programming languages. While it is not as widely used as it once was, C++ is still useful in many fields, including game creation, system programming, and high-performance computing.

C++'s future is bright, with the C++20 standard being the language's most recent and comprehensive change in almost a decade. The C++ community is also very active, with numerous new libraries and tools being developed regularly.

Despite its age, C++ is still an important language in many industries. We may anticipate it to play an essential part in creating high-performance systems such as operating systems and embedded devices in the future.

Comparing the future of Rust and C++

Looking ahead, we anticipate a continuous rise in the popularity of both languages, with new features, libraries, and tools being produced regularly. Finally, the choice between Rust and C++ will be determined by your project's specific requirements as well as the abilities and preferences of your development team.

In the end, this is how we compare Rust vs C++:

Criteria Rust C++

Memory Management

Safe, with ownership and borrowing

Prone to errors like memory leaks and dangling pointers


High performance, often on par with C++

High performance


Modern and expressive

Complex and verbose

Learning Curve

Steep, but simplified by Rust's tooling and community support

Steep, with a larger and more complex ecosystem

Development and Debugging

Efficient, with a strong emphasis on safety

Efficient, but can be error-prone due to its flexibility

Community and Support

Fast-growing community, with strong support from Mozilla and other companies

Large and established community, with support from numerous companies and organizations

Use Cases

Ideal for system-level programming, networking, and web development

Ideal for system-level programming, gaming, and large-scale applications

Popularity and Trends

Fast-growing in popularity, with a strong upward trend

Established and widely-used, but with a declining trend


Promising, with increasing adoption and development of new features

Limited, with a focus on maintaining compatibility with existing code


The decision between Rust and C++ is influenced by several aspects, including performance and ease of development and debugging. Rust and C++ have advantages and disadvantages; the project's requirements and restrictions determine the optimal choice.

Rust has a modern syntax, built-in memory safety, and a robust ecosystem. It is appropriate for system and network programming, game creation, and web development. Rust's emphasis on safety and performance makes it an excellent choice for applications that require both, such as finance and healthcare.

C++, on the other hand, provides greater hardware flexibility and control, making it suited for low-level programming and embedded devices. It is widely used in gaming, scientific, and high-performance industries. It has a large ecosystem of libraries and frameworks.

Developers should evaluate aspects such as the nature of the project, the team's skill, the availability of resources and support, and the future perspective of the technologies when deciding between Rust and C++.

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