Technical question: USB ports/hubs

There are never enough USB ports, are there?

For you savvy readers, what are the upside/downside of adding additional ports internally to your PC rather than simply getting another external hub.

Also, do you know of any really good external hubs?

Also, there is new generation of USB, I believe.  What’s up with that?

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  1. cresci says:


    By cascading external hubs, you will be limiting the amount of power that the devices you plug in will be able to draw from the hub itself (USB memory sticks for example, who depend solely on the port’s power). Each of these hubs has a limited capability on how much power it can “forward” down to the attached devices (check their specs or the tiny manuals).

    USB 3.0 is faster and brand new, but your motherboard must have support for it (or then a separate internal PCI card). It’s just starting to come out with new motherboards.

  2. traditionalorganist says:

    The problem with any sort of hub is that it transmits data over a shared pathway, so, the more devices you connect, the more frequent the possibility of a data collision. If you’re talking about external USB storage rather than other input devices/printers, I would avoid using hubs. Instead, network attached storage is the best bet for reliability and speed.

    Either way, USB 3.0 is many times faster than 2.0, so that data transfer should be much faster.

  3. s i says:

    In addition to what has been posted already, some devices just don’t work (or work very well) when attached to a hub – they must be directly connected to an integral USB port.

  4. wmeyer says:

    I would offer some clarification to comments already made. First, it is generally better, in my view, to use only powered hubs, which will alleviate the concern from cresci. Second, as noted by traditionalorganist, a hub shares a data path, so although fine for connection of keyboard, mouse, tablet, etc., a direct connection is to be preferred for printer, external drive, scanner, and similar devices.

  5. shin says:

    Most users shouldn’t have any problems adding a hub to get more USB ports.

    I would however suggest as a matter of caution, not using an external HD on a hub, but if using one of these with USB, connecting it directly.

    Use the hub for the little stuff.

  6. I concur with what has already been said. You can lose power and connection speed on a hub. It works fine for mouse sticks, bluetooth dongles, and such, but bigger stuff is best plugged straight into the computer. If you can, and depending on what you need to hook up, it would probably be better to add ports to the computer itself.

  7. Reginald Pole says:

    I found this Dr. Who Tardis 4 port hub on ebay. I never have more than one application attached at any given time; the only reason I use it is because the USB ports on my laptop are so difficult to reach without picking the unit up.

  8. Stephen Matthew says:

    Hubs are fine for low bandwidth uses or items that are only used rarely and unlikely to be used all at once. Also latency can be an issue if you start strining hubs together.

    Things like HD webcams, external storage, scanners, etc would best be direclty connected. The new USB 3.0 is supposed to offer speeds not only better than USB 2.o, but even better than early versions of Firewire 1394 and perhaps even on par with eSATA for some uses.

    I had plenty of USB on my old desktop with a dozen built in ports, but even with that I prioritized the motherboard slots for certain things and stuck the general use stuff in the expansion card ports.

    With my laptop I find I don’t hook up much of anything to it other than a USB flash drive now and then and a rarely a printer. Strangley I have even grown to prefer the touch pad over a mouse for all but gaming, which I have cooled to in any case.

  9. Baron: Those first two are GREAT. I wish they had a wish list!

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