How do I choose the right USB hub?

How do I choose the right USB hub

Let’s say you just bought a brand new laptop. If you chose some of the thinner, trendier laptops like the MacBook Air, Ultrabook, or Chromebook, you may have noticed the recent shortage of USB ports. Most laptops and even all-in-one desktop computers nowadays only have 2 USB ports.

This is quite the quandary when you think about it, since your keyboard and mouse probably already take those two ports up. But then what are you going to do about your smartphone connection, flash drive, external hard drive, and other USB devices?

Fortunately there’s a pretty straightforward solution to this type of problem. And judging by the most probable way you arrived at this article, you more than likely know what I’m talking about.

The USB hub is incredibly useful tool for any computer user (practically everyone nowadays). With this technology, you could basically chain millions of USB ports to USB hubs and so on and so forth off of just one, so your expansion options are practically endless.

And you’ve shopped around online and at retail stores like Best Buy, Radio Shack, and Tiger Direct, you’ve no doubt seen hundreds of USB hubs in all shapes, sizes, port capacities, and prices.

So how do you know how to choose the right USB hub for you?

Here’s the #1 thing to consider: Is it a powered USB hub?

This will cost you quite a bit more, and add the hassles of an extra cord snaking across your desk and technically an extra USB device to keep plugged in, but it’s totally worth it and incredibly useful.

You see the USB ports in your computer product a very small amount of power. If you split a port by plugging in a USB hub, that power will also get split between the additional available USB ports. Then depending on what kind of USB devices you’re plugging into the USB hub, there might not be enough power for everything.

That’s why it’s incredibly important that you purchase a powered USB hub, one with its own AC adapter. You can fill up every USB port with power hungry USB devices and not have to worry about limited amps leading to operational issues.

I wouldn’t be able to accurately tell you which powered USB hub is “best” since there are a variety of different factors involved in making the decision. How many ports would you need? How much space should it take up? Then there’s the issue of color, style, cord length, and USB 3.0 compatibility. It’s all relative to your own choices. My only advice is this, make sure it’s powered, and that it is a product certified by the USB-IF.

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Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is the Universal Serial Bus (USB) Guru for When he's not writing tutorials and catching up on the latest USB news, Vincent is busy preparing his next blog post and answering USB questions from his readers and subscribers.

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