Take advantage of the latest gadgets by fitting faster USB3 sockets to your desktop or laptop PC
The Universal Serial Bus (or USB) connection port was a massive step forward for PCs. Launched in 1995, it quickly usurped numerous competing connection standards because it made attaching devices to computers much easier.
However, the original USB standard wasn’t particularly quick at transferring data. The 12Mbits/sec speed was fine for sending print jobs or communicating with keyboards and mice and so forth but not much beyond. So, five years later along came USB2, which increased data-transfer speeds to a maximum of 480Mbits/sec,making it suitable for use with external hard disks, for example.
But as technology has improved, even that rate began to look slow. That’s why many new PCs now come with at least one USB3 socket, capable of zapping data at up to 5Gbits/sec – about 10 times faster than USB2. The range of USB3-compatible devices is small but it will become the most common connection in the next few years. So adding USB3 connectivity to your computer is a project worth considering.
Why choose USB3?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that any computer owner must be in want of extra USB sockets. Even adding hubs never seems to solve the problem. The problem is more serious than simply having to unplug a webcam to connect a USB memory key, say. All the devices connected to a single USB controller share the available data-transfer bandwidth, so if a USB hard disk is connected to the same controller as a few memory keys, for example, all may be forced to run more slowly than they would otherwise.
The controller, incidentally, is a USB port’s interface with the motherboard (and therefore the rest of the PC). A PC with half-a-dozen USB ports might have two USB controllers, for example, but there’s no quick way of telling which controller a particular port is attached to.
USB3 relieves this problem, because of the aforementioned 5Gbits/sec bandwidth – there’s simply more to go round.
USB3 is suited to data-hungry external storage devices, such as hard disks. However, as with USB2, it’s compatible with earlier versions of the standard (so USB2 or USB devices can be attached to USB3 sockets but there would be no performance benefit – USB3 sockets won’t make older devices work faster).
Does my PC have USB3?
USB3 sockets are almost identical to older (USB and USB2) types. If you look very closely you might notice a couple of extra electrical connections but there’s really no need for squinting because the plastic used in USB3 sockets is typically coloured blue.
Older USB and USB2 sockets are usually white or black in colour.
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