Running Out of USB Ports? Best and Worst Solutions
USB Standards 101
Before you start looking for additional USB ports, keep in mind that there are now three different USB standards on the market. If you choose a solution that’s slower than your USB hardware, any hardware you plug into that solution will also slow down.
The first true USB standard, USB 1.1 (USB 1.0 wasn’t widely supported) was released in 1998, but unlike other standards of the time, it’s still in widespread use. There’s no need for keyboards, mice, or game controllers to run faster than USB 1.1’s 1.5Mbps low-speed standard (12Mbps is the full-speed USB 1.1 standard), so these devices are equally happy regardless of the USB port speed.
USB 2.0 reached the marketplace in late 2001, and provides a 40x boost in maximum speed over USB 1.1, running at a top speed of 480Mbps. USB 2.0 is also known as Hi-Speed USB, and uses the same connectors as USB 1.1. Some early systems with integrated USB 2.0 ports had the USB 2.0 feature disabled, making the ports run at USB 1.1 speeds.
The newest standard for USB, USB 3.0 (also known as USB SuperSpeed), is very much in its infancy. Very few systems or devices currently support USB 3.0, although USB 3.0 supports 5Gbps maximum speed (about 10x the speed of USB 2.0). USB 3.0 uses use hub and device connectors, but the hub connectors are backwards-compatible with USB 1.1/2.0 devices, enabling USB 3.0 to support all flavors of USB.