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     Do I Need a Powered USB Hub? What to Know Before Buying One?

    • 4 min read

    It's often a good idea to get a USB hub to extend one USB port into several other ports. Modern laptops are getting compact and have no more than two USB ports. Such a limited number of USB ports may not be enough if you want to connect multiple IT peripherals over USB. So, in such a situation, you may be wondering, do I need a powered USB hub? If you are thinking of getting a USB hub, then this article is there to help you.


    Do I Need a Powered USB Hub?

    Let’s learn what is a powered USB hub before deciding whether we need it. There are mainly two types of USB hubs – powered and unpowered. Both these types differ in the way they work. Powered USB hubs have their external power while unpowered USB hubs are bus-powered. Here, bus-powered means that the USB hub takes power from your PC or laptop to operate.

    A powered USB hub is not needed when you only need the extension to connect low-power peripherals such as USB flash drives, keyboards, mice, or game controllers. An unpowered USB hub is more than enough for such devices. But, let's say you need to connect multiple external hard drives to your PC at once to perform a lot of data transfer work. Then, in this case, you will need a powered USB hub. External hard drives require more power than keyboards and mice. So, to connect many of them simultaneously, you need something that can keep them powered while reading and writing data.

    You should also know that USB hubs are not limited to USB ports only. Modern powered USB hubs provide external connectivity with more ports, including LAN, USB-C, HDMI, card reader, VGA, and audio. Hence, the reasons for choosing the right powered USB hub may be vast. Based on the above information, you can now decide whether or not you want a powered USB hub.

    Powered USB Hub vs Unpowered - Where Is The Difference?

    Powered and unpowered USB hubs are not the same. There are some solid reasons which differentiate these two types.

      1. Power Supply: Powered USB hubs come with their own AC adapters and can run on an external power source. They do not take any power from your laptop. While unpowered USB hubs take all the power from your laptop or PC.
      2. Power Output: Every single USB port of a powered USB hub operates at a max power output of 2.5 watts. That means every USB port can deliver a max current of 500mA (0.5 Ampere). That much power is enough to power external hard drives, SSDs, and optical drives. But, in an unpowered USB hub, the power output from a single USB port gets distributed all over the hub. For example, if the unpowered USB hub has four ports, each USB port can provide a max current of 100mA. However, several unpowered USB hubs can provide you with 1 to 2 USB ports capable of delivering 500mA while keeping the rest of the ports capped at 100mA.
      3. The number Of Connectivity Ports: Powered USB hubs run on external power and support multiple connectivity ports. See the 7 or 12-port Anker powered USB hubs as an example. So you can have a powered USB hub with more ports, while unpowered USB hubs are mostly limited to 7 ports only.
      4. Price: Powered USB hubs cost higher as they provide more abilities to connect different big or small devices. While unpowered ones are cheaper for their limited power supply and connection.

    Pros and Cons Of a Powered USB Hub

    Before you can purchase a powered USB hub for yourself, you must know its pros and cons, so that you would not regret it later.

    Pros Of a Powered USB Hub

    • Runs on their external power without bothering your PC or laptop for power needs.
    • It can run most of its USB ports at a load of 2.5 watts max(5V x 0.5A = 2.5 watts).
    • They can support power-hungry USB devices.
    • They can support up to 12 connectivity options, including ports for display, USB, network, memory cards, audio, etc.

    Cons Of a Powered USB Hub

    • Powered USB hubs are more expensive than their unpowered counterparts.
    • They need a separate mains power socket.
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      So now you know what they are used for. In this article, we have briefly talked about powered and unpowered USB hubs. USB hubs are a great way to power all your peripherals from the convenience of your desk. And if you plan to get a powered USB hub, you get more freedom while connecting multiple devices. We hope this article will help you to choose the right USB hub.

      FAQ about Do I Need a Powered USB Hub

      What is the point of a powered USB hub?

      A powered USB hub is a device that allows you to connect multiple USB peripherals to your PC or laptop. It helps you to manage and organize them, as well as provides additional power for the devices that need more juice than standard USB ports can provide.

      Are USB hubs worth it?

      Yes! A USB hub is worth it if you want to keep all your USB devices on your desk. You can plug in multiple USB devices without relying on your laptop's USB port so that enjoy an easy and fast operation. However, avoid cheap off-brand USB hubs because they may damage your PC’s USB port by drawing too much power.

      Why are powered USB hubs so expensive?

      Powered USB hubs are more expensive than unpowered models because they come with an external power adapter. The power adapter adds to the cost of a powered USB hub, but also makes it more reliable as it can provide up to 2.5 watts per port, as compared to just 500mA from an unpowered hub.

      Additionally, powered USB hubs usually have additional features such as over-voltage protection and surge protection like some Anker powered USB hubs which make them well worth the extra expense.