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USB Ports Explained

  • 2 min read

USB (Universal Serial Bus) is a protocol standard that regulates the connection and communication between computers and external devices.

It can support a variety of functions and it also comes in a range of formats. Here we're going to take a look at and explain them all.

1. USB Data Transfer

If you're looking into buying a hub with some USB ports, it's important to know exactly what you're getting.

If you look closely, you'll see that somewhere in the user manual or maybe on the side of the hub, there'll be some numbers after USB. For example USB 2.0 or USB 3.2 etc.

These numbers indicate the maximum data-transfer speed of that type of hub.

See the following table for a list of every USB protocol with corresponding transfer speeds.

USB Version
Transmission speed
Theoretical speed
Current Name
Original Name
USB 2.0
USB 1.0
1.5 Mbps
0.1875 MB/s
USB 1.1
12 Mbps
1.5 MB/s
USB 2.0
480 Mbps
60 MB/s
USB 3.2
Gen 1
USB 3.0
USB 3.1 Gen 1
5 Gbps
500 MB/s
Gen 2
USB 3.1 Gen 2
10 Gbps
1212.12 MB/s
Gen 2x2
20 Gbps
2424.24 MB/s
USB 4.0
40 Gbps
5 GB/s

2. USB Port Types

The most common types of USB ports are USB-A and USB-C. The USB-A port is known to most people simply as a USB port because it's the most ubiquitous port type, and is found on everything from computers to games consoles and more. USB-C ports have been growing in popularity over the last few years, and are used on most new phones and notebooks.

Aside from these 2 types of USB ports, there are also a lot more. See the table below for full details:


A quick tip on telling apart USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 is that USB 3.0 generally has a piece of blue plastic inside, while USB 2.0 will be black or white inside.

3. What Do USB Ports Do?

1.USB-A Ports


    The USB-A port is generally used to connect USB drives, keyboards, and mice, and can also charge mobile phones and other equipment.


      The USB-C connector is reversible, so you don't have to worry about plugging it in the wrong way. In terms of functionality, USB-C can support charging, file transfer, and media display. But not all USB-C devices support all of these functions.


      That's just a quick overview of some of the different types of USB ports and what they do. And if you're looking for a way to get more ports for your laptop, check out some of our best-selling USB-C hubs and docking stations below:

      Our Top Picks for You

      Product name Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C Hub PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub PowerExpand 7-in-2 USB-C Hub
      Price £279.99 £79.99 £99.99 £39.99
      Picture Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station Piciture
      PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C Hub Piciture
      PowerExpand 11-in-1 USB-C Hub Picture
      PowerExpand 7-in-2 USB-C Hub Piciture
      Number of Ports 12 8 11 7
      Number of Supported Displays 3 1 2 2
      Supports Laptop Charging
      Data Transfer 40 Gbps 10 Gbps 5 Gbps 40 Gbps
      USB-A Port 2 × USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 Gbps, 5V/0.9A
      2 × USB 2.0, 480 Mbps, 5V/0.5A
      2 × USB 3.1 Gen 2 2 × USB 2.0
      1 × USB 3.0
      2 × USB 3.0
      USB-C Port 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 2, 10 Gbps, PD 3.0, 9V/2.25A 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 2 1 × USB 3.0 1 × USB 3.0
      Thunderbolt Port 1 × Thunderbolt 4 downstream port, 40 Gbps, 8K@30Hz, 15W - - 1 x Thunderbolt 3 port, 40 Gbps, 5K@60Hz
      HDMI Port 2 × HDMI 2.0, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz 1 x HDMI, 4K@30Hz
      Display Port - - 1 x HDMI, 4K@60Hz -
      SD/microSD Card Slot SD Card Slot: UHS-II UHS-I UHS-I UHS-I
      Audio In&Out 3.5 mm 3.5 mm 3.5 mm -
      Ethernet Port 1 Gbps 1 Gbps 1 Gbps -