Powered Vs. Unpowered USB Hubs

The comparison between powered and unpowered hubs, presented in this article, will help you decide which one to opt for. Read to know the difference between the two device types.
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology has quietly triggered a computing revolution, leading to an explosive growth in the usage of computer accessories. The most common storage devices used worldwide are USB flash drives and other devices based on the interface. USB 2.0 offers a maximum data transfer rate of 480 Mbps and it is not surprising that it has become the default connection type for most hot-pluggable, as well as standard devices like printers and keyboards. When there is a proliferation of connections that you need to make with your laptop or desktop computers, a USB hub comes in handy. They come in two types, which include powered and unpowered hubs.

About USB Hubs

With the extensive usage of USB ports and devices, it may happen that your computer falls short of the number of required ports that you need. When the allocated ports are already used up and you need to make more connections, you need a hub. It makes multiple connections possible via a connection with a single port. It multiplies the number of ports that you can use for connections to serve your needs. Some of the best hubs have as many as 7 ports to connect your devices with. The two main types of hubs are powered and unpowered (or bus-powered) UBS hubs.

Difference Between Powered and Unpowered Hubs

The powered hub is a device that is supplied electric power from an external source, while the unpowered one derives it from the USB port of a host computer itself.

When a device is connected via a USB hub, power is required to make data transfer possible. Unpowered hubs get their energy supply from the computer's USB port, which they are connected with and hence, there is an inherent limitation on how much power can be drawn by them. If you connect more than two or three devices like printers to unpowered hubs, they may fail to function, as enough power is not supplied to ports for operation. Unpowered hubs are ideal for usage, with small devices like flash drives and card readers as they do not require a lot of power for operation. However, if you are using devices like printers and external hard drives, a powered hub is the right choice.

When you have a powered USB hub, the working of any device connected through it stays relatively unaffected, as there is ample allocation of electric power. Self-powered hubs are made to handle multiple high power consuming devices, while unpowered hubs are best used with very low power drawing devices. The best hub is one which provides multiple device connectivity and still sustains connectivity and high data transfer speeds quite easily. Devices that are connected to a hub, but are not being used, do not use up power. Carefully study reviews before you buy one.

To sum up, if you are connecting multiple high power consuming devices, then it is best that you go for a powered hub that can sustain high data transfer speeds for all of them. The unpowered hubs can be opted for when using low-power devices like USB flash drives. If you know what your exact requirement is, the choice is quite simple.