From the 1990s to the early 2000s, you had to carry a dozen cables of different shapes and sizes to get the most out of an already bulky device. Today, this connection process has been simplified, and manufacturers who adhere to industry standards while doing the best they can have eliminated headaches. About a decade ago, the tech giants defined what connection ports should look like and what purpose they should serve.
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) , as the name suggests, is now the universally accepted standard for connecting devices. Most external devices like wired mouse and keyboard, hard drives, printers and scanners, speakers and more are connected via these ports.
USB ports come in a few different types based on their physical shape and size, as well as their transfer speed and power handling capacity. Nowadays, the most common port types found on almost every laptop and PC are USB Type-A and USB Type-C.
This article will help you understand the different types of USB connectors on your device and the methods used to identify them. In this way, you can increase the overall performance of your device by connecting the right device to the right USB port.
- Types of USB connectors based on shape
- ● USB-A
- ● USB Type C
- ● USB Type B
- ● USB Micro B
- ● USB Mini B
- ● USB Mini-B (4-pin)
- Types of USB ports based on their versions
- How to recognize USB ports on your laptop or computer?
- Method 1: Check for labels
- Method 2: Check the color of the port
- Method 3: Check the technical specifications
- Method 4: Identify USB connectors based on your motherboard’s technical specifications
Types of USB connectors based on shape
The "U" in "USB" can be a bit misleading, as there are several different types of USB ports. But fortunately, there are a few different common types of connectors. The following are the most popular in laptops and computer systems.
The USB Type A connectors Are the most popular and widely used connectors in the world. They are flat and rectangular. They are abundant in almost every laptop or computer model. Many televisions, other media players, gaming systems, home audio/video receivers, car stereos and other devices also prefer this type of connector. These connectors provide a "downstream" connection, which means they are intended to be used exclusively on host controllers and hubs.
● USB Type C
USB Type C is one of the newest standards for data transfer and charging. It’s now included in the latest smartphones, laptops, tablets and more. They are universally adored because their symmetrical oval shape makes them the least frustrating to plug in, making them impossible to connect incorrectly. Another reason is that they are powerful enough to be Transfer data at 10 Gbps And use 20 volts/5 amps/100 watts of power to charge a device while remaining thin and small, yet extremely durable.
The new MacBooks have abandoned all other types of ports in favor of USB Type-C. The clutter of USB Type-A ports, HDMI , VGA, DisplayPort , etc. Is streamlined here to a single type port. Although the physical USB-C connector is not backward compatible, the underlying USB standard. You only need a physical adapter to connect to peripherals through this port.
● USB Type B
Also known as USB Standard-B ports, this type is usually reserved for connecting to peripherals like printers and scanners. Occasionally found in external devices such as floppy disk drives , hard drive enclosures and optical drives.
It can be identified by its square shape and slightly beveled corners. The main reason for a separate port is to distinguish peripheral ports from the usual ones. This also eliminates the risk of accidentally connecting one host computer to another.
● USB Micro B
This type of connection is found in newer smartphones as well as GPS devices, digital cameras and smartwatches. It’s easily recognized by its 5-pin design with a rectangular shape and beveled edges on one side. This port is preferred by many (after Type C) because it supports high speed data transfer (at a speed of 480 Mbps) and has the function: On the go (OTG) although they remain physically smaller. It is powerful enough to allow a smartphone to connect to peripherals that a computer is generally capable of doing.
● USB Mini-B
These are similar to USB-B type Connections are but much smaller. They are also used to connect peripherals. This mini-plug has 5 pins, including an additional ID pin to support OTG features that allow devices to act as USB hosts.
You’ll find them in early smartphone models, occasionally in digital cameras, and very rarely in computers. Now, most USB mini-B ports have been replaced with the slimmer micro-USB.
● USB mini-B (4-pin)
This is a kind of unofficial plug found in digital cameras, mainly made by Kodak. It resembles a standard B connector due to its beveled corners, but it is much smaller and squarer.
Types of USB ports based on their versions
USB has had several versions since its introduction in 1995. With each version, major improvements have been made to give these inch-wide ports immense power and potential. The main difference between the two is their transmission speed and the amount of current they can pass through.
The very first version, USB 1.0, which was released in 1996, could barely transfer 12 Mbps and USB 1.1 was hardly an improvement. However, this changed in 2000, when USB 2.0 was published. USB 2.0 increased the transfer speed exponentially to 480 Mbps and delivered power up to 500 mA. To this day, this is the most common type of USB port available in modern computers. Until the introduction of USB 3.0 in 2008, it became the industry standard. This SuperSpeed port allowed transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps and delivered up to 900 mA. Manufacturers quickly took advantage of this and adopted this technology because it was exponentially faster, at least five times faster than USB 2.0 on the paper. More recently, however, USB 3.1 and 3.2 published, the transfer speeds of up to 10 resp. 20 Gbit/s made possible. These are called ‘ SuperSpeed+ ‘ ports.
How to identify USB ports on your laptop or computer?
Once you have visually identified the port type by its shape, it is important to understand its capabilities to make the most of it. For example, you may have noticed that your phone charges faster through one of the two visually identical USB Type-A ports. This occurs when you have different port versions on your system. Connecting the right device to the right port increases overall performance. Therefore, it is important to physically identify which is which on your unit.
Method 1: Check for labels
Few manufacturers have labeled the ports directly by type on the body of the device, the ports are usually labeled as 1.0, 11, 2.0, 3.0 or 3.1. They can also be marked with symbols.
Most USB 3.0 ports are marketed as SuperSpeed USB and are labeled as such by their manufacturers (see figure above). It is usually prefixed with " SS ‘.
If there is a lightning bolt icon next to a USB port, it means a " Always on ‘ port. This means that you can plug your device into this port for charging, even if the laptop/computer is turned off. This port type usually provides more power than any other, so the device can be charged faster.
Method 2: Check the color of the port
Sometimes ports are color coded for easy visual identification. USB-3.0 ports are usually blue. While USB 2.0 ports are distinguished by black insides. White color is for older USB 1.0- or 1.1 ports reserved. If you have a newer device with USB 3.1 ports are colored red and "Always On" ports are represented by yellow inner pages.
|USB version||Color assigned|
|USB 1.0 / 1.1||White|
|Always On ports||Yellow|
Method 3: Check the technical specifications
If identifying by colors or logo is difficult for you, you can first understand what kind of ports your device has built-in, and then start to locate them. This will give you a general idea of what you are looking for.
On a Windows system
This procedure is the same for all Windows systems regardless of manufacturer, model or version.
Step 1: First open the Execute dialog box by pressing "Windows key + R" or you can simply type ‘Run’ in the search bar.
Step 2: Type ‘devmgmt.msc’ and press enter. This will open the ‘ Device Manager ‘ .
Step 3: The device manager lists all system components. Locate and double-click the ‘Universal serial bus controllers’ to expand the dropdown menu.
Step 4: Mostly the version of the ports is mentioned directly, otherwise the name of the component indicates its properties.
When you recognize, Advanced " in the description of the port, then it is a USB 2.0 port.
USB 3.0 is indicated by terms like "xHCI" or " Expandable host controller ‘.
Step 5: You can also right click on the name of the port and open its Properties . Here you can find more details about the port.
On the Mac
1. Click on the Apple icon in the upper left corner of your screen. In the resulting menu, select "About this Mac" .
2. The following window lists all your system specifications. Click on the "System Report…" located on the bottom. Click on ‘More info’ if you are using OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or lower.
3. In the System Information tab, click ‘Hardware’ . This lists all available hardware components. Finally click on to expand the USB tab.
4. You will find a list of all available USB ports, sorted by their type. You can confirm the port type by checking its title.
Once you know the type, you can physically locate them on your device.
Method 4: Identify USB ports based on the technical specifications of your motherboard
This is a tedious method to determine the available USB ports by looking at the specifications of the laptop or motherboard. This helps in finding the exact model of the device and you can comb through the specs to find information on ports.
1. Open the Run dialog box by referring to the steps above, type in ‘msinfo32’ and press the Enter key.
2. In the resulting System Information Window, find the ‘System Model’ Detail. Click on the line and press "Ctrl + C" to copy the value.
3. Now open your favorite search engine, paste the model details into the search bar and click search. Go through the search results and find a reliable website (preferably your manufacturer’s website).
Browse the website and check the specification to find words like USB. You can simply click on ‘ Ctrl + F " and type in " USB ‘ in the bar. You will find the exact port specifications listed.
On the Mac
Similar to Windows, simply browse the specifications of your particular MacBook model to find available ports.
If you don’t know yet, you can easily find out which model you are using by simply clicking on the Apple logo in the upper left corner. Click in the dropdown menu "About Mac" Possibility. The resulting window will show system information including model name/number, operating system version, and serial number.
Once you have found the model you are using, you can easily search the technical specifications online. Visit the official support website of Apple to get the most accurate information.
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I hope this guide was helpful to you Identify USB ports on your computer . However, if you still have questions about this article, feel free to ask them in the comments section.
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