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How Do I Extend USB Ports

September 29, 2011  |  Difficulty: Hard

How to choose and buy a USB extension card to PCI or PCI express slot

The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is commonly used to connect devices to a computer, especially newer computers. This type of connection replaced a variety of earlier interfaces, such as the serial and parallel ports and may cause older computers to have a shortage of available slots. Generally, slots can be extended by using a USB hub which connects to one USB slot on the computer. The hub contains several USB slots where various devices can be connected. For laptops, it is usually the best solution, but a USB hub is limited by the voltage of only one plug which limits the use of more devices. For PCs however, cards can be extended, and below are instructions on how to choose and buy a USB extension card. 

Instructions:

  1. Take the manual of your motherboard and read the information on how many slots, PCI or PCI-E (PCI Express 2.0 single lane (x1)) are available on the mainboard (e.g., four PCI slots).
  2. Now open the left side of your PC’s case and see if any slots are free for the USB card. (e.g., 2 PCI slots are available)
  3. Next, it’s very important to know the exact version of operation system installed on the computer. (e.g., Microsoft Windows® XP Home Edition)
  4. Lastly, choose the USB version (1.1, 2.0, 3.0) you require. The main difference between USB versions is in the data transfer speed.
  5. Now you have all the information you need to buy a USB card extension. For example, you can shop for a card fitting a PCI slot, supporting Microsoft Windows® XP and requires USB 2.0.

Tips and tricks:

  • If you want to extend USB slots using a USB hub and need to keep the voltage of all plugs, you can buy one with an additional power supply.
  • Most PCI/PCI-E cards have an internal connector for additional USB plugs, which is usually part of a PC case.

Warnings:

  • Make sure that you have enough space around the PCI slots to insert the card.

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