Expanding the wired connectivity base on a laptop is a pretty easy and inexpensive task as all you need to do to add USB ports to the laptop is just invest in a USB hub.
Well, with the increasing popularity of wireless gizmos overall, I can safely foretell that a laptop’s inbuilt USB ports are also going to go spare one day. But for now, as most devices out there yet depend on USB sockets to work, you can easily eat up all the laptop’s inbuilt ports and still watch out to learn how to add USB ports to laptop.
And that happens regardless of whether your laptop has got three, four, or even five jacks on it. So don’t worry about that as we’re just gonna see the matter in detail now.
How to Add USB Ports to Laptop?
The only and the most obvious way to increase the number of available USB sockets on a laptop is to purchase a USB hub. It’s, however, gonna add up some extra hunk of electronics around you, but of course, that’s the only method you can pull the job off on a laptop.
Install a USB Hub
Similar to an extension lead or power strip in function, a USB hub is an auxiliary gadget that expands down one Universal Serial Bus jack into many.
How Does USB Hub Work?
The USB standard (of connection and communication) is architected based on a tiered star network topology where one host can support up to 127 other/slave devices.
As regards laptops or computers, the structure includes a hub (already incorporated on the motherboard) and a host controller (connected to the hub) which then expands down into multiple connection points – referred to as USB ports.
So because the hub is one part of the standard firmware, you can easily purchase and connect secondary hubs to each of these junctions/ports and further expand the network up to 127 ports.
Build, Size, Compatibility/Version, and Expandability of a USB Hub
USB hubs come in different shapes, sizes, and expandability features. You’ll typically find a USB hub featuring three or four new ports, but some may have up to 8 or even 10 jacks on them. That said, the more expensive you go, the more trailblazing the gizmo you can get.
Apart from the expandability facet, you ought to be very careful with the USB standard on your laptop and, of course, the connector type of the hub when purchasing one.
The most recent USB version nowadays is USB 4, but that’s not so extensively common yet. So you may want to check out what USB standard does your laptop has by looking at the connector block inside the port.
P.S. USB 2.0 and 3.0 can be easily distinguished if you just look at them as the former has a BLACK block inside the port whereas the latter ones, often and not always, feature a BLUE block. And USB 3.1 can be identified by the RED block inside the jack.
For the most part, you may be better off knowing that almost all USB 3.0s are fully backward-compatible with previous versions, and you can safely buy a 3.0 USB hub even if the laptop has 2.0 on it.
As regards the connector type of the hub, the most recognizable and commonly used connector is Type-A supported by almost every standard. But some devices like Apple laptops, etc. usually come with USB Type-C, so you may need to do a bit more research and buy a Type-C connector hub in such a case.
Powered vs Non-Powered Hubs
As the name suggests, these are the two different types of USB hubs with the fundamental difference in their terms of power draw.
Powered hubs are the costlier of the two as they come with their own power supply – an AC adapter that goes into the mains socket(s). If you are planning to run a lot of gadgets, particularly some might power-consuming ones (like gaming-grade keyboards, scanners, game controllers, external HDDs, etc.), you ought to go for a powered USB hub.
Unpowered hubs, on the other hand, draw power from the device they are plugged into. You may be better off getting a non-powered hub if you only need it to connect a self-powered device like a printer, etc. to the PC. Or get one if you want to use it to connect other less hungry gadgets like ordinary keyboards, mice, smartphones (chargers), headsets, flash drives, etc.
P.S. Unpowered hubs win when it comes to the portability factor as they are the best travel partners, unlike powered hubs which certainly need an AC plug to operate. But a powered USB hub does have a lot of other advantages over a non-powered one.
How many USB ports can you add to a laptop?
The rough answer to your query would be as many as you would like, however, if you want a precise answer, I have spent a couple of hours concluding that a laptop can support up to 127 USB interfaces.
What is the cheapest way to add more USB ports to your computer?
You can simply purchase a USB extender HUB, which has at least 8 extra hubs, and this is the cheapest and most effective way to add ports to your laptop. In addition, if you choose the fancy ones, they also come with different types of interfaces.
Does a USB splitter affect performance?
One of the well-known drawbacks of USB splitters is the fact that they aren’t really good at transfer speeds, so yeah, if you split a USB interface, prepare to face some nail-biting slow speeds.
So that’s exactly how to add USB ports to laptop. Well, while a USB hub is the only way out in such regard, there is still a lot of stuff you need to watch out for to make sure you get one that best fits your laptop.
Apart from all that, you may also want to consider things like the hub’s build quality, its USB and charging ports combo, and its on/off feature (i.e. if it has an individual power switch for each port or one exclusive switch only), etc. And if there’s still anything you think I’m missing, please let me know in the comments below.