Let’s find out how to add more USB ports to a PC, and answer all the important questions surrounding this issue.
Method 1: Use A USB Hub
The first and most obvious solution would be to get a USB hub.
Chances are high you’re already familiar with USB hubs; they’re similar to power strips in the way that they turn one outlet into many.
However, that isn’t necessarily the full story, especially with today’s high-power USB peripherals and external storage devices.
While a USB hub should work well with just about any device, you may want a powered USB hub instead.
We’ll discuss the reasons why you may want to opt for a powered USB hub over a standard non-powered USB hub, but in general, you’ll almost certainly want a powered hub for external storage or 4+ devices being attached at once.
For just a few extra USB ports for low-power devices, a non-powered hub like this one should do the trick.
Method 2: Use A USB Expansion Card (Desktop PCs Only)
If you don’t want to lug an extra hunk of electronics around but still want extra USB ports inside your PC, you may be in luck.
As long as you have an unused PCI Express expansion slot inside of your PC, you can snag a USB expansion card like this one to increase your number of powered USB ports without needing to use a hub.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use this option with a laptop, and compatibility with HTPC and Mini ITX builds may be problematic.
If you’re using a Mid Tower or larger and have a Micro ATX or larger motherboard to match, though, this is a great solution.
However, many USB expansion cards will require you to connect SATA power to them inside your case, so make sure you don’t forget to connect those!
Do I Need A Powered USB Hub?
If the devices that you’re connecting require power (high-end keyboards, game controllers, external storage, etc), then you may want to consider a powered Hub over a non-powered Hub.
While this reduces the convenience factor introduced by a USB hub in some cases, the fact is that individual USB ports can only supply so much power.
I’ve personally run into many issues where a non-powered USB hub simply didn’t do the trick.
A non-powered USB hub will have more issues with random disconnects and other issues because of the lack of raw power, especially when you want 5+ USB ports on a hub.
Smaller (4 ports or less) hubs with more reasonably-powered devices (non-backlit kb/m) can work fine, but generally, I would recommend a powered USB hub.
If you’re only plugging in a single extra device or two and you’re confident that it doesn’t have high power requirements, then getting a non-powered USB hub is fine.
For the majority of users, especially professionals and gamers, though, I’d recommend a powered USB hub.
What Port Should I Connect My USB Hub To? Does It Matter?
Ideally, your USB hub will be connected to the fastest available USB port on your PC, such as a USB 3.2 Type-C port.
In my case, I have a USB 3.2 Type-C port on the back of my motherboard that otherwise wouldn’t be used, but the powered USB hub I’m using allows me to turn that port into an 8-port USB 3.0 hub.
Will A USB Hub Increase Latency or Decrease Speed?
Unless something is extremely wrong with your hub or your PC, no.
As thoroughly tested by Battle(non)sense in this YouTube video, USB hubs do not increase input lag in any meaningful way, even when the bandwidth is being saturated by fast data transfers.
Professionals, gamers, and other enthusiasts shouldn’t have any concerns with increased latency by adding a USB hub.
If you’re experiencing issues related to external storage and a USB hub, you’re more likely having problems with power.
When you’re using a USB hub, think of it as all of the bandwidth and power offered by the port it’s being plugged into being split among the active devices you have plugged into the hub.
This is why a powered USB hub is so important for high-power devices, which would otherwise be powered by a single port receiving full power instead of splitting it up.
Can I Use A USB Expansion Card In a Mini-ITX or Micro-ATX Case?
Yes, but with quite a few major asterisks.
In a Mini-ITX case, you won’t be able to use a USB Expansion Card while also using, say, a graphics card.
For Mini ITX builds where discrete graphics aren’t being used, this is fine, but considering our combined audience here we doubt this will be a favorable scenario.
Micro ATX offers some more flexibility in this regard, but your number of PCIe slots is still limited compared to a Mid-Tower or Full Tower ATX setup.
Generally, we would recommend those using small form factor (SFF) PCs to use a powered USB hub instead of an expansion card. Even if you CAN, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should, especially if you only have a few expansion slots to use.