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External USB Port for Laptop

External USB Port for Laptop

Today’s computers and mobile devices are available with a wide variety of ports, from traditional USB to the new USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 ports. Even if you’re familiar with the most common connectors, it can still be hard to figure out which wires or adapters you need to connect your device to a monitor, TV, network, or peripheral.

When you’re shopping for a new laptop, 2-in-1, or bulky desktop computer, you’ll also want to keep ports in mind. If you need to attach a specific type of device on the go, you’ll benefit from having this built-in connector or, at the very least, knowing what type of adapter will pair with your new system. That’s why we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of ports, along with the type and cost of adapters you’ll need to use if you don’t have the correct connectors included.

 

3.5 mm audio jack

Also Known As: Headphone Jack Description: The world’s most popular audio jack, the 3.5mm audio jack appears on most computers, tablets, and phones, and connects to most wired headphones and speakers in the world. While some older devices have microphone and headphone audio jacks, most current models integrate both into the same port. A handful of current phones, including the iPhone 7, delete this jack. Adapters Required: If your device does not have a 3.5mm jack, you can purchase a wired USB headset, connect a wireless Bluetooth audio device, or get an adapter. If you have an iPhone, get a Lightning to 3.5mm cable or a Lightning headset. If you have a USB Type C device, get a Type C to 3.5 mm adapter or Type C headphones.

 

Ethernet

Also Known As: RJ-45, Gigabit Ethernet, 10/100 Ethernet Description: This port is mainly found on commercial laptops and desktop computers, and this port allows you to connect directly to wired networks. While Wi-Fi continues to improve, having the option to hook up via Ethernet is a great value, especially when you’re in a hotel or other location where the wireless signal is weak. Some spec sheets refer to this port as “Gigabit Ethernet” or “10/100 Ethernet,” but all modern laptops and desktops equipped with this port operate at up to 1 Gbps, no matter how they are marketed. Adapters Needed: If you don’t have an Ethernet port built in, you can buy a USB to Ethernet adapter for $15 to $30, depending on whether you’re connecting to a traditional USB Type-Cor port, and a USB Type-A port. You can also get Ethernet by connecting to a docking station.

 

HDMI port

Description: This common port is most common for connection to televisions and also appears on many external monitors and projectors. Depending on your laptop or desktop graphics card, the device’s HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port may be capable of outputting in resolutions up to 4K. However, you cannot output to dual monitors from a single port. HDMI sends audio along with its video, so if your monitor or TV has speakers, you’ll get audio. If your computer has an HDMI output and your external monitor has DVI, you can switch from one to the other with an adapter that costs less than $10. While most laptops with HDMI use the full-size port, there are a few ultra-thin devices that use mini HDMI connectors. These are a little smaller, and adapters for them are hard to find. Adapters Needed: If you need to connect to DVI, an HDMI to DVI plug costs under $10. For about $25, you can get an adapter that goes from USB Type-C to HDMI, provided the Type-C supports video. If you want to go from the HDMI port on your computer to the DisplayPort on your monitor, you’ll need a fairly expensive active adapter that requires its own power connection and costs more than $30. Unpowered DisplayPort to HDMI cables will not work.

 

DisplayPort / Mini DisplayPort

Description: DisplayPort is today’s most advanced display delivery standard, with the ability to output to a single 4K, 60Hz display, or up to three Full HD displays (using a hub or dock). Most laptops with DisplayPort either use the smaller DisplayPort connector or send their DisplayPort signals from a USB Type-C port. Not many monitors and most TVs have DisplayPort connectors, but you can output to an HDMI-enabled monitor with a cable or adapter that costs less than $10. Like HDMI, DisplayPort can output audio on the same video cable. Adapters Needed: If you want to output to more than one DisplayPort from a single Mini DisplayPort on a laptop, you’ll need a Multi-Stream Transfer Hub (MST), which costs between $70 and $100 and requires power. A single USB Type C to DisplayPort cable or a Mini DisplayPort to Full DisplayPort cable costs just over $10.

 

DVI

Also Known As: DVI-D, DVI-I, Dual-Link DVI Description: While you’ll never see a laptop with a DVI (Digital Visual Interface) interface, nearly every monitor with a resolution of Full HD or less has one, as do many desktop computer. DVI is often your best input option since many regular and budget displays only have DVI and VGA connectors. Fortunately, you can easily get an adapter to go from your computer’s HDMI or DisplayPort to DVI. DVI can output at up to UXGA 1920 x 1200 at 60 Hz, which is the standard refresh rate, but requires a second connection (also known as dual-link DVI) to run a 2K or 4K display. Most major USB docking stations feature at least one DVI-out port. Adapters Needed: You can get an HDMI-to-DVI cable for under $10 and a DisplayPort-to-DVI cable for under $15. Although switching from DVI-out to VGA requires a $5 adapter, it is very expensive and difficult to convert from a VGA output on a computer to a DVI-in on a monitor. USB docking stations that output to dual DVI monitors start under $100.

 

MicroSD card reader

Also known as: microSD card slot, microSDHC reader, microSDXC Description: This slot reads microSD memory cards, the kind that smartphones use for external storage. If your laptop or tablet has very limited internal storage and you have a reader, getting one of these cheap cards (under $20 for 64GB) can really help. You can also install Windows 10 apps to a microSD card. Adapters Needed: If you don’t have a built-in slot, you can get an external USB-based microSD reader for under $10.

SD card reader

Also Known As: 3-in-1 Card Reader, 4-in-1 Card Reader, 5-in-1 Card Reader, SDHC Card Reader Description: This is a slot you can use to read memory cards from a digital camera. If you frequently transfer photos from a DSLR or mirrorless camera to your laptop or desktop, having a built-in reader is a huge convenience.

USB / USB Type A

Also Known As: USB Type-A, Standard USB Description: USB (Universal Serial Bus) is the most common laptop and desktop computer connector to date. A typical USB port is known as USB Type-A and has a simple rectangular shape. Depending on the device, it can be capable of USB-2.0 or USB-3.0 speeds. We list more USB types below. You can connect a nearly endless world of peripherals to your USB port, from keyboards and mice to printers and Ethernet adapters. Regular USB doesn’t have its own video standard, but you can connect to monitors using a universal docking station or an adapter with DisplayLink technology inside.

USB Type B

Description: You won’t find this square connector on any computer, but many hubs, docking stations, and printers use it as an input port. For these devices, you’ll need a USB Type A to Type B cord, which usually comes with the terminal.

 

USB Type C

Also Known As: USB-C Description: This thin USB port is the connector of the future, it is already available on a number of devices and is likely to replace USB Type-A, USB Type-B and microUSB on all new systems in the near future. Because it’s much thinner than its predecessors, the Type-C can fit ultra-thin laptops like the 12-inch MacBook and Asus ZenBook 3. It’s also reversible, so you don’t have to worry about putting the plug upside down. For better or worse, USB Type-C ports can support a number of different standards, but not all of them offer the same functionality. Type C can transfer files at either USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) or USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) speeds. It can accept USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) so you can charge your laptop with it. It also sends DisplayPort signals via its “alt mode”, and can even act as a Thunderbolt port. Manufacturers can indicate USB 3.1 gen 2 compatibility with the “SS 10” logo or power delivery with the battery logo, but we don’t see these signs often. We often see a lightning bolt next to the port, indicating that it doubles as a Thunderbolt 3 port and can support the highest transfer rates and video output.

 

USB 2.0

Also Known As: High Speed ​​USB, USB 2 Description: Capable of transferring data at up to 480Mbps, USB 2.0 is the most popular speed of USB and works effectively with the majority of peripheral devices. A USB 2.0 port can come in a variety of shapes, including Type A (rectangular), Type B (square), mini or mini USB. On laptops and desktops, the USB 2.0 port will always be Type A, while on tablets and phones, it will probably be micro USB.

USB 3.0

Also Known As: SuperSpeed ​​USB and USB 3 Description: Great for external hard drives, SSDs, and HD docking stations, USB 3.0 has a maximum transfer rate of 5Gbps, more than 10 times that of its predecessor, USB 2.0 . USB 3 ports are automatically compatible with USB 2.0 cables and devices. The USB 3 ports on your computer use a rectangular Type A connector and are usually indistinguishable from their earlier counterparts. SuperSpeed ​​ports sometimes have a light blue color or a small “SS” logo next to them to indicate their higher throughput, but not always.

USB 3.1 Gen 1 port

Also Known As: USB 3.1, SuperSpeed ​​USB Description: USB 3.1 Gen 1 is a communication protocol at the same speed as USB 3.0 at 5Gbps, but only works on USB Type-C ports. It is backward compatible with USB 3.0 devices and USB 2.0, provided that the Type-C cable goes to the appropriate connector. USB 3.1 devices may support USB Power Delivery, allowing them to receive or transmit power up to 100W, which is enough to charge most laptops. Adapters Required: The USB 3.1 port must use a Type-C connector, so it requires standard Type-C wiring.

 

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USB 3.1 Gen 2 port

Also Known As: USB 3.1, SuperSpeed+ USB, SuperSpeed ​​USB 10Gbps Description: USB 3.1 Gen 2 is just like USB 3.1 Gen 1, but with poor throughput and data transfers at up to 10Gbps. It’s compatible with required USB adapters: USB 3.1 Gen 2 requires a Type-C connector, but to get it at full speed, you need to make sure your cable is rated at 10Gbps.

Micro USB

Also Known As: Micro-B, microUSB Description: This tiny port is the charging connector of choice for low-power smartphones and tablets, but you probably won’t see it on a laptop or desktop computer. Regular micro USB ports support USB 2.0 speeds (480 Mbps), but a few devices, mostly external hard drives, have micro USB 3.0 ports that have a few extra pins and offer faster transfer rates. However, you can still use the micro USB 2.0 cords and connectors in the micro USB 3.0 ports. Adapters Required: To connect your laptop to a low-end phone or tablet with its AC adapter, you’ll need a USB Type-A to micro USB cable, which costs about $5. You can get a Type-C – to – micro USB adapter

 

mini USB

Also Known As: Mini-B, mini USB Description: Less common than microUSB, the slightly larger Micro USB is found in some external hard drives, game consoles (PS3 consoles for example) and other accessories. You won’t see micro USB as a port on any computer, tablet, or phone, but you can easily get a cord that goes from Type-A, Type-C, or micro USB to micro USB. Adapters Needed: The USB Type-A to mini USB cable costs under $5, the Type-C to mini available for under $10 and the USB to mini USB adapter for under $5.

 

Thunderbolt 3 port

Also Known As: Thunderbolt Description: The fastest popular connection on the market today, Thunderbolt 3 can transfer data at up to 40 Gbps, four times faster than the fastest USB connection (USB 3.1 Gen 2). This high-speed standard can also output up to two 4K displays simultaneously, because the single port carries dual DisplayPort signals. On many new devices, you can use Thunderbolt 3 to connect to an external graphics card, allowing you to play high-end games on a slim laptop. All Thunderbolt 3 ports use USB Type-C connections and dual USB Type-C ports, allowing it to connect to a whole world of USB peripherals and, in most cases, to charge a laptop or tablet. Before Thunderbolt 3, which began appearing in laptops at the end of 2015, there was Thunderbolt 2 and the original Thunderbolt standard, but few systems use them. With an adapter cable, you can connect your Thunderbolt 3 computer to older Thunderbolt devices. Adapters Needed: You can get a Thunderbolt 3 cable for less than $25, but be sure to read the specifications before you buy; Not all Thunderbolt cables can handle a full 40 Gbps, with a 20 Gbps boost. Thunderbolt 3 docking stations, which allow you to connect to a variety of monitors and peripherals, cost about $200. You can also use any USB Type-C cable, dock, or device that has a Thunderbolt 3 port.

 

VGA

Description: VGA (Video Graphics Array) dates back to 1987, but it’s still popular in many monitors and projectors today. However, because the 15-pin connector is a bit chunky, you won’t find very many laptops or desktops that have a VGA output. It’s an analog connection, which can degrade the signal over longer cables, and only outputs up to 1920×1200, so it’s the least desirable port. Adapters Required: You can’t convert VGA to any other display standard (DVI, DisplayPort, HDMI), but you can connect any other connector to a VGA display using an inexpensive cord or adapter.

 

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