USB Ports: Gray, Blue, Yellow, or Red?

Did you know that the different colored USB ports on your computer aren’t just for decoration? That the colors actually mean something?

What? You’ve just been plugging USB cables into whichever port is most convenient? What a rookie mistake! 🙂

Well, some ports are a whole lot better than others, and some even do cool things that you probably didn’t know about.

Gray/Black USB Ports

usb-grayThese are your run-of-the-mill USB 1.0/2.0 ports. They have throughput ranging from 1.5 Mbit/s to 480 Mbit/s in later versions.

Blue USB Ports

usb-blueThese are newer USB 3.0 ports. They range from 5 Gbit/s (USB 3.0) to 10 Gbit/s (USB 3.1). These are the better choice for devices that require faster speeds.

Yellow (or Red) USB Ports

usb-yellowThese are called “sleep-and-charge” ports, meaning that they continue to supply power even when the computer is sleeping. This makes it convenient to charge a phone or tablet from your laptop battery.

Just as a side note, I’ve had computers that required me to enable this feature in settings before it would work.

Note: Most of the time white USB ports are USB 1.0, but some manufacturers use them for USB 3.0 ports.

So, next time you go to plug in a USB device that requires fast throughput, double check that you’re using the fastest port available on your computer!

Matt Thomas, W1MST, is the managing editor of AmateurRadio.com. Contact him at [email protected].

8 Responses to “USB Ports: Gray, Blue, Yellow, or Red?”

  • Bob vk2byf:

    Thanks, that information was helpful.
    I only knew about the black and the blue USB ports
    73 Bob

  • Nolan Kienitz - KI5IO:

    Even as I continuing “maturing” it is very good to continue to learn something new all the time.

    Thanks much.

  • Bill K7BRR:

    Ohhh darn, now I have to crawl under the desk and look.

  • Richard KWøU:

    Good advice, though possibly some of the yellows are being used as electrical “vampires”, charging items that don’t need it all the time. It would be good to check.

  • Fred AE2DX:

    Learn something new even at this old age of 73, thanks for posting.

  • Bob N8SQT:

    For USB 3 ports, not all manufacturers are using blue. Take a look at the little “trident” icon by the port. Just the icon is usually USB2.0. The icon with “SS” is USB3.0 and the icon with SS and “10” in the upper right is USB 3.1.

    This is also a very useful chart over on Wikipedia:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB#Host_and_device_interface_receptacles

  • Keith Wagner KB6BYP:

    thanks for the info but i wanted to know what the colors of my usb thumb drives mean

  • keith u dummyboi:

    Keith u dumbasss no one is gonna answer you this…. post is from 2016. You’re a LITTLE bit late there buddy. I’d say try google 🙂 Add me on habbo hotel: XzXxSn1p3rxXzX

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