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 Contact him at [email protected].

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