How Do I Choose the Best Hi-Speed USB Host Controller?

L.S. Ware

A hi-speed Universal Serial Bus (USB) host controller refers to the computer hardware that allows for the connection of USB 2.0 devices. Computer systems typically come with a number of USB ports, but there are times when additional ports are necessary or the current controller card is still running on the older standard, requiring an upgrade. There are several factors to consider prior to purchasing a hi-speed USB host controller, including the format needed, the number of ports needed and your budget.

USB cables are used to connect devices -- such as printers, keyboards and music players -- to computers.
USB cables are used to connect devices -- such as printers, keyboards and music players -- to computers.

The first thing to consider is whether the current motherboard will accept an additional card or whether the existing USB host controller will have to be replaced. It also will be necessary to determine what format the controller will need to be. Tower computers will require an open Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) or PCI-express (PCI-e) card slot. Laptops will require a Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) card to expand the available USB ports.

USB 3.0 is more than ten times as fast as the top speed of the 2.0 model.
USB 3.0 is more than ten times as fast as the top speed of the 2.0 model.

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Additional factors to consider include how many ports will be needed and the quality of the warranty on the hardware. A hi-speed USB host controller can be acquired with only one or as many as five ports built in. Warranties should be long enough to ensure that the device is used repeatedly before expiration. Check the fine print for replacement or refurbishing protocols.

The cost for a hi-speed USB host controller is reasonably inexpensive, and even high-quality controllers will cost less than $100 US Dollars. SuperSpeed USB host controllers also have become more readily available. These are based on the USB 3.0 protocol, which was published in 2008, and tend to be slightly more expensive.

After making your decisions regarding determinate factors, compare and contrast the hardware costs and the vendors. Do due diligence and research the vendor selling the product. Perform a cost comparison for online and physical stores, including shipping and potential return costs. Check for negative reviews of the hardware and the vendor.

The company that makes the hi-speed USB host controller card also should be investigated. Make sure that the company does not have an excessive amount of negative feedback from customers. The company also should have multiple products and be focused on computer hardware. In other words, it is not recommended to purchase from a company that is too new or does not build electronics primarily.

Reviews of the hardware can be found with a simple Internet search. They also can be found on the vendors' websites. Choose a hi-speed USB host controller that will fit all current and some future needs. Ensure that the warranty and support for the hardware are satisfactory. Further Internet searches will provide a number of options for purchase and a quick cost comparison.

A USB cable.
A USB cable.

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