How To Identify Types Of USB Ports On Your Computer And Other Devices

By Mike Darrow
How To Identify Types Of USB Ports And Cables

USB is the short form of Universal Serial Bus, the most common connectivity used in computers,  smartphones, and many other devices. It was designed to standardize the connection of peripheral devices to computers, to communicate, and to feed electrical power. Examples of peripheral devices that are connected through USB ports include keyboards, mice, video cameras, printers, music players, external HDDs & SSDs, and much more.

It has largely replaced interfaces, such as serial ports and parallel ports, and has become the most popular connectivity standard on a wide range of modern devices. It has been gradually replacing the traditional portable devices’ battery chargers, even for laptops.

Even though the USB interface is ubiquitous, not everyone is accustomed to what each port looks like. This is because it has been upgraded over several versions, as well as numerous different types of connectors.

But don’t worry, I’m here to show you how to identify types of USB ports on your computer and other devices.

Guide To Identify Types Of USB Ports On Your Computer And Other Devices

Distinguishing the types of USB ports is complicated when you don’t know anything about them. However, I think it only takes a few minutes for you to learn and then easily recognize what a USB port is, and the difference between the types of USB ports.

How many types of USB connectors are available?

The USB connector is divided into three main categories, and each of the main categories is classified into other categories. To refer and learn more in-depth, I have prepared a data table that contains all current types of USB connectors and USB cables, as well as the shape and purpose of each.

What Does  USB Port Look Like? Identify USB Ports Via Its Shape And Color

A USB port is a small port that allows a variety of peripherals to be connected to it. Depending on the device, you may have one or more USB ports. For example, the majority of tablets have only one USB port, but you can easily find roughly 2 to 4 USB ports on a laptop or 4 to 8 USB ports on a desktop. 

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Size And Location

The size of a rectangular USB Type-A connector is around 0.65 cm (1/4 inch) high and 1.4 cm (1/2 inch) in length. This may vary slightly based on the case’s design and the position of the USB port. For instance, the size may be reversed if the USB port is located vertically or at a different angle. Different types of USB ports have different sizes. Therefore, you can’t use a USB cable of one type and plug it into another USB port that belongs to another type.

All Types Of USB Ports On Your Computer And Devices
Image Credit: Tanzin Siam – Pinterest.com

The location of the USB port is different on each device. Desktop computers usually have the USB ports located on the back of the computer with the other ports. Many desktops also have one or two USB ports on the front for added convenience. Whereas laptops often have USB ports that are placed on the side of the frame. A tablet or smartphone usually has a USB port on the bottom of the device.

Design And Color

Most USB ports have a thin white slice that’s located in the middle of the USB port encircled by open space and finally by a black or silver surface around the edges. You can also see gold metal lines visible inside the port.

But how about the color? Did you notice that some USB ports have different colors?

You should know that these colors are not just for decoration. Some USB ports are a lot better than others, and some ports can do cool things that you don’t even know about.

White USB Connector

This represents USB 1.0/1.1, which was released in 1996/1998, respectively. However, many brands are still using this color for decorating to fit their devices or cables. Some others use this color to represent USB 3.0 (also for decorating) like the way Apple is using on their default Lightning cable that comes in the box. The era of USB 1.x is long gone, and nowadays, almost no company produces devices with these outdated versions anymore.

Black USB Connector

This is used for the USB 2.0 standard. It supports a maximum transfer speed at 480 Mb/s and is backward compatible with USB 1.x.

Blue USB Connector

This color is used for the USB 3.x standards, such as USB 3.0, USB 3.1, or USB 3.2. It defines a new SuperSpeed (SS) mode, with transfer speeds up to 20 Gb/s and is backward compatible with USB 2.x.

Yellow Or Red USB Connector

Both colors are not used to define a USB standard but for a cool feature. When you see a USB port with yellow or red color, it means that the connector continues to supply power even when your computer is on standby or sleep mode. This is a cool feature that helps to charge your smartphone or tablet.

So I think you should stop plugging your USB cable into whichever port is most convenient. Instead, let’s pick a USB port that fits your purpose.

Identify USB Ports On Your Computer And Devices Through The Labels

Sometimes, manufacturers label the USB ports on your desktop, laptop, or other devices. Based on these labels, you can quickly find out what USB port type they are.

For example, if you see a USB port that only has a symbol, then typically, it’s a USB 2.0 port. But if a USB port has “SuperSpeed” or “SS” on its label, then it is a USB 3.0 port.

SuperSpeed or SS USB Port Label On Asus Prime X570 Pro Mainboard

What about a USB port with an “SS 10” label or a lightning symbol? 

Well! The “SS 10” label indicates it’s a USB 3.1 port. Meanwhile, a USB port with a lightning symbol indicates a port that is “Always On“. This means you can use this port to charge your smartphone or digital camera even when the main device is sleeping or in the idle status. These USB ports can also feed more power than other ports. They allow your devices to be charged faster.

Identify USB Ports on Your Devices Via Manufacturers’ Technical Specifications

If the USB ports are not labeled, and you also can’t determine what type of ports they are, it is still possible to find out which version these USB ports are by searching for their specifications at the manufacturers’ websites.

Many mainboard manufacturers provide detailed information regarding their products, including all features and connectivity ports, with images to point out their locations.

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch Specifications

Laptop and tablet manufacturers also do the same to give consumers visual views of their products. For instance, if you are using an Apple MacBook Pro, you can quickly look for specification information on its product webpage. All needed details will be there, including connectivity ports.

Conclusion

Other connectivity ports with similar shapes can lead to accidental attempts to connect a USB device to them. The same thing can happen when you determine the wrong type of USB port. When you try to plug a device into a wrong port, it may cause damage to your computer, such as a bent or broken connector, or the entire port may be physically broken. Therefore, you should know all the ports on your computer or devices before plugging anything into them.

How else do you determine USB ports on your computer? Let me know in the comments below.

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