As the name suggests, the fundamental difference lies in how they draw power.
This difference is all important when it comes to establishing which hub would be most suitable for your devices.
What is a USB hub?
A USB hub is like an extension lead for USB devices. It plugs into your computer and lets you connect more devices than your existing USB ports allow.
Some USB hubs are powered, others are unpowered. This short guide explains the difference, to help you understand which one you need.
You’d use a powered USB hub if you needed to run:
As this guide explains, electrical devices vary in the amount of power they need to run or charge.
Because a powered hub uses mains power, it can give every device connected to it the maximum voltage that USB allows. So, not only can it run more devices than an unpowered hub, it can do so at full power, without any drops in performance.
Unpowered hubs draw power from the USB port they’re plugged into. As computer USB ports produce small amounts of current, they are best used to power devices that need only low voltages, such as:
Using an unpowered hub with a high-voltage device means you’re drawing power away from the computer itself, which can cause it to underperform.
If the devices you’re plugging into your computer have their own AC adapters, using an unpowered USB hub should be fine.
Powered USB hubs
Unpowered USB hubs
Connecting keyboards, mice or flash drives?
Very limited budget?
Connecting printers or scanners?
Powering several devices?
Willing to spend a little more?
Unpowered USB hub
Powered USB hub