I'm in the market for a new laptop and one of my requirements is at least two USB 3.0 ports that can offer the best speed.

I don't recall where or when, but I remember being told that when two USB ports are side-by-side or stacked on top of each other then they will operate at less than top speed if both are being used. I was told this is true for desktops and laptops.

I was told these:

side-by-side usb ports stacked usb ports

Operate more slowly than these:

solo usb port

The reasoning given is that to save on parts, the two ports are actually just one, sharing some of the same parts underneath. Is this true sometimes, always, or never? If it is sometimes true, how can I tell the difference?


The answer is "it depends". If the USB ports share the same hardware bus then their throughput would need to be spread across the bus. Therefor, this could range from each USB port being on it's own bus to all USB ports sharing the same bus. The actual hardware configuration is determined by the manufacturer.

  • So you are saying "sometimes, and to find out you'd have to look closely at the hardware configuration provided by the manufacturer". Is that correct? What exactly would I be looking for to determine if they designed it like this? – fredsbend Jan 27 '16 at 22:05
  • Correct. I have found that the better the laptop and the more costly the better performing hardware you will have. The only way to know is by the vendor telling you how it is designed or by looking at hardware diagram, which I have found harder to find. – DJL Jan 27 '16 at 22:36
  • 1
    You want to look for the number of USB controllers the device has - in your case, 1 controller per port. If you have 1 controller with multiple ports, bandwidth is being shared. These ports would show up in the hardware configuration for the device as seperate entries. – davidgo Jan 27 '16 at 22:47

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