While researching how to use my new motherboard with a 20pin USB3 header with my USB2 cables (so i wouldn't have to wait for yet another delivery), the farther i could go was this image

enter image description here

if i understand this correctly, the 20pin header has for each USB3 port:

  • TX (D+ in pic)
  • RX (D- in pic)
  • GND x2
  • extra_TX+
  • extra_TX-
  • extra_RX+
  • extra_RX-
  • +5V

plus a shared ID pin.

the older USB2 header, had for each port:

  • +5V+
  • TX
  • RX
  • GND

the USB2 maps 1:1 to the final usb port... but the USB3 for me is just crazy! and I really doubt if I crack open a chinese USB3 20pin cable i will find much more than just a wire going from a few select 4 pins...

The question is: Why does it have all those pins if the ultimate connector only have 4 pins anyway?

Edit: ok, apparently i missed a pic on wikipedia that cames with no explanation besides the pinout, that hints we will have a (as far as i can tell from the pic, idiotic) 10pin wide full-USB3 connector at some point...

enter image description here

So, new question, is it safe to just use the 4 pins that the current usb ports use from the 20pin header? as the original question stands: the ultimate connector going out of the case only has 4 pins... why do i need to connect more on the internal plug if they are just going to be forever unused?

closed as not a real question by Breakthrough, Simon Sheehan, bwDraco, Gaff, ChrisF Dec 18 '12 at 12:51

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Huh? USB 3.0 has 4 extra data lines. – Breakthrough Dec 18 '12 at 0:21
  • Using only 4 pins will limit it to USB 2.0. That is why USB 3.0 is backwards compatible. – Fiasco Labs Dec 18 '12 at 0:52
  • You shouldn't edit your question to ask another question. If you've found the answer, then answer it your self. If you have another question then ask it, instead of editing your question as a new one. – James Mertz Dec 18 '12 at 1:52
  • The 20 pin header is for two USB3 ports. One port down the left side and the other down the right side. – Brian Jan 2 '13 at 4:10

The final connector does not have 4 pins, it has 9


Now, it is electrically backward compatible with the old 4 pin connector of the 2.0 and lower USB, but a "real" USB3 port will have 9 pins on it (and be blue, the color is part of the spec).

Ok, correction about the color. Per of the USB Spec

As an aid to users, USB 3.0 mandates standard coloring for plastic portions of USB 3.0 plugs and receptacles.

However later on in it states

A unique color coding is recommended for the USB 3.0 Standard-A connector plastic housings to help users distinguish the USB 3.0 Standard-A connector from the USB 2.0 Standard-A connector (refer to Section for details).

Then in

Since both the USB 2.0 Standard-A and USB 3.0 Standard-A receptacles may co-exist on a host, color coding is recommended for the USB 3.0 Standard-A connector (receptacle and plug) housings to help users distinguish it from the USB 2.0 Standard-A connector.

Blue (Pantone 300C) is the recommended color for the USB 3.0 Standard-A receptacle and plug plastic housings. When the recommended color is used, connector manufacturers and system integrators should make sure that the blue-colored receptacle housing is visible to users. Figure 5-5 illustrates the color coding recommendation for the USB 3.0 Standard-A connector.

enter image description here

So it says you are required to color all of your usb 3.0 ports the same and it "recommends" coloring 2.0 and 3.0 on the same machine different colors and you use Blue (Pantone 300C) for the color of the 3.0 ports, that is not required.

  • "and be blue, the color is part of the spec" - All USB ports on Macs that supports USB 3 are USB 3 capable and do not have blue inserts. – Karan Dec 18 '12 at 2:42
  • thanks for the link. but hey, my motherboad (gigabyte z77mx-d3h) and several others i inspected when buying, had blue USB3 ports, all with 4 pins. Same with my Verbatim usb3 flash drive, which gets me 97Mbp/s when connected to those blue ports. – gcb Dec 18 '12 at 7:59
  • So the rectangle image on wikipedia is just crazy talk? having the extra pins on top makes more sense... – gcb Dec 18 '12 at 8:03
  • 1
    @gcp I added some quotes from the USB spec, I recommend downloading the zip and flipping through the spec, its not that hard to read and it will answer any of the questions you have about how the cabling works. – Scott Chamberlain Dec 18 '12 at 8:27
  • 4
    Trust Apple to try and be different – deed02392 Dec 18 '12 at 8:39

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