7

I know the speeds would obviously be a key factor, but is there any spot on way to tell if a device is USB 2.0 or 3.0 such as a USB flash drive?

6

On the hardware side, I have been noticing that the plastic in the plug is generally blue for USB 3.0 and white for USB 2.0.

I also believe there is a special USB “symbol” that denotes a USB 3.x connector.

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  • Can you provide any pictures to make it clearer, as I just bought a USB 3.0 flash drive at the source, and judging by it's write speeds, I've been jipped, that's aside from the fact it's branded nexxtech but in my computer displays as danelec. – user88311 Jan 3 '13 at 22:30
  • 1
    An USB3 device does not have to be fast. I got plenty of flash drives which top at 5MB/second, and are equally fast if equipped with USB2 or an USB3 interface. Putting USB3 on them makes as much sense as selling SATA-3 mechanical harddrives. (As in, barely any technical sense, but they do sell a lot better). – Hennes Jan 3 '13 at 22:39
  • It seems the question is about the pen-drive, not about the port... – Rodrigo May 18 '17 at 20:40
  • In my experience, USB 2.0 tends to be black, but white can also be seen. – Palec Jun 16 '17 at 14:59
  • Whilst this answer is mostly correct it is not a guarantee. Manufacturers often change the colour. I think @Hennes answer is a better way of checking since it is always correct. – KNejad Feb 16 '18 at 16:11
8

USB3 has more pins than USB2.

USB1 and USB2 have four pins, two for power, one pair for data. USB3 has those four in the standard place, and two extra pairs for 'superspeed' communication.

Wikipedia has two pictures of this, though I must admit is is not clear when you look at them. It should be much easier when looking at a physical device. (Note that both USB3 ports are blue in the pictures below, which matches @mdpc answer.)

enter image description here

Added the picture from Scott's link here: enter image description here

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2

On macOS, System Information indicates the USB speed, per this answer on askdifferent

For reference, USB speeds/specs are as follows:

USB 1.x - 12Mb/sec
USB 2.0 - 480Mb/sec
USB 3.0 - 5Gb/s
USB 3.1 - 10Gb/s

On Linux, lsusb per this answer on askubuntu:

which USB ?

...and I haven't confirmed it, but apparently this is the lsusb equivalent with Powershell:
gwmi Win32_USBControllerDevice

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2

I find looking at the color of the port is an ok rule of thumb, but I have had it be wrong more then once, so it doesn't really give you the answer. I have usb sticks with blue connectors that are usb 2, and I have pc ports that are USB 3.0 that are black, so its kind of a crap shoot

I have noticed, most usb 3.0 devices that I have, actually say USB 3.0 right on the male port, etched into the metal.

If you want to know definitively, you can use the USB Device Tree Viewer (http://www.uwe-sieber.de/usbtreeview_e.html#download) to view in depth information about the device, including the USB specification.

I realize this is a kind of old post, but it was still on the first page of google search results when trying to find how to identify usb 2 vs 3. Hopefully this info is helpful to someone else.

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