My super-slim ultrabook has one USB 2.0, one USB 3.0 port, and zero ethernet ports. It came with a USB 2.0-to-ethernet adapter and it works just fine in either port. I have noticed that USB 3.0 ethernet adapters are available.

Will upgrading to a USB 3.0 adapter possibly offer a faster connection? Are ethernet connections over a certain speed being bottle necked by the limitations of the USB 2.0 connection?

  • "It came with a passive USB 2.0-to-ethernet adapter" -- Not likely that it is "passive". There is very likely a SoC (system on chip) that has a 32-bit processor with RAM and ROM in that adapter. These active electronic devices will draw power from the USB host. – sawdust Jan 4 '14 at 20:43
  • If you connect to a Gigabit LAN, then you could see a benefit from a USB_3.0-to-Gigabit_Ethernet adapter. – sawdust Jan 4 '14 at 21:51
  • @sawdust Thank you for pointing that out. It doesn't have its own power supply so I assumed it was passive forgetting that it draws power from the USB port. – P Fitz Jan 5 '14 at 1:15

I think this depends on your internet connection. You can check your download (and upload) speeds at speedtest.net.

Since USB 2.0 has a maximum speed of 480Mbit/s, your internet speed will have to be faster than this to make it useful to get a USB 3.0 adapter (which supports up to 4.8Gbit/s).

  • I like the looks of those numbers and, at $25, I think the USB 3.0 adapter is worth a shot. Thanks. – P Fitz Jan 4 '14 at 19:00
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    @PFitz I think you missed the point, if your internet you are currintly paying for is 50 Mbit/s going from 2.0 to 3.0 will make no diffrence. You need to bet getting more than 480 Mbit/s from your ISP for there to be a difference. – Scott Chamberlain Jan 4 '14 at 19:12
  • @ScottChamberlain I understand what he is saying and I realize that my home internet connection isn't nearly fast enough to take advantage of USB 3.0's capabilities. But I often have my computer at universities or offices that have higher connections speeds. Do you know whether or not any institutional connection speeds typically exceed 480 Mbit/s? – P Fitz Jan 4 '14 at 19:34
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    Most new networks are 1000 Mbits/s, so if you are transferring a lot of information and have fast hard disks then you could increase your speed. – davidgo Jan 4 '14 at 21:04
  • Plus you can benefit from higher speeds within your own LAN. With a gigabit router, you could connect your laptop(s) and desktop(s) at home and get speeds that would be faster than 480Mbps. – Synetech Jan 5 '14 at 1:15

Davidgo, usb 2.0 has a theoretical speed of 480mbps which is 60MB/s, realistically you get like 40MB/s The, there is the bottleneck of the router, the computer on the network that its connecting to or the internet speed.. There is no point on upgrading to usb 3.0 at this time. Almost no internet connection at home, or even in offices, has 40MB/s internet connections. Only if you would need to transfer several GB of data on a frequent basis, would it "maybe" be worth it.


USB 2.0 only does half-duplex, so you'll get more latency. USB 3.0 can do full duplex. If you are doing something like gaming that is latency sensitive, it's probably worth finding a full-duplex solution (make sure your USB 3.0 device can do full duplex). Bandwidth wise, you'll need a wide pipe to the internet to need USB 3.0 over 2.0 based on USB max throughput.


Hi if you are working in the data-center where the internet speed in GB/s then only you required 3.0

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    You can have Gigabit-ethernet at home... very useful if you have a NAS. – xenoid Aug 9 '17 at 12:50
  • I don't work at a data center, so I believe I still need high speed. Also you have deviated away from the topic. – neo7 Sep 5 '17 at 23:52

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