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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?

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  • "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.
    – PFitz
    Jan 5 '14 at 1:15
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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).

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  • I like the looks of those numbers and, at $25, I think the USB 3.0 adapter is worth a shot. Thanks.
    – PFitz
    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. 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?
    – PFitz
    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
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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.

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