Do USB Extension Cables Affect Performance? (Solved)

If you’ve ever plugged a USB device directly into your computer, you know that it works just fine.

However, if you connect the same device through an extension cable and then plug it directly into your PC, it might not work at all — or only poorly.

This is because there are many factors that can affect how well a USB device works when connected through an extension cable. This includes everything from the material used in making the cable to its length and design.

In this blog, we will look at if a USB cable affects performance.

Here’s If USB Extension Cable Affect Performance:

 The quality of the internal wiring and connectors in a USB extension cable can affect its performance. But so can the length of the cable itself. For example, if you’re using an extension cable that’s too long, it could introduce signal degradation due to excessive attenuation (signal loss).

USB cable blue

Do Long USB Cables Have Less Power Output?

 USB cables are designed to transmit data, not power. However, they do have a maximum voltage rating of 5V and current rating of 0.5A (500mA).

This means that if you connect a USB device that requires more than 500 mA of current (0.5A), it will not work properly because it will exceed the maximum current rating on the USB cable.

For example, an iPhone charger can draw up to 1 Amp from the wall outlet which means that it cannot be used with a standard USB cable as those must limit the current output at 500 mA maximum per pin.

If your device does not require more than 500mA of current to operate then there is no problem using standard USB cables for charging or syncing your device with your computer’s USB port or even connecting two devices together through their respective Micro-B connectors (e.g., connecting an Android phone with an Android tablet).

USB cables are limited to 5 volts and 500mA of current.

  • The longer the cable, the more resistance it will have, which reduces the voltage and current available at the other end of the cable. This means that if you connect a 1-foot USB 3 cable to a computer and measure its voltage at one end, you might get 4.9 volts instead of 5 volts — but this is not due to length so much as it is due to resistance in the wire itself.

How Long Should a USB Cable Be Before It Affects the Performance?

 The USB cable is usually the weakest link in the chain. In most cases, it’s not the cable that’s at fault, but rather the connectors on either end.

If you’re connecting a USB device to a computer or hub, make sure you have good quality connectors on both ends of the cable.

USB cables are rated based on their current-carrying capacity and how much power they can provide over longer distances. The maximum length for a USB 2.0 cable is 5 meters (16 feet), while the maximum length for a USB 3.0 cable is 1 meter (3 feet).

If you want to use longer cables, some manufacturers sell active repeaters that extend the distance by converting voltage levels and performing other signal-boosting tricks. Other options include using shielded cables or adding more wires inside your existing cables (called twisted pairs).

Do USB Extension Cables Affect the Sound Quality?

 USB cables are digital and the signal is not degraded by distance or by an extension cable. The problem arises when you use a poor quality cable or one that has too many connections, introducing interference and signal degradation.

There are two main reasons why this happens:

  • Poor quality cable – Cheaply made cables may not be shielded properly, causing interference from adjacent cables and other electrical devices.
  • Too many connections – The more connections a cable has, the more likely it is to pick up interference from other signals on the same wire.

If you’re using a PC as your source device, there’s also the possibility that your computer is too far away from your speakers or headphones to operate properly. For example, my computer is in my bedroom while my speakers are in my office. If I were using an extension cable that was too long, I would experience problems with volume control and skipping songs when changing tracks on some albums (which happens when you have a bad connection between your computer and speakers).

Read our blog here about can I leave chargers plugged in all the time?

Do USB Extension Cables Affect Gaming Performance?

The first thing that people should know about USB extension cables is that they can slow down transfer rates for any device connected through them.

This means that if you’re transferring files or saving data from one place to another then it might take longer than expected due to the fact that there are more wires involved in the process than normal.

 The long answer is that USB cables have to meet certain specifications in order to be certified as USB cables, and these specs are set by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), a group of companies that includes Apple, Intel, Microsoft, and many other tech companies.

The specifications are strict enough that any cable that meets them will work just fine with your gaming system.

If you’re still worried about lag or other issues caused by extension cables, there’s a simple way to test this yourself:

  • Use one cable with your system for a week or two and see if there is any difference in performance over time.
  • If there is, then try using a different cable for another week or two and see if there’s a difference again.
  • If you don’t see any differences after testing multiple cables over time (or if you do but they’re not consistent), then you know it’s safe to use an extension cable without worrying about performance problems.

Do USB Extension Cables Deliver Fewer Volts?

 The short answer is no. When you plug an extension cable into a USB device, the voltage doesn’t change.

The USB specification provides for a maximum voltage of 5 volts, which cannot be exceeded.

If you’re using a computer to charge your phone, then there’s really no need for an extension cable, since the computer can provide enough current to charge your phone quickly anyway.

If you’re trying to charge multiple devices at once and only have one port, then an extension cable might be useful so that you can connect multiple devices at once without needing additional ports on your computer.

The USB specification requires that devices can support up to 500 milliamperes (mA) per circuit (which is more than enough for any modern device), though it doesn’t specify exactly how much current each device should draw from each circuit.

This means that you should be able to safely use shorter cables with less resistance (which will allow more current flow).

For example, if you have a 1-meter long cable with 2 ohms resistance per meter, then each circuit will see 2 mA less current due to those 2 ohms of resistance; this means that each device connected via this cable will get less than half as much power as it would with a shorter cable with less.

The reason is simple:

  • There are no wires in a USB cable. All you have is an electrical signal that travels through a system of wires and connectors. The only difference between a short cable and a long one is that with longer cables, there’s more resistance to the flow of electricity.
  • A USB extension cable works by taking advantage of this resistance and turning it into voltage loss. The way it works is simple: When you plug your device into an extension cord, it draws power from two points along that cord — one point at each end of the cord — through two separate paths. One path consists of just one wire while the other consists of two wires separated by insulation and bundled together into one cable.

Read our blog here about should you unplug computers when not in use?

Conclusion

If you need to extend the length of your USB cable, it’s worth considering whether or not you should use an extension cable. The answer is yes, but with some caveats.

The bottom line is that using a cheap or poorly made USB extension cable will cause problems with your computer’s hardware, software and even its overall performance. In addition, poor-quality cables can cause damage to your computer’s ports as well as its components over time.

Sources

Was this article helpful? Like Dislike
Great!

Click to share...

Did you find wrong information or was something missing?
We would love to hear your thoughts! (PS: We read ALL feedback)