USB PCI card or USB hub?

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by Hungerdunger, Jul 20, 2006.

  1. Hungerdunger

    Hungerdunger Guest

    I'm running out of USB ports - the computer came with 4 - so I was wondering
    whether there is much difference in performance between a PCI card, or a hub
    to plug into one of the existing ports.

    There doesn't appear to be a huge difference in price, and as some
    manufacturers advise not to plug certain devices into hubs, I think I'll go
    for a card unless someone comes up with a good reason not to.
     
    Hungerdunger, Jul 20, 2006
    #1
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  2. Hungerdunger

    Jimchip Guest

    Personally, I'd go for the hub first. It's portable, not tied to a
    single machine, and through put for USB 2 is good, better than Firewire,
    IIRC. One hub on one of the ports to expand out. See how the performance
    looks. Adding PCI could be a little better or worse depending on OS and
    bus speeds.
     
    Jimchip, Jul 20, 2006
    #2
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  3. Hungerdunger

    Margolotta Guest

    Define "better". If by that you mean faster then, yes, on the face of it it
    is, *BUT* in sustained throughput FireWire is faster than USB2. IOW, if
    you're copying something to/from a FW external disc, for example, then the
    speed will be constant - USB2 does not offer constant throughput. See <
    http://www.usb-ware.com/firewire-vs-usb.htm> as an example.

    The basic difference between USB and FW is that the former is master/slave
    and the latter peer-to-peer. From the site I just gave you: -

    FireWire vs. USB 2.0 - Architecture


    * FireWire, uses a "Peer-to-Peer" architecture in which the peripherals
    are intelligent and can negotiate bus conflicts to determine which device can
    best control a data transfer

    * Hi-Speed USB 2.0 uses a "Master-Slave" architecture in which the
    computer handles all arbitration functions and dictates data flow to, from
    and between the attached peripherals (adding additional system overhead and
    resulting in slower data flow control).

    Therefore, in this sense at least, FW is better than USB2. And it works in
    practice too - my Mac has both USB and FW ports and I know that it's faster
    to copy data to my new FW external disc than it was to my older (though still
    USB2) drive.

    If you're interested in further reading, Wikipedia has some excellent
    articles on both Firewire and Hi-Speed USB.
     
    Margolotta, Jul 20, 2006
    #3
  4. John McSherry, Jul 20, 2006
    #4
  5. Hungerdunger

    Toolman Tim Guest

    While Jimchip's reply is true for the short-term, it's not the best
    long-term solution.

    Think of it like a pie: each device gets a slice. More devices, smaller
    slices. A hub slices up the port into smaller pieces, effectively slowing
    down the system's data transfer for each device.

    But if you add a PCI card, you've added NEW ports at full speed instead.

    (Okay, it's not a totally accurate description, but should be adequate for
    general use <g>)
     
    Toolman Tim, Jul 20, 2006
    #5
  6. Hungerdunger

    Jimchip Guest

    Ahem, "long-term" for computers isn't like setting concrete :)
    I have a USB hard drive that I use for backup about twice a week. It
    doesn't care about the other devices or full speed.

    I think one would have to know about specifically what devices, etc.,
    before one can say which is better. Most people are not using all of
    their devices at once. Very often it's a question of more ports for
    connectivity rather than making sure they can all max out 'cuz they are
    all running at once. I'm not saying that you are wrong, Tim. I'm just
    saying that the user has to decide and a hub is the simplest, easiest,
    approach. I can buy them used and take them back so maybe it would just
    be a case of trying it out. YMMV.
     
    Jimchip, Jul 20, 2006
    #6
  7. Hungerdunger

    Toolman Tim Guest

    True - a hub is simpler (no install, no drivers, etc.) And unless he's
    trying to do a lot of scanning/printing/data transfer at the same time, it's
    probably a moot point.
     
    Toolman Tim, Jul 21, 2006
    #7
  8. Hungerdunger

    Meat Plow Guest

    What 3rd party drivers does one need to add a PCI/USB card?
     
    Meat Plow, Jul 21, 2006
    #8
  9. Hungerdunger

    Toolman Tim Guest

    It depends on the OS. The OP never said what OS he's running. If he puts a
    USB PCI card into a Windows 9X system, he's gotta have drivers.
     
    Toolman Tim, Jul 21, 2006
    #9
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