Imagine a world where file portability was ten times better than it is right now; a world where putting an entire collection of movies on a portable hard drive only took a matter of minutes. That time is now, my friends. That world you dream of, it’s a reality thanks to USB 3.0. The newest major revision of the Universal Serial Bus standard is really quite something, but what is all the fuss about? What makes USB 3.0 so much different, and better than 2.0?
To start out, it’s way faster. I don’t just mean a little bit faster, or pretty fast. I mean USB 3.0 is incredibly fast. To be exact, it has a transfer speed of up to 5 Gb/s whereas 2.0 only got up to 480 Mbit/s. Not only has the speed been amped up, but the way in which USB will now deliver and receive information has been changed as well. USB 3.0 defines physically separate channels for sent and received information. This creates a two-way street for data to travel so data coming in does not impede data going out. Additionally, USB 3.0 is much more power efficient than its predecessor.
Some things have stayed the same. For instance, the physical size and shape of the port remains the same. This ensures backward compatibility with USB 2.0 revisions. However, upon closer inspection it is revealed that the USB 3.0 port has 5 new pin connectors inside. In addition, because many new computers come with both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports, the new revision has been color coded blue to differentiate (This seems unnecessary as you can use USB 2.0 devices in a USB 3.0 port and even use 3.0 devices with a 2.0 port at lower speeds).
USB 3.0 has been around since late 2009, but initially devices were few and far between. Luckily now flash drives, USB hubs, and external hard drives all come with USB 3.0 compatibility. You can even buy card adapters to install USB 3.0 on your existing computer. Windows 7 comes with the appropriate drivers, so installation and use will be a breeze.
So the question remains, “Should you get USB 3.0?” Well, if you don’t mind buying new flash drives and hard drives (all of which can now be purchased at a fairly reasonable price) then yes. Go for it! There’s only one concern that I have with USB 3.0. If you currently own a Mac that isn’t a Mac Pro (You can add USB 3.0 with a PCI Express card), there are two issues. The first issue is that it’s not possible to simply add USB 3.0 to a Mac without hacking it up and taking the whole computer apart. The second issue being that the new Macs are equipped with Thunderbolt connections, which are actually two times faster than USB 3.0. Now, don’t get all huffy yet, and ask me why I’m not writing a blog about Thunderbolt connections.
The fact of the matter is that even with Thunderbolt’s amazing speed, it isn’t worth anything because there aren’t many devices available for it. The devices that can be used with Thunderbolt are absurdly expensive (I’m talking $450 starting price. Heck, a 6ft. T-Bolt cable is $50!), and let’s not forget, the technology is for Macs only.
Instead, just grab a USB 3.0 card, and slap it into your PC (they’re only about $30), and enjoy the upgrade. Personally, if you do find yourself transferring massive amounts of data, then go ahead and get it. The cost is minimal for the speeds you’ll be getting out of it. If you don’t have lots of stuff to transfer it’s not a necessary purchase, but it’s a fairly cheap upgrade, and it should stay useful for a very long time.