I made an important discovery today, that not all USB ports on your USB 2.0 motherboard actually operate at USB 2.0 (high) speed. Yes, it’s true! Even tough I build computers, I automatically assumed that when a motherboard manufacturer specified USB 2.0 on the box, that meant all the ports on the board could operate at high-speed (480Mbsp) as oppose to full-speed (12Mbps), better known as USB 1.1. Which is a huge difference. I know now that my initial assumption was WRONG!
This revelation came to me after I bought a USB 2.0 flash drive to enable Windows 7 ready-boost; just until I’m ready to reinstall the OS after I upgrade from 2GB DDR3 to 4GB of faster DDR3 RAM in the next coming months. I figured this would be a small, cheap boost in performance that should tied me over ’til then. Much to my surprise after connecting the PNY USB 2.0 flash drive to a port on the back of my PC, Windows 7 popped up a message indicating I can increase performance by plugging the USB drive into a high-speed port. This was opposed the the one I’d current plugged it into, which it could only operate at 12Mbps. I was baffled but not surprised. Those dirty manufacturers put more USB 1.1 ports than 2.0 ports on this Biostar motherboard. Windows 7 also presented me with a list of valid USB 2.0 HUBs along with their available ports. But that list was useless, as there was no way to determine where those ports were physically on the PC. After plugging the drive into many different ports, I was confused as to which were actually USB 2.0 compliant, until I figures out a way to tell in the windows device manager.
1. Open the Windows Device manager by right-clicking “Computer” in the start menu or desktop.
2. In Device manager, expand the “Universal Serial Bus Controllers” then right-click any “USB Root Hub” and select “Properties” from the context menu.
3. Click the “Advanced” tab and you should see hub information, which should indicate either high-speed/full-speed.
The only problem is determining which of these hubs maps to a physical hub on the motherboard, which was a guess for me. But you could also look at the “Details” tab, select “Physical Device Object Name”, the value of that should provide the root hub number, which should match the number printed next to the USB connection on the mother board.