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USB 2.0 vs. USB 1.1

USB 2.0 is a lot faster than USB 1.1 - with a theoretical limit of 480 Mbps it is about 40 times faster than the older, slower 1.1 interface (which maxed out at 12 Mbps).

These days, though, it is pretty rare to find regular USB extension cables that are restricted to USB 1.1 speeds unless you are looking at a super USB extender which boosts the signal over a Cat5e cable (normal networking cable).

A few years ago USB 1.1 extenders were popular because the 2.0 chips were brand new and cost the manufacturers quite a bit more. Over time, though, 2.0 chips have felt downward price pressure to the point where it doesn't make sense to manufacture devices that are restricted to these slower speeds.

If you have an old USB 1.1 extension cable, however, and are considering upgrading to a newer 2.0 cable you should first consider whether it will actually help you out. If you are extending the distance to a USB printer, you probably won't notice a difference with a 1.1 or 2.0 cable (because you generally aren't transferring a ton of data). If you are hooking up an external USB hard drive you will probably be much happier with USB 2.0.

Also, keep in mind that in order to achieve faster USB 2.0 speeds you need to have 3 things:

  1. A USB 2.0 port on your computer.
  2. A USB 2.0 extension cable (if you are using regular device cables or passive extension cables you will be fine).
  3. The device itself must be USB 2.0.

If any of these conditions are not met you will only be able to operate at USB 1.1 speeds (it will be as if everything in your setup is USB 1.1). You can always add a USB 2.0 port to a laptop with a USB PCMCIA card or to a desktop with a USB PCI card.

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