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Thread: Powered USB 2.0 or 3.0 hub with Ethernet that "just works?"

  1. #1

    Default Powered USB 2.0 or 3.0 hub with Ethernet that "just works?"

    I need a (actually, I need two) 4-port USB hubs that "just work." As Steve Jobs would say it. I've heard choosing one isn't an exact science. What I would like to connect to them? Most of the time one Ethernet port and three SATA drives. Spinning hard drives or SSDs. The USB hub would connect to my computer. My computer is either a PC, a Raspberry Pi, or an Android or iOS device; all of these are computers. Yes, you can connect such fancy hubs to iOS devices as well.

    From what I've gathered I more than likely need a powered USB hub. The FAQ page on USB.org isn't much helpful for lame users like me. With anything. I'm not the expert on topics in electronics like the one I'm asking about. So I'd truly appreciate if you could answer my inquiry in simple terms.

    First question: Does a SATA hard drive consume more power than a SATA SSD connected to a USB port? Does a SATA SSD connected to a USB hub consume more power than a USB flash drive?

    Second question: Do I need this much power a hub like this can provide if I definitely don't want to use the hub to charge USB devices?



    Product page
    .

    AliExpress. It's like 30 bucks. It ain't cheap!

    Or is the power that a regular micro-USB power supply can provide enough for the USB hub of my purposes? Such as the one pictured here:



    That's the backside of a 4-port hub of a much more sleek (and cheap) design the the above one.

    Third question: If it turns out the cheaper, sleeker design that charges via a micro-USB port is sufficient for my purposes I want to know if such a device can take 1A, 2A, or 2.4A power via its micro-USB port. Talking about such powered hubs in general, not necessarily of a specific brand like Orico.

    Fourth question: Even though I stated I want to use the hubs mostly for Ethernet and SATA drives I do not necessarily need USB 3.0 speeds. My Internet isn't that fast and my external SATA drives don't have to be blazing fast either, even if they are SSDs. I just use them as glorified USB flash drives. We are living in such times. So USB hubs being such a hit and miss, it bugs me whether I'm better off with a 4-port USB 2.0 hub or a 4-port USB 3.0 hub if my main aim is that it should "just work?" I assume they use different electronics inside. The USB 2.0 hub may use older, but more reliable (who knows?) technology, why the USB 3.0 hub may use more up to date (improved or more flaky?) technology. I have no idea.



    This hybrid USB 2.0/3.0 hub may use USB 3.0 electronics, but it cheaps out on the actual ports.

    Product page of a 4-port USB 2.0 port.

    AliExpress page.

    Product page of a 4-port USB 2.0 port.

    AliExpress page.

    Fifth question: Is an Ethernet port built into the 4-port USB hub inherently more or less reliable than a combination of a standalone Ethernet to USB adapter connected to a vanilla 4-port USB?

    Ethernet port built into a 4-port USB 3.0 hub:



    Product page
    .

    AliExpress page.

    Coincidentally, the Ethernet port built into the the USB hub replacing one of the USB ports come only in USB 3.0 variants. If you happen to know of a USB 2.0 option worthy of interest of a reputable brand, please let me know!

    If I want to go with a USB 2.0 setup, I'll need a standalone Ethernet to USB adapter, such as this one:



    Product page
    .

    AliExpress page.

    Interestingly, a USB 3.0 hub with built in gigabit Ethernet costs roughly the same as a standalone 2.0 hub plus a standalone 10/100 Ethernet to USB 2.0 adapter. I have no clue which is the more reliable solution, though if I don't need the extra speed.

    I didn't even mention which is usually and inherently a more reliable and mature technology? A 10/100 Ethernet to USB 2.0 or a gigabit Ethernet to USB 3.0 adapter? If I go with the standalone USB 3.0 hub with the standalone gigabit Ethernet to USB 3.0 adapter, this setup costs me roughly twice as any of the above two setups.

    Sixth question: What's a reliable brand to shop for these technologies, if I don't live in an Amazon country? AliExpress is fine, if you know what to look for. I referred to the brand Orico. I have a good experience with their SATA 2.5" enclosures. They are of good build quality and "just work" for me. If you go to the company's home page and scroll to the bottom, you can see they make accessories to big brands. Which is nice. I'm aware that USB hubs and Ethernet to USB adapters are inherently of a more flaky technology.

    This topic is pretty exhaustive, isn't it?
    Last edited by theilluminati; 11-11-2018 at 09:38 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Powered USB 2.0 or 3.0 hub with Ethernet that "just works?"

    Quote Originally Posted by theilluminati View Post
    First question: Does a SATA hard drive consume more power than a SATA SSD connected to a USB port? Does a SATA SSD connected to a USB hub consume more power than a USB flash drive?
    Yes, Hard drives typically consume more power than SSD drives. Unless the SATA drive has an adapter (USB) you cannot directly connect them.
    Second question: Do I need this much power a hub like this can provide if I definitely don't want to use the hub to charge USB devices?
    If you have several hard drives connected at once it is quite possible that ALL of them could be running at the same time. Typically motors in drives consume more power spinning up that maintaining spin. SSD drives should take more power operating than (if they have the mode) standing by. I would consult all the devices/drives that you are hooking up for power requirements, add them together and add 20-25% on top of that total amount of power for a little headroom.
    Third question: If it turns out the cheaper, sleeker design that charges via a micro-USB port is sufficient for my purposes I want to know if such a device can take 1A, 2A, or 2.4A power via its micro-USB port. Talking about such powered hubs in general, not necessarily of a specific brand like Orico.
    Micro USB can handle 2A or so but I would recommend 2.1/2.5 MM DC inputs instead myself it is more robust.
    Fourth question: Even though I stated I want to use the hubs mostly for Ethernet and SATA drives I do not necessarily need USB 3.0 speeds. My Internet isn't that fast and my external SATA drives don't have to be blazing fast either, even if they are SSDs. I just use them as glorified USB flash drives. We are living in such times. So USB hubs being such a hit and miss, it bugs me whether I'm better off with a 4-port USB 2.0 hub or a 4-port USB 3.0 hub if my main aim is that it should "just work?" I assume they use different electronics inside. The USB 2.0 hub may use older, but more reliable (who knows?) technology, why the USB 3.0 hub may use more up to date (improved or more flaky?) technology. I have no idea.
    If the cost is about the same go for USB 3, as if your device that is connected to the hub has a USB 3 port or you can add one it will support a LOT higher data transfer rates than USB 2. I also think USB 3 may handle more current so you may find USB 3 hubs can handle more powerful devices.
    Fifth question: Is an Ethernet port built into the 4-port USB hub inherently more or less reliable than a combination of a standalone Ethernet to USB adapter connected to a vanilla 4-port USB?
    Don't know.... but if a built in Ethernet port fails you could add an adapter. Reliability in cheap electronics is unpredictable these days without people doing tests and then could differ from manufacturer to batches of a "branded" device all over the place.
    Coincidentally, the Ethernet port built into the the USB hub replacing one of the USB ports come only in USB 3.0 variants. If you happen to know of a USB 2.0 option worthy of interest of a reputable brand, please let me know!
    depending on the data speed of your ethernet required you may want to consider the USB 3 option as data is shared and if your ethernet saturates the USB bus other devices will have to either slow down or wait their turn.

    Sixth question: What's a reliable brand to shop for these technologies, if I don't live in an Amazon country? AliExpress is fine, if you know what to look for. I referred to the brand Orico. I have a good experience with their SATA 2.5" enclosures. They are of good build quality and "just work" for me. If you go to the company's home page and scroll to the bottom, you can see they make accessories to big brands. Which is nice. I'm aware that USB hubs and Ethernet to USB adapters are inherently of a more flaky technology.

    This topic is pretty exhaustive, isn't it?
    I don't have an answer to recommend. I've only bought a cheap chinese (Ebay) USB 2.0 4 port hub and only for powering devices (no data). I had to rewire it inside because the wires were so small that it was affecting the output of the LED lights I was powering even though I had a powerful enough supply plugged into it. If you weren't going to try and use these hubs in differing devices but only on a computer I would consider an SATA internal card adapter setup for the drive themselves if they have eSata support.
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