Does it matter which USB port you use for gaming? Today, I’ll be covering all you need to know about how USB port speeds impact your gaming experience with external storage and input. Let’s not waste any time, and get right into it!
Table of Contents
Does It Matter Which USB Port You Use For Gaming? The Breakdown
Does It Matter Which USB Port You Use For Gaming on External Storage?
With the advent of DirectStorage and games with install sizes of 50-100+ Gigabytes, the need to game on a faster storage device is higher than ever. In a perfect world, you would always play games on an internal NVMe SSD drive for the best performance. Gaming on external storage is generally much slower than NVMe, though, which means that your choice of drive matters before you even start considering the port.
You’ll want an external SSD if you must use external storage for gaming, though external HDDs should be perfectly fine for 2D games as a whole and 3D games under 10 Gigabytes. For the best performance gaming with any external storage device, you’ll want to plug it into the fastest available USB/Thunderbolt ports on your motherboard.
If you aren’t sure what USB ports are the fastest, consult your motherboard manual or analyze their port coloring. Typically, your USB Type-C ports will be the fastest by default (at least USB 3.0 as a rule of thumb).
If your external storage device uses a Type-A instead of Type-C connector, you’ll want to find a brightly-colored USB port. Usually Red or Blue correspond to the fastest USB Type-A ports, but stylistic flair on these can vary.
Does It Matter Which USB Port You Use For Gaming on a Controller?
Your controller should be perfectly fine as long as you’re connected to a USB 2.0 or newer port. Most modern controllers should even have near-identical input latency over Bluetooth, though since the quality of your PC’s onboard Bluetooth radio may vary it can sometimes be best to just plug in your controller, anyway.
Plus, if you prefer to keep the controller synced with a separate console, using a fast USB port is a reliable way to use it with your PC without having to worry about pairing and unpairing it repeatedly.
Does It Matter Which USB Port You Use For Gaming on Mouse and Keyboard?
Usually, it shouldn’t as long as you are using a USB 2.0 port or newer, same as with your controllers. The input latency differences between USB 2.0 and newer versions are incredibly minute and shouldn’t impact your experience in any meaningful way.
However, if you’re using an AMD motherboard, you should be mindful that your input devices are being plugged into your CPU-bound USB ports instead of chipset-bound USB ports. This distinction should be present in your motherboard manual, and will usually be the case for high-current or high-speed USB ports.
As documented in the video above, the input lag of USB ports on AMD motherboards can be pretty inconsistent, to the point that you may have USB 2.0 ports that are faster than 3.0 ports due to the discrepancy mentioned above.
You shouldn’t necessarily need to opt for a PCIe VL805 USB adapter as recommended in that video, though, just make sure you know what your lowest-latency USB ports are if you’re using an AMD motherboard.
Is a USB Hub Good For Gaming?
Last but not least, let’s talk about the greatest USB port of them all: one that you added yourself with the power of a USB hub. Are USB hubs any good for gaming? Can using a USB hub negatively impact your gaming performance?
According to some thorough testing and benchmarking by Battle(non)sense on YouTube embedded above…probably not! Even when file transfer is being done over the same USB hub, the test results show that there is almost no input lag increase from using a USB hub. That should make them a safe choice for gaming.
Does It Matter Which USB Port You Use For Gaming? Conclusion
In conclusion, does it matter which USB port you use for gaming? I’d say yes, especially if you are hoping to minimize your input lag or stabilize power delivery to your external storage or controllers.
Typically, you’ll want to use either your motherboard’s fastest USB ports or a powered USB hub for the best experience.