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Comparing a USB Switch vs Hub – Specs and Differences

Comparing a USB Switch vs Hub – Specs and Differences

In this post, we are comparing a USB Switch vs Hub to objectively understand their differences in terms of specs and functionality.

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The availability of a wide range of modern connected devices has increased the work efficiency of professionals. But it is still challenging to switch between multiple devices.

Also Read: What is USB4?

All of them have unique native input systems. If there are one or two connected peripherals, it becomes frustrating to use them on each device. The best solution is to use a USB 3.0 switch.

With the help of a Universal Serial Bus (USB) switch, two or more computers can share USB peripherals such as cameras, printers, and scanners. The USB switch removes the dependency to unplug the USB peripheral component from a PC to plug it into other.

Related: Is Thunderbolt 3 Backwards Compatible with Thunderbolt 1 and 2

As an alternative, the shared component itself connects to the USB switch device, which is ultimately connected to multiple computers. By simply pressing the button over the USB device, the peripheral is immediately accessible to serve any PC being attached to it.


Multiple models of USB switches are available. Specific models are designed for two computers for sharing a single device. The same can be helpful for a home user who wants to share a USB-enabled scanner, printer, digital camera, or memory card reader, for example, between a laptop and a desktop.

Some other models permit incoming connectors or ports for up to four computers and an output USB port for a single device. Still, many different models permit up to four computers for sharing up to four USB-enabled devices.

In the absence of a USB switch, PCs should be networked if you want to share devices. Although networks are helpful for several purposes, everybody doesn’t need a network.

Furthermore, even with a network, a USB switch can prove helpful. For instance, let’s suppose that you own a home desktop computer connected to a laptop and your desktop connected to a memory card reader.

Now let’s also assume that you need to use your card reader for downloading images into your laptop. Except you leave your desktop powered up and running, you would be compelled to either boot up the desktop to receive access to the card reader and the network, or you would require unplugging the card reader, and then you have to plug it into the laptop.

With the help of a USB switch, you neither have to power up the network nor shift the device’s interface or plug. With the required card reader connected to a controller, you will connect your laptop to the input port on the switch and then use the memory card reader.

A user may require the opposite of what a USB switch offers in some instances. One may need multiple USB ports for a single PC, and a USB hub fulfills this purpose. This device plugs into a USB port which allows several input USB connections.

It is important to note that the built-in USB ports are powered; however, typical hubs are not. Specific devices like rechargeable MP3 players and digital cameras need a powered USB port to work.

If you need powered USB ports, you should look for a powered USB hub equipped with its own power adapter which plugs into the wall. Such hubs are slightly costlier than non-powered hubs.

Plenty of wireless mice and keyboards provide 2.4 GHz wireless and Bluetooth connections to support two devices simultaneously. However, those do have some limitations. The topmost USB switches could simultaneously support four connected USB peripherals and four discrete devices.

This allows you to stay connected to multiple devices or PCs simultaneously. As a result, it is easier than before to switch between them, irrespective of your task.

Explaining USB Switch in detail:

A USB 3.0 switch is identical to a docking station. It is a tiny hub featuring plenty of USB ports for connecting various devices. You can find a USB 3.0 switch hub with four USB-A ports and a USB-C adapter; you can buy more USB-C connections. You can also get four USB Micro-B connectors that connect up to four various devices.

Buttons available on the top help you choose which device you are connected to at a particular time. All the connected USB devices would interact with that system whenever triggered.

Some models come with a bundled remote control useful for wireless switching. With the help of the USB switch selector, it is possible to shift all those connected peripherals to that device.

A USB switch can behave like a keyboard or mouse switcher by allowing you to stay at the precisely connected peripherals but directly move to another device.

Moreover, the USB 3.0 connection assures 5 Gbps of peak bandwidth. This bandwidth is more than sufficient for most peripherals, except you are doing substantial file transfers.

Specific USB hubs are powered through the USB interface. However, an optional external power plug is available for heavy-duty USB peripherals such as hard drives. You can buy an on/off switch for power cycling.

USB Switches are beneficial for Work and Play:

One of the superb ways to obtain the advantages of a USB Switch is when you use a home office with two distinct devices or PCs –one to use for work and another for home use or gaming. Flexible workspace is in huge demand due to increased work from home job profiles.

Usually, this will demand one of the two things -either you own a pair of peripherals that you would use separately for these two systems, or you need to frequently unplug and replug your favorite peripherals into whatever device you are using.

But if you have a USB switch, none of these is necessary. It is possible to use one set of peripherals on both systems. You can get a 4-port USB Switch; you can connect a laptop or tablet as well.

This is very beneficial for using bigger peripherals like gaming mice and mechanical keyboards on compact devices, specifically modern laptops and tablets with minimal ports.

It is also allowed to connect a more considerable array of USB office devices like printers and scanners to a USB switch box. This makes sure they do not need to be physically close to your central system(s). By pressing a button on the remote, you can switch to some other device, do it again, and print on the printer.

The four USB ports let you connect a maximum of four USB devices to a broad range of systems from one central location. This reduces cable clutter and ultimately presents a neat look to your workspace.

Furthermore, it explores a wide range of choices for device placement. So, the office efficiency is improved.

USB Switches are useful to Streamers:


USB switch selectors are useful for work and gaming. They can also help enhance the work and play experiences. One group that can immensely benefit from using a USB switch is game streamers.

Streaming involves two tasks: producing and entertaining. It requires game playing and conversing with your audience while editing and transcoding. It is helpful whether it’s recorded or live and produced later on. For that, many streamers implement additional systems such as laptops or tablets to deal with their fan chat.

Using the same mouse and keyboard to glance through that at the click of a button is more suitable than having extra peripherals set up in their own space simply for performing that function.

Many streamers also use a secondary PC for transcoding the gameplay and recorded webcam footage. Usually, this will need its peripherals; however, this is not the case with a USB switch.

You can alter your monitor video source simultaneously, and you can conveniently operate two PCs simultaneously from that same set of peripherals. So, it immensely streamlines the streaming and editing tasks.

USB Switch vs Hub:

USB switch

USB hub

It allows two or more computers to share USB peripherals such as cameras, printers, and scanners.A single computer can access multiple devices with a USB hub without requiring you to plug and unplug. It makes your work quick and uninterrupted.
A USB switch is a 1:N or N:1 device that establishes a selective connection between its Common port and a selected channel.

Consequently, it creates a direct and dedicated connection to the particular device chosen from that Common port.

All the multiple devices connected to the switch can be accessed one at a time only. However, the actively selected device attains the full bandwidth of the host to which it is connected.

A USB hub is a 1:N device that accepts an upstream-facing USB connection and subsequently shares it simultaneously with multiple (N) downstream devices.
It is best to use a USB switch when you intend to establish a dedicated and direct connection to a device. For example, it can be used when you want to move a cable from one device to another.It is best to use a USB hub when you want to access multiple connected devices simultaneously.
The multiple devices connected to the switch can only be accessed one at a time. However, the actively selected device attains the full bandwidth of the host to which it is connected.All the multiple devices connected to the hub are available concurrently but will jointly share the bandwidth of the solitary upstream connection.
USB switches are easier to use than USB hubs from a data handling viewpoint.USB hubs are more complex to use than USB switches from a data handling viewpoint.

The reason is a USB hub should recognize multiple devices simultaneously. It should retain context for data transfers to and from each device.

The internal hardware of a USB switch is usually protocol agnostic and is independent of downstream-facing or upstream-facing protocols on either side. Therefore, USB switches are bi-directional.In a USB hub, the internal hardware usually needs only upstream-facing protocols available on one side and downstream-facing protocols on another side. The same is also depicted by the fixed types of external USB connectors over the hub.
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