USB Splitter vs USB Hub

plugging a USB into a computer

Which is better: a USB splitter or a USB hub? The purpose for which you buy the hub determines which works better. You’ll want to consider how many devices you need to plug in, therefore specifying the number of ports you need, and also think about the layout of your space to decide whether a splitter or a hub is a better product to suit your needs.

The amount of power you need for your devices is another factor, and you will need to consider the safety of your electronics as well. Here’s what you need to know to decide between a USB splitter or a USB hub.

1. Design

Both the USB splitter and the USB hub were manufactured to connect peripherals to a computer. Both increase the number of available USB slots built into a computer and increase the user options as far as adding functioning printers, scanners, cameras, and so on. An USB hub will give you anywhere from two to seven ports to add extra devices to one computer.

At one time, Belkin manufactured a hub that would accommodate up to 16 devices and many manufacturers produce hubs with one upstream port and six downstream. A USB hub plugs into one USB port on your computer. The hub is a small device with female USB ports that usually sits next to your computer on your desk.

However, a USB splitter divides one line into two and is usually used to plug one printer into two computers. Much like a telephone wire splitter, the printer plugs into the splitter and two lines run to separate ports on each computer. Although this can be done by networking, some people prefer the implied stability of a wire.

2. Power

pictures printing off a printer

In addition to function, the other main difference between the two consists of the additional power source available in hubs. One USB port has 0.5 Amps available. A hub without its own power source will divide that 0.5 Amps between all the ports you'll be running. The additional available amperage of a power hub will increase its efficiency and keep your devices operating smoothly. A hub neither has nor needs its own power source.

3. Protection

USB hubs transfer data at the rate of 480 mps. They can be plugged in, battery operated, or unpowered. Some models contain their own surge protection and status monitors. Splitters are nowhere near that complicated, but you can get a power socket splitter that plugs into a car socket that contains a USB port. You can use this source to plug your GPS or laptop into the car battery.

So the function is really what will ultimately determine which device is best for you. Decide what you want to use the USB hub or splitter for and go shopping.