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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best USB 3.0 extension cables

Last Updated May 2019

If you never seem to have a long enough Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable to reach your peripheral devices such as cameras, printers, keyboards and disk drives, don’t overstretch them. You’ll eventually damage the cable or pull it loose from the device.

Instead, use a USB 3.0 extension cable. By connecting this cable to an existing USB cable, you’ll be able to connect two devices easily, you’ll have more flexibility to arrange your devices in the room, and you’ll no longer be handcuffed by the length of the USB cable that shipped with your device.

Development of the original USB standard began in 1994, led by Ajay Bhatt of Intel working with a variety of industry leaders.

Key considerations

One significant consideration with USB 3.0 extension cables is the length of the cable you’re using. If you use a USB cable that’s longer than the recommended length, it may suffer from signal drops or slower-than-expected speeds.

With a regular USB 3.0 extension cable, the recommended maximum length of the cable is roughly 10 feet.

However, you do have some options for using a greater cable length if you need more than 10 feet. Before purchasing a USB 3.0 extension cable that’s longer than 10 feet, ensure it has some of the features we’ve listed here.

  • Combined with Ethernet: Using a cable that carries USB signal over Ethernet will greatly extend the length the signal is able to travel without degradation.

  • Gold Plating: When the male connector contains gold plating, it will provide longer lasting performance and more reliable signal quality over a distance.

  • Power: With certain USB 3.0 extension cables, you’ll have additional electrical power supplied in the cable. Even regular USB cables carry some power, but certain cables offer extra power. This ensures the electrical power carries through the extra length of the cable.

  • Repeater: Use a USB 3.0 cable with a repeater to provide greater signal strength. This maintains the quality of the signal when it travels over longer distances.
     

The most common feature you’ll want is the use of a repeater USB 3.0 extension cable. It’s also called an active USB 3.0 extension cable. The boosted signal allows the longer cable to run at the desired data transmission speed.

The USB Implementers Forum (or USB-IF) is the governing body that oversees development of USB specifications.

Staff
BestReviews

Features

Connectors

A USB 3.0 extension cable always consists of a male connector on one end and a female connector on the other end. This results in a cable that’s different from a typical USB cable design, which will have male connectors on both ends.

By far, the most common style of connector on a USB 3.0 extension cable is the Type A style. This is a rectangular shaped connector. It’s larger than other connectors. Other options are Micro-A, Micro-B, Mini-A, Mini-B, Type B, and Type C. However, these are rarely found in an extender cable.

Some manufacturers create connectors that are oriented at an angle, which are useful when working in really tight spaces. The male end on the connector will bend to the right or left at a 90-degree angle to the cable. This configuration makes it easy to squeeze the USB 3.0 extension cable into an area where a normal connector will not fit.

Female connector size

Pay attention to the size of the female connector in the USB extender. If the size is too large for a tight space, you may not be able to use the cable as you want.

Some female connectors are rectangular in shape and are only slightly larger than the male connector. Others have a large rectangular box or oval shape around the female connector, which gives it a bit of protection. Often, a large protector around the female connector also carries the wiring needed for extra electrical power. However, these larger styles of connector won’t work well in tight spaces.

Back voltage protection

An extender cable with back voltage protection will keep connected devices safe from power surges. Also called over-current protection, this feature in the USB 3.0 extension cable prevents a power surge from traveling through the USB cable and harming the connected device. The feature limits the amount of power the unit can draw from the supplying device through the USB cable to a safe level.

EXPERT TIP

One of the best aspects of the USB technology is that newer versions are backward compatible with older versions. USB 3.0 cables can connect to USB 2.0 devices successfully.


Staff  | BestReviews

Price

The majority of USB extension cables may look identical, but they do have a few differences in design, which also results in varying cost levels.

Inexpensive: For less than $8, you can expect to find an extender cable of 6 feet or less in length. It will not be a braided cable, so it may not stand up to rough environments.

Mid-range: For $8 to $15, you may receive a set of two or three cables of 6 feet or less in length. Additionally, single USB 3.0 extension cables up to 15 feet in length can be found in this price range. You’ll usually find braided cables here, too.

Expensive: For more than $15, expect to find extremely long USB 3.0 extension cables of more than 15 feet in length. Some of these cables will have signal-boosting technology, a power adapter, or back-voltage protection. You could pay as much as $100 for an extremely long cable in the range of 50 feet.

DID YOU KNOW?

Current USB 3.0 devices cannot reach the maximum speed provided for in the specification. This allows future devices to offer faster speeds as technology improves and still fit within USB 3.0.

Tips

  • Think of it like a hub. A repeater extension cable works a lot like a USB hub, which is a device with multiple USB ports in it. The hub passes a signal to the cable or cables connected to it. Think of the extender USB cable working like a single-port hub, as it just has one connection. It simply passes a signal along.

  • Opt for a braided cable. When you need to squeeze cable into a tight installation area, a braided cable sheath provides protection for the wiring. The braided sheath also protects the wiring from nicks.

  • Seek out a flexible extension cable. Rarely will you be using a USB 3.0 extension cable in an area where it will be laid out straight between the two items it’s connecting. More often, the cable will need to wind around objects by curving and bending. Some cables are very stiff, making it difficult to bend them, so try to find a cable with some flexibility to it.

Other products we considered

We’ve collected a variety of USB extension cables in our matrix. These will meet the needs of the majority of people. However, if you’re looking for something a little bit different in your USB 3.0 cable, we did consider a few other products. For those who hate the idea of a lot of tangled cords, keep the USB cable as short as possible. The CableCreation 1-Foot USB 3.0 Extension Cable limits cable clutter in areas where a very short cable is appropriate. In areas where cable clutter is unavoidable, we like the Canjoy 6-Foot USB 3.0 Extension Cable Set of 3. Each cable has a different sheath color, making it easier for you to see the path of each cable in a group of several cables. Where you need an extremely long cable with a standard female connector, the Tanbin 20-Foot USB 3.0 Extension Cable is a nice option. Using USB extender cables in a small amount of space sometimes means a standard connector may not fit properly. The Oxsubor 8-Inch USB 3.0 Extension Cable Set of 2 has one left angle male connector in one cable and one right angle cable male connector in the other cable. This allows them to fit into an awkward, small space.

The first version of USB delivered transfer rates of up to 12Mbps. The USB 3.0 specification offers a transfer rate of up to 5Gbps (or 5,000Mbps).

FAQ

Q. How does USB SuperSpeed compare to USB 3.0?

A. They’re actually referring to the same USB standard. At the time USB 3.0 was introduced, SuperSpeed was used as a marketing name for the technology. However, it didn’t really gain much traction with consumers. You sometimes will see USB 3.0 cables and ports marked with an “SS” to indicate SuperSpeed.

Q. Are upload and download speeds different with USB 3.0?

A. USB is a different technology from your internet connection speeds, where upload and download speeds occur at varying rates. USB 3.0 is a bidirectional data transfer technology. This means it sends and receives data at the same speed in both directions.

Q. Why does my USB 3.0 extension cable not deliver the data speeds I’m expecting?

A. If you’re plugging the USB 3.0 cable into a USB 2.0 port, your speeds will be slower. When connecting USB devices, all of the devices run at the maximum speed that the slowest device can achieve. If you have a USB 2.0 device connected to a USB 3.0 extension cable, the cable can operate only at USB 2.0 speeds.

Q. How do I know if my laptop has any USB 3.0 ports?

A. On computers that have USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, the USB 3.0 port will have a blue-colored edge to the connector inside it. This allows you to easily tell the difference between the ports at a glance. Extension cables made for USB 3.0 also have blue on the inside of the connector.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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