Keyboards have gone through numerous iterations over the years. Most of them have seemingly added to the overall experience of what was once a mere copy of a typewriter’s formatting. With that said though, there are multiple features, such as the requirement of 2 USB ports in a keyboard are rather puzzling.
Keyboards have 2 USB slots to accommodate their need for more energy. One port is used to power the keyboard itself while the other is used for USB passthrough. With it, multiple USB peripherals can be connected to a keyboard.
In this article, we’re going to talk about exactly why keyboards have 2 USBs, what their advantages are and whether you should opt for one that requires 2 USB ports.
What Is USB Passthrough?
USB passthrough refers to daisy-chaining your USB devices together such that one USB device connected to your computer is able to connect multiple (one or more devices) to your computer through that device itself.
This technology was particularly useful when multiple USB devices were constantly being connected and disconnected to a PC. With the introduction of thumb drives, SD card readers, and phones that needed to be connected, USB passthrough helped eliminate the need for always shuffling your PC case to connect to a single cable.
What Devices Can Be Connected With USB Passthrough?
All USB devices that can typically be connected to your computer can also be connected to your keyboard by using passthrough. The port can also be used for charging at USB 2.0 speeds.
Personally speaking, we use USB passthrough to charge phones on our desk or connect USB thumb drives / SD card readers. Besides that, for more permanent placements such as a desktop microphone or a mouse, we prefer connecting directly to the PC.
One interesting use though of USB passthrough is connecting your wireless mouse’s dongle to your keyboard. This allows for lesser chance of latency as the dongle is extremely close to your mouse with it being adjacent to your keyboard.
Why Does My Keyboard Have 2 USB Cables?
If your keyboard has 2 USB cables, it supports USB passthrough. This allows you to connect USB devices directly to your keyboard the same way you would to your PC. One of the ports is used to power your keyboard while the others are solely used for passthrough.
If your keyboard does not have two USB cables, it will not support USB passthrough. In essence, you’ll have to use other USB ports present on your PC to connect to other peripherals.
Do I Need To Connect Both USB Cables If My Keyboard Has Two?
No, you do not need to connect both the USB cables for your keyboard to work. You only need to use both if you require USB passthrough. If you don’t, you can just leave one cable disconnected and your keyboard will work just as fine.
In essence, passthrough is just an additional feature, and the extra USB cable is an extension of it. You don’t need to pay heed to it if you don’t end up using the feature or need to use your keyboard in a jiffy.
Is A Keybaord With USB Passthrough / 2 USB Cables Worth It?
Yes, a keyboard with USB passthrough is worth it if you end up using the port. Otherwise, it does more harm than good as there are a few inherent disadvantages that come with purchasing a keyboard that has 2 USB cables, they are:
- No Detachable Option: Oftentimes, keyboards have detachable cables that allow you to increase their portability. Moreover, that also means that the cable can easily be replaced should something happen to it.
- Harder To Repair: With 2 USB cables, you are less likely to find spare parts, and the cable itself is harder to repair because of the added complexity of having two USB ports rather than just one.
If you are willing to make do with both of these disadvantages in favor of two USB keyboards, then, by all means, go for it!
Best Keyboard With USB Passthrough / 2 USB Cables: Corsair K95 RGB
The Corsair K95 RGB is a well-built, sturdy keyboard that features 2 USB cables for connection and subsequently offers USB passthrough (USB 2.0) as well. While we can’t expect extremely high speeds from the relatively older standard, connecting a mouse or charging a phone shouldn’t be too much trouble.
Besides the two USB cables, the keyboard is quite large in size, features a full-sized layout, and comes in with great software support and per-key RGB illumination. While yes, the keyboard, as compared to newer models like the Huntsman Elite lacks some of the newer flair like optomechanical switches and whatnot.
But, we’ve had great fun with this keyboard and it has remained on our desk for many years now due to its build quality, ease of use, and overall reliability. Yes, it isn’t meant to be carried around. But, for the price – you do get a lot of keyboard!
- Great build quality
- Full-sized layout
- Quite expensive
- Relatively heavy
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I work from home. To do the best possible job I need the right accessories - the right desk, the right chair, the right keyboard, the right monitor, etc. When I work I want to feel comfortable. I review everything that's related to home desk setup - focusing on Monitors & Keyboards.