USB extension: When are extension cables, USB repeaters and hubs worthwhile?

An USB extension is always helpful when you don't want to have individual devices right next to your Mac or PC. Even if you want to use existing devices in the office, home office or co-working space, but sit too far away, extension cables, USB repeaters or a USB hub are ideal. But when is which solution is worthwhile and which products are recommended? I want to answer exactly these questions in this guide.

usb extension active passive 5 meters 10 m cable hub repeater adviser question answer
Which cables and / or devices should be used for the USB extension? You can find the answers in this guide! Product images: Amazon

The individual USB extensions explained

First of all, the individual options for extending the USB cable should be explained. Perhaps you will then find out whether you would prefer to use a longer USB cable, a repeater or a USB hub. Corresponding recommendations are then listed below.

What is the recommended length for a USB cable?

It's been almost three years since that question last answered on this page has been. Then as now, it is true that passive USB cable maximum 5 meters long should be. With longer cables, the quality of which may not be outstanding, it can lead to very slow transmissions, to interruptions of the same or to data errors.

What is a USB repeater?

As with WLAN, one takes care of it Repeater for amplifying an existing signal. With regard to a USB connection, it is not (necessarily) a stand-alone device. Rather, they are common active USB cablewhich amplify the input signal. This means that distances of more than 5 meters can be bridged. But repeaters are not only worthwhile if you want to use 10 meters of USB cables, they can also ensure faster transmissions and fewer data errors up to 5 meters.

When can you use a USB hub as an extension?

As already mentioned in the post linked above, they are suitable USB hubs as connection points between two USB cables eachwhen it comes to their extension. In general, however, a USB hub is a distributor that ensures, for example, that a keyboard, mouse, one or two devices for charging their batteries, etc. can be connected to a USB port on a Mac or PC. USB hubs serve as connectors between USB cables for distances of up to 30 meters (Which).

When is which solution is worthwhile?

In addition to the possible costs and effort of cabling (for example, bridging 30 meters requires six cables of 5 meters each and five USB hubs), you should also take a look at the connected device. If you just want to connect a printer, it doesn't have to be the most expensive solution. Even with temporary problems, simple cables and hubs may be sufficient.

But if you want to find a long-term solution and / or connect more complex devices and systems, then you should not only use simple and inexpensive cables and hubs. Instead, active USB cables, i.e. USB repeaters, are more suitable. Especially when you feed a NAS or another RAID system with data you shouldn't skimp on the quality of the data transmission!

Recommendations for USB extension cables, repeaters and hubs

In order not to drag out this guide unnecessarily, I would like to present the products to be recommended in the form of a list. If you are missing important information, you can click the corresponding link to access further information on the product page:

USB extension cable recommendations

USB Repeater Recommendations

  • 5 meter USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 repeater with socket and plug as a USB extension: view here
  • 10 meter USB 2.0 repeater with socket and plug as a USB extension: Details here
  • 5 meter / 10 meter USB 3.0 repeater with double amplifier (rated very well by users with external storage systems): Details and product versions

USB 3 hubs recommendations

Recommendations for special cases: USB extension by 20 m, 30 m and up to 60 m

  • 20 meter active USB 2.0 cable or USB repeater from DeLock: view here
  • 30 meter active USB 2.0 extension (with 2 repeaters in the running cable) from DeLock: Details here
  • USB socket and plug with Ethernet or network cable adapter for the USB extension up to 60 meters Is there ... here - the appropriate CAT6 network cable (up to 50 meters) you can find here

Conclusion on the subject of USB extension

There are different approaches to bridging longer distances between computer and USB device or hub and device. Not only the costs, but also the duration of the solution and the quality of the data transmission must be taken into account when making a decision. If you have any questions on the topic, please use the comment function!

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15 comments on "USB extension: When are extension cables, USB repeaters and hubs worthwhile?"

  1. You can also first go from PC to USB socket, then 10m flush-mounted to USB socket. Then a USB amplifier in a can, and an active USB hub on it - then the devices on it? So after all the way? Is there a USB repeater coupler?

    1. Hello Julia! I think that's too much, because the distance from PC to socket and from socket to hub is also added. The only amplifier that can do 10 meters (and only 10 meters reliably!) Is this cable with built-in repeater (and USB 3.0 support). You can of course first try without the USB sockets to see whether you can still get reliable data transfer and good speed with them and two other extensions (which represent the path to the socket and from the socket to the hub). But I have concerns ...
      Alternatively, if you can live with USB 2.0 (which is easily enough for printers and the like), then I would this DeLock cable with 30 meters and built-in repeaters take a look. If you attach external hard drives, USB 2 is of course not particularly fast, but if you have the time, you can also rock data through. ;-)

  2. a heartfelt thank you! USB 2.0 is enough for me. However, I cannot conceal the cable with the thickening. If so then I would have to have an amplifier (coupling) after the can. So without cables. I would then put an active HUB in there. There then mouse, keyboard, gamepads. Is there such a thing? Or does an amplifier bring something before the 1st can? Should also have the shortest possible cable (or coupler without cable) -> from PC to socket.

    1. Hello Julia! So you won't be able to do the 10 meters flush-mounted. This is only possible with these converters, which then transport the USB signal via a network cable and then convert it again. That might be the best solution and I'm sure you can then use a 1-2 meter normal USB cable from and to the socket without amplifying anything again. For mouse and keyboard, latency is probably more important than data transfer speed. If the signal is “on the move” for too long, you will feel like your mouse pointer is constantly lagging behind. But I can't say whether that's the case. I have never tried this USB 2 to network converter. :-) But a stupid question: Then your computer is 10 meters away from the mouse? What do you need it for?! :D

  3. Hello o0Julia0,

    There are much better options for such a project. One of them would be a Steam Link. Perhaps you should find out more about how your project can still be implemented.

    Connecting the mouse and keyboard via a 15 m USB cable only sounds moderately useful. A stable wireless solution (high-quality wireless mouse & keyboard combination) could also work.

    1. Thank you for your suggestions. But I had to change your name to “Unknown” because “Apfelot” is already protected here. ;)

  4. Hello! Do you have a recommendation for a hub for a Macbook with Thunderbolt 3? There are so many, I don't really see through them. Above all, I need an interface for several USBs and 1 HDMI.

    1. Hello Dilan! I would you this one from Aukey recommend. It has a good HDMI output and - above all - four USB 3.0 ports. Most other USB-C or Thunderbolt hubs only have two USB outputs, which I find not enough. And it has an entrance for loading the MacBook - also important. I think the hub should meet your needs. LG! Jens

  5. Hallo,

    Do you have experience, what is the maximum data rate that is possible with the 20 / 30m cables from DeLock? I would need 6Mbit / s, basically within the scope of USB2.0 easy to handle right?


    1. Hi Michael! I would assume so. The maximum speed according to the specification for USB 2.0 is 480 Mbit/s. In practice, mostly only 300 Mbit/s come out. With some 20 meter repeater cables I have read that only 1/4 of the “normal” speed can be achieved. That would still be 75 Mbit/s. Even if you then subtracted a percentage for the 10 more meters that the 30 meter cable has, 6 Mbit/s would still be easily achievable.

      If you can work with USB 3 AND get by with 20 meters, this would also be 20m repeater cable from ROLINE a possibility. Since it is USB 3.0 compatible, you start to expect a higher transfer rate and then you always get your desired value.

      I hope the execution helps you! Unfortunately, I cannot show any empirical values ​​directly.

      1. Good evening,
        To connect a USB 3.0 audio interface to a PC in the next room, I need a gross 15m long USB 3 cable connection with high transmission speed.

        Since the interface has its own power supply via a power pack, the USB connection only has to transfer data.

        A USB-A plug is required on the computer side and a USB-B plug on the interface. A combination of a USB extension with a short connection cable on the computer and on the interface may also be considered, provided that the additional contact resistances do not pose a problem.

        Since uncompressed live recordings of 8 audio sources each with 44.1kHz / 24 bit (mono) with simultaneous playback of a stereo signal are to be transmitted bidirectionally via the cable, two questions arise:

        1.) Can the full transfer rate of USB3.0 also be achieved with the required overall cable length?

        2. How can the additional latencies presumably resulting from the active amplification be limited to less than 1ms?

        Unfortunately, I did not find any information on the subject of latencies on the Internet or on the websites of the relevant cable manufacturers.

        Thank you in advance for good information or product recommendations.

        Sincerely yours,
        Dennis Kramer

        1. Hello Dennis! I just researched again. USB 2.0 can run with 5m cable length. With USB 3.2 Gen 1 it is 3m and with Gen 2 only 1 m. So the 15 meters are utopian. Unfortunately, I cannot say what latency an “active” cable has. This is a special case where I cannot provide any empirical values. Maybe you ask the question times in an explicit audio forum? The right specialists would have to be there. Or ask at Thomann. They may have a technical solution to your problem.

          1. Hi Jens,
            thanks for the quick reply.

            In view of the previous answer in the thread, there is talk of a USB3-compatible 20m repeater cable, but I am amazed that 3m should now be the end.

            Are we maybe talking past each other?


          2. Hello Dennis! A pure USB 3 cable without a repeater has its limit at 3m, but if you use a repeater you can also reach 20m. That's not a problem if, for example, I'm copying a file to a hard drive 20m away, because no matter what the latency and transmission speed is: at some point it will be over there. But with your planned setup with 8 audio sources and uncompressed audio, we are talking about enormous amounts of data that should also be transmitted with as little latency as possible. That's a whole different story.

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