Electronic devices tend to include a USB charging cable that’s only a few feet long. These standard cables may not provide enough room to maneuver your mouse or plug in your game controller so it reaches the couch. Perhaps you’re tired of blindly searching for a USB port behind the television or having to crawl under your desk to plug in a device. The best USB extension cable makes these pain points obsolete—when a USB-powered device lacks reach, these cables come to the rescue.
USB devices are awesome for the fact that you can plug and unplug them without needing to turn off the host device. These cables connect all sorts of peripheral devices—such as your keyboard, printer, flash drive, smartphone, and more—to your computer for fast and secure data transfer.
This guide will dive into a variety of factors to consider as you choose the best USB extension cable for your particular needs and then explore a selection of some of the top-rated products on the market today for providing that essential extra reach.
- BEST OVERALL: AINOPE 10FT USB 3.0 Extension Cable
- RUNNER-UP: ITD ITANDA 10FT USB Extension Cable
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Amazon Basics USB 3.0 Extension Cable
- DURABILITY PICK: NIMASO USB 3.0 Extension Cable 2 Pack
- BEST SET: USB 3.0 Extension Cable, Besgoods 4-Pack Colors
What to Consider When Choosing the Best USB Extension Cable
All USB extension cables have their own capabilities. When choosing a USB extension cable to simultaneously charge and use your devices, think about the location of your computer or USB wall outlet so you select a cable with enough reach. To avoid running out of charging ports in your computer, consider a charging station or USB hub to ensure you can use all the devices you need at a given moment.
The best USB extension cable needs to be a suitable length, durable, the right type of connector for your devices, avoid interference or a weak signal, and offer back voltage protection. Read on to learn more about these important considerations when selecting the best USB extension cable for your home or office.
When searching for a USB extension cable, the longest available item isn’t necessarily the right one for you. The longer the cable, the lower the speed and power that goes to the device. The signal strength between the host and peripheral device is more effective with a shorter distance between them. If you only require a 3-foot extension, you’ll receive more power from a 3-foot cable instead of one that’s 10 feet long.
USB standards indicate that extension cables for USB 2.0 can only reliably transfer data approximately 16 feet. For USB extension cables 3.0 and beyond, there isn’t an actual maximum outlined in USB standards; however, the signal starts to degrade after about 10 feet. If a USB cable doesn’t reach far enough, then you’ll need to invest in a longer cable; it’s not recommended to directly connect one cable to another to acquire a longer distance.
When purchasing a new USB extension cable, you expect it to last. Bending tests, interior shielding, a cable jacket, and gold plating all increase the durability of a cable and help it to last a long time.
- Many manufacturers perform bending tests on their cables by repeatedly flexing the cable at the joint to see how it holds up. The higher the bend count, the stronger the cable. Some USB extension cables can withstand over 20,000 bends.
- The interior shielding uses a thin layer of copper or aluminum around the wire to enhance the strength of the cable.
- A cable jacket is the outside of the cable that helps protect the core from mechanical stress and other elements. Thicker PVC jackets or braided nylon jackets may offer more strength and protection of the cable’s core.
- Gold plating on the cable connectors helps resist corrosion because it doesn’t react with oxygen in the atmosphere.
Signal strength may be influenced by the length, type, and quality of a cable. USB standards are quite demanding in terms of signal quality, helping ensure that manufacturers are making extension cables that efficiently and clearly transmit signals between the host and peripheral device. Two features that enhance signal strength are a gold-plated finish and repeaters.
- Gold-plated finish on USB connectors offers reliability and durability. Gold is an excellent conductor, and some experts argue that this feature improves signal quality.
- Repeaters in extra-long cables boost signal transmission. They actively fix and strengthen digital data so it can travel farther distances without interference.
The speed and quality of the data transfer are also limited by the cable. The three most common USB extension cables are USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and USB 3.1.
- USB 2.0 is becoming dated as it’s no longer built into new devices. The data transfer rate on this type of cable is a maximum of 480 Mbps.
- USB 3.0 is found on many modern devices. It transfers data up to 5 Gbps, more than 10 times faster than USB 2.0.
- USB 3.1 is the upgraded version of USB 3.0 with a transfer rate of 10 Gbps. Both USB 3.1 and 3.0 may have backward compatibility with USB devices made before 3.0 was developed.
USB extension cables need to connect to both the host and peripheral devices using USB-A, USB-B, Mini-USB, or USB-C connectors.
- The most commonly used USB connector
- A flat, rectangular interface that holds the connection in place by friction
- Used for the upstream connection toward the host device
- USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 use the standard Type-A connector
- Not as common as other types of USB cables
- Used on some USB peripheral devices
- Squarish shape with slightly beveled corners on the top ends
- Uses friction to hold the connector in place
- Mostly used to connect external hard drives, printers, and similar devices with computers
- A smaller connection for smaller devices with a quadrilateral hub
- Used for connecting mobile devices, including phones, cameras, and portable game consoles
- Can share data in either direction
- Symmetrical design that can be plugged into a USB-C device using either end
- Commonly paired with USB-A and USB-B
- A smaller port commonly used for USB 3.0 and 3.1
- Enhanced power delivery and high-speed data transfers up to 10 Gbps
Connectors on each type of USB may be angled rather than flush with the cable. Angled connectors enable users to connect a USB cable in tight spaces. The head may not come straight out of the top of the wire and instead connects at 90 degrees. Connectors may be up, down, right, or left. It fits into a port with the USB symbol facing up.
Back Voltage Protection
As USB cables can be plugged in or unplugged when a host device is on, the current rushes into the cable right away. Overcurrent protection limits the amount of current that the peripheral device can draw from the host device or hub. USB protocol and other standards require overcurrent protection for USB devices.
Back voltage protection prevents damage to power supplies and electronics if the input and output terminals accidentally receive the wrong power supply connection. As the input voltage is higher than the output voltage, it creates an issue if the cable connects the wrong way. Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is implemented into the design of hosts and devices to ensure that they are not adversely influenced by current spikes that occur when devices are plugged in.
Our Top Picks
Selecting the best USB extension cable requires some thought to choose the right product. Choosing the appropriate length, durability, connection, and other features is important to be satisfied with the purchase. These top picks represent some of the best USB extension cables on the market today in a variety of categories to extend reach for work and play.
“Durable” and “reliable” describe AINOPE’s 10-foot USB 3.0 extension cable. Suited for modern gadgets but backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 standard devices, this cable powers older electronics, too. Expect this extension cable to last a long time with a proven 20,000-plus bend test and a reinforced cable joint. Inside, there are multiple layers of shielding to minimize interference for a clear signal.
Plug this extension cable into the host and peripheral devices with gold-plated connectors for quick and stable data transmission. Surrounding the cable’s all-metal shell is a strong and flexible braided nylon jacket that comes in black, gray, or red. This jacket offers enhanced protection, even if the cable is carelessly tossed into a bag—or it can be neatly organized with the included sticky buckle.
A long cable becomes even better when it’s well made, as is the case with this 10-foot USB extension cable from ITD ITANDA. Surpassing a 10,000-plus bend test and using a reinforced joint, this cable can handle repeated plugging and unplugging of devices. The USB 3.0 connector provides a fast transfer speed of up to 5 Gbps with a clear signal for stable transmission. For older electronics, this extension cable is backward compatible with USB 2.0, 1.1, and 1.0 standard devices.
Cased in an aluminum shell and wrapped in a tangle-free nylon-braided jacket, this gray cable can be thrown into backpacks or drawers without concern. To keep the cable neat and tidy, use the included sticky bundle to wrap it for carrying or storage.
There is no need to pay a lot of money for a high-performing USB extension cable. This 9.8-foot item from Amazon Basics is a simple black extension cable done well. Less expensive than comparable brands, the cable features corrosion-resistant gold-plated connectors, giving users the experience of a clear signal and shielding against noise caused by electromagnetic and radio frequencies. At up to 5 Gbps, it keeps up with the transfer speed of other more expensive cables. The USB 3.0 cable also easily connects with USB 2.0 devices, keeping older electronics from becoming obsolete too early. Though it lacks the nylon jacket of other cables, the thick wire casing stays tough over a long period of use.
Some households put cables through their paces, wearing out joints by continuously plugging and unplugging devices. These NIMASO extension cables offer long-lasting toughness in many of their features. The convenient two-pack includes a 3.3-foot cable and a 6.6-foot cable so users can choose the right length for their space. As for toughness, these cables have surpassed over 20,000 bending and plugging tests, and they feature an enhanced cable joint design to stay strong even with daily use.
Multiple layers of shielding minimize interference, and these layers are covered in aluminum casing and a gray braided-nylon jacket, making the cables durable inside and out. USB 3.0’s fast charge and data syncing also make these cables quick, but they can support Power Delivery fast-charge technology as well if the device adapter supports it. Compatible with all USB-A devices, they are also backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 standard devices.
Many households are home to a collection of gadgets that require a USB charge for the battery or use. Besgoods’ set of four USB 3.0 extension cables keeps devices organized, and each cable is a different color—black, gray, blue, and rose—so every family member can own a unique cable.
These 6-foot extension cables contain nine transfer wires wrapped in tinned copper, maximizing the signal quality and providing error-free transmission. The cable’s quality interior is housed inside a double-braided nylon jacket for protection and longevity. Gold-plated connectors offer maximum conductivity without losing signal quality; they fit snugly and they’re easy to plug and unplug from USB 3.0 and 2.0 devices.
FAQs About USB Extension Cables
Though it seems like a simple purchase, there are details to consider before selecting the best USB extension cable for your needs—and questions to ask before clicking “add to cart.” Read on to discover several of the most frequently asked questions and answers about purchasing a USB extension cable.
Q. What is a USB extension cord?
Sometimes devices need a bit more reach for the best accessibility and use. A USB extension cord provides users with a longer cable to charge or use a variety of electronic devices.
Q. Are all USB extension cables the same?
No. Though many USB 3.0 devices are backward compatible with older cables, this is not a guarantee. Check the connection type of your device before selecting a USB extension cable to ensure it’s compatible.
Q. How long can you run a USB extension cable?
The recommended maximum length for a USB extension cable is approximately 16 feet.
Q. Are upload and download speeds different with a USB 3.0?
Yes. USB 3.0 provides a data transfer speed that’s more than 10 times faster than USB 2.0.