Why Do Keyboards Have 2 USB Ports?

Many of us rely on keyboards to communicate, making them one of the most essential pieces of technology. However, many people take the design for granted. If you’re shopping for a new one, you may have wondered why some come with two USB ports.

From increased productivity to the convenience provided, professionals and hardcore gamers alike will benefit from insights into the design and engineering of them.

Why Does A Keyboard Have 2 USB Ports?

A keyboard with two USB ports.

The second USB port on some keyboards establishes multiple connections to different devices. It makes it possible to connect gaming peripherals, a mouse, a flash drive, or other devices to your computer through it.

While the primary port on a keyboard is often used for connecting it to the computer, the second port may seem like a bonus with little purpose. However, some keyboards’ second USB ports can serve various functions. 

Here is a closer look at some of the most common uses for the second USB port on a keyboard and how USB passthrough can make your computing experience more convenient and efficient:

1. USB Hub

A keyboard’s second USB port can be used as a USB hub, allowing users to connect multiple devices to it.

A USB hub built into the keyboard eliminates the need for a separate hub and allows users to keep all their devices in one convenient location.

Additionally, this feature can be especially useful for users who frequently need to transfer files and data between devices, as it eliminates the need to unplug and replug devices constantly.

2. Gaming Devices

Many gamers connect their gaming peripherals, such as controllers or headsets, to the second USB port.

This allows players to connect more gaming devices to their computers in one convenient location.

This feature can be particularly useful for gamers who play on multiple devices and need to switch between them quickly or frequently.

3. Charging Mobile Devices

The second USB port on a keyboard can also be used to charge mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, or portable battery packs.

This makes it ideal for gaming setups or office use, as the second USB port allows you to keep your device close at hand while still being able to work or play comfortably. With this convenient feature, you’ll always have enough power while remaining productive and entertained.

A keyboard’s second USB port is a highly efficient feature for users who work in environments where outlets are limited and need a way to keep their devices charged.

4. Second Keyboard or Mouse

Users commonly use the second USB port on their keyboard to plug in a mouse. Additionally, some gamers may want a second one set up and ready to go, which the second port makes simple.

This connection type is ideal for those who use a separate keyboard or mouse for work and gaming purposes and require a more comfortable or ergonomic setup for one or the other.

Additionally, this makes it convenient for users who work with a lot of multimedia or gaming and need a specialized keyboard or mouse.

For all users, the second USB port included on some keyboards and its USB passthrough functionality can serve various useful functions.

Whether you need to port to connect a USB hub, gaming devices, charging mobile devices, or connecting an external keyboard or mouse, it provides added convenience and efficiency.

How Does USB Passthrough Work?

USB passthrough is the feature that allows users to connect devices directly to a computer or other electronic device without needing a separate hub.

This is accomplished by including an additional USB port on a peripheral device, such as a keyboard or monitor, specifically designated as a passthrough port.

Many gamers and advanced users cite USB passthrough as an essential feature when reviewing and determining the best keyboards on the market.

When a USB device is connected to the passthrough port, it is connected directly to the computer’s USB controller. This allows the computer to communicate directly with the device and eliminates the need for a separate hub to act as an intermediary.

This can result in faster data transfer speeds and improved device performance.

However, not all USB devices are compatible with passthrough ports, and some devices may require additional software or drivers to be installed before they can be used. Additionally, some devices may not support passthrough functionality at all.

These compatibility issues can be especially true for cell phones which may require more power than can be provided.

Another point of consideration is that not all USB passthrough ports are created equal. 

Some devices may have passthrough ports that are only for charging purposes and not for data transfer.

Therefore, it’s important to check the product’s specifications to confirm that the passthrough port is indeed intended for data transfer and not just for charging.

So, USB passthrough can be a crucially helpful and convenient feature, but before you buy a keyboard or other device with two USB ports, be sure you investigate if it works for your needs.

Do You Need a Keyboard With Two USB Ports?

While having two USB ports can be a convenient feature, it’s not necessary for everyone. So, how do you decide if you need a keyboard that allows for USB passthrough?

Here are some questions to ask yourself when making the decision:

  • How many USB devices do you regularly use?
  • Do you frequently transfer files or data between USB devices?
  • Do you use a separate keyboard or mouse for work or gaming purposes?
  • Do you regularly need to charge mobile devices while using your computer?
  • Do you want to reduce clutter on your desk?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then a keyboard with two USB ports may be a good choice for you.

On the other hand, if you only use one or two USB devices, don’t need to transfer files or data frequently, or don’t need to charge mobile devices while using your keyboard, then one with the standard single USB port may be enough.

Whether or not you need a keyboard with two USB ports depends on your own usage. It’s a convenient feature that can increase productivity, save time and money, and keep your devices organized and accessible.

However, USB passthrough keyboards can be more expensive up-front, so it’s important to evaluate your needs before making a decision.

Troubleshooting Your USB Passthrough Keyboard

If you’re experiencing problems with the USB passthrough feature on your keyboard, there are a few quick steps you can take to troubleshoot and hopefully resolve the issue:

  1. Check the compatibility of your device. Make sure the device you’re trying to connect to the passthrough port is compatible with the USB feature. Some devices may require additional software or drivers to be installed before use or more power than the port can provide.
  2. Check the cable. Ensure the cable you’re using to connect the device to the passthrough port is in good working condition and is securely connected to both the device and the passthrough port. Loose cables and frayed cables will prevent functionality.
  3. Restart the computer. Sometimes, a simple restart of the computer can resolve many problems, including USB passthrough issues.
  4. Update drivers. Make sure that you have the latest drivers installed for the device you are trying to connect to the passthrough port. This includes drivers for the peripherals but also the computer components themselves.
  5. Check the specification of the product. Some devices may have passthrough ports that are only for charging purposes and not for data transfer. Therefore, it’s important to check the product’s specifications to confirm that the passthrough port is indeed intended for data transfer and not just for charging.

If these troubleshooting steps fail to resolve the issue, it may be necessary to contact the manufacturer for further assistance.

The manufacturer should be able to provide further instructions or replace/repair a malfunctioning keyboard.

Tips for Buying the Best Keyboard for Productivity

If you’re looking for a keyboard that can boost your productivity and performance, there are many factors to consider.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before you go shopping for a new one:

Look for a Keyboard With USB Passthrough

As described above, USB passthrough eliminates the need for a separate USB hub while adding convenience.

This can save you both time and money, as you won’t need to purchase or carry additional equipment.

Additionally, USB passthroughs can make it easier to keep your devices organized and accessible, as you can connect your USB devices to one central location.

It’s a convenient feature that can increase productivity, save time and money, and keep your devices organized and accessible.

It’s a feature that is becoming more common on high-end keyboards and is worth checking for when buying a new device.

Consider the Switch Type

The switch type on a keyboard refers to the mechanism underneath the keys that registers a keystroke.

The most popular switch types are membrane, mechanical, and scissor-switch. Each switch type has its own feel and sound, so it’s important to try them out and see which one you prefer. 

Membrane switches are quiet, low-profile, and less expensive, whereas mechanical switches offer tactile feedback and durability but tend to be louder and more expensive. Scissor-switch is similar to membrane switches but is more stable and durable.

Check the Layout and Design

Make sure the keyboard has the layout you need, whether it’s a standard layout, ergonomic, or a more specialized one.

If you’re used to a specific layout or looking for a specific set of keys, ensure the keyboard you’re considering has them. 

It’s also important to check the keyboard design. If done well, the design can help prevent hand and wrist strain, which is especially important for professionals and gamers who use it for long periods.

Pay Attention to the Build Quality

Invest in a keyboard with sturdy construction, which will ensure that your investment will last for a long time.

Look for features such as a metallic plate or reinforced plastic. Additionally, check the keycap material, whether it’s ABS, PBT, or another type, as each will affect the feel and durability of the keys.

Think About Additional Features

Some keyboards have additional features such as backlit keys, multimedia keys, or a built-in touchpad.

Consider which features you will actually use and if they’re worth the extra cost. For example, backlit keys can be useful for typing in low-light conditions, and multimedia keys can be convenient for controlling music or videos.

While keyboards may seem like a simple peripheral to buy, there are a wide variety of options on the market. You need to take into consideration your preferences and habits before making a decision.