With USB 3.0 becoming more prevalent with each passing year now, you may have found yourself wondering why modern computers still have USB 2.0 ports built into them. With that in mind, today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answers to a curious reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Brettetete wants to know why modern computer cases still have USB 2.0 ports:

I am currently planning out the setup for a new computer. As I was browsing through computer cases online, I realized that modern computer cases always seem to have USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports built into the front panel.

Is there a legitimate reason to have or use USB 2.0 ports on modern computer cases? As far as I know, USB 3.0 has backward compatibility. This screenshot is a perfect example of a computer case with both types of USB ports built into it (from YouTube):

Why do modern computer cases still have USB 2.0 ports?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors Kamen Minkov, Patrick Bell, and “the original mike western” have the answer for us. First up, Kamen Minkov:

USB 3.0 does have backwards compatibility, but if you happen to buy a motherboard that does not have a USB 3.0 header connection, you are left without any front panel USB ports at all. That is one possible explanation.

Followed by the answer from Patrick Bell:

Nobody has mentioned this yet, but USB 3.0 ports can cause issues with certain installation media (like Windows 7, for example) where only USB 2.0 drivers are provided on the installation media.

And our final answer from “the original mike western”:

USB 2.0 ports are handy for keyboards, mouse controllers, and other non-drive uses. Because these devices do not need the speedy throughput, a keyboard or mouse connected to a USB 3.0 port would be a waste of the resource.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Image Credit: be quiet! Silent Base 600 Case Review (YouTube)

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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