How to Add USB 3.0 to Your PC

Building a computer on a budget can be a great way to save money, but sometimes it means sacrificing certain features like USB 3.0 connectivity. While USB 2.0 is still fast enough for some people, USB 3.0 is a good deal faster and becoming increasingly necessary for external hard drives and other devices. The good news is that you don’t have to buy a new motherboard or computer to enjoy USB 3.0. In fact, you can easily add it to your current computer with a USB 3.0 card.

The first thing you’ll need is a USB 3.0 card like the Amalia PCIe 2. This card has four USB 3.0 ports on the back and an auxiliary port for power, just in case the device you’re plugging in needs extra juice. It can go into any computer with a free PCIe slot, which is just about any computer with a PCIe 16 or 8 lane (or even a 1 lane, depending on the card).

To install the card, simply pop off the side of your computer and locate the PCIe lane at the bottom. Pop the latch off the back and carefully insert the card into the slot, making sure everything lines up. Attach the auxiliary power using a SATA or molex to SATA cable, and plug in an extension cable if you want to be able to reach the USB ports from the front of your computer.

Once the hardware is installed, pop in the driver disc that comes with the card and install the drivers. When you first turn on your computer, it may say that it’s missing the driver for the USB device, but just hit “update driver” and browse your computer for the driver on the disc.

After the drivers are installed, you’re ready to test out your new USB 3.0 ports. Transfer a file from an external hard drive using a USB 2.0 port and note the speed (usually around 30-35 MB/s). Then, transfer the same file using a USB 3.0 port and watch the speed jump to around 75-80 MB/s.

Adding USB 3.0 to your computer is a great way to increase transfer speeds and make your computer more compatible with newer devices. And at around $35-40 for the card and extension cable, it’s an affordable upgrade for anyone on a budget.