Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

Alienware 17 R3

It's NEVER worked very well, so it just didn't get used.  Unfortunately, I'm having to actually plug in devices like a wireless mouse and/or a USB SSD or HD now.  Performance is abysmal.  Lag time on the mouse makes it unusable.  Copying to or from the HD is INCREDIBLY slow, or usually just never completes.  Just sits there forever. 

THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN WITH EITHER DEVICE PLUGGED INTO A STANDARD USB3 PORT. 

With NOTHING else plugged into the USB-C hub the wireless trackball has multiple second latency.  Tried a second hub.  Same thing.  Tried a different wireless trackball.  Same thing.  Distance from the receiver to the mouse is only about 2 feet.

AGAIN, THIS DOES NOT HAPPEN WHEN PLUGGED INTO A STANDARD USB3 PORT.

Same thing with a USB SDD or HD plugged into the USB-C hub.  They're FINE on a USB3 port and unusable on the USB-C hub.

NO GAMING.  NO HEAVY AUDIO.  NO NOTHING UNUSUAL...

I've seen a couple topics about the USB-C hub, but haven't found anything telling me HOW to make this thing perform adequately.  So is this thing just junk or is there something REASONABLE (replacing the hub with X model Y hub may be reasonable, replacing the laptop is NOT) that'll make this hub usable?

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12 Replies

Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

So is NOBODY else having problems with this thing?

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jphughan
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Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

First, 24 hours is a bit early to conclude that nobody is having your issue or has any suggestions just because nobody has responded yet.  More importantly, it help if you would actually identify the specific USB-C hub model(s) you're testing with, and also indicate whether you've verified expected performance when you connect it/them to another PC with a USB-C port if you have one available to test -- and/or do you perhaps have a simple USB-C to USB-A adapter dongle to test these devices with?

Wireless mouse receivers can sometimes be problematic when connected to ports that support USB 3.0 speeds because they often use the 2.4 GHz frequency, which interferes with USB 3.0 -- although admittedly that doesn't account for why the receiver works fine in a "standard" USB 3.0 port and not USB-C.  I suppose a different USB chipset in the system vs the hub could account for this.  If keeping a USB receiver connected directly to the system isn't an option and you can't find a hub that works better in this regard, what about a Bluetooth mouse so you don't need a receiver anymore at all?

As for the SSD and hard drive, is the hub you're using powered, i.e. does it have a separate power adapter connected to a wall outlet?  If not, then the power the hub is pulling from the system to power itself might be causing less power to be available to the SSD/HD attached to the hub, in which case those devices might be falling back to USB 2.0 speeds, whereas when you connect the SSD/HD directly, they get the full 4.5W power budget of that port available to them.  Some drives require that much power to operate at full performance and therefore won't tolerate an unpowered hub being placed in the chain, although a powered hub is fine because it can draw from the wall outlet to supply full power to all attached devices.  Certain unpowered USB-C hubs like the Dell DA300 support using the USB Power Delivery protocol to pull more wattage from USB-C ports than the standard levels (15W rather than 4.5W) and can therefore provide the full 4.5W to USB devices attached to them, but even that only works when you're using that type of hub with a system that can provide 15W out of its USB-C port.

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Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

Sorry, I'm probably too used to forums that are more active, so 24 hours seems a long time.

The current hubs (I have 2) have no manufacturer.  They were bought shortly after getting the 17R3, from Amazon, as there were very few available at that time.  They're basic, 4 port, USB3-A hubs.  No external power.

No, I haven't tried either on any other computer - I've only got 1 laptop with a USB-C, and try to ignore it as much as possible, putting only flash drives, card readers and wireless mouse/keyboard receivers in it.  And even THEN, it works VERY poorly/not at all for the mouse receiver, so that has to take up one of the only 3 USB-A ports. 

Unfortunately, when traveling, digital images, not including the Lightroom catalog (that lives on the SSD in the laptop along with the O/S), have to go on a 3.5", 7200 rpm, 8GB, externally powered, plugged into one of the remaining 2 USB-A ports.  It doesn't work at ALL plugged into the hub, which ISN'T powering the hard drive, just shoving data back and forth. 

In addition to existing, catalogued images this drive is also the BACKUP for all incoming images, with primary storage on a 250GB, USB-powered SSD or USB-powered 1TB SSHD. NEITHER of these will work plugged into the USB-C, and when plugged into a USB-A port and transferring between USB drives, the wireless OR WIRED mouse plugged into a USB-A port becomes inoperative.

SO, all 3 USB-A ports are in use, and I'd LIKE to offload some of this load to the USB-C.  My hub doesn't have an A/C adapter, and the power socket on it doesn't appear to match anything I have.

SO, presuming the USB-C needs additional power, I'll have to get a different hub and an adapter.  I was thinking if USB-C is significantly superior to USB-A (which it must be since I see hubs that'll take 4 USB-A devices AND drive 4K video concurrently), I should get EITHER

  •  A USB-C hub with external power and a passthrough USB-C port and a USB-C HDD carrier for the 8TB hard drive to plug into the passthrough,
  • A USB-C HDD carrier with a USB-C passthrough and a USB-C hub with external power.

Which of these options would work best?

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jphughan
Diamond

Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

Trying to use USB-powered HDDs and SSDs through a hub that is itself only drawing power from the system's USB port is definitely responsible for your issue.  Most unpowered hubs come with warnings against attaching those types of devices to them, and that could also explain why other devices attached to the same hub won't work when a power-hungry device is attached.  As for USB-C, it's not that USB-C needs additional power.  USB-C actually can provide additional power, but only if the device/hub asks for it.  But if not, then USB-C will only supply USB-A levels of power, and since the hub will need some of that to run itself, there won't be as much left for whatever you attach to the hub.

In terms of options, I've provided two below for you to consider.  Each would solve the issue, just with different costs and results in terms of what laptop port gets used and what port(s) you gain, so you can choose whichever makes the most sense for you:

- Anker makes a slim 4-port USB 3.0 hub that can operate unpowered or powered, which is somewhat uncommon and very handy since it can be useful even away from a wall outlet when used with low-draw devices, and then work at full capacity when you have power available.  Even better, the power cable and source is just a micro USB cable plugged into a USB wall charger capable of supplying 5V/2A, both of which are commonly available products rather than something proprietary -- in fact you could even plug this into a USB battery pack if it supplied 2A so you'd have a powered hub even with no wall outlet available.  If you already have that cable and a suitable charger/power source, this is the hub on its own, or you can buy this to get the hub with a suitable wall charger.  If you've never heard of Anker, they have a great reputation for consistently high quality products.  I'm particularly a fan of their USB battery packs and cables, but they're also known for hubs.  Unfortunately they don't have a version of this that connects to USB-C, but it doesn't sound like you specifically need to connect to the host system via USB-C anyway since you don't have USB-C peripherals -- or do you?

- If you need/want something that connects to USB-C, then look at the Dell DA300.  It offers video output, a single USB-A port, and a single USB-C port if you have USB-C peripherals or want to plan for the future.  It does not do USB-C power passthrough to the host system as some USB-C hubs can do, but your system doesn't charge itself over USB-C anyway, so that doesn't matter.  However, unlike most hubs, it is capable of drawing up to 15W from the host system rather than the typical 4.5W (and I believe your system will provide that over USB-C), which means that when connected to such a system, it can still offer full-power 4.5W USB ports to attached peripherals even without external power.  I have personally used two USB-powered Western Digital 4TB hard drives both connected to the DA300 simultaneously, and it worked fine (one of them was connected through a USB-C to USB-A adapter dongle).  The DA300 is also unusual in that it can support up to 4K at 60 Hz when connected to a system that supports DisplayPort 1.3.  Yours doesn't, in fact I don't think any system on the market yet supports anything beyond DisplayPort 1.2, but again it's nice futureproofing.  Most hub/mini-docks like this can only do 4K at 30 Hz because they only support DisplayPort 1.2, even if the system were to support a newer spec.  The DA300 will work fine with such systems as well of course, just with the same 4K 30 Hz limitation in that situation.

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jphughan
Diamond

Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

In addition to the above, I wanted to suggest two other things:

- If it wasn't obvious, you could of course buy TWO of those slim 4-port hubs and then a multi-port USB wall charger or battery pack to power both from a single source.  That would give you 8 powered USB-A ports while having used two on your system.  I have this 4-port wall charger that I keep in my living room when I'm home and take with me when I travel, and I also have this dual port battery pack, which can itself be charged from a micro USB cable connected to any 5V/2A USB power source, like the wall charger I just linked.  Both of these products are capable of 5V/2A output out of all ports simultaneously. (Note: As of this writing, that battery pack is listed as only available from other sellers, but that seller is AnkerDirect, which is the manufacturer, so just click through to that and you'll be fine.)

- If you want to use that USB-C port with minimal hassle and cost, you could also just get a simple USB-C to USB-A dongle like this one.  True, you only get one port, but it's a lot less expensive than a hub, and it also just turns the USB-C port into a USB-A port without any intermediate hub device reducing available power for the device you actually want to use.

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jphughan
Diamond

Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

Ok, one final note.  With respect to that slim hub, just in case this is relevant to you, the fact that it is powered does not mean it can handle having maximum-draw USB devices connected to all of its ports simultaneously.  It is powered by a 5V/2A source, which provides 10W.  A full-power USB 3.0 device draws 4.5W (5V/900mA), so obviously you couldn't connect 4 of those at the same time.  Even two of them would be dicey if they really needed that much power all the time.  Of course if you had two hubs, you could connect one full-power device to each one and you'd still be fine as long as your power source could supply 5V/2A to each hub simultaneously.  This incidentally is not an uncommon limitation for hubs.  If you do the math on most USB hubs you find on the market, especially the powered desktop hubs with 7+ ports, you'll find that the power adapter they come with doesn't have enough wattage to provide full power to all ports simultaneously, but that's fine because that scenario almost never occurs in the real world.  Typically you have at least some devices that draw less or even zero power from the USB port.  For example, I have a 14-port USB hub that has 13 regular ports and a charging port that can deliver 10.5W.  That would require 69W in a full utilization scenario, but the hub's power adapter is only 60W, and of course some of that capacity is being used to power the electronics in the hub itself.  But I've never needed to run 13 USB-powered hard drives and charge an iPad all at the same time.

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Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

jphughan, thanks for the replies...

I THINK I may not understand what a Thunderbolt/USB-C port is actually supposed to be able to do...  I THOUGHT the port was supposed to be capable of providing something like 100W to the hub/devices.  But, even if the port can only provide 15W, why is whatever hub is connected to the USB-C port not using that 15W for USB-powered HD and SSD devices? 

The Anker hub you pointed to appears to be just another plug into a USB3 port hub.  Am I missing something and it actually plugs into the USB-C port?  My goal is to take advantage of the supposedly massive capability of the Thunderbolt/USB-C port to put at least 2 storage devices on the hub - 1 external 3.5", 7200 rpm, externally powered one, and at LEAST ONE USB powered HDD or SSD.  Which I THOUGHT was supposed to work on Thunderbolt/USB-C.  So, even externally powered, am I still going to be limited to ONE USB-powered device?

So far, all the USB-C hubs I've looked at (I haven't been through all 20+ pages on Amazon), including the 2 I already have, have some sort of round socket with a center pin (if they have anything at ALL for plugging in an external power source), that takes a different cable than any I've seen.  In one case, the hub has a round socket with a center pin and appears to say "12V"...  The hubs I have say NOTHING where the socket is, so I have no idea if they want 5v or 12v.

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jphughan
Diamond

Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C


@gracieallen2 wrote:

jphughan, thanks for the replies...

I THINK I may not understand what a Thunderbolt/USB-C port is actually supposed to be able to do...  I THOUGHT the port was supposed to be capable of providing something like 100W to the hub/devices.  But, even if the port can only provide 15W, why is whatever hub is connected to the USB-C port not using that 15W for USB-powered HD and SSD devices? 

The Anker hub you pointed to appears to be just another plug into a USB3 port hub.  Am I missing something and it actually plugs into the USB-C port?  My goal is to take advantage of the supposedly massive capability of the Thunderbolt/USB-C port to put at least 2 storage devices on the hub - 1 external 3.5", 7200 rpm, externally powered one, and at LEAST ONE USB powered HDD or SSD.  Which I THOUGHT was supposed to work on Thunderbolt/USB-C.  So, even externally powered, am I still going to be limited to ONE USB-powered device?

So far, all the USB-C hubs I've looked at (I haven't been through all 20+ pages on Amazon), including the 2 I already have, have some sort of round socket with a center pin (if they have anything at ALL for plugging in an external power source), that takes a different cable than any I've seen.  In one case, the hub has a round socket with a center pin and appears to say "12V"...  The hubs I have say NOTHING where the socket is, so I have no idea if they want 5v or 12v.


Ok yes, there's some misunderstanding about port capabilities and operation here, which is undoubtedly contributing to the confusion.  And that's perfectly understandable because USB-C/TB3 are extremely capable, but that causes things to get complicated and therefore confusing.

The 100W expectation you're referring to is part of a new spec called USB Power Delivery, which is supported on USB-C and TB3 ports.  First off, before USB-PD existed, USB ports that also carried data (as opposed to dedicated charging ports) would only provide power at 5V and anywhere from 500-1600mA (ignoring unpowered hub scenarios), resulting in power from 2.5-8W.  The standard for a USB 3.0 powered port was 900 mA, although some provided more power than that to charge smartphones and such more quickly.  Additionally, that power could only flow from the host to the attached device, never in the other direction.  The USB-PD spec allows power to flow in either direction, thereby allowing a dock or display attached via USB-C/TB3 to charge a laptop, for example.  It also allows up to 100W because it defines power delivery standards up to 20V at 5A.  However:

- In order to support these higher power delivery levels, both devices in the connection must support the USB-PD spec because that higher power level has to be negotiated for safety reasons rather than just provided. Your hub probably doesn't support USB-PD, in which case it's only getting regular USB power levels from the system and therefore only has that much power to split between itself and whatever else you attach.  Not all devices that have a USB-C connector support USB-PD, which includes some laptops that have USB-C connectors, because USB-PD support is not mandatory for devices that have USB-C ports.

- The USB-PD spec defines levels up to 100W, but even among devices that support USB-PD, not all of them support the highest power levels.  In fact, passing anything above 60W requires special USB-C/TB3 cables that are specifically rated to carry 5A / 100W rather than 3A / 60W.

- Even among devices that support USB-PD and higher power levels, often they'll only support that much power in one direction. The higher ends of the USB-PD spec were meant to allow laptops to charge from a dock or display that offered that much power (by virtue of being connected to a relatively high-capacity AC adapter), not to allow laptops to run very high-power devices.  Think about it: If your system is designed to be able to run on a 60W power source and can therefore work at full capacity while connected to a USB-C source that provides 60W, then it wouldn't also be possible for that laptop to provide 60W to an attached device at other times, because if the system is designed to operate on no more than 60W, then powering a 60W peripheral wouldn't leave any power left to run the rest of the system.

So where does this all leave you?  First, even systems that support USB Power Delivery and accept high-power charging through USB-C (yours probably doesn't since your system requires even more than 100W anyway) will typically only provide 7.5 or 15 W, again because that has to fit within the overall power budget of the system.  But even when that's available, if you use a hub, it has to actually support USB Power Delivery to tap into that capability, otherwise that USB-C port will only provide the same power levels that a regular USB-A port would.  The Dell DA300 adapter I mentioned does support USB-PD, which is why it can turn around and offer a full-power 4.5W USB-A port and the same amount on its USB-C connector -- but it will not provide the higher USB-PD power levels to peripherals attached to that USB-C port.

The Anker hub does indeed plug into a regular USB-A port.  As for limitations, I haven't tested dual USB-powered hard drives on that device like I did successfully on the DA300, and I don't have that Anker hub available to test with, so I don't know whether you'd be able to get one or two full-power devices from that hub.  I just suggested that option as a way to get more USB-A ports (and powered USB-A ports) fairly inexpensively and conveniently, since it doesn't sound like you need USB-C specifically.  It sounds like you were just hoping that the USB-C port would be a massive power source that could drive all of your peripherals if you could just find a way to attach them all to it, even indirectly, but as I've hopefully explained reasonably well, that isn't the case.  But again, you COULD run two USB-powered hard drives from the DA300 if your system can provide 15W out of its USB-C port, and again I believe it can.  You might check your BIOS settings to see if there's an option about that; my Latitude 7480 allows me to select 7.5W or 15W there.

The round connector with a center pin you're referring to is a pretty standard connector for a wall outlet power source; you see them on routers, small switches, etc.  Sometimes hubs will provide those connectors even if they don't come with an actual wall charger, and then if you have a 12V charger with the right connector, you can use that to turn it into a powered hub.  If your hubs have that connector but don't indicate 5V vs. 12V and you can't find any documentation, then that's definitely not ideal, and you could break your hub by guessing incorrectly.  But again, the Anker hub is more convenient than those options because it uses a standard micro USB connector and then any USB wall charger that can supply 2A at USB's standard 5V.

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Re: Wireless mouse, USB SSHD VERY poor performance on USB-C

AHA!  jphughan, you have cleared MUCH confusion...  That explains the whole 100W/15W thing.  So, even IF it could provide 100watts or even 15 to a "normal" USB3 port, which it can't, it WOULDN'T be available to power all the stuff I'm trying to plug in!

OK.  I"ll have to look at home, but from memory I have a 12V power supply (actually a bunch of 'em), so it's just a matter of finding one with the right plug...  I also have one of those universal ones that'll do 6,9 or 12V and have a bunch of connectors.  So, SOMETHING will hopefully work to power the existing hub.

I've sent email to Anker (and a couple others) specifically ASKING about their USB-C hubs, and if/how they can be powered, and hopefully I'll find a "good" quality one that'll do at least MOST of what I need.

Thanks for hanging in there with me and straightening out my confusion!

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