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I want to buy an external usb 3.0 drive and I wonder how to figure out whether my laptop has such a port (or only 2.0).

Neither lsusb -v, nor /proc/bus/input/devices offers any obvious hints, although the former says a lot of 2.0 root hub which might imply v2 and not v3. Right?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

lsusb does show you whether the kernel sees usb 3.0 support.

Contrast this non-USB3 system:

$ lsusb 
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0020 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0020 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 1210:2604 DigiTech 
Bus 002 Device 003: ID 0a5c:219c Broadcom Corp. 

with this one, which does support USB3:

$ lsusb 
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 8087:0024 Intel Corp. Integrated Rate Matching Hub
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 08ff:168b AuthenTec, Inc. 
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 04f2:b1d6 Chicony Electronics Co., Ltd 
Bus 002 Device 015: ID 0cf3:3005 Atheros Communications, Inc. AR3011 Bluetooth

a "3.0 root hub" is present for USB3.

That said, I concur that the best way to determine if your hardware is USB3 is by looking at the ports themselves; USB3 is usually color-coded and is blue, and has some extra conductors (which are however a bit difficult to see).

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USB 3 ports are blue. Just look at the ports on your laptop. If they aren't blue, they aren't USB 3 ports. There is probably some terminal command to determine this but just visually inspecting the ports will be the simplest.

Edit: An anonymous user suggested a helpful edit which was rejected, but I think it's helpful as it proves my answer isn't 100% correct. I'll copy it verbatim below and hope it proves useful:

I have read many places that the UBS 3.0 ports are blue, but that is not true in my experiences. I have a Dell Latitude E6430 that does have two 2.0 USB ports and two 3.0 USB ports. They are labeled with the above mentioned SS marking, but there is no blue parts of any kind visible from the outside of the laptop.

I have been researching this subject for a bit and I'm seeing the, sometimes condescending, but not in this case, comments about just looking. They are not always blue and as a matter of fact I'm a software test engineer and I work with numerous computers through the day and I have yet to find one where the port had any blue showing externally. I have seen a device with some blue but not the computer port.

Thanks for listening!

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You should be able to find out by using a program such as UsbView, which gives very detailed and technical information. As noted on the github site,

USBView is a small GTK application to show what the device tree of the USB bus looks like. It shows...the topology of the USB bus. It also displays information on each individual device on the bus.

It has recently been updated, and is simple to compile and run. Here's how to do it:

First install some essential programs and gtk dependencies with

sudo apt-get install git build-essential libgtk2.0-dev libgtk-3-dev

Then enter

git clone git://github.com/gregkh/usbview.git

and cd to the usbview folder and run

./autogen.sh && ./configure

and then

make

You can either run sudo make install or sudo checkinstall, depending which you use.

When you run the program, you will need to use gksudo because of the probing it does:

gksudo usbview

You will see a screenshot as below detailing your usb capabilities: the host controllers listed will show the capabilities you have: I have no usb 3 host controller present.

enter image description here

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cool app, but I never install from sources unless I contribute to the application. –  sds Nov 15 '12 at 18:23
    
usbview is available in the universe repository since 14.04: packages.ubuntu.com/usbview –  hfs Jul 11 at 19:30
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