Usb Header

What is USB Header?

USB header refers to the pin connection or physical connectors located on the motherboard that allows increasing connections to the computer by adding more USB ports.

In simple words, these headers are the dedicated USB connectors on the motherboard that are usually used for the USB ports in the front panel.

Technically, these are the set of pins that send signals to the Universal Serial Bus ports.

Understanding USB Header

What is USB Header

The USB headers are the set of pins typically used to send signals to the ports available on the front panel.

Usually, these headers have nothing to do with the USB ports in the back panel or the extension cards.

This is because these ports have a direct connection with the motherboard.

All USB headers are normally located on the bottom edge of the motherboard of the computer.

However, on some motherboards, these headers may be located on the right edge.

These specific headers should not be mixed up with other headers found on the motherboard that are responsible for other external connections such as audio headers, network headers, game port and MIDI headers, PS/2 headers, parallel port headers, and serial port headers.

Available in four different types, the USB headers correspond to the generation and version of the Universal Serial Bus.

You can get more of these headers on your system in two simple ways.

First, you can duplicate a USB 2.0 header. This is an easy DIY project in which you can change the single header on your motherboard to a port that will support two cables.

You will need to do some manual wiring for it, though.

You will first have to flip the plastic tabs up at the edges of the second USB header cable and place them inside the other one.

You will, however, have to match the wire colors while inserting them.

However, this method can only be followed if you have USB 2.0 headers.

For other types of headers, you will need to use some additional hardware separately as follows.

If you have USB 3.0 to Type E headers, you can use Peripheral Component Interconnect Express or PCIe expansion cards.

It will go right on top of the actual header and add more ports accordingly.

In order to connect the USB ports to the headers, you will need to use an internal USB cable, which is actually an extension cable.

You will get two types of such cables. One type will come with a USB header jack, while the other will have separate wires for every pin of the USB header.

The working process of both these types of cables is however the same but the connection process of the second type with individual wires is a bit difficult and technical.

Therefore, it is essential to make the right connection to make the devices work properly and prevent getting error messages like ‘USB Device Over Current Status Detected.’

USB Header Types

There are four basic types of USB headers such as USB 2.0 header, USB 3.0 header, USB 3.0 3.1 Gen 2 header, and 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 header.

The USB 2.0 header, usually labeled “F_USB2,” comes with 9 pins arranged in two rows of 5 x 2 grids. The 10th pin in it is absent, which allows aligning the plug properly.

The USB 3.0 header, usually labeled “USB 3.2 Gen1,” is larger and comes with as many as 19 pins in it, arranged in two rows of 10 x 2 grids. It is known by different names such as:

The USB 3.1 Gen 2 header is unique in the sense that there are no pins jutting out as there are in the other variants.

Everything is enclosed in a metal case, making the pins barely visible.

The USB 3.2 Gen 2 x 2 headers look very much the same as the USB 3.1 Gen 2 header, but they come with dual channels.

USB Header Splitter

The USB header splitter refers to the device used to connect different peripheral devices to the computer system.

This adds to the number of USB slots available to the computer, giving you more options to add devices such as cameras, scanners, printers, and others.

The USB splitter will affect the performance because all of the connected devices will share the similar bandwidth available to the splitter in total.

A USB splitter may be considered a USB hub to some extent due to the few similar features that the two share in usage and functions but differ significantly in power requirements, data transfer speeds and number of connections offered.

USB Header Pinout

On most of the motherboards, the USB headers come in a 9-pin configuration though they may be said to have 10 pins.

These pins are arranged in two rows and each of them offers two USB connections, namely USB 1 and USB 2, in separate rows.

Usually, there are two pins each for power, data, ground, and other keyed pins. However, on some motherboards, the four active pins may not be arranged in the same single row.

Typically, in an internal USB 2.0 header there will be ten pin holes each serving different purposes.

However, you must be aware that the USB headers on the motherboard actually come with two USB ports in each header, with five pins for each port.

Therefore, the pinout of the USB 2.0 header will be as follows for each port.

For the first port, it will be as follows:

For the second port, the pin out will be as follows:

The purposes served by each of the pins in the USB headers are typically determined by the color of the wires, which is as follows:

However, in spite of being black in color, the S-GND wire can be easily recognized since it is fatter.

The shielding of the two cables are however connected or shorted internally. This means that it unites into a single S-GND wire and the connection of this wire is optional to the header pin.

However, there may be a few motherboards on which the USB header may come with an NC or No Connection pin. The S-GND wire can be connected to this empty pin.

If it is a 2X5-pin header, there will be two S-GND pins and one connector should be left unconnected.

And, if it is a 2X4-pin header, there will be no S-GND pin and you will therefore need to leave the S-GND wires unconnected.

Internal USB Header

An internal USB header is the dedicated USB connector that resides on the motherboard of a computer. It allows connecting the USB ports of the system, usually those that are on the front panel.

Technically, these are the end points that allow connecting the external USB ports on the chassis to the motherboard via an extension cable inside the computer system.

Typically, the internal USB header of the motherboards uses a different type of connector than the external USB connectors.

Can USB Headers be Combined?

Yes, you can combine USB headers provided none of them use 5 volt wires pulling additional power already. This way, there will be no isolated components or functionality wasted.

For example, if there is one Type C USB C port and one Type A port and the motherboard has only one internal USB 2.0 header, it can cater to the two ports when and if they are combined.

However, there are few things to look into before you go ahead.

Before combining the headers, you should check what specific pin is actually being used.

If you find that the port is simply pulling power from one of the +5-volt pins of the header, then yes, technically, you can combine the two headers.

On the other hand, if you find that both pins are being used to get the additional power required, then, sadly, you cannot combine the headers. This is because it will then overload the USB bus, which may even kill the port.

Now, considering the first situation and the fact that a USB Type A port requires four pins to operate, the eight pins offered by the internal USB 2.0 header, excluding the ground pin for shield drain and the keyed pin, will certainly serve two USB ports.

Combine the two by simply taking the pins out of one and moving them to another connector.

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It is not a difficult task. Just make sure that you connect the right wires.

This means that the data+ wire of one should be connected to the other data+ wire, the data- wire to the data- wire, power to power, and ground to ground.

The small flap or wing on the pins may pop out a bit. You can, however, squeeze the pin inside the connector by using tweezers and pulling the cable gently so that the pin slides in.

Finally, lock the pin inside the connector and you will have both devices connected to a single USB 2.0 header.

How to Enable USB Headers in BIOS?

You can enable, or disable, the USB headers in the Basic Input Output System or BIOS setup program by changing the USB configuration.

The steps to follow for this are:

Header Vs Connector

Questions & Answers:

How Many Headers are There on a Motherboard?

Typically, most of the motherboards available today come with a maximum of two or three USB headers.

Can USB 3.0 Fit in 2.0 Header?

Yes, a USB 3.0 will fit into the USB 2.0 motherboard header when you use an adapter cable. You can then connect internal USB devices to the header connection on the motherboard directly. However, the transfer rate will be slower in that case.

How Many USB Ports are There in a Header?

Ideally, every USB header can support up to two USB ports, but you can add more ports to it by using a USB header cable.

Will USB 3.0 Header fit in a USB 3.2 Motherboard Header?

No, a USB 3.0 header or cable will not fit into a USB 3.2 Gen 1 header because it is usually narrower. However, if there are 19 pins on the motherboard header, then it may, but the speed may not be of 3.2.

What Type of Header USB-C Use?

Though a USB Type-C on a system has its own connection, typically it will use a USB 3.2 Gen 2 header.

How Many Ports Does a USB 3.0 Header Support?

Typically, a USB 3 header will offer 4 USB 2 ports or 2 USB 3 ports without any hub. This is due to the fact that the USB 3 header is more like two USB 2 headers.


The USB headers are the connections on a computer motherboard that will determine the number of USB ports that you can connect to your computer.

Usually, all motherboards today come with at least a couple of these headers.