QUESTION My PC is built into a Cooler Master Cosmos system case, which I love. However, in pulling out a nearby desk drawer I accidentally broke all the front-facing USB 2.0 ports. I'd like to add some new USB ports (although preferably a little lower down the front of the case to prevent a repeat of this incident). I recently bought a USB 3.0 hard drive, but my motherboard doesn't have a compatible connection. Is it possible to add USB 3.0 ports without running wires in and out the case?
HELPROOM ANSWER This is possible, provided that you have a spare PCI Express slot on your motherboard and an external 3.5in drive bay. The first job is to add USB 3.0 support to your PC, which can be achieved by plugging in a PCI Express USB 3.0 adaptor.
Most such adaptors will provide a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the rear of your PC, but shop around and you should find some that provide internal ports. Better still, some adaptors allow you to have a pair of USB 3.0 ports at the back of the machine and internally route a couple more to the front.
USB 3.0 front panel adaptor
Next, you will need a USB 3.0 front panel adaptor that fits into your spare 3.5in drive bay. This will come with cables that plug into the internal ports on your USB 3.0 card.
Be aware that not all PCI Express USB 3.0 cards use the same internal connectors. Some will use one normal external USB connector per socket, while others will use a single standard internal USB 3.0 connector. You will need to make sure that the font panel adaptor comes with cables that fit your USB 3.0 card, or buy the card and the adaptor together as a kit. Some examples include SilverStone's £25 EC03S and DeLock's £30 USB 3.0 Front Panel adaptor.
If your motherboard already supports USB 3.0, you may already have an available internal USB 3.0 connector; you will simply require a front panel adaptor that uses the correct type of connector.
Similarly, if you have a modern case with a front-facing USB 3.0 port, but your motherboard doesn't support the standard, you can buy a USB 3.0 card with an internal connector that matches the cabling supplied inside your case.