Question Change front ports for my Lian Li case?

ProfAaron

Junior Member
Nov 19, 2021
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is there a place I can buy replacement ports for the front of my case, or any case, so that I will have USB 3 in those sockets instead of usb 2? I will find the exact case model, but hopefully I can find something I can rig into a few different cases. As it is the only option I have found are the typical device bay additions, but I would like to try to keep a clean look and it’d be nice if I can find a way to update the existing ports.

Thanks!
 

Paperdoc

Platinum Member
Aug 17, 2006
2,100
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What case? It is much more common in current cases to have USB 3 sockets installed. The Type A older style used for USB3.2 typically have BLUE plastic inserts, whereas the different classic USB 2 sockets were black. NOTE that both the older Type A and the newer Type C sockets are used for USB 3.2 Gen 1. The USB people recommend use of the Type C for the higher-speed versions USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Gen 2x2.
 

ProfAaron

Junior Member
Nov 19, 2021
16
5
36
I appreciate the explanation, but I know how to identify which ports are which. The problem isnt that I am not sure—the problem is that if I want usb 3 for the front then the ports needs replacing and I cannot find the appropriate parts.

Anyway, I finally found a picture of my case:


This guy was tricking out the case but he has a ton of good pictures, including the front ports. I need to go back and check my case, but the configuration of the front ports should be the same. Something like 2 audio ports, 2 older usb, and a FireWire (will check).

I think I might have found out that Lian Li used to make replacements for these ports to upgrade to usb 3. However, it seems that perfomance PCs doesn’t have them in stock. Here is a link to PPCs (apologies for the retail link; if this violates rules please just delete) with a upgrade similar to what to what I need:


Does anyone know if there are other places I might be able to find these sorts of things?

many thanks!
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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I don't know the particulars of how your specific case mounts the USB2 ports, but you can get a dongle that attaches with a couple screws, then if the spacing isn't right to put it where the old one was, or needs an alternative mechanical method of fixing it in place, might have to fabricate a bracket behind that area on the case bezel or top, or use longer fasteners and a spacer shim or stack of washers on them, etc. to make the replacement port flush with the hole in the case, or close enough, if you don't want to drill holes in the exterior wall of the case... though drilling holes in the exterior wall could be easiest.

In some situations, with a plastic bezel I'll even cut out a new USB hole and mount the port elsewhere from where the original one was.

For the examples below you just unbolt the cable assembly from the bracket on the first one, or supply your own bolts and nuts with the second one.



There are more of them on ebay or amazon, i just did a quick search for USB3 header.
 
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Paperdoc

Platinum Member
Aug 17, 2006
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Several things depend also on what mobo you have, and its headers. It may have (or not) headers for USB 2, USB 3.2 Gen 1 or Gen 2, or the new USB Type E for Gen 2 or Gen 2x2. Then, of course, whether you plan for what you have currently, or for possible updating to newer devices up to the Gen 2x2 specs.

Assuming you have and will want to use the full capabilities of a Gen 2x2 port from a Type E header, your best bet is to get a cable specifically for that, like this


Note that there are a few versions of this that vary in details of the plate that holds the socket, and how that can be mounted in your front panel. I would say virtually none of these can simply fit into the system built into your case's front ports, but MAYBE you could adapt. Alternatively, you'd need to cut a new hole in the case front and mount this. Note that this system allows ONE fully-capable Gen 2x2 port on the front, because that system devotes all of the capabilities of two 10 Gb/s channels to a single 20 Gb/s channel. Using this cable means you would get one Type C front port fully capable of the full speed of the mobo Type E header you have, be it Gen 2 or Gen 2x2.

There are two options limited to the Gen 2 (10 Gb/s) data rates similar to each other. Both of these I found are done as panels that install in a 5¼" optical drive bay on your case front, and carrying a selection of sockets. First type


has its USB 3.2 sockets as one Type C and two Type A. These all are fed from a single mobo Gen 1 or Gen 2 header. That header carries two ports, and it's not clear how they distribute those to three sockets. But I expect that IF your mobo header is capable of Gen 2 speeds, you can expect to achieve Gen 2 performance on the Type C socket, and possibly on a Type A socket. Note that this does NOT use the mobo Type E header. This panel also has two USB 2 sockets, fed by a single cable to a mobo USB 2 header (which provides 2 USB 2 ports) completely separate from the USB 3.2 system. It also has a cable to plug into your mobo's front panel audio header to provide headset earphone and mic 3.5 mm jacks. It adds an option with supplied cables to mount a SATA HDD or SSD under the circuit board. Other similar products may not include the audio ports and HDD mount. If you were to use this in addition to the dedicated single cable from the mobo Type E header (above), you might achieve one dedicated Type C port with max USB 3.2 speed (depends on mobo header speed) plus one type C and two Type A ports capable of Gen 2 speeds (fed from a mobo USB 3.2 Gen 2 header) and possibly a couple of USB 2 ports fed from their header type.

This is another type of device I found.


It is a USB 3.2 HUB. This one does use up your mobo Type E header, and then "shares" that among four USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports - three Type A, one Type C. So IF your mobo header Type E is capable of the Gen 2x2 (20 Gb/s) performance and you do NOT expect ever to have one device at that data rate, this Hub can allow two or more Gen 2 (10 Gb/s) devices to share that data rate channel on your front panel without using a mobo Gen1 or Gen 2 header. As a side issue, because it also requires a SATA power supply connection from your PSU for its Hub functions, it adds two QC3.0 Quick Charge ports (dedicated to charging only). If you were to use this type of system, you can get several USB 3.2 Gen 2 front ports that share whatever data rate your mobo Type E header has, but would not have that header available for other uses.

It is not clear to me whether the USB ports on the front of your case are limited to Gen1 (5 Gb/s) performance. They appear to be all Type A sockets, but one may be Type C. SOMETIMES those sockets are limited only by the capability of the mobo USB 3.2 Gen n header, and CAN provide Gen 2 performance (10 Gb/s) if the header can. But sometimes not. IF both your mobo headers and the case sockets can do the Gen 2 performance, then your interest may refocus on using any mobo Type E socket to use its max performance.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,880
950
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A tangent for sure, but I just stumbled upon a pic I had for an old Gateway case where I put a USB port in where there wasn't one. Turned out good enough... Damn, ~20 years ago, time flies!

gwcase.jpg
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,250
1,169
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I suppose for a mainstreamer or a "newbie", the OP's problem might seem troublesome.

But it is very simple. On the one hand, there are plenty of devices that can use the USB 2 ports, like extra keyboards and mice, or a game device or joystick. So don't complicate the problem by a goal of "swapping out" the hardware of USB3 versus USB2". Keep the USB 2 ports.

Look for a 3.5" plastic or metal port adapter that fits in a 5.25" or 3.5" drive bay with the proper mounting hardware. The 3.5"-to-5.25" adapters will be simple brackets and screws which can be had from NewEgg or Amazon for a few dollars. The USB3 port adapter with motherboard cable will cost between $25 and $30.

Every time I've built a new system in recent years, I always plan to do this. I don't waste a lot of money on new cases, and recycle what I've had in my personal inventory for some time. I have a fetish for the CoolerMaster Stacker 831/832 -- a mostly aluminum case first released around 2007. It has four usb2 ports on the upper front panel and front panel top. There's usually a 5.25" face-plate with a 3.5" cutout, so I always order the front-panel port adapter. I don't need one that also provides SDXC-card reader, or anything like that. The simple ones are probably the most reliable.

On older motherboards without the 20-pin USB3 plug, you had to buy a usb3 controller card with cables to the PC rear with a PCIE bracket, or you could use the front-panle port adapter and plug it into the PCIE USB3 controller board.

Driver configuration, maintenance and update is simple. Done once, there shouldn't be any issue with it.
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
6,880
950
126
Just remembered the combo I used for a system 3.5" front panel a few years back, was these two, though equivalents might be cheaper:


 

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