Understanding XHCI Hand-Off In Windows 11/10 BIOS [What Is It?]

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XHCI Hand-Off in Windows 11/10 BIOS is a feature that facilitates USB 3.0 driver support, making data transfers faster and more efficient. While it’s enabled by default in Windows 10 and 11, users of older Windows versions may benefit from enabling it to enhance USB 3.0 compatibility, but it’s generally not recommended for Windows 7 or earlier.

Windows 10 and Windows 11 are Microsoft’s latest versions of their computer operating systems. They were released in 2015 and 2021, respectively, and come with many new and improved features for a better user experience.

Now, when we talk about BIOS, it’s short for “Basic Input/Output System.” Think of it as a special program that’s part of your computer’s motherboard. It takes care of hardware stuff and acts like a middleman between the hardware and the operating system.

One of the BIOS settings related to USB is called “XHCI Hand-Off,” which we’ll explore in this article.

What Does XHCI Hand-Off In Windows 11/10 BIOS Mean?

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XHCI Hand-Off in the BIOS of Windows 11/10 may sound quite technical and unfamiliar to many. But, trust me, it’s something you don’t want to miss, especially if you’re using Windows versions older than Windows 10.

XHCI stands for “Extensible Host Controller Interface.” It’s a part of the new generation that supports the functioning of USB 3.0 drivers.

In Windows 10 and 11, XHCI is enabled by default, so you don’t need to do anything special to enable it. However, in older Windows versions, it’s not enabled by default. In this case, if you’re not familiar with XHCI, you might be missing out, especially if you need to use USB 3.0 drivers.

It’s generally recommended not to use older Windows versions like Windows 7 with XHCI because it’s not as compatible with them.

When this feature is enabled, your USB port works like a USB 3.0 port, and when it’s disabled, it functions as a USB 2.0 port. This flexibility is handy because you can switch between modes depending on the driver you need to use.

Just keep in mind that USB 3.0 and 2.0 work best with their respective ports, and switching between them might not yield the best results.

So, now you have a basic understanding of what XHCI Hand-Off is. If you want more information about how to enable or disable it, keep reading to gain a deeper insight into the topic.

What Are The Various XHCI Hand-Off Modes Available In BIOS?

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In the BIOS, there are various modes for XHCI Hand-Off, but two important ones stand out that we need to focus on:

Auto XHCI Hand-Off

Let’s talk about “Auto XHCI Hand-Off“. It’s called “Auto” because it automatically enables the XHCI Hand-Off feature. But how does it do that? Well, it’s pretty clever.

The trigger for this is when the correct USB 3.0 driver is inserted in the BIOS. Once that happens, your port switches from being a USB 2.0 port to a USB 3.0 one.

XHCI Handoff Smart Mode:

Now, let’s look at “Smart XHCI Hand-Off mode“. It’s pretty smart, just as the name suggests. In a way, it’s similar to “Auto.”

When you insert the USB 3.0 driver in the BIOS, the BIOS takes note of it in the system. So, every time you restart your Windows, the BIOS recognizes the reboot and remembers the driver.

When the restart is complete, your port continues to work as a USB 3.0 port instead of downgrading to USB 2.0.

How Do I Enable XHCI Hand-Off In My BIOS Settings?

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If you’re unsure about how to enable XHCI Hand-Off, don’t worry; it’s quite easy. Many people might think it’s a complex process, but in reality, it involves simple and straightforward steps.

Just follow these instructions:

  1. On your computer or laptop, press the “Windows” key + “I” to open Windows Settings.
  2. Go to “Update & Security.”
  3. In the side menu, click on “Recovery.”
  4. Under “Advanced startup,” you’ll find “Restart now.” Click on it. Your screen will go black, followed by a blue screen.
  5. Click on “Troubleshoot.”
  6. Then, navigate to “Advanced options.”
  7. Click on “UEFI Firmware settings.”
  8. Select “Restart.” A BIOS screen will open.
  9. In the BIOS menu, go to “Advanced.”
  10. There you’ll find the “USB Configuration” options.
  11. Click on “XHCI Hand-Off” to set it to “Enabled.” That’s it! You’re all set.

What Are The Benefits Of Enabling XHCI Hand-Off In Windows 11/10 BIOS?

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We’ve been discussing XHCI and how to enable it, but the real question is, what’s in it for you? Enabling something should have a clear and solid reason behind it, right?

So, if you’ve been following along and have a decent understanding of XHCI but still feel unsure about why you should enable it, you’ve come to the right place.

It’s great that you’re seeking to educate yourself and gain a better understanding because, in my opinion, you can’t fully enjoy the benefits of something unless you truly understand it.

In the table below, I’ve listed some of the advantages of enabling XHCI in your Windows 11/10 BIOS:

Proper FunctioningXHCI Hand-Off is designed for USB 3.0, so it’s no surprise that it works perfectly for USB 3.0. In fact, it does an outstanding job, making it a breeze to handle USB 3.0 devices.
Faster TransferXHCI Hand-Off ensures lightning-fast data transfers for USB 3.0 devices, which greatly benefits users and makes work exceptionally efficient.
High Power OutputOne of the advanced features that XHCI Hand-Off offers is its strong power output and smart power management, which is very convenient and efficient in its use.
More CompatibilityXHCI Hand-Off works really well with USB 3.0 devices and is a great fit for the latest Windows versions like Windows 10 and 11.
Enhanced ExperienceWith all the advanced features and the convenience that XHCI Hand-Off brings, the user experience is excellent when using this technology.
Some of the benefits of enabling XHCI Hand-Off in Windows 11/10 BIOS

Keep in mind that these listed benefits are general, and people may have their own unique reasons for wanting to enable XHCI on their Windows 11/10 BIOS.

Apart from these advantages, the simplest way to decide if you need to enable it is this: If you know you’ll be using USB 3.0 features, go ahead and enable XHCI without hesitation. However, if your work or tasks are perfectly fine with USB 2.0, and you don’t really need USB 3.0, or if you’re using an operating system earlier than Windows 7, then you can skip enabling it.

Should I enable or disable xHCI hand-off in BIOS setup, when running Windows 7

What Steps Are Involved In Turning Off XHCI Hand-Off?

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Now, for some reason, you might not be on board with the idea of having XHCI Hand-Off, maybe because you primarily use USB 2.0, or your Windows version is older than Windows 7, or for any other personal reasons you might have for wanting to disable it.

If you’re one of those who want to disable it and are unsure how to do so, follow these straightforward steps:

  1. Press the “Windows” key + “I” on your keyboard to open Windows Settings.
  2. Click on “Update & Security.”
  3. Select “Recovery” from the side menu.
  4. Under “Advanced startup,” click on “Restart now.” This will take you to a blue screen.
  5. Click on “Troubleshoot.”
  6. Then, select “Advanced options.”
  7. Choose “UEFI Firmware settings.”
  8. Click on “Restart,” and you’ll access the BIOS menu.
  9. In the BIOS menu, go to “Advanced.”
  10. There you’ll find “USB Configuration” options.
  11. Look for “XHCI Hand-Off” and switch it to “Disabled.” That’s it! You’ve successfully disabled it.

How Do XHCI And EHCI Differ In Terms Of USB Standards?

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Many long-time Windows users are more familiar with EHCI, and when they transition to newer Windows versions, they might not be entirely clear about the distinctions between XHCI and EHCI.

This confusion often stems from a lack of knowledge and can lead to issues, especially when they need to work with newer technologies but are still stuck in the older generation.

To bring some clarity to the situation and help you make an informed choice about which one to use, take a look at the table below:

XHCI is the newer generation, and it’s best pals with USB 3.0. XHCI is more of a companion to USB 3.0 and newer versions, and it’s not as compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1.On the flip side, EHCI is the older generation and is very compatible with USB 1.1 and USB 2.0, and gets along quite well with them.
XHCI shines brightest when it’s used with modern operating systems like Windows 10 and 11.EHCI is more at home with older operating systems like Windows XP and those that came before Windows 7.
XHCI is like a speedster, moving data at a blazing 5 Gbps, which makes it the perfect match for USB 3.0.On the other hand, EHCI moves along at a respectable 480 Mbps, which suits USB 2.0 just fine, even though it’s not as fast as XHCI.
As we’ve seen, XHCI is great when it comes to power output, making its power management pretty high-tech and efficient.EHCI is more of a basic player when it comes to power management, and its power output isn’t as robust as XHCI.
Difference between XHCI and EHCI

To Conclude

  • Windows 10 and 11 are updated versions of Microsoft’s operating systems with improved features.
  • BIOS is a firmware on the motherboard that manages hardware and interfaces with the operating system.
  • XHCI Hand-Off in Windows 11/10 BIOS affects how the USB controller works.
  • Enabling XHCI Hand-Off in BIOS settings enhances USB 3.0 device performance.
  • Various XHCI Hand-Off modes exist in the BIOS with two most important ones.
  • Benefits of enabling XHCI Hand-Off include improved compatibility and faster USB 3.0 data transfer.
  • You can enable or disable your XHCI Hand-Off using your Windows settings.
  • Turning off XHCI Hand-Off reconfigures the USB controller, useful when you don’t need USB 3.0 features.
  • XHCI and EHCI are USB standards with different features, such as data transfer speeds, compatibility, and power management.

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