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How much would it actually cost to design a green USB port?

Razer’s CEO brags that his company spent $380,000 designing the Blade’s USB ports, but in reality the not-so-exotic connector can be had for much less.


Earlier this month Razer’s CEO, Min Liang Tan, got his company some press by bragging to Fast Company that $380,000 was spent designing the Razer Blade’s green USB ports.

The “hands-on on pretty much everything” type of leader justified the expense to Fast Company by saying the port had to be “perfect” and made from scratch because it was “ pretty much an entire product by itself.”

But how much would it really cost to make a customized USB connector? Min’s claim that Razer spent $380,000 on making the “perfect” port seemed a little far fetched, the kind of statement designed to drive media wins through the compliant hardware blogosphere. Since the “specific acid green that [Razer] really liked” is the same color used by Razer on other parts, making a green USB connector would be as simple as including that specific CMYK hexcode in the order placed with the factory.

The joy of having a private company.
The joy of having a private company

To get a sense of how much it would actually cost to design a green USB port for a laptop we reached out to TJ Huang, co-founder of gadget case maker Digirit  and one of HWTrek’s experts that specializes in linking people up with OEM and ODM companies in Taiwan.

“It’s easy to do to change only the color,” Huang told VR-Zone. “If you only change the color, it won’t cost much money.”

Huang reached out to his connections in Taiwan’s supply chain that would be capable of designing and producing a green USB port and came up with two figures (in US dollars): $35,000 or $15,000. The $35,000 figure is for a reputable and well known connector supplier; the $15,000 figure is for a lesser known supplier from China with “so-so” quality.

To put things into perspective, even designing a standard USB connector to fit into a notebook has a cost attached to it since while there’s some standardization in notebook chassis size every one is different. A figure Huang used to give perspective is if it costs $1 for a standard connector, one with customized color would be $2.

So if the actual cost of designing a custom USB port is a fraction of the $380,000 cited by Min, what exactly was the rest of the money spent on? Or was this just a marketing stunt?

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