Greatest USB-C hubs of 2021


(CNN) —  

Laptops have fewer ports than ever nowadays, however a great USB-C hub will make it straightforward to attach your whole displays and equipment. That’s why CNN Underscored spent the previous month placing among the bestselling USB-C hubs by their paces in real-world testing. From primary media file transfers to enjoying demanding video games off of a transportable arduous drive, we watched every machine operate underneath varied stress masses whereas additionally evaluating designs, connectivity and efficiency. Listed below are the three hubs that stood above the remainder:

Completely different computer systems demand completely different ranges of energy, which is why energy supply was a significant factor when it got here to deciding on the very best USB-C hubs. Most hubs we examined fell into one among two classes of energy: 60 watts and 100 watts (W). Hubs with 60W of energy supply have sufficient juice to work nicely with smaller 13-inch laptops (akin to a MacBook Air), whilst you’ll want a 100W hub for dependable efficiency on larger 15- to 16-inch laptops that require extra energy (akin to a gaming pocket book or workstation). As such, we aimed to search out the very best hub for every sort of laptop computer proprietor in addition to a desktop choose for these with extra space to play with.

The Satechi USB-C hub delivered among the quickest information switch speeds in our testing pool, whereas packing Ethernet and 60W energy pass-through in a slim, pocketable kind issue that we discovered to be a perfect go-anywhere companion to a 13-inch laptop computer.

The Totu 9-in-1 triple show USB-C hub gives extra ports and 100W energy supply whereas offering strong general speeds on file switch exams. It allowed us to make use of two exterior displays with our laptop computer with none lag or stutters (and might deal with as much as three shows), making it a great match for increasing the connectivity of extra highly effective 15-inch notebooks.

Lastly, the Aukey 12-in-1 USB-C hub gives 12 ports for optimum connectivity, with triple monitor assist, Ethernet and extra USB-C connections. Nevertheless, its port placement rapidly received crowded for us, and its bigger kind issue and energy provide necessities make it finest for these searching for most flexibility on the transfer or to outfit a desktop setup.

Key specs

  • Variety of ports: 8
  • Video Output: As much as 4K @ 60 hertz (Hz) (single monitor)
  • Guarantee: 12 months restricted guarantee

In case you’re seeking to broaden the performance of a 13-inch laptop computer (akin to a MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13), the Satechi Multi-Port Adapter V2 is the very best hub of its sort we examined when it comes to general pace and reliability. Satechi’s glossy “House Grey” hub stands out in opposition to the remainder of our testing pool, having one of many sleekest designs and among the quickest information switch speeds.

Port placement is each beneficiant and versatile sufficient for any setup, and in contrast to most hubs we examined, the Satechi multiport adapter gives a Gigabit Ethernet jack, so you possibly can keep linked no matter the place it’s possible you’ll journey. Most significantly, the Satechi carried out higher with all ports in use than the equally spec’d Aukey 8-in-1 hub, which exhibited uneven in-game efficiency and slower media transfers underneath comparable circumstances.

Its 4K HDMI out show sports activities a 60 Hz refresh fee, which is as much as commonplace for this kind of gadget and permits for easy monitor efficiency. The USB-C connection will solely go 60W energy; this may maintain a 13-inch laptop computer charged, however it isn’t sufficient to produce a bigger power-hungry machine, akin to a 16-inch MacBook Professional; in that case, you’ll need to commit a separate USB-C or Thunderbolt port to your energy adapter. Smaller machines which are 13 inches and beneath obtain sufficient juice for secure charging.

The hub can get heat however is rarely unreasonably scorching, even when loaded with excessive power-drawing equipment like arduous drives and seize playing cards connected. For most individuals, the Satechi’s mixture of quick switch speeds, assortment of ports and easy operation make it the very best USB-C hub to vastly broaden the performance of much less power-hungry gadgets, akin to 13-inch laptops.

Totu 9-in-1 Triple Display USB C Hub

Hunter Fenollol/CNN

Totu 9-in-1 Triple Show USB C Hub

Key specs

  • Variety of ports: 9
  • Video Output: As much as 4K @ 60 Hz (single monitor), 4K @ 30 Hz (twin monitor)
  • Guarantee: 12 months restricted guarantee

The Totu 9-in-1 USB-C triple show docking station provides connectivity for a number of shows and show varieties, swapping out the Ethernet port of the Satechi for a VGA port and including an extra HDMI port. With 100W of pass-through charging, the Totu USB-C hub allows you to add a complete lot of helpful connectivity and energy to a15- to 16-inch laptop computer by way of a single USB-C port.

Whereas the hub can assist three shows (your laptop computer’s capabilities allowing), and like our prime choose can drive a single 4K show at 60 Hz, it solely helps 30 Hz for twin 4K HDMI shows, and attaching a VGA show lowers all monitor resolutions to 1080p.

With learn speeds of 60 megabytes (MB) per second on our USB 3.0 switch exams, the Totu was sooner than the Satechi, which solely managed 40MB per second. It fell quick on SD card transfers, nevertheless, clocking solely 20MB per second versus the Satechi’s speedy 90MB per second learn pace. Nor did the Totu supply a satisfying click on on inserting an SD card, as did our prime choose. However for these not needing the quickest card learn speeds, the Totu’s quite a few show choices, slim kind issue and plethora of ports make this hub an ideal price range choose that’s particularly splendid for increasing the performance of bigger laptops.

Aukey 12-in-1 USB-C Hub

Hunter Fenollol/CNN

Aukey 12-in-1 USB-C Hub

Key specs

  • Variety of ports: 12
  • Video Output: As much as 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Guarantee: 24 months restricted guarantee

The Aukey 12-in-1 USB-C hub is probably not as moveable as our different picks, however with a whopping 12 ports, it’s extra versatile. You’re lined whether or not you simply want to attach a keyboard and mouse for on a regular basis work or have to drive three displays for shows, and 100W of energy supply allows you to rapidly cost bigger power-hungry laptops along with exterior gadgets like a telephone or moveable monitor…

Whether or not the hub is plugged right into a Home windows machine or a MacBook, all peripheral gadgets we examined with the Aukey had been immediately acknowledged, although exterior show capabilities differ between the working techniques. Whereas Home windows is ready to show a real prolonged triple show output, with three displays displaying completely different screens, MacOS customers are restricted to reflect mode, with the identical image displayed on every monitor.

Poor port placement mars these inputs with muddle when totally geared up. On the best aspect sits two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports and a USB-C port. Slide downward and also you’ll uncover an Ethernet port (splendid for desktop customers needing wired web) along with a VGA port for legacy displays. Rounding the nook to the left aspect of the machine is a card reader, two HDMI ports and eventually an influence supply USB-C charging port. This leaves your whole wires pulling in conflicting instructions as in the event that they’re making an attempt to attract and quarter the hub. Whereas utilizing a wired mouse, one fast tug jerked the hub proper. Turning an exterior monitor reoriented the hub in the wrong way, making it tough to search out the right placement. The rubber ft present a strong grip; nevertheless, you’ll wish to make sure the wires of your peripherals are lengthy sufficient.

The chunkier physique of the Aukey 12-in-1 isn’t as moveable as our prime selections above, which is why we advocate it for extra stationary setups. The cardboard storage slots additionally pale compared, with learn and write charges sitting at 25 and 20MB per second to the Satechi’s blazing 75 and 90MB per second. Apart from these caveats, the Aukey 12-in-1 hub gives among the most expansive connectivity of any hub we examined whereas delivering good general efficiency at an attainable worth.

We examined every of those USB-C hubs in a wide range of real-world eventualities over the course of a month. To check the hubs’ efficiency in each at-home and journey eventualities, we used every hub throughout three gadgets. Our check rigs included a strong Cyberpower streaming desktop, a 15-inch MSI gaming laptop computer and a 13-inch MacBook Air productiveness laptop computer. Hubs with 100W energy supply are appropriate for extra power-hungry 15-inch notebooks just like the MSI, whereas these with 60W supply work nicely with slimmer 13-inch laptops like our MacBook Air. Our testing pool consisted of newly launched, totally featured USB-C hubs, bestselling hubs with authentically optimistic person critiques (verified by way of Fakespot) and alternatives made by our editor’s experience.

To guage the design of every hub, all 12 selections had been splayed out on a uniform white foam poster board for a visible comparability. Each USB-C hub was weighed, rotated and dealt with for heft, bulkiness and general materials high quality. To check portability, we threw every hub in a backpack, pocketbook and a males’s pants pocket.

Subsequent, we took word of the sorts of ports on every hub along with what number of there have been to guage connectivity. Energy supply functionality was decided by most wattage output. Wattage determines how briskly gadgets cost and the efficiency of linked gadgets like drives.

Efficiency-wise, we ran a number of exams for switch speeds, video high quality and warmth dissipation. We transferred the identical 1-gigabyte (GB) 1080p video file to every hub utilizing a Kingston Canvas Go! Plus SD Card, Kingston Information Traveler USB 3.0 drive and SanDisk Extremely microSD Card. This examined for optimum learn and write speeds and was carried out twice on every setup to calculate a median switch fee for every hub. We additionally used AJA System Check, an artificial benchmark that measures how briskly a drive can switch recordsdata.

Lastly, we used two completely different displays to examine video outputs. Desklab’s 4K monitor helped us check video high quality at a 4K decision on a single show with a refresh fee of as much as 60 Hz. Its ultra-thin profile meant we might check it each at house and on the transfer. Lepow’s Z1 Gamut monitor offered a dependable 1080p 60 Hz image with correct shade copy. To validate display decision and refresh charges, we used Home windows Explorer and Mac system preferences.

Aukey 8-in-1 USB Sort-C Adapter ($39.99, initially $43.99; amazon.com)

Aukey 8-in-1 USB Type C Adapter

Aukey

Aukey 8-in-1 USB Sort C Adapter

Aukey’s 8-in-1 USB-C hub gives optimum port placement, a Gigabit Ethernet adapter and a singular two-tone matte black and aluminum design. It has all the identical ports as our prime choose and even gives 100W of pass-through energy, which lets it energy skilled and gaming laptops over 15 inches.

If speedy information transfers or a number of monitor outputs aren’t important to your workflow, Aukey’s 8-in-1 hub is a robust contender. In our efficiency testing, the Aukey had gradual USB 3.0 and microSD switch pace in comparison with different hubs. USB 3.0 write speeds for this hub averaged at 25MB per second, a far cry from different hubs that averaged round 50MB per second. Nonetheless, the assortment of ports offset this for the typical person not transferring gigabytes of information every day. A 24-month guarantee is icing on this value-focused cake.

Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 ($27.99; amazon.com)

Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1

Anker

Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1

The PowerExpand+ offers you seven ports in a hefty aluminum case, accentuated by easy, rounded edges that permit it slot in our pockets simply. This unassuming 3.5-ounce rectangle outputs 100W by energy supply. Whereas this is sufficient to cost bigger, extra highly effective laptops, the USB-A ports and one of many two USB-C connections are solely for information transfers. When you have a big arsenal of electronics which are hungry for juice, we’d advocate our different picks.

FlePow USB-C Hub Multiport Adapter ($24.99; amazon.com)

FlePow USB-C Hub Multiport Adapter

FlePow

FlePow USB-C Hub Multiport Adapter

The two-ounce Flepow USB-C hub is the smallest we examined, making it good for journey when you solely want a single HDMI show output. All three USB ports are USB 3.0, and each USB and card storage transfers had been among the many finest we examined regardless of missing a USB-C port able to pass-through charging. This adapter gives much less connectivity than among the different choices on our record, and it does run a bit scorching when firing on all cylinders.

Kingston Nucleum 7-in-1 USB-C Hub ($49.99; amazon.com)

Kingston Nucleum

Kingston

Kingston Nucleum

Kingston’s elegant Nucleum USB-C hub delivers 100W of energy, sufficient to maintain a big laptop computer or a number of gadgets charged, and its slender, concave physique matches easily and securely in a pocket. In our testing, we discovered the machine to ship greater than common switch speeds whereas sustaining cooler than common temperatures., and beneficiant spacing between ports made it straightforward to achieve our gadgets, Disappointingly, it’s locked to a most show output of 4K at 30 Hz.

Vava 7-in-1 USB C Hub ($24.99; amazon.com)

Vava 7-in-1 USB C Hub

VAVA

Vava 7-in-1 USB C Hub

It’s arduous to consider that Vava’s USB-C hub falls underneath the price range class. The sturdily constructed darkish aluminum casing is difficult to scuff, and with 100W of energy supply, three USB 3.0 ports for quick switch speeds and SD and microSD card readers that sit aspect by aspect as an alternative of on prime of each other, the hub punches far above its worth class.

Positioned on the top, a lone HDMI output shows a 4K sign, although it maxes out at 30 Hz. And on a number of events throughout testing the hub ran scorching, and we seen sporadic mouse motion and lag from enter peripherals underneath load.

XSPUS USB-C Hub ($19.99, initially $25.99; amazon.com)

XSPUS USB-C Hub

XSPUS

XSPUS USB-C Hub

The XSPUS USB-C hub manages to cram a whopping 4 USB 3.0 ports and 65W of energy — sufficient for a 13-inch laptop computer — into its small, extremely pocketable cylindrical physique.

Regardless of an interesting design and intuitive card reader placement on the finish of the physique, the XSPUS USB-C hub had among the slowest learn and write speeds in your complete testing pool. Our SD card learn and write pace measured a low 10MB per second, even with no different gadgets linked to the hub on the time of testing. The microSD card check fared a bit higher at 20 and 24MB per second, however for comparability, that’s 80MB per second slower than the price range FlePow hub’s card reader scores.

Dell USB-C Cellular Adapter ($65, initially $74.99; amazon.com)

Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter

Dell

Dell USB-C Cellular Adapter

Dell’s puck-shaped USB-C hub gives a one-of-a-kind, ultra-compact design. A fast counterclockwise twist to the highest of this hub unveils a USB-C connector that retracts when spun in the wrong way, making for easy cable administration.

This hub gives a triple show output with two HDMI ports and a VGA port; it additionally features a Gigabit Ethernet port, however in any other case has very restricted connectivity — solely a single USB 3.1 port and USB-C connection, and no card readers — and the second-slowest switch speeds among the many hubs we examined.

Learn extra from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing

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