Quick facts about USB-C hubs
- USB-C is the main connector type for most new phones, laptops and gadgets.
- USB-C hubs let you connect older devices to newer laptops.
- They increase the number of devices you can connect to your laptop simultaneously.
- New USB-C hubs cost anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on the brand, number of ports and extra features.
How do USB-C hubs work?
USB-C is fast becoming the main technology for connecting and charging devices. The majority of new computers, laptops, phones and external hard drives now come with USB-C. Purchasing a USB-C hub can be a cost-efficient way to continue using your older devices if your PC or Mac only supports this new format.
A hub also allows you to connect several peripherals to lightweight laptops that typically only have two or three ports.
What types of USB connectors are available?
There are different types of USBs and different standards for what you can connect to the other end of the USB cable.
|Type-A||Flat and rectangular||Standard connector for many computers, TVs and gaming consoles|
|Type-B||Square shaped||Often used in printers and other computer accessories|
|Type-C||Reversible rectangular shape||Universal connector for computers, phones, gaming consoles and more|
|Mini-USB||Small and rectangular||Used to connect older mobile phones and cameras to computers|
|Micro-USB||Smaller than mini-USB||The previous standard for smartphones, tablets and other small devices|
A new USB-C hub will typically set you back between $50 and $150. Costs vary depending on the brand, model and technical features. To help decide what sort of hub is best for you, consider these factors.
- What specific types of ports you’ll need
- The power capabilities you’ll require
- How frequently you’ll be transporting or carrying the hub
Understanding these details will help determine the size, weight and layout of your USB-C hub and whether you need a more expensive model or can get away with a cheaper one.
How to compare USB-C hubs
USB-C hubs come in a range of styles, designs and offer a variety of features. When choosing a USB-C hub, consider the following factors.
Most USB-C hubs provide a variety of connection ports. This may include USB-C, USB-A, Micro-USB, HDMI, DisplayPort and SD card slots for your memory cards. Figure out the port types of your existing devices and make sure you can plug them all into the hub.
Number of ports
How many products do you intend to connect to the hub at the same time? For example, plugging in a mouse, keyboard and external hard drive requires a minimum of three USB ports.
USB-C hubs are an ideal way to transfer large amounts of data between devices. Look for a maximum data-transfer rate of up to 5Gbps, and then read online user reviews to determine the actual data-transfer speed. Not all hubs live up to their advertised rate.
Most USB-C hubs can be powered by the laptop or computer they’re connected to. They can also pass on any excess power to connected devices — charging your phone, for example. But connecting multiple devices will impact the hub’s ability to pass on the required power. In some cases, you may need to connect your USB-C hub to an external power outlet. Check if your hub has this capacity if this is something you’ll require.
SD or MicroSD?
If you need a memory card slot, review the hub’s specifications to see what size card it takes. A standard SD card slot is preferable, as you can still use MicroSD via an adaptor.
Some USB-C hubs are powerful enough to charge your laptop via the USB connection. Check the USB hub’s product page to see if this feature is included. Look for a power pass-through rating of at least 100W.
USB-C hubs come in a wide variety of shapes and finishes, from narrow columns of colorful plastic to squat cubes of brushed aluminum. Some are better suited to portability, while others are designed to stay on your desk.
Dimensions and Weight
You might think most USB-C hubs would be similar in size, but some are larger and bulkier than others. If you plan on taking your hub on the road with you, consider purchasing a lighter, sleeker product more suited for travel.
Most USB-C hubs don’t come with the various cables you’ll need to connect your external devices. Make sure you have all the necessary cables to hook up your gadgets.
Where to buy USB-C hubs
Shopping online is a convenient way to browse and buy USB-C hubs and narrow down your search to the exact specifications you need. Here are some of the best USB hub online providers.