Which USB-C hub adapter is best?
As laptops get smaller, thinner and more powerful, they tend to lose some of their functionalities. Where built-in USB 3.0 connections were once a common sight, it’s now unusual to see them on the side of a laptop.
If your USB-C laptop only has one or two connections, this is where a USB-C hub adapter can prove useful. Through a device such as the Hiearcool USB-C Dongle for MacBook Pro, you can connect multiple devices to your computer.
What to know before you buy a USB-C hub adapter
It could drain your laptop’s battery faster
Connecting several devices or accessories to your laptop through a hub comes at a price. While some adapters require an independent power source, others don’t — they use power from your laptop. This can cause your device to run flat much faster than usual if it’s not plugged into a charger.
Robust construction materials
A USB-C is incredibly important if you rely on one connection for all your portability needs. If it gets damaged, you could lose the ability to access vital devices or accessories. Keep in mind the construction materials of the hub, and try to get one that’s made from hardened plastic or aluminum.
Compatibility with your device
While USB-C is now a common connection type, not all devices are the same. Ensure that the hub you’re interested in is compatible with your device. For example, Apple’s Thunderbolt is a type of USB-C but is only compatible with certain gadgets. Similarly, Nintendo’s Switch console also uses USB-C, but the type used isn’t compatible with certain hubs or cables. The way to determine compatibility is to check with the manufacturer of the device.
What to look for in a quality USB-C hub adapter
USB-C Power Delivery
A key aspect to look for when deciding on an adapter is Power Delivery technology. This lets you use your laptop to charge other devices that are connected to the hub. The amount of power delivered to the connected device can vary, but the most common is around 100 watts.
Lengthy cable (or no cable at all)
You don’t want to struggle to get devices connected to your laptop, which is why a lengthy USB-C cable can be handy. The length also lets you move the adapter around to minimize any electromagnetic interference. On the other hand, there are adapters that have no cables at all. These sit flush with your laptop and are a great option if you have limited space.
The purpose of an adapter is so you can connect multiple devices of different connections to your laptop. For that reason, it’s imperative that the adapter has as many as possible, which should include USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connection and an SD card slot.
How much you can expect to spend on a USB-C hub adapter
The average cost of a USB-C adapter or hub depends on the number of ports and connections it has. An entry-level hub with a few slots can cost $15-$20, while a feature-packed adapter can go for $25-$35.
USB-C hub adapter FAQ
Can you connect a mouse and keyboard to an adapter?
A. Yes, you can, but you should keep in mind that due to their limited design, users often complain that the mouse is less responsive when an additional monitor is also connected.
What’s the difference between USB-C and Lightning?
A. The Lightning connection is the proprietary connection method for many Apple products and isn’t interchangeable with other devices. However, Apple’s Thunderbolt is a type of USB-C connection that can be used with other USB-C products or adapters.
What’s the best USB-C hub adapter to buy?
Top USB-C hub adapter
What you need to know: This adapter has all the ports and connections that you could ever need. It features two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port for an external display and an SD card slot.
What you’ll love: You can recharge your laptop through the Power Delivery function, and it’s capable of displaying 4K content at 30 frames per second. The outer case is made from aluminum alloy, weighs only 2.4 ounces and is available in six colors.
What you should consider: The adapter isn’t compatible with Samsung’s DeX software, which lets you cast your device’s screen to a bigger monitor such as a TV. Unlike other hubs, this one is compatible with Nintendo Switch.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top USB-C hub adapter for the money
What you need to know: Not only does this hub have seven different connections, it can also power your laptop through USB-C Power Delivery technology.
What you’ll love: This hub features an HDMI connection, which lets you display content on an external monitor at 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, or 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. It has three USB 3.0 ports, which is handy if you want to connect a keyboard or mouse. There’s also an SD card slot for transferring content such as photos from a camera.
What you should consider: This hub isn’t compatible with the Apple iPad Pro 11-inch or 21.9-inch before 2018.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you need to add a variety of useful connection ports to your laptop, this hub is a perfect choice.
What you’ll love: Its best feature is that it can handle an HDMI connection to an external monitor at a 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. In addition, this hub sports one connection for each of the most popular ports, so you’ll always have a way of connecting external devices. It has an SD card slot, USB-C input, USB-C data port and two USB 3.0 slots. It features USB-C Power Delivery so you can simultaneously charge your laptop.
What you should consider: This USB-C hub is only compatible with Apple’s MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and the Pixelbook. It isn’t compatible with the Nintendo Switch, even though it uses USB-C.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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