Best USB-C hubs for your laptop or tablet

The best USB-C hub allows you to add connections and ports that your laptop or tablet lacks: an HDMI connection, an SD card slot, or simply more USB ports for storage, mice or keyboards. It’s also important to know whether what you’re looking for is a true USB-C hub, or a more powerful, pricier Thunderbolt dock. We’ll help you choose which to buy.

Laptops with USB-C ports are now almost ubiquitous, as the world moves away from slower, inflexible USB-A ports to this faster, more versatile connection standard. Some laptops only have USB-C connections—that means a USB-C hub is essential if you want to connect a wired USB-A mouse or keyboard, or an older wired printer. 

Fortunately, there are so many USB-C hubs available with various combinations of legacy I/O that finding one to meet your particular needs is as easy as ordering off a menu. We’ve divided our picks into two categories: basic and full-featured, the latter denoting hubs that offer greater extensibility, including hubs that supply charging capabilities for phones.

Expect to pay about $20 for the “basic” category of hubs that combine USB-A ports and SD card slots and little more. The more advanced full-featured options can run up to $70 or so, depending upon which ports are included. For whatever reason, too, the shelf life of a USB-C hub is short! If one of our listings is sold out, there may be an “upgraded” replacement available.

We’ve tried a sampling of hubs to point out details you can’t tell from the specs, like whether the ports are too crowded or the hub runs a bit hot. Below our picks you can find information on how to choose a USB-C hub versus Thunderbolt and how we tested these hubs in our evaluations. Our recommendations for the best Thunderbolt docks can be found in a separate story.

Ben Patterson/IDG

A USB-C hub connects to the USB-C on the side of your laptop, such as on this Lenovo Yoga C740. In this example, the left port is used for charging, so you’d need to buy a USB-C hub with a charging input to use with this slot. (Of course, you could also buy a hub without charging capabilities and use it in the other USB-C port, to the right of the charging port.)

The best basic USB-C hubs

You shouldn’t have to think too hard about a basic USB-C hub. Look for a good price, consider whether you want to pay a little extra for something like ethernet, and try to find products with a good warranty for added peace of mind. Avoid any hubs that connect directly to the port rather than using a cord, as they can block other ports. Also look for longer cords, so that your hub hubs won’t dangle from a tablet.

Our picks for the best budget USB-C hubs haven’t changed for April 2021.

AUKEY CB-C72 Multiport USB-C Hub

AUKEY CB-C72 Multiport USB-C Hub

If you’re considering a USB-C to USB-A hub like the AmazonBasics L6LUD012-CS-R, it’s worth weighing Aukey’s hub first. That’s because (at press time) Aukey’s hub was cheaper and gave you a different complement of ports. 

The CB-C72 is a replacement for the CB-C65, which we recommended previously and has since gone out of stock. It’s nearly identical in size (3.8 x 1.1 x 0.4 inches) and weight (1.9 oz./0.12 lb.), with a cord an inch shorter at just under six inches. The CB-C65 had three USB-A ports, which may be handy if you want to connect a wired mouse, keyboard, and an external hard drive. The CB-C72 has only two USB-A connections, but the spacing between the ports is sufficient. There are also SD and microSD slots, plus an HDMI output. (It does lack an ethernet port, however, so you’ll be forced to use Wi-Fi.)

There were some quirks in the CB-C65 that may be repeated in the CB-C72. In the earlier model, Aukey asked you to insert the microSD card upside down, though it thankfully did away with the awkward spring-loaded slot that sucks your card into many competing products. As this is a basic hub, there’s no charging input, which means your laptop or tablet will need a second USB-C port or a dedicated power cord for charging while using the hub.

AmazonBasics USB 3.1 Type C to 3 Port USB Hub with Ethernet (L6LUD001-CS-R)

AmazonBasics USB 3.1 Type C to 3 Port USB Hub with Ethernet (L6LUD001-CS-R)

The AmazonBasics L6LUD001-CS-R provides three USB 3.1 Type A ports, plus Gigabit ethernet, to your laptop’s existing USB-C port. There are no HDMI or charging inputs; this is merely an incremental step up from the AmazonBasics L6LUD012-CS-R, which forgoes the ethernet capabilities.

This hub is handy for those who don’t have or don’t trust Wi-Fi on the go. The lengthy 14-inch cord adds some flexibility to your desktop layout. The hub performed comparably to the others we’ve tested, and there weren’t any issues with temperature or power.

At press time, the price was only $3 or so above the price of the aforementioned AmazonBasics L6LUD012-CS-R, which makes this a no-brainer if you just want a basic hub. Though the hub ships in both black and white, we noticed Amazon will occasionally discount one or the other by a few dollars.

 

 

The best full-featured USB-C hubs

Upper-tier USB-C hubs typically feature even more ports, including ethernet, HDMI, and power inputs. This is essentially the dongle equivalent of a docking station. Many of these fancier hubs share the same basic six-inch cable of their more basic cousins, meaning they may dangle from tablets and some laptops. And then, of course, there’s IOgear’s Dock Pro, which is as close to a true dock as we’ve seen.

#USBC #hubs #laptop #tablet

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