Looking for the best USB-C hub for your laptop? This guide will show you want to look for, and take you for the various options available – as well as showing the best prices today.
There was once a time when all USB connectors looked the same. In recent years, a different type of connector has emerged, called USB-C, which is rapidly becoming the industry standard.
USB-C is smaller and more oval than the older type of USB connector, which is nowadays referred to as USB-A. It allows you to transfer data at faster speeds than the latter, as well as outputting video at higher resolution and faster refresh rates. (Note, though, that not all USB-C connections are equal, and the very fastest support the Thunderbolt protocol, which is the gold standard for speed).
What is a USB-C hub?
The rise of USB-C has dovetailed with a trend for ultrathin and lightweight devices, which typically feature a very limited number of ports because there just isn't room for them. For example, the Dell XPS 13 is an excellent laptop, but it has only two USB-C ports, a microSD slot, a headphone jack... and that's it.
So how can you use an SD card with such a laptop? What if you want to connect it to the internet via an Ethernet cable, or stream video to your TV via an HDMI or VGA cable? And what do you do with all your aging USB-A devices, such as your hard drive or flash drives? That's where a good USB-C hub comes in.
A USB-C hub basically a small adapter that you plug into your laptop's USB-C port, and which features a range of slots so you can connect other devices to it.
The only problem is that there are a vast array of USB-C hubs on the market, and many of them don't work particularly well. So we've narrowed things down for you, bringing together 10 top-quality USB-C hubs in one article.
Why do some USB-C hubs cost more?
You'll notice that USB-C hubs range hugely in price. So apart from superior build quality, what else do you get with the more expensive models?
Well for starters, you can expect a wider variety of ports, and more ports in total. That said, it's worth thinking about whether you want all of these, or whether you're better off saving the money and just having the few ports you need. We've listed the exact ports each model features, to help you work this out.
Pricier USB-C hubs also typically feature passthrough charging. This means you can use your USB-C hub to charge your laptop, at the same time as connecting other devices. This is especially useful if your laptop only has one USB-C slot, because otherwise you'd have to run it on battery while using your USB hub.
The 10 best USB-C hubs of 2021
This USB-C Hub basically ticks all the boxes. It It has a wide range of ports, allowing you to connect up to seven devices at once. It offers pass-through charging via one of the two USB-C slots, allowing you to charge your laptop with up to 60W of juice. You can also use one of the USB-A slots to charge your smartphone.
The Kingston Nucleum’s includes slots for both SD and microSD cards, making it a great choice for working photographers and other creative people. You can also use the HDMI port to output to a 4K or HD monitor or projector.
The aluminum case is sturdy, durable and smart looking. It’s also small and relatively lightweight (at 1.3kg), making it very portable. All this, for a very fair and affordable price, makes the Kingston Nucleum our clear choice as the best USB-C hub available today.
Watching the pennies? Then you can get a USB-C hub that’s almost as good as the Kingston Nucleum for an even cheaper price, in the form of the Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1.
To save this money, you’ll need to make a few small compromises. Firstly, there’s just one USB-C port in this hub, and passthrough taps out at a maximum of 48W, so it’ll take longer to charge your laptop. Also, you can only stream 4K to your TV or monitor at a 30Hz refresh rate, so you’ll need to switch to HD to get the full 60Hz experience.
However, the plus side, this device is lovely and light, at 99g. There’s again a wide range of ports, including SD and microSD slots. And unlike in the Kingston Nucleum, you get an Ethernet connection too. Along with an 18-month warranty, this makes this USB-C hub an absolute bargain in our eyes.
The standout feature of the Corsair TBT100 Thunderbolt 3 Dock is its two HDMI 2.0 ports, enabling you to stream to two 4K displays at once, at 60Hz, if you so wish. It’s also one of only two USB-C hubs on this list to include a headphone/microphone jack.
And that’s not all. The Corsair TBT100 supports Thunderbolt 3, for faster transfer speeds. It provides up to 85W of passthrough charging. And with nine ports in total, you’re sure to find all the connectivity you need here, well unless you need a microSD slot. Besides that, the only real disadvantage of buying the Corsair TBT100 is its price, which is eye-watering high.
This Dell DA300 6-in-1 USB-C Hub is both small and beautifully formed, with an attractive circular design and a retractable cable. In fact, we'd argue it's the best looking USB-C hub on the market, full stop.
It's also wonderfully portable, weighing just under 82g, and includes six ports in total which should cover most bases: namely, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, a VGA port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, an USB Type-C port and an USB 3.1 port. Note that it doesn't offer passthrough charging, though, and there are no slots for SD and microSD cards.
It’s handy when you can use your USB-C hub to charge your laptop, especially if it’s one with only one USB-C slot in total. And you need this feature but don't want to spend much money, we’d suggest you check out the HooToo USB C Hub, which offers an impressive 100W of passthrough charging.
It’s also wonderfully small and light, includes SD and microSD card slot and an impressive three USB-A ports, and is surprisingly cheap. Its only real downsides are the lack of Ethernet connectivity and the fact that you can only stream 4K at 30Hz. Also it has a very bright LED light that you can't turn off and can be a little annoying.
Here’s another great option if you’re looking for a cheap USB-C hub that can charge your devices at up to 100W. It's small and very light at just 60g, making it super-portable. And with SD and microSD card slots, three USB-A ports and HDMI connectivity, it's going to serve most people's needs well. Note that there’s no Ethernet and you can only stream 4K at 30Hz, but at this low price, that seems more than fair.
For some people, mixing and matching an Apple laptop with non-Apple accessories can be a frustrating experience, both in terms of functionality and aesthetics. So if you’re a true Apple fan, there’s no doubt about it: you’re going to want the brand’s official USB-C hub.
Admittedly, there are only three ports here: a Thunderbolt USB-C port, a USB-A (USB 3.0) port, and a 4K HDMI port. But if that’s all you need, then you’ll be able to avoid sullying your set up with non-Apple equipment, and you certainly won’t have any worries about compatibility.
Want to connect a LOT of USB-A devices to your USB-C Hub? Then check out the Dell WD15, which offers five ports for this purpose, with three featuring USB 3.0 and two featuring USB 2.0. With 11 ports in total, you also get a range of options for display and video, in the form of HDMI, VGA and Mini DisplayPort.
On the negative side, it’s a bit disappointing there are no extra USB-C ports, 4K output is only at 30Hz, and there are no SD or microSD slots. Plus, overall this is quite expensive for a USB-C hub.
If outputting high-resolution video to a range of monitors is your main area of interest, you’ll want to take a look at the Dell D6000. Impressively, this USB-C hub supports up to three HD or 4K monitors, or one 5K monitor, all running at a smooth 60Hz.
Also note that this is not just a USB-C hub but can also be connected to your laptop via USB-A. The main negatives are the lack of support for VGA, SD or microSD cards, and the high price.
If you want to output to two 4K displays, but don’t want something big and bulky, then the Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Mini Dock could be the choice for you. At just over 100g, and with a handy tuck-away wire, it’s small enough to fit in your pocket. Which makes it very impressive that it can drive dual 4K displays at 60Hz simultaneously.
Beyond that, though, there’s not much to shout about. it supports only four ports: one USB 3.1 port, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort and an RJ45 Ethernet port. It doesn’t offer passthrough charging. And it’s pretty expensive. So if 4K output and portability aren’t your main priorities, you’ll probably wish to head elsewhere.