It’s an ugly truth of using modern computers: The rush toward thinner and lighter designs has meant sacrificing the number and types of ports on everything from MacBooks to all-in-one desktops. If you want to plug in anything with a connection other than a USB-C cable, the most efficient option is a USB-C hub, which provides multiple types of ports in a relatively compact package. Our favorite hub is Anker’s PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C PD 10Gbps Data Hub. In addition to having all the right ports, it’s one of the very few hubs with an HDMI port that supports a proper 60 Hz refresh rate on 4K monitors so that animations and movements on screen are nice and smooth—almost every other hub maxes out at 30 Hz, which results in a frustratingly laggy experience.
What we liked
We ran speed tests to measure transfer speeds, and we eliminated anything too slow.
We connected each of the docks via HDMI to the latest monitors and cut any that couldn’t keep up in 4K.
We tested power pass-through speed to measure each hub’s ability to quickly juice up even the hungriest electronics.
We measured each hub’s temperature with an infrared thermometer after 15 minutes of continuous data and Ethernet use.
Ports and features
Plenty of USB-C hubs have a port selection similar to that of the Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C PD 10Gbps Data Hub, but almost none of them support the 4K video signal at 60 Hz that more modern monitors are capable of. That refresh rate guarantees smooth scrolling on supported displays, addressing a major, longtime drawback of this category. In addition to its HDMI port, the PowerExpand 8-in-1 offers the connectors most people need most of the time, and in our tests they worked just as well as expected. This hub is powerful enough to leave at your desk full-time as a docking station but small enough to slip into a laptop bag and use on the go. Although this hub’s price has shot up during 2021’s chip shortage, it’s still the best hub you can get.
Ports and features
If you don’t have a 4K monitor, get the Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C PD Media Hub instead. It’s the little sibling of our top pick, offering a similar port selection at a much lower price. Its USB data-transfer speeds are a little slower than those of the 8-in-1 model but still fast enough for most people. The 7-in-1 model lacks an Ethernet port, and if you do try to use it with a 4K monitor, it produces only a 30 Hz refresh rate, not the superior, smoother movements of the 60 Hz refresh rate of our top pick.
Ports and features
Unlike most of the hubs we’ve tested, the Satechi 4-Port USB-C Hub doesn’t add different kinds of ports. Instead, it turns one USB-C or Thunderbolt port into four USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 connectors. None of the hub’s ports are capable of carrying a video signal or charging in either direction, but the 5 Gbps speed is plenty for connecting input devices or a backup drive.
Ports and features
If you’re mainly concerned about connecting to your computer as many devices as you can, choose the Anker 10-Port 60W USB 3.0 Hub. It has seven upward-facing USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 data ports with a helpful LED activity indicator for each; it also has three 12-watt (2.4-amp) power ports just for charging. As a bonus, it’s aesthetically inoffensive—it doesn’t look like it belongs with the greatest hits of ugly ’90s technology, unlike some of the other hubs we’ve tested. Note that the Anker 10-Port 60W USB 3.0 Hub ships with only a USB-A–to–USB-B cable, so you’ll have to buy a separate USB-B–to–USB-C cable to connect it to many modern computers.
Our picks’ ports compared
|Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1 Data Hub
|Two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, one USB-C power
|Yes (requires laptop’s charger)
|Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 Media Hub
|Two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, one USB-C power
|Yes (requires laptop’s charger)
|Satechi 4-Port USB-C Hub
|Four USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
|Anker 10-Port 60W USB 3.0 Hub
|Seven USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, three USB-A power
Everything we recommend
- Why you should trust me
- Who this is for
- How we picked
- The best USB-C hub: Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C PD 10Gbps Data Hub
- Flaws but not dealbreakers
- A great array of data ports at a lower price: Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C PD Media Hub
- If you need more USB-C ports: Satechi 4-Port USB-C Hub
- If you need to hook up a lot of USB-A accessories at once: Anker 10-Port 60W USB 3.0 Hub
- The competition
Why you should trust me
I’ve been covering mobile and computer accessories for more than a decade. During my tenure, I’ve reviewed more than 1,000 iOS and Mac products, including dozens of hubs and docks over several iterations of this guide.
Who this is for
USB-C hubs and docks let you hook your old stuff up to your new stuff. Many new computers, including Apple’s MacBook models and Dell’s XPS 13, have only USB-C ports. If you need to connect flash drives, printers, an Ethernet cable, a display, or any other accessories you already own, a USB-C hub or dock lets you hook them all up to a single USB-C port at once. If you just need more USB-A ports, a hub or dock that accepts that cable standard is still a great choice.
If you’re looking for a more-powerful desktop docking option and your computer’s USB-C ports also support Thunderbolt 3, you might consider a Thunderbolt 3 dock, which can connect to more monitors and transfer data faster, though you have to pay quite a bit more for the privilege. If you’re simply looking for a way to get more USB-C ports, unfortunately you’re out of luck: As of mid-2021, we have yet to find any USB-C hubs or docks that add extra USB-C data ports.
How we picked
We researched and tested hubs with a number of different port layouts, ranging from models with just USB-A ports to those with USB-A plus power pass-through, video output, Ethernet connectors, and SD card slots.
We tested each hub with a MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019). Our tests included the following:
- USB-A speed: Although USB-A ports generally don’t support data-transfer rates as fast as those of USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 connectors, it’s still important to be able to transfer data quickly. We ran AJA System Test speed tests using the Samsung T5 Portable SSD (500 GB) to measure transfer speeds. Since SSDs are faster than spinning hard drives, our use of the T5 ensured that the speeds we measured weren’t hindered by the drive. Most of the hubs we tested advertised USB 3.0 speeds, which max out at 640 megabytes per second on paper. Our measured speeds landed largely in the 400 to 425 MB/s range; we eliminated any model that was noticeably slower.
- HDMI: A hub can be very useful at a desk, especially if you want to hook your computer up to an external monitor. We connected each of the hubs via HDMI to a Philips 272P7VUBNB/27 monitor with the resolution set to 4K, and we used the Blur Busters UFO Motion Test to confirm the refresh rate. Most hubs support only a 30 Hz refresh rate (the image refreshes 30 times a second) at 4K resolution, but a handful now support a smoother 60 Hz rate, and we prefer those hubs that do.
- Ethernet: A wired Ethernet connection is almost always faster than Wi-Fi and is more reliable, too. Most hubs with Ethernet ports support gigabit speeds, meaning data can transfer at up to 1,000 megabits a second. For each model in the test group, we verified the connection speed in Network Utility on a Mac, which displays the maximum link speed. (Note that unless you have reliable Gigabit Ethernet service, you won’t be able to measure if the port is actually performing at full speed.)
- Heat: Because hubs and adapters can get hot during use—especially, judging from our experience, when Ethernet is in use—we also measured the temperatures of our picks with an infrared thermometer after 15 minutes of continuous data and Ethernet use to make sure they weren’t dangerously hot. As a representative from Satechi (a prolific hub and accessory maker responsible for one of our former picks) explained to us: “All the bandwidth that goes to Ethernet, HDMI, USB and SD card ports requires energy consumption and that’s transferred to heat. Operating temperatures between 86-122 degrees Fahrenheit … are normal.” We didn’t measure anything at or even close to 122 degrees, but we would have disqualified any model going over that temperature as a safety hazard.
- Power pass-through: All the hubs we considered also have a USB-C port that allows you to plug in your charger without taking up a second port on the computer itself (if it even has a second port). USB-C supports power at up to 100 watts, while laptops take anywhere from 30 watts (for a small machine such as the MacBook Air) to 45 watts (for many midrange laptops, as Chromebooks tend to be) to 97 watts (for the 16-inch MacBook Pro). We’ve found the Power tab in macOS’s System Report to accurately report the wattage of the power source, and in our tests we compared the figures stated there against what each company advertised.
- SD card: Photo and video files can be quite large, so with a fast SD-card transfer rate you won’t have to wait around to import a day’s worth of shots from your card. Since SD cards are less commonly used than USB ports these days, this feature isn’t as important. We ran AJA System Test on a 64 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro, the fastest UHS-I card we tested in 2020. We’ve measured read and write rates with this card at 93.78 MB/s and 84.58 MB/s, respectively, in other tests; with these hubs, the fastest read speeds were about 89 MB/s, and write speeds reached 75 MB/s.
- microSD card: Taking what we knew about SD cards, we applied the same thinking toward microSD cards, which are used less frequently these days and are naturally slower. We ran the same test as above using the SanDisk MicroSDXC card for Nintendo Switch. Figures for the best-performing hubs came close to what we’ve seen in other tests, with read speeds around 89 MB/s and write speeds maxing out at about 59 MB/s.
We also took size into consideration. People often use their hubs with a portable setup, so the smaller and lighter a hub is, the better.
The best USB-C hub: Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C PD 10Gbps Data Hub
Unlike other hubs we tested, the Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB-C PD 10Gbps Data Hub can send a clear, crisp image to high-resolution 4K monitors without sacrificing the smooth movement and animation of a high screen-refresh rate. It’s the best way to add the widest array and greatest number of the fastest ports to your USB-C–based computer. Plus, the sturdy and highly portable design makes it handy on the go or even as a semipermanent desk accessory.
Ports and features
The most noteworthy feature of the PowerExpand 8-in-1 is the video output from its HDMI port. Since this product category launched, we’ve been disappointed to see that every hub has limited its video signal to a 30 Hz refresh rate at 4K resolution. But this Anker hub is one of a handful of newer models that—finally—allow for 60 Hz, so they permit 60 refreshes of the display per second, or double the number of images per second compared with a 30 Hz refresh rate. The result is an experience as smooth as you get on the screens of most laptops, and it’s far nicer than the jerkier 30 Hz movement we’re used to.
There are some kinds of ports that all hubs must have, and some that are nice but not necessary; the PowerExpand 8-in-1 hub has the essentials and omits anything superfluous. In our tests, this Anker model’s ports worked as expected. Its USB read and write speeds were faster than those of USB 3.1 Gen 1 models (that is, pretty much all the other hubs we tested) by about 22% for reading data and 12% for writing—on a par with the speeds of other USB 3.2 Gen 2 models we’ve tested. The Ethernet port, which is useful if you need a hardwired internet connection, measured at 1 gigabit per second, as advertised.
The PowerExpand 8-in-1 also has SD and microSD card slots on one edge for photo and video transfers. Their speeds match the fastest we’ve seen in our tests over the past several years.
When we connected Nekteck’s 100W PD 3.0 GaN Wall Charger to the hub, our 16-inch MacBook Pro reported receiving 85 watts—enough for the MacBook Pro to stay powered and to charge at just a little slower than full speed. The PowerExpand 8-in-1 can pass enough power for most laptops to charge at full speed, whether the laptop is a Chromebook, an ultrabook, or just about any smaller MacBook.
This aluminum hub is a bit larger than comparable devices, at 4.8 inches long, 2.2 inches wide, and 0.6 inch thick. Its 7-inch USB-C cable is long enough that you should be able to position the hub as needed, and the cable feels sturdy but not so stiff that it’s hard to keep the cord where you want it.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
This Anker hub’s price has jumped dramatically in 2021, from a usual selling price of $60 to $90 at this writing. Such a price hike isn’t unique to this particular product or to Anker, though, as chip shortages, shipping delays, and Amazon’s brand delistings have thrown a major wrench into the works for hubs and docks. If you can’t justify spending nearly $100 on a hub, consider our budget pick.
The PowerExpand 8-in-1’s two USB-A ports are somewhat tightly arranged side by side, so you may not be able to connect multiple flash drives or thicker plugs at a time.
Like many USB-C hubs we’ve tested, the PowerExpand 8-in-1 gets hot during use. We measured it at 108.7 °F after 15 minutes with the USB-C power cable and a USB drive plugged in. That’s warm enough to be noticeable when you touch the hub, but not so much that it’s dangerous—as we noted above, that’s within the normal operating temperature for this kind of accessory. Your laptop’s charger probably gets hotter than that.
A great array of data ports at a lower price: Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C PD Media Hub
Anker’s PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB-C PD Media Hub offers nearly the same number and variety of ports as the more expensive 8-in-1 model, but there are a few key differences. All of its USB ports are slower, supporting USB 3.2 Gen 1 speeds rather than Gen 2. It doesn’t have an Ethernet connection, and the HDMI port supports only a 30 Hz refresh rate for 4K monitors. For many people, though, these trade-offs are well worth the significantly lower price. If you don’t have or plan to get a 4K monitor and use only Wi-Fi, this Anker hub offers as much as you’re likely to need.
Ports and features
The PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 Media Hub’s USB data-transfer speeds are slower than the 8-in-1 model’s but in line with those of every other USB 3.2 Gen 1 hub—that is, pretty much every other hub. In comparison with the results we got from the 8-in-1 model, both the USB-A and USB-C speeds were about 20% slower in read and 12% slower in write. But those figures are absolutely fine for daily tasks; unless you’re constantly transferring a lot of data, you’d likely never notice a difference. The tested SD and microSD speeds were just about the same between the two models.
We found the biggest bummer with this hub to be its video performance, but again that’s mostly in comparison with our top pick. The HDMI port doesn’t support 60 Hz in 4K, instead maxing out at 30 Hz. If you plan on connecting your hub to an external 4K monitor and expect smooth performance, this hub simply can’t do it. For lower-resolution displays, including some of our top picks, the refresh rate will be fine at up to 60 Hz.
Physically, this hub is about the same size as Anker’s 8-in-1 hub. It’s a little shorter, and actually a few grams heavier, but it’s still totally portable.
If you need more USB-C ports: Satechi 4-Port USB-C Hub
A hub that adds many different kinds of connectors to your computer can be useful if you need to hook up to many different kinds of accessories. But if you’re more concerned about adding more USB-C ports, especially if your computer has a limited number of them, we recommend Satechi’s 4-Port USB-C Hub. It’s the only reputable model we’ve found that splits one USB-C port into four. And though it’s limited to data transfer, and not video or power passthrough, it performs exactly as well as promised.
Ports and features
Our tests showed the Satechi’s data speeds were in the range we’d expect from USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 ports, and about the same as we measured on the PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 Media Hub. If you’re regularly transferring large amounts of data, you might feel limited by the speeds. But if you’re just leaving a drive connected for Time Machine backups or occasionally plugging in a flash drive, you’ll be fine.
Read and write speeds on the Satechi 4-Port USB-C Hub, in megabytes per second.
If you want to connect to an external monitor, charge a device, or do passthrough charging to your computer, this hub is not the right choice for you. Its ports do data, and data only.
The Satechi hub is 2.4 inches square and less than a quarter inch at its thickest point, making it smaller than the rest of the models in this guide (not needing to accommodate taller ports, such as USB-A, allows it to be this thin). Its 8.75-inch, permanently attached cable feels sturdy and should be long enough that you can position it as needed without it being unwieldy.
If you need to hook up a lot of USB-A accessories at once: Anker 10-Port 60W USB 3.0 Hub
Ports and features
The Anker 10-Port 60W USB 3.0 Hub is the best hub for most people who need to connect a lot of devices at once. It has a great, usable design that most competitors lack: Sporting seven upright-facing USB-A data ports (3.2 Gen 1) plus three USB-A charging ports each capable of supplying 12 watts, it’s one of the few multiport USB-A hubs we trust that are still available as USB-C becomes the new standard.
We connected seven of our favorite flash drives to the hub and transferred data to them while also charging an iPad on one of the hub’s charging ports. It was just as speedy as the best of the other large hubs we tested—but they all had worse designs in one way or another.
All 10 of the hub’s ports face upward to reduce desk clutter, so you don’t have a bunch of USB plugs sticking out in every direction. Although Anker advertises the three charging ports as providing 2.1 amps (or 10.5 watts) each, we measured them at 2.4 amps each (12 watts). Anker told us that when all the ports are in use, individual ports “might not reach the max 2.4A value,” so the company under-promises on performance. This hub’s measured results indicate that it can charge even power-hungry tablets, as well as smartphones and other devices, at fast rates. (There’s no harm in plugging your phone into a 12-watt charging port—the phone will draw only as much current as it needs.) This Anker hub also kept all our devices connected and charging—we didn’t experience any unexplained disconnections during our tests. And the charging ports work even if the hub is connected only to its AC adapter and not to a computer.
It’s still just a black rectangle, but it’s sturdy, designed with an LED indicator for each data port, and equipped with lengthy AC and USB cords for easy setup. It’s also covered by an 18-month warranty. Note that this 10-port hub comes with a USB-A cable, so if you’re looking to connect it to a USB-C–based computer, you’ll need a USB-C–to–USB-B cable.
Anker’s USB hubs are especially reliable. One Wirecutter editor has been actively using a variant of this pick since 2013, and it’s still working well, so we’re confident this hub will last you.
Ugreen’s 9-in-1 USB C Hub was our former upgrade pick for an Ethernet connection, but like all of the other models we’ve dismissed, its video output is limited to 30 Hz at high resolution.
Vava’s VA-UC010 and Aukey’s Link PD Pro USB-C Hub (CB-C71) are a little slower than our picks. Of their three USB-A ports, only two support USB 3.0 speeds, with the last limited to 2.0 rates. But they each have an Ethernet port, so if that’s of value to you and one of these models pops up at a great price, go for it.
Aukey’s 12-in-1 USB-C Hub (CB-C78) is large and expensive—for the price, you get two HDMI ports and four USB-A ports, among others. In our testing, its SD and microSD read and write speeds were much slower than those of other models.
Despite advertising 60-watt power pass-through, Anker’s PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB C Hub (similarities in name aside, this model is different from our budget pick) put out only 48 watts in our tests.
Twelve South’s StayGo comes with both a short USB-C cable (which you can store inside the unit) and a longer cable; the combination allows you to easily use the hub at your desk or on the go. Unfortunately, at 5 inches long and 2.4 inches wide, this model is larger than most of the hubs we’ve seen, and in our testing it didn’t produce a proper 30 Hz refresh rate even at 1080p resolution, let alone 60 Hz at 4K. It’s also the most expensive hub we tested.
Kingston’s Nucleum is one of the few USB-C hubs to feature a USB-C data port in addition to one for power, but it lacks an Ethernet connection. If you value that extra USB-C port and don’t need Ethernet, consider it.
Satechi’s Aluminum Multi-Port Adapter V2 is very expensive but has a good array of ports, including Ethernet. It’s worth considering if you see it on sale.
Satechi’s Slim Aluminum Type-C Multi-Port Adapter has only two USB-A ports and typically costs more than our pick, but we like the streamlined design.
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