Laptop with USB hub and phone

The Best USB and USB C Hubs of 2020

By Jordan Nottrodt Accessories2 Comments

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If you’ve been in the market for a new laptop lately, you’ve probably noticed that more and more models are being designed with fewer and fewer ports. Some of the most recent MacBook models, for instance, have just a pair of Thunderbolt 3/USB C ports and nothing else.

Apple may be done with external devices, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us are. USB hubs give back the flexibility that manufacturers have taken away, letting you connect to all of those things that don’t have USB C ports: HDMI TVs and monitors, Ethernet cables, SD cards, or just a simple memory stick. Some even let you charge your laptop or other devices from them as well.

We’ve pulled together our favorite USB and USB C hubs for various needs including travel and those on a budget, plus the best product overall. Be sure to determine whether you’ll be plugging yours into a USB-A (old-school) or USB C (the newer type) port before you start shopping around.

Best Powered USB Hub: Atolla 5-Port USB 3.0 Hub
  • Connection Type: USB-A
  • Size: 4.7 x 1.8 x 0.9 inches (121 x 46 x 23 mm)
  • Weight: 8.5oz (242g)
  • Ports: 1x USB-A charging, 4x USB-A data

Sale
Best Powered USB C Hub: Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1
  • Connection Type: USB C
  • Size: 4.6 x 2.1 x 0.6 inches (117 x 53 x 15 mm)
  • Weight: 3.5oz (99g)
  • Ports: 1 x USB C PD, 1 x USB C data, 2 x USB-A data, 1 x 4K HDMI, 1 x SD, 1 x microSD

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Best USB C Hub For Travel: Anker 5-in-1 USB C Hub
  • Connection Type: USB C
  • Size: 4.4 x 0.9 x 0.7 inches (112 x 23 x 17 mm)
  • Weight: 1.9oz (54g)
  • Ports: 3 x USB-A data, 1 x 4K HDMI, 1 x Ethernet

Best USB Hub On A Budget: Sabrent 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub
  • Connection Type: USB-A
  • Size: 3.4 x 1.4 x 0.6 inches (86 x 36 x 15 mm)
  • Weight: 1.7oz (48g)
  • Ports: 4 x USB-A data

Best USB C Hub On A Budget: AUKEY 5 in 1 USB C Hub
  • Connection Type: USB C
  • Size: 3.9 x 1.3 x 0.4 inches (499 x 33 x 11 mm)
  • Weight: 1.2oz (35g)
  • Ports: 3 x USB-A data, 1 x SD, 1 x microSD

Best USB C Hub For Macbooks: Anker PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2
  • Connection Type: 2 x USB C
  • Size: 4.7 x 1.1 x 0.4 inches (12 x 2.9 x 1cm)
  • Weight: 1.1oz (32g)
  • Ports: 1 x USB C PD, 1 x USB C data, 2 x USB-A data, 1 x 4K HDMI, 1 x SD, 1 x microSD

What to Consider When Choosing a USB Hub

Compared to most tech gadgets, USB hubs don’t cost much. You can buy a top of the line device for less than $50, while reliable budget models can be found for under ten bucks. 

First and foremost, shop for a USB hub that meets your technical requirements and includes the ports you need. If your laptop only has a USB C port, make sure to only look for hubs that connect via a USB C cable. If you only need a few extra USB sockets, don’t go wild with a 12-in-1 hub that has a bunch of features you’ll never use.

Powered USB Hubs and Charging Devices

Powered USB hubs plug into an external electrical source as well as your laptop. This is usually a wall socket, but can sometimes also be a portable battery. Since they have their own power, you don’t have to worry about draining your laptop’s battery while using them. 

Some powered USB hubs support Power Delivery, which lets you fast-charge phones, tablets, or even the laptop itself over USB C. If you’re planning to charge your laptop like this, make sure that the hub has enough power to do it. While some laptops need as little as 30W, others need as much as 85W to charge at full speed. Check the specifications carefully! 

Even with a powered hub, don’t expect to charge all of your devices at once. Just because the hub has the ports, it doesn’t mean they are designed for charging. Most give one additional port for charging at most, which should be indicated in the product description as a pass-through or USB C Power Delivery port. 

USB or USB C data ports are only designed to connect accessories, not charge them, but some brands gloss over the difference or only mention it in the fine print. Read the product specifications carefully, and assume if it doesn’t mention charging, it’s not designed for it.

USB Hubs vs. USB C Hubs

Simply put, USB hubs connect to USB-A ports and USB C hubs connect to USB C ports. Those big, flat USB-A ports were the standard for many years, and odds are you still have an old USB key lying around with photos, documents, or movie files on it. 

Older laptops likely have a few USB-A sockets for charging and using older accessories. Newer laptops may have a mix of USB-A and USB C ports, while the latest models often don’t have any USB-A ports at all.

USB-A to USB C cable
Left: USB-A. Right: USB C

Since it’s far more powerful and versatile, USB C is the new standard for many industries. It can support higher video quality, transfer data at higher speeds, and charge devices faster, all with a slimmer design and a plug that can be inserted in either direction. If your laptop has a USB C slot, that’s the way to go. Otherwise, look for a regular USB hub.

Bottom line? Make sure the hub can connect to your computer, and make sure it has the right type and number of ports you need.

Best Powered USB Hub

Powered USB Hub, atolla Aluminum 5-Port USB 3.0 Hub with 4 USB 3.0 Data Ports and 1 USB Smart Charging Port, USB Splitter with 5V/3A Power Adapter and Individual Switches

USB hubs are becoming less common as more and more laptops and other devices switch to USB C cables. If you’re still in the market for one that plugs into a USB-A port, check out Atolla’s 5-Port USB 3.0 hub

Compatible with most Windows, macOS, and Linux systems, the hub ships with an optional wall adapter for when you’re using power-hungry devices. It includes four data-only USB 3.0 ports on the top of the hub, along with a fast-charging port that can put out up to 2.4 amps (12W). 

In a useful touch, each of the ports on top has a separate on/off switch and lights up to let you know it’s in use. This simple hub is ideal for transferring files, charging a single device, and connecting external accessories like a mouse, keyboard, or card reader.

Pros
  • Fast-charging port
  • USB 3.0 data ports for faster file transfer
  • Individual on/off switch for each port
Cons
  • Only has USB-A ports, nothing else
Buy on Amazon

Best Powered USB C Hub

Anker USB C Hub, PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB C Hub Adapter, with 4K HDMI, 100W Power Delivery, USB-C and 2 USB-A 5Gbps Data Ports, microSD and SD Card Reader, for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, XPS, and More

The Anker PowerExpand+ 7-in-1 USB C hub has all of the ports you’re likely to need, while supporting Power Delivery (PD) for charging your laptop as well. Plug it into a wall socket and you’ll get pass-through charging of up to 85W, while still being able to use all of the ports.

Those include a USB C Power Delivery port, USB C data, two USB 3.0 data, 4K HDMI, and both SD and microSD card readers. This should easily cover most requirements, and thanks to that pass-through charging, you don’t even lose a USB C port in the process.

The only real downside is that you can’t charge from the USB 3.0 ports or the USB C data port, so this isn’t the answer for powering a bunch of devices at the same time. For almost anything else, however, it’s the way to go.

Pros
  • 85W PD pass-through charging
  • USB 3.0 ports for quick file transfer
  • 4K HDMI port (30Hz)
  • 18-month warranty
Cons
  • Larger design than some other hubs
  • Only one charging port
Buy on Amazon

Best USB C Hub For Travel

Anker USB C Hub [Upgraded], 5-in-1 USB C Adapter with 4K USB C to HDMI, Ethernet Port, 3 USB 3.0 Ports, for MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, XPS, Pixelbook, and More

If you like to travel light, you’ll appreciate Anker’s slimline 5-in-1 USB C hub. It weighs less than two ounces, but despite the small size it manages to pack in three USB 3.0 data ports, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. It also comes with a convenient pouch to protect your hub on the move.

The USB 3.0 ports are all data-only, and aren’t intended for charging. They’re designed for connecting external devices such as a hard drive, mouse, or keyboard, and will quickly transfer files to or from your laptop.

If your laptop supports USB C Power Delivery, however, or you know you’ll need the extra USB C ports or card readers, it’s worth considering the Anker 7-in-1 USB C Hub mentioned above. It’s a bit bigger and heavier, but the extra ports and pass-through charging will justify the size for many travelers. 

Pros
  • Slim, lightweight design
  • USB 3.0 ports for quick file transfer
  • 4K HDMI port (30Hz)
  • Ethernet port for old-school hotels
  • 18-month warranty
Cons
  • USB-A (3.0) ports do not support charging
  • No USB C ports
Buy on Amazon

Best USB Hub On A Budget

Sabrent 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub with Individual LED Power Switches | 2 Ft Cable | Slim & Portable | for Mac & PC (HB-UM43)

The Sabrent 4-Port USB 3.0 hub is a simple and effective budget USB hub that lets you turn one USB port into four. All ports supports transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps, but since they’re not powered, don’t expect to charge your devices from them. 

Compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems, the hub is lightweight and includes individual on/off switches for each USB port. It also comes with a two-foot cable, which may be good or bad depending on your needs.

That cable will get you closer to other devices like an external monitor or television screen, but it can get in the way if you don’t need the extra length.

You won’t be adding any extra power or functionality with this hub, but it’s a cheap and easy way of adding a bunch of USB ports to your laptop or desktop computer. 

Pros
  • Low price
  • Compact design
  • USB 3.0 ports for faster file transfer
Cons
  • Only has USB-A ports
  • Not designed for charging devices
Buy on Amazon

Best USB C Hub On A Budget

USB C Hub AUKEY 5 in 1 USB Type C Adapter with SD/TF Card Reader & 3 USB 3.0 Ports (5Gbps Data Transfer Speed) USB C Adapter for 2017/2016 MacBook Pro, and More (Black)

The AUKEY 5 in 1 USB C hub is an easy, low-cost way of making better use of your laptop’s USB C ports. The hub includes a SD/microSD card reader and three USB 3.0 sockets, ideal for adding an external mouse or keyboard, or transferring files via a memory stick or portable drive. 

It does what it needs to for the price, and covers the basic needs of many laptop owners. If you’re looking to charge your devices or do anything fancy, you’ll need to spend a little more, but it’s lightweight, small enough to fit in your pocket, and has a two-year replacement warranty that’s more than you get with many far more expensive accessories.

One thing worth noting: since this isn’t a powered hub, some accessories with higher power requirements (like certain hard drives) may not work reliably. Keep the total power draw to under 0.9 amps, however, and you’ll be fine.

Pros
  • Low price
  • Compact design
  • USB 3.0 ports for faster file transfer
  • 24-month replacement warranty
Cons
  • Not designed for charging devices
  • No extra USB C sockets
  • No other features beyond USB-A ports
Buy on Amazon

Best USB Hub For MacBooks

Anker USB C Hub for MacBook, PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB C Adapter Compatible with Thunderbolt 3 USB C Port, 100W Power Delivery, 4K HDMI, USB C and 2 USB A Data Ports, SD and microSD Card Reader

Apple has been ruthless about removing ports from its laptops, forcing users to resort to expansion hubs to add them back. USB C ports may be the way of the future, but chances are you’re still lugging around some tech from the past, and if you’re not, those around you are. When you get tossed a USB key to grab a file, you need to know you can connect it.

The Anker PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB C Hub for MacBook includes a Thunderbolt 3 USB C port with 100W PD charging, a USB C data transfer port, two USB 3.0 ports, SD and microSD card readers, and an HDMI port.

The slim device matches the look of Apple laptops, attaching directly to both USB C slots on the side of your laptop. This means you won’t have any cords hanging loose off of your computer, but you also won’t get any closer to other devices if you’re trying to share ports with friends or reach a wall-mounted TV.

The downside to this device is that you need to plug it into two Thunderbolt 3 ports but only get one in return. This is fine if you have a MacBook with four USB C ports, but if yours only has two, you might want the bulkier 7-in-1 version of the hub instead.

We posted an in-depth review of the Anker PowerExpand Direct USB C Hub earlier this year.

Pros
  • 100W Power Delivery
  • USB 3.0 ports for faster file transfer
  • Lightweight
  • Matches the aesthetic of Apple laptops
  • 18-month warranty
Cons
  • Reduces two Thunderbolt 3 ports to one
  • Not meant for charging multiple devices at once
Buy on Amazon

No one wants to carry around extra tech gadgets they’ll never use. When choosing which USB hub is right for you, consider which ports you need and how often you’ll actually use them. 

If you don’t need all of the bells and whistles, save yourself some money and space by going for the smaller, simpler models. If you think you’ll use extras like card readers and HDMI ports or want to charge your laptop and other devices from your hub, on the other hand, it’s worth the additional size and cost to grab a model that includes those features. 

Looking for more recommendations? These are our favorite USB and Bluetooth microphones, portable monitors, and laptop stands.


Main image via Yogas Design, USB-A to USB C cable via Fructibus / CC0, product images via Amazon

About the Author
Jordan Nottrodt

Jordan Nottrodt

Jordan works remotely, from home or abroad, to help businesses conquer their online messaging. When she's not working or relaxing outside, she's watching movies and shows to contribute to her goal of creating the largest database of online drinking games. Spark an immediate and detailed conversation by mentioning Mad Men or Game of Thrones.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    How about a hub with charging through the USB or USB-C ports?

    If both USB-C ports on my MBA are occupied and I want to plug in an iPad, I can do so with almost any hub. But the iPad will not charge.

    (Sidecar won’t work on my iPad Air 2. I have to use the iPad’s single port for a cable hookup to the Mac to run Duet.)

    Is there a technical reason manufacturers leave out charging through data ports?

    1. Dave Dean

      Yeah, it’s a real frustration. I haven’t used anything that would reliably do what you’re after — this Anker model might do the job, but the output is only rated to 1.5A. Without physically trying it, I can’t make any promises.

      If not, you’d probably end up needing to buy a docking station rather than a USB C hub — something like this looks like it might work, but it costs more and is less portable.

      I don’t think there’s a technical reason why it’s not included so much as a cost-saving one, to be honest.

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