5 Best USB-C Hubs and Docks 2020

After spending 20 hours testing 22 USB-C hubs and five USB-C docks, we expect Vava’s VA-UC006 USB-C Hubs is that the best choice for connecting older peripherals and auxiliary storage devices to a new laptop or MacBook. It has an ideal range of ports that all transfer data at full speed, it’s sturdily built, it’s small and light enough to throw in a bag, and it’s reasonably priced.


The best USB-C hub

$60
A portable hub with every port you’re likely to need: two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet, USB-C power passthrough, and both SD and microSD card readers.

With three USB-A ports plus HDMI (with 4K support), Ethernet, SD, microSD, and power passthrough, the Vava VA-UC006 USB-C hubs offer the connectors most people need most of the time. It’s powerful enough to leave at your desk full-time as a docking station but small enough to slip in your laptop bag and use it on the go. The only downside is that the Ethernet port hinges open, a design that saves space but is more likely to break than a standard Ethernet port.

Our pick plugged into a Macbook pro USB-C Hubs
Photo: Michael Hession

Vava’s VA-UC006 USB-C Hubs is that the best thanks to adding the widest array and greatest number of ports to your USB-C–based computer during a highly portable and sturdy package. it’s all the proper connections—three USB-A ports, USB-C Hubs power passthrough, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and microSD and SD card slots—to be handy on the go, or maybe to act as a semi-permanent desk accessory. Nothing else comes on the brink of offering an equivalent combination of performance, design, and price.

The aluminum USB-C hubs measure 4 inches long, 2 inches wide—similar in size to an old iPod nano—and but half an in. at its thickest point. Its 6-inch USB-C cable is long enough that you simply should be ready to position it as required, and therefore the cable itself feels sturdy but not so stiff that it’ll be hard to stay it where you would like it. At but 2.5 ounces, the USB-C hubs are straightforward to pack and doesn’t weigh you down.

Nothing else comes on the brink of offering the Vava USB-C hubs’ combination of performance, design, and price.

There are some ports all USB-C hubs got to have, and a few that are nice but not necessary; the Vava USB-C hubs has all of the above. You will get two USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 Type-A ports, (when we formerly tested the Vava came with three 3.0 ports) and in our examining each of the transferred data to a transportable SSD at average read speeds of 414 MB/s and write speeds of 366 MB/s (these figures were consistent across most of the hubs and docks we examined). Next thereto line of ports is an HDMI port that in our testing pushed out 4K video at 60 Hz from the XPS 13 needless to say. The Mac was limited to 30 Hz because getting 60 Hz, 4K video out of a Mac requires a particular setup; the iPad Pro was also limited to a 30 Hz refresh rate.

the back side of the Vava USB-C Hubs
The Vava USB-C hubs microSD and SD card slots. Photo: Michael Hession

The Vava also has SD and microSD card slots on the other edge for photo transfers. The full-size SD card slot averaged 87 MB/s read and 76 MB/s write in our analyses. Those speeds are a touch slower than what our standalone USB-C SD card reader pick produced, but not by much, and they’re as fast because the results from the slot on the other hub we tested. The microSD card speeds were slower at 86 MB/s read and 58 MB/s write, but again, with those speeds the Vava matched or beat the competition.

Finally, the Vava features a USB-C port for power passthrough and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Our 13-inch MacBook Pro reported receiving 49 watts once we connected Apple’s 61 W charger to the hub. That figure is less than with a number of the competition, but still fast enough to charge your 13-inch computer at an inexpensive speed (15-inch machines will still charge but at a slower rate). The Ethernet port is that the most clever element of the whole hub: instead of increasing the thickness of the entire device to accommodate an Ethernet plug, the Vava design uses a flip-open door to expand the complete port as required.


Flaws but not dealbreakers

The small ethernet port on the end of the Vava USB-C hubs
The Ethernet port expands easily, but there’s a little more friction when you close it. Video: Michael Hession

That clever Ethernet port is one among the Vava hub’s few potential flaws. Because it’s a moving part, there’s a chance it could break. We didn’t see anything in our short-term experiments to advise it would, but no other hub or dock we examined had a comparable potential point of failure.

The Vava’s three USB-A ports are tightly arranged side by side, so you likely won’t be able to connect three flash drives or thicker plugs at a time.

Vava promises up to a 100-watt passthrough charge rate, but in our tests, the hub limited the power coming from our 61 W power adapter to 49 watts.

Like multiple USB-C hubs we’ve examined, the Vava gets hot during use. We measured it at 110 °F after a quarter-hour with the USB-C power line and an Ethernet cord plugged in. That’s hot enough to be noticeable when you touch it, but not so much that it’s dangerous—as we noted above, that’s within the normal operating temperature for this kind of accessory.


No Ethernet or microSD

$20*
*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.
A little longer than our main pick but about two-thirds the price, this hub has three USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, an SD card slot, and USB-C power passthrough, but no Ethernet port or microSD card reader.

HooToo’s USB-C Hubs HT-UC001 offers similar performance to the Vava for about two-thirds the worth, but it lacks a microSD card reader and an Ethernet port. We think the Vava’s more versatile port selection and slightly smaller size are worth paying for, but the HooToo is a good option if you need something less expensive.

the hootoo uUSB-C hubs connected to a MacBook
Photo: Nick Guy

HooToo’s USB C Hub HT-UC001 isn’t quite as full-featured or compact as Vava’s hub, but it offers many of equivalent ports for about two-thirds of the worth. Providing three USB-A ports, HDMI output, USB-C power passthrough, and a full-size SD card slot, it’s an honest option if you would like to be ready to use wired accessories and attach to an external display but aren’t concerned about employing a wired network connection.

the hootoo USB-C Hubs resting on a wooden table
The HooToo hub’s USB-C power passthrough port is on one side, the three USB Type-A ports and SD card reader are on the other, and the HDMI port is on the end. Photo: Nick Guy

In our tests, all the ports worked needlessly to say. USB read and write speeds were like those of each other hub we tested. We also recorded a 60 Hz refresh rate at 4K resolution from the Dell XPS 13, and therefore the MacBook Pro reported an influence draw of 55 W (a little above, but almost like, the Vava’s result). A 100-watt version of the hub is additionally available—it’s still cheaper than the Vava, but you would like that much power as long as you’ve got a bigger laptop just like the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

The HooToo hub works well, has all the ports most of the people will need, and feels almost as nice because of the Vava hub. The aluminum and the plastic rectangle is about 0.3 inche longer than the Vava hub, but about an equivalent width and thickness. The HooToo’s cable is additionally a touch thicker than the Vava’s, so this hub is a smaller amount likely to remain where you would like it to. If you’re willing to simply accept these compromises and don’t need the Vava hub’s extra features, the HooToo hub may be a good selection, but we expect the Vava hub’s versatility and size make it well worth the extra cash.


Just USB-A ports in a tiny package

$11*
*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.
This model offers four USB-A ports in a compact design, at an affordable price.

If you only need more USB 3.0 ports for flash drives, keyboards, mice, and other low-power accessories, Aukey’s USB C to 4-Port USB 3.1 Gen 1 Hub (CB-C64) is that the best choice we tested, and therefore the least expensive. It’s an easy plastic adapter with four full-speed USB 3.0 ports. But its lack of passthrough power makes it a poor choice if your computer has just one or two USB-C ports because the MacBook does.

The Aukey USB-C Hubs plugged into a Macbook Pro.
Photo: Michael Hession

Aukey’s USB C to 4-Port USB 3.1 Gen 1 Hub (CB-C64) is that the most suitable option for adding a couple of USB 3.0 ports to your USB-C computer, and it’s cheap. Equipped with four USB-A ports, the hub will let you connect any combination of a keyboard, mouse, printer, flash drive, or another low-power-draw device such as a webcam, gamepad, or portable hard drive. (Aukey says that “for best performance, the power demand of connected devices shouldn’t exceed the total USB output of 5V 0.9A.”) In our tests, all of the ports transferred data as quickly as anything else we tried. The 3.9-by-1.3-inch black plastic rectangle is a smaller amount than half an in. thick and weighs a touch over an oz . You can throw it in a bag without even noticing it’s there.


The best USB-C–to–Ethernet adapter

$16
Every Ethernet adapter we’ve tested works just as well, but this one is the least expensive option, and it’s from a reputable company.

If you would like only an Ethernet connection, we just like the Cable Matters USB Type-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. It abandons full Gigabit speed, it comes from a reputable company, and it’s inexpensive. It did get warm once we used it, which is to be expected with USB-C Ethernet adapters, but it reached an equivalent temperature as a costlier model we tested.

The Cable Matters Hub to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
Photo: Michael Hession

We think most of the people are going to be happier with a hub that gives an array of ports, but if you would like only an Ethernet connection, we recommend the Cable Matters USB Type-C to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter. This simple plastic adapter works, needless to say, delivering full Gigabit speed, and it comes from a corporation we all know and trust. As a bonus, it’s inexpensive. USB-C Ethernet adapters are known to get hot; this one reached only about 100 °F after 15 minutes of use, the same as a more expensive metal-bodied model from Anker. That does feel warm to the touch, but not uncomfortably hot, and it’s expected behavior.


Dedicated power for docking at your desk

$144*
*At the time of publishing, the price was $130.
A more expensive option for a permanent setup at your desk, this model offers more ports and charging without the need for an extra power adapter.

Docks are larger and typically equipped with more ports than hubs, and that they can provide power on their own, making them a far better fit if you’re trying to find something to line on your desk permanently. Among the five USB-C docks we tested, Dell’s D6000 Universal Dock is that the best, with four USB-A ports, a USB-C port, HDMI and two DisplayPort video ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and a 3.5 mm audio connector. It worked equally well with a PC and a Mac in our testing. It also delivers 65 watts—the most charging power of any dock we measured—and it’s the smallest amount expensive dock option (though it’s still quite twice as expensive because of the Vava hub).

The large Dell Hub plugged into the Macbook Pro.
Photo: Michael Hession

Most people are best served by a transportable hub because hubs are cheaper and do many of an equivalent task as docks. But if you’re trying to find a stationary option (for example, if you wish to hook your laptop up to a display and accessories at your desk) that doesn’t require a further laptop charger, we propose Dell’s D6000 Universal Dock. (If your PC or Mac supports Thunderbolt 3 and you propose to attach your computer to high-speed external hard drives or multiple high-resolution displays, a Thunderbolt 3 dock may be a more sensible choice than a USB-C dock.)

Compared with a transportable hub, the D6000 offers more video-output options (one HDMI port and two DisplayPorts), more USB ports (four USB-A, one USB-C), 3.5 mm audio-in and -out jacks, and charging, everywhere one USB-C cable. (It comes with its own power adapter, so you’ll keep the charger that came together with your laptop in your travel bag.) It’s less costly than other docks we tested and works reliably with both Macs and PCs—although the DisplayPort ports won’t work with Macs due to a recent software limitation—and it provides more power to a laptop than similarly priced options (65 watts, versus 39 watts from other models).

A view of the many ports on the back of the Dell hub
The rear of the D6000, including its video, Ethernet, USB-A, and 3.5 mm audio ports. Photo: Michael Hession

The D6000 may be a utilitarian 6.5-by-3-inch black plastic rectangle with a rubber antislip base. Its permanently connected, 3-foot USB-C cable comes out the left side, and a USB-A 3.0 adapter on the cord allows you to hook up with an older computer. From left to all along the front, you’ll find a combined audio-in and -out jack, two USB 3.0 ports, and a USB-C port that you simply can use for data or to supply up to 12 W of power to a tool . Flip the dock around to the rear , and you see an HDMI port, two DisplayPort outputs, Gigabit Ethernet, another pair of USB-A ports, and a 3.5 mm audio-out jack.

All of the Dell dock’s data ports transferred data at rates like what we saw from every other dock and hub we tested. We measured full 4K, 60 Hz videos from the DisplayPort connectors utilizing the Dell dock, although that drained to a 1080p resolution over HDMI. DisplayPort doesn’t work on all with Macs running up-to-date software because the dock uses DisplayLink, software that was broken by the macOS 10.13.4 update, and remains broken the present version of macOS; the ports didn’t operate with our iPad Pro, either. The HDMI port put out 4K video at 30 Hz when connected to a Mac and an iPad Pro, needless to say.

The power brick, almost as large as the hub itself
Look at the size of that power brick! Photo: Michael Hession

One thing to stay in mind with this dock is that the huge power brick: It’s almost precisely the same size because the dock itself. But because the dock is supposed to remain on a desk instead of tossed during a bag, this isn’t a dealbreaker. The cable running from the charger to the dock is about 6 feet long, so you ought to be ready to position the facility brick up a convenient place without it getting into the way.


Our picks’ ports compared

NameUSB portsVideo portsCard readerEthernetAudioCharging
Vava VA-UC006USB-A (three), USB-C (one, charge only)HDMI (one)SD, microSDGigabitYes (requires laptop’s charger)
HooToo HT-UC001USB-A (three)HDMI (one)SDYes (requires laptop’s charger)
Aukey CB-C64USB-A (four)
Dell D6000USB-A (four), USB-C (one)HDMI (one), DisplayPort (two)Gigabit3.5 mm in/out (one), 3.5 mm out (one)Yes (charger included)
Cable Matters USB Type-C to Gigabit Ethernet AdapterGigabit

How we picked and tested

The terms hub and dock are frequently utilized interchangeably and don’t have exact definitions. For this guide, we managed anything designed to be portable as a hub; some hubs can transfer power to a laptop when attached to a charger, but they don’t come with one. Docks are designed to sit on a desk, equipped with their own power bricks, and capable of charging your laptop without your needing to provide a separate charger.

We researched and tested hubs with variety of various port layouts, starting from models with just USB-A ports to those including USB-A plus power passthrough, video output, Ethernet connectors, and SD card slots.

For docks, we limited our search to units that were compatible with both PCs and Macs, cost less than $200, had at least four USB-A ports and a USB-C output port, and could power a computer and peripherals.

We tested each hub and dock with both a MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2016, Four Thunderbolt 3 Ports) and therefore the early-2018 USB-C–only version of the Dell XPS 13. We also tested our picks on a 2018 iPad Pro, though many of our tests don’t actually work with iOS. Our tests included the following:

  • USB-A: We ran AJA System Test speed tests using Samsung’s Portable SSD T3. To measure how briskly each hub could charge other devices, we connected a ten .5-inch iPad Pro and skim the facility draw with PortaPow’s USB Power Monitor.
  • HDMI: We connected each of the docks via HDMI to a Dell Ultra HD 4K Monitor P2715Q with the resolution set to 4K. Mac computers support only a 30 Hz refresh rate at 4K resolution, but the Dell XPS 13 pushes out a full 60 Hz.
  • Ethernet: We established the connection speed in Network Utility on a Mac, which represents the link speed.
  • Heat: Because hubs and adapters can get quite hot during use—especially, in our experience, when using Ethernet—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 Satechi representative described to us, “All the bandwidth that operates to Ethernet, HDMI, USB and SD card ports needs energy consumption and that’s transferred to heat. Operating temperatures between 86-122 degrees Fahrenheit … are normal.”
  • SD card: We ran AJA System Test on a 64 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro.
  • microSD card: We ran the same test as above using the Samsung Evo Select 64 GB.
  • Power passthrough: macOS reports the incoming power in its System Report. We used the MacBook Pro’s 61 W charger and therefore the included USB-C cable, and that we recorded what the pc was reporting.

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2 Comments
  1. […] Why we like this one: The Dell XPS 13 (9300) offers the simplest balance of what makes an ultrabook great: It’s exceptionally light and compact, its battery will last through a full day of work or classes, and it has a good keyboard and trackpad. It also offers fast performance and a spacious screen with a taller ratio that’s ideal for web browsing and document work. It has only two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports that you can use to transfer data, connect an external display, or charge the laptop. We wish the XPS 13 had a USB-A port, as well, but it does come with a USB-C–to–A adapter, and if you need more ports you can get a USB-C hub or dock. […]

  2. […] drives, scanners, printers, thumb drives, or card readers that use USB Type-A ports, you need a hub or adapter; similarly, if you want to use an external display or projector, you need the right video adapter. […]

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