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Best USB-C hubs and dongles 2024: Add ports to your laptop or tablet

Friday February 16, 2024. 10:24 PM , from PC World
The best USB-C hubs are designed to expand your laptop’s capabilities, allowing you to connect legacy printers, mice, and keyboards via a dongle that connects to your laptop’s USB-C port.

Each of my USB-C hub recommendations contains a variety of ports (including USB-A ports, HDMI, and more) that allow you to connect legacy devices like USB memory keys, display connectors, and more to your laptop. Our recommendations dive into the benefits of each dongle, which we’ve tested and reviewed, with new picks for 2024.

I’ve organized my USB-C recommendations this way: traditional USB-C hubs on top, followed by my picks for the best USB-C docking stations. The latter are a bit bulkier, but tend to offer more connections. I’ll also introduce you to DisplayLink docks, an improved version that offers hardware-based compression to move more data over the USB-C port. More advanced features lie within the best Thunderbolt docks, which I’ve listed separately. It can all be a little confusing, so I’ve included an expanded FAQ and a buying guide below my recommendations to help you make sense of it all.




A USB-C hub connects to the USB-C port on the side of your laptop. 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.)



A USB-C hub connects to the USB-C port on the side of your laptop. 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.)

A USB-C hub connects to the USB-C port on the side of your laptop. 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.)




Why you should trust me: I’ve written about technology for 30 years, and have compiled this roundup of the best USB-C hubs and dongles since 2022, when I started reviewing dozens of these products. I also offer related recommendations for the best Thunderbolt docks, so I understand exactly how complex the simple USB-C port can be and what technology works best with it. Few if any publications will even write about, let alone review, DisplayLink docks, which also provide an inexpensive yet powerful alternative to a USB-C hub. I review those as well. It’s a niche that I know quite a bit about.

Updated April 5, 2024: I’ve updated our testing section with more details (and updated tests) as well as link to a page with more details. The Anker 555 is now our best pick for the best USB-C hub of 2024.






Anker 555 8-in-1 USB-C Hub – Best overall USB-C hub





















Pros


Good value for the money

Excellent build quality

Supplies 85W of power

Good mix of legacy and newer ports



Cons


4K output is just 30Hz


















Why I like the Anker 555 8-in-1 USB-C Hub

Can a USB-C hub feel elegant? This one does. Anker’s 8-in-1 USB-C hub feels surprisingly weighty (4.5 ounces), with a premium metallic (aluminum and polycarbonate) sheen that keeps the hub cool. Overall, Anker’s hub is well designed, with adequate spacing between the two 5Gbps USB-A ports. There’s also a 5Gbps USB-C connection for data, plus a second USB-C port for power input at up to 85W rated. (The charger allows up to 100W in, but supplies 85W.) There’s both an SD card slot and a microSD card slot, too.

I had previously recommended Anker’s 7-in-1 Hub instead. Both hubs are similar, but this upgrade adds two things: an Ethernet port, and an HDMI port capable of 60Hz. The earlier pick output just 30Hz, and that capability was getting a bit outdated.

The hub offers an 18-month warranty, and it even ships with a carrying pouch.  I think this hub includes the right mix of ports for the right price.

Who should buy the Anker 555 8-in-1 USB-C Hub

This is our best pick, so I’d recommend it to just about anyone. Most users will be able to take advantage of the USB-A ports for legacy mice and keyboards, the HDMI port, a USB-C port, and Ethernet. These are the ports I’d expect on a device like this. If you’re looking for more display ports or more USB-C connections, however, you’ll need to buy a more premium device.






Hiearcool USB-C Hub – Best budget USB-C hub





















Pros


Just the basics

Solid price

100W pass-through charging



Cons


No Ethernet


















Why I like the Hiearcool USB-C Hub

Let’s face it: If you’ve ever browsed Amazon’s inventory of USB-C hubs, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. I can tell you that I factor in price heavily on some of these picks, and this is a USB-C hub that I’ve personally used. It works, it offers a myriad of ports, and it does so at a very, very good price. (This hub dates back to when I first started this page, and didn’t issue individual reviews of every product.) It even ships in multiple colors, which is handy when peering into the depths of a travel bag or briefcase.

This hub includes a pair of USB-A ports, microSD and SD card slots, and an HDMI port, and that’s all. It accepts up to a rated 100W of USB-C input charging, too.

Who should buy the Hiearcool USB-C Hub

This is a hub for basic expansion, especially if you own an older laptop. It has one HDMI port that’s only capable of 4K resolution at a fatiguing 30Hz. However, it will work just fine for an single external 1080 display or even a 1440p monitor, if you own one. The two USB-A ports are designed for a mouse and keyboard, or a printer. If you need something cheap and capable, this hub will work just fine.






Monoprice 13-in-1 Dual-HDMI + DP MST Dock – Best premium USB-C hub





















Pros


Multiple display possibilities

Tons of ports



Cons


Confusing documentation

Slow SD card slot

Numerous high-speed ports can get clogged by the main 10Gbps USB-C connection


















Why I like the Monoprice 13-in-1 Dual-HDMI + DP MST Dock

Monoprice calls this a dock, but it sits within the traditional hub form factor — and it’s priced like a hub, too. This 13-in-1 USB-C hub does it all, including connecting to two 4K displays (one at 60Hz, one at 30Hz). It does so by using support for built-in compression techniques within modern laptops to squeeze more effective throughput over the 10Gbps USB-C port. There are absolutely gobs of ports, including five USB-A ports (two at 480Mbps for mice and keyboards), the two HDMI 1.2 connections, and even a DisplayPort port.

There’s even a power input jack, so you can use your laptop’s charger and feed up to a tested 87W into the laptop. There aren’t any USB-C ports, but the assumption is that you can use your laptop for that.

Who should buy the Monoprice 13-in-1 Dual-HDMI + DP MST Dock

If you own a modern laptop and want access to a ton of legacy ports for a reasonable price, this Monoprice hub/dock should be your choice. You need to own a modern laptop, though; a Microsoft Surface Book 2 with an 8th-gen Core chip inside didn’t produce any output over its USB-C port; several recent Samsung and Surface laptops with 12th-gen and 13th-gen Core chips inside worked well, though.

Read our full

Monoprice 13-in-1 Dual-HDMI + DP MST Dock review





Cyber Acoustics DS-1000 Docking Station – Best full-size USB-C docking station





















Pros


It works…with the right hardware

Great compact design

Solid value for the price



Cons


You’ll need a recent laptop for compatibility, and it’s not a given

















Best Prices Today:



$189.99 at Amazon





Why I like the Cyber Acoustics DS-1000 Docking Station

A docking station typically offers more ports and a dedicated power supply. What I like about this Cyber Acoustics dock is that it can drive two 4K displays if you need to, at 60Hz resolution. It also can fast-charge a smartphone with its integrated USB-C dock, which a bus-powered USB hub like the ones above can’t do. It also puts out about 90W to your laptop, which is enough to power most laptops. You’ll find it has both the USB-C port as well as five USB-A ports, plenty for expansion, plus the HDMI connections and even Ethernet.

The catch is that this really only works well on 12th-gen Core laptops and above. It uses a bit of black magic called HBR3 with DSC to push compressed data through the 10Gbps USB-C connection, and in my experience anything 11th-gen and older risks it not working at all. I really like this dock, but my rating is weighted by the need for modern hardware.

Who should buy the Cyber Acoustics DS-1000 Docking Station

If you buy this docking station, you’ll want to leave it on your desk, with a monitor or two and several peripherals attached. USB-C dongles are portable by nature, and you can use one of our earlier suggestions for working on the road. This dock is also suited for someone who plans to work with two displays, rather than just one. Is it better than a Thunderbolt dock? Not really, but if you have a laptop without Thunderbolt, this can approximate the capabilities of those devices.

Just to reiterate, however: You’ll need a modern laptop, with a 12th-gen Core chip and above, for this dock to work its magic. If you have an older laptop, this isn’t the device for you.

Read our full

Cyber Acoustics DS-1000 Essential Laptop Docking Station review





Dockcase Smart USB-C Hub 10-in-1 Explorer Edition – Best full-size USB-C docking station runner-up





















Pros


Detailed, informative LCD display

Excellent information and controls

Top-notch performance

Odd but competitive pricing scheme



Cons


No manual?!

Some instability

More charging power needed

Demands an up-to-date laptop for best results

















Best Prices Today:



$159.99 at Dockcase





Why I like the Dockcase Smart USB-C Hub 10-in-1 Explorer Edition

Part of me loves the sheer nerdiness of the Dockcase 10-in-1 Dock, if only because I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of the information it offers.

Not only is the metal hub larger than most, with multiple external connectors that designate a premium hub, but there’s an actual display: A small LCD screen provides a detailed look at what devices are connected to each port and what their capabilities are. Put another way, the Dockcase Smart USB-C Hub 10-in-1 feels more like an OBD2 diagnostic device for your car, or a USB multimeter.

As a dock, it’s excellent. As a tool, it can use some improvement: The interface is extremely clunky, and Dockcase really doesn’t even have a manual that explains it all. But this device is also small enough that it fulfills the requirements of a docking station without it being ungainly.

Who should buy the Dockcase Smart USB-C Hub 10-in-1 Explorer Edition

Nerds. Yep, this is one of the nerdiest products I’ve ever used, and I like and loathe how it just lets you sort of discover what it can do. But it tells you what your laptop is connecting to and how it’s working! It even reports glitches! I love that.

Are you the type of person who owns an OBD scanner to diagnose any issues with your car? If you are, this is the USB-C hub for you.

Read our full

Dockcase Smart USB-C Hub 10-in-1 Explorer Edition review





IOGEAR Travel Pro USB-C Mini Dock (GUD3C460) – Best compact/travel USB-C docking station





















Pros


One of the smallest docks on the market

Minimizes desk clutter



Cons


No cable

Can block ports


















Why I like the IOGEAR Travel Pro USB-C Mini Dock (GUD3C460)

At 2.8 x 0.31 x 1.22 inches, IOgear’s Travel Pro Mini Dock is an odd duck: an inexpensive, relatively tiny USB-C dock that plugs directly into your laptop, without a connecting cord. USB-C power input at up to 60Hz, USB-A, HDMI (at up to 4K60), and a headphone jack: simple and effective. It’s a minimalist solution in all aspects.

Who should buy the IOGEAR Travel Pro USB-C Mini Dock (GUD3C460)

Maybe you have neck or back issues, or just want the lightest laptop and peripherals possible. You hate clutter. This IOGEAR Mini Dock slides right into an available USB-C port and provides expansion capabilities without a whole lot of fuss. This is really the smallest USB-C dock I’ve seen, and for some people that matters.

The only thing I don’t like about it: If you own a laptop with several ports spaced closely together, the Mini Dock may block access. That may make it a handicap, so be sure and check before you buy.






Ugreen 9-in-1 USB-C (Revodok) Docking Station CM615 – Best full-size USB-C DisplayLink dock





















Pros


Terrific price and value

Excellent stability

Great display port flexibility

Support for two 4K60 displays



Cons


Have to provide your own power supply

Can warm to somewhat alarming temperatures

Mandatory software driver

A lack of naming consistency

















Best Prices Today:



$139.99 at Ugreen





This is our top pick for an upgraded DisplayLink dock, which has its own pros and cons — slightly more expensive than a USB-C docking station, but more features, too.

Why I like the Ugreen 9-in-1 USB-C (Revodok) Docking Station CM615

Ugreen’s 9-in-1 USB-C docking station is typical of the brand: quality design and manufacture, obtuse naming, and pricing that seems to vary from one vendor to the next. But this DisplayLink dock offers an excellent mix of port flexibility at a solid price. There is one catch: It lacks any power input at all, and you’ll need to use your laptop’s USB-C power supply (or buy one) to charge both this dock and the laptop itself.

Like most DisplayLink docks, this dock was unusually stable, with no flickering between displays — one of the reasons I like DisplayLink docks. The price nails that sweet spot, too. Just remember to bring your smartphone charger.

Who should buy the Ugreen 9-in-1 USB-C (Revodok) Docking Station CM615

DisplayLink docks fit between a USB-C dongle and a Thunderbolt dock, and I always think of a DisplayLink buyer as a small business owner or home worker who is focused on productivity and lots of high-end displays. DisplayLink docks excel for office work, and struggle a bit in handling high frame rates for games.

Read our full

Ugreen 9-in-1 USB-C (Revodok) Docking Station CM615 review





Sonnet Echo 13 Triple 4K Display Dock – Best full-size USB-C DisplayLink dock runner-up





















Pros


Top-notch performance

Support for three 4K60 displays

Solid value

20W of charging power for smartphones, 100W for laptop

Exemplary documentation

Two-year warranty



Cons


Direct display connection disconnected once

Poor, glitchy intermittent audio

















Best Prices Today:



$239.99 at Sonnet





Why I like the Sonnet Echo 13 Triple 4K Display Dock

Sonnet’s Echo 13 Triple 4K Display Dock’s built-in compression means you can connect to three 4K displays without penalty. And yes, it works as advertised. I also love that Sonnet spent so much time explaining the dock and its features. You don’t often see such a well-documented dock, and it’s friendly to newcomers. There’s plenty of charging power for both smartphones and laptops alike, too.

The performance of this dock was excellent, though (as noted above) it did disconnect once while using it. The only knock against it is the lousy audio — but your laptop probably already has a headphone jack. Just use that instead. This dock is also a bit more expensive than the Ugreen dock, which is why I’ve pushed it down to runner-up status.

Who should buy the Sonnet Echo 13 Triple 4K Display Dock

I have to say that the Echo 13’s documentation really does help in recommending this dock to newcomers, as does the warranty. If you’re feeling a bit uncertain about USB-C hubs and docking stations, this dock provides reassurance. Just make sure your laptop has a headphone jack.

Read our full

Sonnet Echo 13 Triple 4K Display Dock review





How to choose a USB-C hub

First, take stock of your peripherals

Here’s where to start: Take a look at the peripherals you own, or plan to buy. Do you have an old external hard drive that uses a traditional USB-A cable? Do you manually back up photos from an SLR via its SD card? Or is your Wi-Fi connection unreliable enough that you’d prefer ethernet? Figure out what ports you’ll need. This advice is also for Windows users; Macs have their own limitations on USB-C connections.

Keep in mind that you may want to use both a mouse and keyboard, and possibly connect a printer, too. You can disconnect a keyboard to print, but it’s kind of a pain.

This laptop has several USB-C ports, but if yours has just one, you’ll want to daisy-chain the laptop’s power cord by plugging it directly into the hub, like so.

Next, check out what ports your laptop already has

It’s also important to take stock of your laptop or tablet’s ports: Does it have one USB-C port or two? If your device only has one port, is there a separate charging connection? If your laptop or tablet has a USB-C port and uses it exclusively for charging, you’ll want to buy a USB-C hub with a dedicated charging input port. (In this case, it’s also possible that only the charging port on the hub will work, though this isn’t typical.)

Note how much input power the port allows, and confirm that will be sufficient for your laptop. Otherwise, you’ll be forced to choose between charging your laptop and accessing other devices, which makes little sense. Most laptops will pop up a warning about a “slow charger” if your laptop’s not getting enough juice.

Does your monitor have a USB-C port?
https://www.pcworld.com/article/402858/the-best-usb-c-hubs-for-your-laptop-tablet-or-2-in-1.html

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