Add Ports to Your Laptop

In the old days, laptops used to have lots of connectors and ports dotted around their sides. But in the past year or two makers have slimmed down their devices even more and left no room for such things as an HDMI output or Ethernet socket.

Indeed, more and more laptops (including Apple MacBooks and Dell’s XPS line) and tablets (such as Apple’s latest iPad Pro) use the latest USB-C connection standard because it’s small and versatile: the port can be used for a variety of things including connecting peripherals and even charging.

But if you still need to connect non-USB-C devices to your USB-C laptop or tablet you’ll need a USB-C hub or adapter. This will let you attach external hard drives, memory sticks, DVD drives, phone chargers, wired Gigabit Ethernet connections, and external displays or a projector for meetings.

The great news is there is a wide choice of quality USB-C adapters and hubs now available at reasonable prices. Here are our favourites.

D-Link 8-in-1 USB-C Hub – Best USB-C hub for multiple ports

You get 8 ports to add to your laptop with D-Link’s 8-in-1 USB-C Hub. There are three USB-A ports (including one with fast charging), and excellent PD USB-C pass-through charging (up to 100W) so you don’t lose a valuable C or Thunderbolt 3 port on the laptop if you need to charge or sync.

There are SD and MicroSD (TF) slots for storage cards, so you can slot in a camera card, or use the flash memory for extra laptop storage.

Gigabit Ethernet is there, too, as is an HDMI port that can support 4K displays at 30Hz.

Remember that the hub’s 100W will be mostly used for charging the laptop, so it might strain if you connect too many bus-powered devices. But the 100W is more generous than most hubs. 

D-Link has smaller, cheaper USB-C hubs if you don’t need so many ports.

The most basic, the 4-in-1 M420, has two USB-A, one USB-C and HDMI. The 6-in-1 M610 is similar to the M810 but lacks the Gigabit Ethernet port and the fast-charging USB-A.

Plugable USB-C 7-in-1 Multifuction hub – Best 7-port USB-C hub

The compact and very affordable 7-port Plugable USB-C Multifunction Hub has seven ports from one integrated USB-C connection, including a 4K HDMI output, power pass-through (at an impressive 87W) to charge connected devices, three 5Gbps USB-A ports, and SD and microSD slots.

You can use the HDMI 1.4 port to output to a 4K (at 30Hz) or Full HD 1080p monitor or projector.

Pass-through charging is especially handy if your laptop or USB-C device has just one USB-C port. The 87W power is more than you get from most hubs.

At 88g, it’s lightweight, and, as with many hubs, features a short integrated cable so works well as a portable travel device.

There are a generous three USB-A ports that can also provide power pass-through to charge other devices.

There’s just one USB-C port, so look elsewhere if you need more of the newer USB standard.

Wired Internet is also not present, but, fear not, Plugable has a longer 7-in-1 USB-C Hub that drops a USB-A port for Gigabit Ethernet.

Kingston Nucleum 7-port USB-C adapter – 7-port USB-C hub with two USB-C

The quality 7-port Kingston Nucleum boasts seven ports from one USB-C connection, including a 4K HDMI output (30Hz), power pass-through (60W) to charge connected devices, two USB-C (5Gbps) ports, two 5Gbps USB-A ports, and SD and microSD slots.

You can power up a USB-C laptop while also connecting to a USB Flash drive and charging your smartphone. It’s compact in size and lightweight, and features a short built-in cable so works well as a travel accessory.

The two old-school USB-A ports also provide power pass-through to charge devices such as your smartphone or Bluetooth headphones.

One USB-C port on the Nucleum can be used for charging, and the extra USB-C port can connect your other more modern devices for data.

One port it does lack is Gigabit Ethernet. If you’re happy with Wi-Fi, this won’t matter, of course.

HyperDrive 6-in-1 USB-C Hub for iPad Pro and Air – Best USB-C hub for iPad

iPad Pro and Air (2018 and 2020) users will appreciate this aluminium USB-C hub that turns the tablet’s single USB-C port into six ports: 5Gbps and 60W PD charger, 5Gbps USB-A, 3.5mm audio, HDMI (4K at 60Hz), and UHS-I MicroSD and SD Card readers.

Hyper claims it was the world’s most crowdfunded iPad Pro accessory and USB-C hub.

Available in iPad pro-matching Space Gray or Silver, this good-looking hub features a grip that secures it onto an iPad Pro without damaging the surface. You can remove the grip if you use a third-party iPad case.

It comes with a USB-C extender cable so you can also use it as a USB-C hub for your MacBook or another USB-C device, too.

Startech USB-C Multiport 4-in-1 Video Adapter – Best USB-C adapter for display port choice

The Startech USB-C Multiport 4-in-1 Video Adapter can connect your USB-C laptop to a VGA, DVI, HDMI or Mini DisplayPort (mDP) display. It has pretty much everything except full DisplayPort.

It features USB Power Delivery (PD), so you can power your laptop while outputting video using the same USB-C port. And it does this at up to 95W so can charge most laptops at full speed.

The short breakout cable features a magnetic retainer that secures it in place while you’re not using it.

The HDMI and mDP outputs support UHD 4K resolutions. All of the outputs (HDMI, mDP, VGA, DVI) support high-definition resolutions up to 1920 x 1200. The adapter is compatible with USB-C DP Alt Mode devices.

It’s available in Aluminium, Rose Gold, and Space Gray trim, which will please owners of Apple MacBooks – but it will work with Windows laptops too, of course.

Moshi USB-C to HDMI Adapter – Best for 4K HDMI

This simple compact and lightweight (23g) adapter lets you connect any USB-C device to a display, projector or TV with HDMI – be it your laptop, USB-C phone, iPad Pro or USB-C tablet.

The Moshi USB-C to HDMI Adapter supports 4K displays at 60Hz for smoother quality, and HDR (compatible with HDR10). It also supports HDCP 2.2 for Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services.

It will also allow pass-through charging to your device while you use the display with USB PD 3.0 up to 60W.

UGreen USB-C to 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub – Best USB-C hub for old-school USB ports

If all you need is a bunch of older, standard USB-A ports to add a phone charging cable, memory stick or external hard drive, then you won’t need a more versatile hub – just an adapter with a row of USB 3.0 ports.

There are plenty of these about, but for a quality brand take a look at the UGreen USB-C to 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub, which is inexpensive and ultra-portable.

It has four USB 3.0 ports, and even a 5V/2.4A micro-USB power port for extra power supply for devices that require it – although this is weak at 12W, so nowhere near enough to charge a laptop!

Even with this handy extra, you should really just consider most of the four ports for data transfer rather than powered devices.

There’s no HDMI, no extra USB-C port for passthrough charging, no memory card slots or Gigabit Ethernet. But who cares: you just want a few old-style USB ports, and this has enough to satisfy the most ardent accessory fan.

TrendNet TUC-ET5G – Best for super-fast Ethernet

Many of the USB-C adapters tested here have a Gigabit Ethernet port, but none except the TrendNet TUC-ET5G can boast 5X gigabit speed for the absolute fastest wired transfers.

This is the first-to-market USB-C to 5GBASE-T (5Gps) Ethernet Adapter that is compatible with existing Cat5e cabling or better. Now you can add super-fast Ethernet (which you usually find only on top-end workstations such as the Mac Pro) to your laptop.

It’s not cheap, but it is the fastest. TrendNet also sells a TUC-ET2G model that can handle 2.5GBASE-T (2.5Gbps), which is about half the price and still 2.5X faster than Gigabit Ethernet. But if you want the very fastest only the TUC-ET5G will do. 

Moshi Symbus Q – Best USB-C dock with Q1 wireless charging

The Moshi Symbus Q is a similar offering to the HyperDrive hub above. It offers slightly less functionality at a slightly higher price, but you’re really paying for the sort of premium finish and build quality that Moshi delivers.

As with the HyperDrive, this is a USB-C hub that doubles as a 15W wireless Qi charger. Beyond that it packs in two USB-A 3.1 ports, 4K HDMI, and Gigabit ethernet, while it offers 60W USB-C PD pass-through charging to whatever laptop it’s plugged into.

The main body is built out of aluminium, so feels pretty sturdy, while there’s a soft fabric and rubber finish to the top to keep any glass-backed phones from sliding around. It’ll also happily charge through most phone cases.

Bear in mind that this only takes power from the mains, so even if you don’t want to use it for charging you’ll still need to plug it in, meaning this is best suited to leaving on your desk, rather than a hub for travelling. USB-C Audio & Charge Adapter – Best audio jack adapter

If your laptop, tablet or even USB-C phone lacks a 3.5mm audio jack, then this simple and compact 2-in-1 adapter is what you need if you still use wired headphones, speaker or microphone. 

It doesn’t just feature the audio jack, it has a USB-C port for pass-through 60W power delivery (PD). You can attach it to your USB-C wall charger, or untethered it can be bus-powered. 

Satechi Aluminum Type-C Slim Multi-Port Adapter 4K – Lightweight USB-C hub

Available in a range of colours (silver, gold, rose gold, and Space Grey) that match Apple’s MacBooks – but compatible with any USB-C laptop – the Satechi Aluminum Type-C Slim Multi-Port Adapter 4K is one of the lightest and smallest multiport USB-C hubs we’ve seen.

Weighing just 46g and both slim and short, the hub/adapter boasts dual USB 3.0 ports for standard accessories and a 4K HDMI port for displays and projectors.

It also has an extra USB-C port for 60W pass-through charging, so you can keep your laptop powered up while it’s in use.

The flexible cable is 15cm long.

OWC USB-C Travel Dock – Mini USB-C dock

The OWC USB-C 6-Port Travel Dock is tiny, but includes at least one of each port you might need, whether out and about or just on your desk at home or in the office.

There are two 5Gbps USB-A ports, one pass-through USB-C PD port (100W), HDMI 2.0, an SD Card reader (fast UHS-II), and Gigabit Ethernet for wired Internet access.

The version 2.0 HDMI is an upgrade on most adapters with HDMI 1.4, and can get to 60Hz with 4K displays. 

At 174g, it’s heavier than most of the USB-C adapters tested here, but we like it compact and robust shape. 

Note that the USB-C cable that connects to your computer is quite short (15cm) so it will have to sit right next to the host. Of course, the ports can accept any length of cable for the required devices and accessories.

As a mini dock, rather than in-pocket adapter, it’s compact, solid and well built but lacks Gigabit Ethernet, which we’d argue is essential for any device calling itself a dock.

It’s available in Space Grey, Silver and Rose Gold.

Moshi USB-C Multimedia Hub – Simple 3-port USB-C hub

This Moshi hub is a simple 3-in-1 adapter with four ports.

It features two USB 3.0 (USB A) ports for adding extra peripherals, a built-in SD card reader for transferring photos and videos, and a 4K UHD (30Hz) HDMI video adapter for connecting to an external display.

The card reader slot supports both SD and SDHC/XC memory cards with transfer speeds up to 104Mbps.

It doesn’t boast an extra USB-C port, so if your laptop has just the one USB-C port this hub won’t allow you to charge at the same time as you’re using it. Laptops that boast more than one USB-C port can of course use one of those for charging.

The adapter attaches to the laptop via a 12cm flexible cable, and weighs 64g.

StarTech 7-Port Charging Station – Powered USB-C hub

If you want multiple USB-A ports with a couple of USB-C for good measure, the StarTech 7-Port Charging Station offers five of the older USB standard plus two type-C ports.

This hub is powered (48W) via a 1m power cable rather than relying on the laptop’s juice, so you can charge a bunch of mobile devices and a couple of laptops at the same time, or use it as a USB-C dock. You don’t need to add a wall charger as it comes with its own.

Satechi Aluminum Type-C 3-in-1 Combo Hub – USB-C hub for 12in MacBook

While aimed at MacBook users (with its brushed aluminium design and choice of Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold) the Satechi Aluminum Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 Combo Hub will work with other USB-C laptops too.

It doesn’t have the cable but attaches straight into the laptop’s USB-C port. This makes it tidier and more compact but maybe a less flexible solution.

It features two USB 3.0 ports, an SD and Micro SD card slot, and a passthrough USB-C charging port – but no HDMI.

As it has no cable but connects directly to the laptop’s USB-C port, it might cover additional ports if your laptop boasts more than one per side. It’s perfect, however, for Apple’s 12in MacBook.

HP Spectre USB-C Travel Dock – Hub built for HP laptops

While calling itself a dock, this HP USB-C port carrier is more of a hub.

For display, it stands out by offering an old-school VGA as well as HDMI.

It also has two USB-A ports (one 3.0 at 5Gbps and one 2.0 at 480MBps), and a USB-C port for charging at 60W.

It features a built-in 15in USB-C cable to connect to your laptop.

What is a USB-C hub?

While these products are often described and named as adapters or dongles (as so many devices hang off them) they are really hubs that take one port on the laptop or tablet and add multiple and varied other connection ports.

If you want something more substantial to anchor your laptop to at home or in the office, with a lot more ports and a proper power supply, you should consider a full USB-C docking station that has even more ports and full power delivery (USB PD) that charges your laptop at the same time. And if your laptop features Thunderbolt 3 (a sort of super-charged USB-C) read Macworld’s best Thunderbolt 3 docks, which is good for both Macs and PCs.

First, consider what you need from the hub or adapter. Most are multi-port, so have more than one type of connection functionality included.

USB-A: This is the classic non-reversible USB. Do you just need to attach some accessories – memory stick, hard drive, webcam – that use older standard USB connections? If so, there are many simple adapters at a low cost, and nearly all his boast at least one.

USB-C: This is the latest reversible USB. There aren’t as many accessories as you’ll find with USB-A, but an extra Type C port can be used for data and, if labelled as such, for pass-through power delivery from a USB-C wall charger. 

Make sure you check the USB speed rating when choosing your hub, as they range from 480Mbps (USB 2.0) to 40Gbps (USB4, Thunderbolt 3 or 4).

HDMI: Need an HDMI port for your laptop? There are plenty of USB-C hubs that include HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface), including 4K. Most of the HDMI-packing hubs listed here support 4K displays at 30Hz rather than the fully powered 60Hz 4K that offers higher graphics for sharper video and gaming.

DisplayPort: These, er, display ports are more often found on full docking stations (see link above) but you can buy USB-C DisplayPort adapters.

VGA: This is quite an old video port rarely found on modern displays, but if you are moving between offices a lot (or have an old monitor), then the option might be useful to you.

Power: Some laptops and most tablets have just one USB-C port, so add an adapter and you have nothing left to charge your computer at the same time. In which case, you should look for a hub with an extra USB-C Power Delivery (PD) port so you can continue to power your laptop while using the adapter.

This is known as passthrough charging. 85W and over will power most laptops at full speed. The best docks will offer enough power for the connected devices as well as the laptop, but a well-powered hub might be enough if you don’t use all the ports at the same time. Remember that for most you will need a separate wall charger to supply this pass-through power – your laptop charger should suffice. Check out our Best USB-C Chargers roundup for a selection of recommended PD chargers.

Tablets mostly require less power. For example, the 12in iPad Pro will charge at full speed at around 40W.

Ethernet: Even with Wi-Fi so prevalent you still can’t beat the speed of a wired Ethernet connection, still found in hotels and of course from your router. If so, you want a hub with an RJ45 Ethernet port – and make sure it’s a Gigabit Ethernet connection for faster data transfer. Much more expensive adapters use the latest 2.5GBASE-T or 5GBASE-T ports that provide multi-gigabit speeds capable of up to 5Gbps over existing Cat5e or better cabling. But 1Gbps Ethernet will be speedy enough for most.

Memory cards: Fewer laptops these days include memory-card slots – certainly none from Apple. If these are important to you, look for SD-, MicroSD- and TF-card slots on the hub or adapter. You can quickly and very cheaply add portable storage to your laptop setup.

Audio: Many people use wireless Bluetooth headphones and speakers, but if you want to connect wired headphones or speakers to your laptop, then you need a 3.5mm audio jack on your hub. 

Second, think about portability. If it’s your laptop that uses USB-C then you are likely to want the hub to travel with you and not be a giant brick. So, look for portability in size and weight. There are enough small and lightweight adapters that you can slip in your laptop bag or even pocket and not notice.

And third, of course, is the price. There are certainly some very cheap USB-C adapters out there, but we’ve tried to pick the quality end of the market (but still at reasonable prices) so you don’t risk the safety of your device or even home with a dangerously cheap adapter.

Cables: Read our roundup of the best USB-C cables if this is all you’re looking for.

Docking stations: Larger, abler (and usually less portable) docks can include many more ports and connect dual displays at 4K in Extended Mode; see our Best USB-C docking stations roundup for more choices.


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