Buying Guide: A list of USB hubs and Thunderbolt 4 docks
Unless you are a very serious gamer, chances are, you are using a notebook. Their portability, coupled with their performance, make them the ideal main computing device of choice for many people.
However, connectivity is almost always an issue. Because of their size, they only have a limited number of ports and that number is often "not enough." Fortunately, this situation can be alleviated somewhat by purchasing adapters, hubs, or docks. And this is especially true thanks to the proliferation of USB4/Thunderbolt 4 ports on notebooks.
If you're not in the loop on USB4 and Thunderbolt 4, we covered the details in an earlier guide about why you should get a notebook with USB4/Thunderbolt 4 onboard, including what the two standards change and improve on over their predecessors, as well as their impact on the USB landscape. In summary, though, Thunderbolt 4 alleviates the confusion that comes with the USB 3.x standards; Thunderbolt 4 mandates USB4 and is backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3, making it compatible with almost any USB port you can think of.
So, if you are looking to improve the connectivity of your notebooks, here's our handy guide showing some of the best USB and Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docks to consider.
We begin with USB hubs and adapters. These will work with any notebook that has a USB-C port.
Ports: 4x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
Starting off with an offering from Transcend, the HUB2C is a simple, relatively inexpensive USB hub. It connects to the USB-C port of your system and offers four USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB-A ports with speeds of up to 5Gbps in return. You can tell this is a rather old offering, as the listing on Transcend's website still calls it USB 3.1 Gen 1, whereas now the 5Gbps speed has been renamed to fit with the current USB 3.2 naming system.
Unfortunately, the hub offers no charging capabilities. Furthermore, considering the small size of the device, measuring 73.8 x 37.2 x 10.4mm, the gaps between the USB ports may be a bit of a tight fit. On the plus side, weighing in at just 29g, it's very portable. It's a good choice if your notebook only has USB-C ports and you need a hub to connect to USB-A devices.
You can get the Transcend HUB2C for S$29.90 on Transcend's Shopee store here.
Anker PowerExpand 6-in-1 hub
Price: Originally S$109.90 (currently S$89.90)
Ports: 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB-C (PD input charging only), HDMI (4K 30Hz), GbE port
Next up is an offering from Anker. A step up from the Transcend HUB2C, the Anker PowerExpand 6-In-1 hub offers – you've guessed it – 6 ports in exchange for your one USB-C port.
Apart from two USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB-A ports, you also get an HDMI port that can support a 4K 30Hz display, a Gigabit Ethernet port for wired Internet connectivity, and two USB-C ports.
It's worth mentioning that one of the two USB-C ports is for charging only and it delivers up to 53W of pass-through charging when used with a 65W or more charger. The other USB-C port is data only. This setup is handy if your system only has a single USB-C port since it means you can still use your system with a USB-C charging and still have another USB-C port for data.
It's a pricey hub, but the connectivity is good and you get Anker's reputation for quality and reliability. Anker is currently having a promotion and you can get it for S$89.90 on their web store, or on their Lazada and Shopee stores.
Aukey CB-C85 8-In-1 USB-C Hub
Price: Originally S$79.90 (Currently S$59.90)
Ports: 2 x USB-A 2.0, 1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB-C Gen 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x USB-C (PD input charging only), HDMI (4K 30Hz), SD card reader, microSD card reader
Moving on, the Aukey CB-C85 8-in1 USB-C Hub ups the port variety, featuring not just USB ports, but also support for memory cards, as well as an HDMI port for 4K 30Hz display support.
To start, this Aukey hub makes the odd choice of having two USB 2.0 ports. We can only assume this means they are meant for use with peripherals like mice, which do not necessarily need high-speed ports.
Fortunately, the Aukey has the benefit of having two other USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one of which is USB-A and the other USB-C. It also supports 100W pass-through charging. And it has card readers for both SD and microSD cards. The only thing users would probably miss is a Gigabit Ethernet port.
Belkin USB-C 7-in-1 Multiport Hub Adapter
Ports: 2 x USB Gen 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 1 x USB Gen 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (PD 3.0), 1 x HDMI 1.4, SD 3.0 card reader, microSD 3.0 card reader, 3.5mm audio jack
Next is the Belkin USB-C 7-in-1 Multiport Hub Adapter. It features two USB 3.2 Gen 1 USB-A ports, one USB-C port that supports both data and Power Delivery 3.0, as well as card readers for SD and microSD cards. And on the audio/visual side of things, there's an HDMI 1.4 port (max of 4K 30Hz) and a 3.5mm audio jack.
The rest of the hub is pretty standard fare and we especially like that it has three USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports – two USB-A and one USB-C – and the ability to read both SD and microSD cards. Our only complaints are it lacks a Gigabit Ethernet port and that it has only one USB-C port. If you use that lone USB-C port for charging, you have no USB-C ports left.
Minix Neo Storage
Price: S$120 (120GB), S$150 (240GB)
Ports: 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB-C (PD only), HDMI (4K 30Hz)
Moving on to an interesting option, the Minix Neo Storage series doubles up as both a USB hub and an external SSD. We covered it a long time ago, and since then a new model has popped up with increased storage, giving you three choices in total: 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB.
The storage is unfortunately SATA-based, so don't expect neck-breaking speeds, but it still comes in at respectable 350-400MB/s speeds for both read and write, which was about what we measured three years ago.
On top of that, it also comes with four ports, namely two USB-A USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports that support speeds of up to 5Gbps, a USB-C port that only supports power, and an HDMI port that supports a 4K 30Hz display. As a USB hub, it's rather plain in that regard, but the fact that it can act as a storage solution makes it special.
Of course, it's not the only one of its kind; the Anker PowerExpand 4-in-1 SSD also exists and supports a 256GB SSD. But it's rather hard to get, as it's only sold in the US and UK Anker stores.