Apple’s MacBook Pro models have been the best laptops on the market for years with the recent 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 being the cream of the crop (for now). But even the best laptops have their shortcomings.
As good as they are, you’ll find every MacBook Pro’s weakness is its lack of ports. In fact, the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M1 only boasts a headphone jack and a pair of Thunderbolt ports — one of which is used to charge the laptop. This isn’t ideal for those who want to use, well, any other peripheral.
If you want to use a mouse, plug in a different keyboard, or connect your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air to a USB-C monitor, you’ll need to get yourself a USB-C hub. With this nifty connector, you can change how your laptop is used entirely — all by adding the necessary ports.
A USB-C hub will easily let you connect to one of the best monitors for MacBook Pro.
If you’re looking to transform your laptop into a full-blown desktop setup, the best docking stations will do the trick. Better yet, if you’re after the best docking stations for MacBook, we’ve got you covered. At this point, are you asking yourself “what in the world is the difference between a USB-C hub and a docking station?” Here’s a brief explanation.
USB-C Hub vs. Docking Station: What’s the difference?
The difference between these two connectors is, when it comes down to it, minuscule. Both have been designed to extend the range of peripherals your laptop can connect to. While many laptops may already sport multiple ports — from USB-C and HDMI 2.0 to the most recent Thunderbolt 4 connectivity — many of the best laptops sacrifice these for a more stylish, lightweight form factor (we’re looking at you, MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13).
A USB-C hub is mainly used to expand the number of ports on your laptop and is generally powered by the laptop itself. A good hub is typically small and lightweight to match the portability of a laptop, and is perfect for professionals who are constantly on the move. While they mainly offer more USB-A 3.0 ports, seeing as most PC peripherals rely on USB-A connectivity, you’ll find plenty of the best hubs with SD card slots, HDMI and DisplayPort inputs, and Gigabit Ethernet ports.
Docking stations are a step up from USB-C hubs in some ways, but are generally less portable and more expensive. These deliver connectivity for everything, offering upwards of ten ports for all kinds of peripherals. They are mainly used to turn your laptop into a desktop replacement, being able to support up to 8K resolution or dual 4K at 60Hz, audio connectivity, SD card readers, and a lot of USB-A or USB-C devices. Docking stations can power all these at once, along with your laptop, as they are plugged into the wall to deliver power.
If you’re in need of power, the best docking stations will sort you out. However, when it comes to MacBooks, USB-C hubs make for the perfect laptop accessory. Apple’s premium laptops can only connect to a single external display, meaning they don’t require all the ports a docking station boasts. Besides, USB-C hubs are a lot more portable and much easier on the wallet.
Without further ado, check out the best USB-C hubs for Apple’s MacBook Pro.
The best USB-C Hub for MacBook Pro you can buy today
Plugable is known to deliver quality USB-C hubs and docking stations, but its USB-C 7-in-1 Hub knocks it out of the park. At its price (currently listed at $27) and the number of different ports and features it sports, this USB-C hub is a steal.
With three USB 3.0 ports with 5Gbps transfer speeds, HDMI 1.4 connectivity which can support 4K resolution at 30Hz, and two SD card readers, there’s not much else a laptop user who is on the move will need. It’s a shame the USB-C 87W pass-through charging is dodgy, but there are many laptops with a separate power supply for charging, anyway.
See our full Plugable USB-C 7-in-1 Hub review
The Kensington SD1650P USB-C Single 4K Portable Docking Station is the “something more” owners of multiple devices should be interested in. Not only does the hybrid dock charge your Windows laptop with impressive 100W pass-through power while adding several ports, but it can also do the same for a MacBook, iPad, and even an Android tablet. If it supports USB-C connectivity, Kensington’s dock will, more likely than not, work like a charm.
The SD1650P Portable Docking Station’s compatibility is hard to beat, and since it can work off a devices’ power supply without needing a power adapter (you’ll lose the 100W power pass through), the device is a fantastic choice for travelling professionals. The ability to immediately give virtually all your devices extra ports, video output options, and a power supply using one USB-C port makes this hybrid portable dock one of the best USB-C hubs on the market, especially for MacBook users.
It’s a shame the price and limited selection of ports lets the SD1650P Portable Docking Station down, especially when other hubs are significantly more affordable. For those in need of a highly versatile device, the dock is worth your hard-earned cash, especially with its 100W pass-through power, which rivals even pricier docking stations.
The Dell DA300 is one of the smallest and most portable USB-C hubs around, thanks to its circular shape and retractable cable. It features an HDMI port, a DisplayPort, a VGA port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, one USB Type-C port, and one USB 3.1 port. While it may not have enough ports, especially when it comes to USB-A, the variety it boasts more than makes up for it. Overall, it’s a great USB-C hub to take on the go, as long as you’re okay with the relatively steep price.
The Kensington SD1600P USB-C Mobile Dock is unique as it acts as a viable docking station and an excellent USB-C hub for MacBook users on the move. Its USB-C passthrough power supply and additional ports will free up all your other laptop inputs while charging your laptop and any other devices connected to it. Don’t need a power supply? That’s fine, as it can also be powered by your laptop.
One major downside is the mobile dock’s power pass-through functionality doesn’t work on the 16-inch MacBook Pro (2020). But, it does work with Apple’s recent line of M1 Macbook models and other MacBook models.
If you can excuse the awkward port placement and don’t have a 16-inch MacBook Pro (2020), this mobile dock is a solid purchase for traveling professionals.
See our full Kensington SD1600P USB-C Mobile Dock review
Kingston’s Nucleum USB-C hub is small and slick, with access to two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, an SD card and microSD card slot, one USB-C with 60W pass-through charging, and one regular USB-C port. It doesn’t feel too lightweight or cheaply made, and even the cable is sturdy. The Nucleum is an overall quality hub, but it is pretty expensive considering the pass-through power it delivers isn’t as high as other USB-C hubs.
This Anker USB-C hub delivers great power in such a lightweight device, thanks to its multiple ports and USB-C pass-through power delivery. With two USB 3.0 ports, 4K output at 30Hz, both kinds of SD card readers, and even a Gigabit Ethernet cable connectivity for those looking for faster internet speeds, MacBook owners won’t be disappointed.
However, keep in mind that its USB-C port is solely used for power delivery and not data transfer, which means you won’t get any added USB-C connectivity once you plug it in. That said, that’s what the other USB-C port on your MacBook is for.
The Euasoo hub has a slim, sleek design with a plentiful amount of ports for a decent price. That includes a USB-C charging port, three USB 3.0 ports, a 4K HDMI port, RJ45 Ethernet port, a microSD card slot, an SD card slot, and a headphone/mic jack.
The spacing between the USB ports is enough so that the connectors don’t touch, but the wire connecting to the laptop is annoyingly short. We also found that the audio jack was unreliable in producing sound through both left and right earphones, as the right ear would only produce sound if I held the cord a certain way and even the mic won’t work at all.
You may not have heard of accessory-maker Landhoo before, but this snap-on hub, available in silver, space gray, black, gold and rose gold, is starting the company out on the right foot with us.
Not only does it offer an HDMI output port, dual USB 3.0 ports, an SD memory reader, and a microSD memory reader, but its pass-through-charging Type-C port means it’s good for those with only one Type-C port. The only thing we disliked is that its connection didn’t feel as stable as others, as it jiggled uncomfortably when trying to connect to different devices.