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At a time when we rely more and more on external keyboards, mice, memory keys, and all sorts of peripherals, new business computers shortchange us on the ports needed to use them. The typical new laptop has one, maybe two USB ports and nothing else.
The answer is to get a USB hub that does modern-day magic by turning a lone port into as many as your digital work requires. A great variety of USB hubs are out there that deliver several USB ports to help you get work done. Others take this idea a step further by adding ports for video, networking, and access to SD cards. Some can even deliver enough power to charge a phone, tablet, or notebook, although you’ll need an AC adapter to provide the juice.
When shopping for a USB hub to help your small business, your biggest decision is likely whether to get a USB 3.0 or USB C hub. Both are available in a wide variety of models, but the former is for older computers. These port hubs are less expensive. The latter is for newer computers. The hubs can cost more but can perform more tasks.
Here are some of the best models on the market.
Best USB Hub Overall: Anker PowerExpand 8 in 1 USB C PD 10Gbps Data Hub
There are USB hubs with lots of ports: ones with video and networking, as well as ones that that can straddle the worlds of USB C and USB 3.0 accessories. Only Anker’s PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB C PD 10Gbps Data Hub does it all in a small and light package that will enable you to do more for your small business from one laptop. The PowerExpand 8-in-1 connects via a 7-inch USB C cable, turning the hub into connection central with two USB 3.1 and one USB C ports, and HDMI video capable of up to 4K resolution and a 60-hertz refresh rate.
In addition to Ethernet networking, the 8-in-1 hub can also accommodate an SD and micro SD card from a camera or phone. A big bonus is that the hub tops out at a claimed data flow of 10Gbps and can supply up to 85 watts for charging a phone, tablet. or laptop.
It works with everything from a six-year-old MacBook to any recent Windows 10 notebook, expanding a computer’s single USB C port into a multitude of connection choices. The 8-in-1 hub comes with an 18-month warranty and a soft cloth pouch for when it’s not being used.
Best Budget USB Hub: Sabrent 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub
The Sabrent 4-Port hub is for those who only want and need a simple USB hub that turns a single USB 3 port into four downstream outlets for anything from a mouse and keyboard to a printer or scanner to help run your small business. At less than the cost of a fast-food meal for two, this hub is far from basic, however, with LED indicators that show which ports are active and moving data back and forth. Each port can be turned on and off by pressing a square button. Able to support speeds of up to 5Gbps, the USB 3.0 hub is backward compatible to work with USB 1.1 and 2.0 systems and accessories but can’t charge or power accessories. The black plastic hub is 3.5 × 1.5 × 0.5 inches and has the flexibility needed to stash the hub under a desk or behind a desktop computer. It works with Windows (from Windows 2000 to Windows 10), Macs (Apple MacOS 9.1 or newer), and Linux (version 2.4 or higher) computers, making it one of the simplest, least expensive, yet versatile ways to add USB ports.
Best USB Hub for Multimedia: Belkin USB-C Multimedia Hub
Not much bigger than an Altoids tin and weighing just 4 ounces, Belkin’s USB-C Multimedia Hub squeezes a lot of video power into a small package. Topping out at a maximum bandwidth of 5Gbps, the USB-C Multimedia Hub has an HDMI port that can send a 4K video stream at a 30-hertz refresh rate to a display or projector, transforming any recent laptop into a presentation powerhouse for your small business.
If that were all the Belkin hub did, then it would be a winner, but the hub also has an SD flash card slot and Ethernet port for wired networking. It doesn’t shortchange when it comes to ports, with a USB 2, a USB 3, and a USB C port. A big bonus is that the USB C connection can reportedly deliver up to 60 watts of power for powering a computing accessory or charging a phone.
It may be among the most expensive USB hubs available, but the Belkin USB-C Multimedia Hub works with recent Windows and Mac computers and can pay dividends with its two-year warranty.
Best USB Hub With Most Ports: ioGear USB-C Laptop Docking Station
If more ports are all you’re after for work, then ioGear’s USB-C Laptop Docking Station with Power Delivery 3.0 fits the bill. Better known as the GUD3C35, it’s a monster USB hub that should satisfy all connection needs. The long and narrow device can link with up to 10 devices through a single USB C cable while charging a phone or tablet with up to 85 watts of power.
In addition to three traditional USB 3 ports, the GUD3C35 has a pair of next-generation USB C ports, as well as SD and micro SD card readers and Ethernet wired networking. It does multimedia exceptionally well, with an audio jack for headphones or external speakers and the choice of connections for mini DisplayPort, HDMI and old-school VGA monitors. In fact, the USB-C Laptop Docking Station with Power Delivery 3.0 can support up to three video streams at 4K resolution.
In addition to Windows and Mac compatibility, the USB-C Laptop Docking Station with Power Delivery 3.0 works with Chromebooks. A big bonus for laptop users is that the 14-inch-long dock can prop up a computer at a comfortable typing angle while allowing more cooling air to flow in from below.
Best USB Hub for Macs: Anker PowerExpand Direct 7 in 2 USB C Adapter
While other USB hubs connect via a single cable, Anker’s Anker PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB C Adapter has a pair of USB C ports that plug right into the side of recent MacBooks. It tops out at 40Gbps and works with MacBook Pro and Air models from 2016 through 2020 to produce the best integrated USB hub available.
The Anker PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB C Adapter not only takes advantage of the MacBook’s Thunderbolt 3 abilities, but its HDMI port can also drive a 5K monitor. In addition to 100 watts of power for charging a phone, the hub has a USB C port as well as a pair of USB 3 connections for a variety of accessory connections. There are also SD and micro SD card readers for moving images and videos. Like other Anker products, it includes an 18-month warranty and a soft fabric pouch, but the Anker PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB C Adapter is for Mac users who want their notebook to be as versatile as it is good looking.
Best USB Hub for Desktops: Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock
The silver and black Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock may be big and heavy, but no USB hub does as much for turning a laptop into the equivalent of a desktop system ready to do serious business. By using Thunderbolt 3 technology, the Belkin Express Dock is reportedly capable of a top speed of 40Gbps and can be used to daisy-chain up to five Thunderbolt devices. It has the expected ports, including three USB C and two USB 3 connections, as well as Ethernet wired networking.
Its DisplayPort video might not be as versatile as an HDMI port, but it is incredibly capable, with the ability to drive a pair of 4K displays. The hub has the bonus of two audio-out jacks for headphones or external speakers. It is the rare USB hub that comes with a 170-watt AC adapter that powers the device and can supply up to 85 watts of phone-charging power. In other words, the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock is the best way to turn a notebook into a full desktop computer for business.
Best USB Two-For Hub: Plugable USB 2.0 2-port Hub/Splitter
If all you need is an extra USB port, then why go through the expense, hassle, and bulk of having a hub with a slew of ports that you’ll never use? The Plugable USB 2.0 2-port Hub/Splitter is a one-trick pony that turns a single USB port into a pair of connections for anything from a memory key to a wireless keyboard and mouse set. Simple, basic, and self-powered, the Plugable USB 2.0 2-port Hub/Splitter is based on a powerful NEC USB chipset. Small and light, the black plastic Hub/Splitter is a two-for that lets you share a single USB port with two devices that can run at a claimed top speed of 480Mbps. It can’t handle the faster speeds of USB 3 or USB C but has a 16-inch USB cable for plugging the device into a port-deficient computer. On the downside, the Plugable USB 2.0 2-port Hub/Splitter can’t charge phones or power accessories. However, the hub includes a two-year warranty.
Best USB Hub With Monitor Stand: Urbo Monitor Stand with Type C USB Hub
The beauty of Urbo’s Monitor Stand with Type C USB Hub is more than skin deep. Sure, the sleek and sturdy aluminum stand looks great on a desk and can securely hold up to 31 pounds to safely handle a 27-inch display, but it does USB alchemy. Urbo engineers did their homework for those who are short on USB ports, with a full hub built into the stand that can supply three USB 3 ports as well as a USB C connection for anything from a keyboard and mouse to a scanner or printer.
The hub connects with a 17-inch USB cable, and the innovative design allows the hub to be attached on either the right or left side for maximum convenience. In addition to promoting good posture when working or playing, the stand has room for stashing a keyboard underneath, as well as a place for your phone on the side. Its design works with all types of notebooks, including Windows, Macs, and Chromebooks, but the hub tops out at claimed data speeds of 400Mbps.
Most Versatile USB Hub: Aukey USB C 12 in 1 Type C Adapter
While other USB hubs specialize in delivering one port or another, the Aukey USB C 12-in-1 Type C Adapter does it all, making it one of the most flexible accessories to have in your digital toolbox for work. A cornucopia of connection potential, the USB C 12-in-1 hub has not only a quartet of USB 3 ports but also a pair of USB C connectors.
It can lift images or videos from SD and micro SD cards and connect with a wired LAN through its Ethernet port. Video is well represented, with a VGA port and two HDMI connectors. It works well with MacBooks and Windows 10 systems but can do video magic by driving up to three displays at once. Despite doing all this, the Aukey USB C 12-in-1 Type C Adapter keeps its cool regardless of whether you’re using its video capabilities or just reading data from a memory card.
Best USB Hub For Business Travel: Novoo USB C Hub 8 in 1 USB-C Dock
If you travel a lot for business, then the Novoo USB C Hub 8 in 1 USB-C Dock could be just the ticket because it is small, it has a loop handle at one end for hanging off a carabiner, and its connection cable conveniently snaps into place at the other. Able to connect with eight devices, the Novoo hub tops out by making up to 5Gbps of bandwidth available.
It has three USB 3 ports, as well as a single USB C connector and slots for reading SD and micro SD cards. An Ethernet wired LAN port is complemented by an HDMI connector that’s capable of streaming 4K video at a refresh rate of 30 hertz. For those wanting to charge an accessory, the USB C Hub 8 in 1 USB-C Dock can deliver up to 60 watts of power, plenty for even the thirstiest mobile phone. The hub covers the bases well, with compatibility for everything from a recent MacBook and Windows 10 systems to a Google Pixel Chromebook and Samsung Galaxy tablet.
In a world awash with USB hubs of all sorts, the Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1 USB C PD 10Gbps Data Hub (view at Amazon) stands out by being small, light, and powerful enough to help you get real work done. With ports for two USB 3.1 and one USB C devices, it does the basics well but adds Ethernet networking, SD and micro SD card slots, and HDMI video that can stream 4K resolution and a 60-hertz refresh rate. In addition to being able to dole out 85 watts of power, the PowerExpand 8-in-1 works with just about any recent laptop out there, making it a jack-of-all-trades and master of compatibility.
What to Look for in a USB hub
Try and get a USB hub that has ports on all sides. This makes for a neater desktop at work, as well as the ability to keep the cables from tangling.
When shopping, look for a hub that tops out at a claimed minimum of 10Gbps. Chances are that you’ll never need this speed, but it’s good to know that it’s there as a potential option.
Based on the two USB C port design of recent Apple MacBooks, there are several hubs that plug right into the side of the notebook. This gets rid of the messy connection cable and delivers a sleeker look.
The newest USB C USB hubs can deliver lots of power to charge a phone, computer or tablet. While some can provide upward of 90 watts, half of that is more common.
Is a USB Hub Required?
No, but so many smaller business laptops only have one or two USB ports. In these cases, a hub is a big help. It not only allows connecting peripherals, like a mouse, keyboard, and memory key, but some also can send a video signal to a display or projector.
Does Using a USB Hub Slow Access to Data?
Each connected device needs to share the overall bandwidth, so yes, dividing it among connected devices can be slower than when used alone. In practical terms, you’re likely to never notice the difference.
Do I Need a Hub With Power Delivery?
It depends. Having power delivery potential is a great way to simplify a desktop by plugging a phone directly into the hub. In other cases, it can be a way to power a display or external hard drive.
What If All I Want is a Few USB Ports?
You’re in luck, because there’s a slew of basic USB hubs that only provide USB ports. There are inexpensive ones that provide two to 10 ports.
Are USB Hubs Compatible With All Types of Computers?
Generally, yes. Just about any USB hub will work with Windows and Mac computers, while some specialize in Chromebook and Linux compatibility.
Can a USB Hub Drive Several Displays?
Many have the ability to run a display array with two or three screens at 4K resolution.
Why Trust Investopedia?
With all of the devices available, getting the right USB hub for your small business is not an easy task. To put this list of top candidates together, Brian Nadel used his extensive experience in the industry along with a critical eye as to how each works and what it does.
A freelance writer and reviewer based outside of New York City, Nadel has covered all aspects of desktop mobile technology, from keyboards, mice, and other accessories to displays, external drives, and scanners. To connect all that his office has to offer, he uses no fewer than four USB hubs. They consolidate his wireless mouse, SD card reader, label printer, and other accessories.
He started by creating an overview of the industry with 10 major categories based on what the USB hub could do for the business user. These attributes included the type and number of ports, size, and whether it could deliver power to charge a phone. He followed up by ranking each USB hub based on this criteria to hone in on the 10 best devices available.