In the old days, laptops used to have lots of connectors and ports dotted along 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 – or its faster Thunderbolt 3 or 4 siblings – because it's small and versatile: the port can be used for a variety of things including connecting peripherals, displays and 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.
Below the list of our favourites, we explain all the different ports you might require on the hub or adapter; such as USB-A, USB-C, Gigabit Ethernet, SD and microSD card readers, HDMI, DisplayPort, power and audio.
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.
Plugable USB-C 7-in-1 Multifuction hub - Best Affordable Multiport 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 for adding an external display, 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.
D-Link 8-in-1 USB-C Hub - Best USB-C hub with Gigabit Ethernet
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.
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.
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.
Satechi 4-Port USB-C Hub - Best USB-C hub for multiple USB-C
Laptops often have just two USB-C or Thunderbolt ports, so some users will yearn for more of the modern connectors.
The most we've seen on a simple adapter is four USB-C on Satechi's well-named 4-Port USB-C Hub, which will at least double most laptops' port count and help add Type-C SSD drives, flash drives, and other peripherals.
The USB-C is rated at 5Gbps.
Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub - Best Thunderbolt 4 hub
Backwards compatible and foreseeable-future-proof, Caldigit's Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub is great for modern laptops that can feel the benefits of the latest connectivity standard.
It boasts four 40GBps Thunderbolt 4 ports (compatible with USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4) plus four 10Gbps USB-A ports.
You can use the TB4 ports to add external USB-C displays or, with a USB-C display adapter, to multiple HDMI or DisplayPort monitors – as well as other devices, all at top speeds.
Read our full Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub review
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.com USB-C Multiport 4-in-1 Video Adapter - Best USB-C adapter for display port choice
The Startech.com 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.
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.
Startech.com 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.
StarTech.com 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.com 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.
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.
The latest connection standard is Thunderbolt 4 or USB4. We've tested the best Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docks.
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. Speeds range from 480MBps (USB 2.0) to 5Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen 1) and 10Gbps (USB 3.2 Gen 2).
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.
Thunderbolt: It looks exactly the same as USB-C but Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 are much faster at 40Gbps compared to 5Gbps or 10Gbps. If your laptop boasts either Thunderbolt 3 or 4, it's wise to buy an adapter, hub or docking station that has the same connection. TB4 is backwards compatible with USB-C and TB3, although some TB3 Windows laptops and PCs might not be supported; all recent Apple MacBooks will be. Check out our roundup of the best Thunderbolt 3 docks and the best Thunderbolt 4 docks.
USB4: Using the same connector as USB-C, USB4 is, like Thunderbolt, a more sophisticated and often faster connection standard.
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). Learn more about the differences between USB-C, USB4, Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 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.