Learn more about USB Hubs
Technology continues to evolve every day. However, with evolution, there's a time when the change isn't ready to be accepted by everyone. The same has been happening in the electronics industry - where the evolution that is coming in isn't ready for everyone. Having the same port that can do everything is a future we would love to live in - but that still has a long way to go. And that's the reason why several users still use USB Hubs.
Several computer accessories that were connected via a cable earlier can now be connected via Bluetooth. Also, data storage transfers are currently possible via cloud platforms. However, when one needs to unveil the highest potential of their devices - and even transfer data at higher speeds, a cable connection directly attaching the device and the computer becomes necessary.
Several laptops and computers released today are equipped with multiple numbers of the same type of ports, i.e., only USB-C Ports. While they are competent, not every other accessory is capable of running through that yet. Hence, a USB Hub is required to provide the user with the choice to have different types of ports - and connect all different types of accessories.
What is a USB Hub? What are they used for?
A USB Hub is basically a computer accessory that you can use to connect other accessories to your main work device - by just occupying a single port. Several hubs available in the market provide users with a range of ports, including an Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and even a USB-C port alongside the regular USB-A Ports.
While we mainly know USB Hubs as a computer accessory, certain USB Power Hubs are available in the market that is just meant to provide power supply to multiple devices simultaneously. These power hubs are mainly plugged into the AC Outlet - after which one can use multiple cables on the given ports to charge multiple devices.
The main purpose of the USB Hubs is to provide a huge range of connectivity to the work laptop or computer so that a creator can work freely - without having to worry about the number of ports to attach other accessories. Just attach the hub to the computer's USB port - and you should be good to go for attaching multiple accessories. However, if we talk about the USB Power Hubs, their main purpose would be to supply power to the connected devices.
Things to look for while purchasing USB Hubs
When we first start looking at USB Hubs, it might look like an easy decision. However, that's not the case here. Even though they look simple to understand, one does need to pay a lot of attention and need to check certain things before making a purchase decision. Please allow us to briefly explain the things you must look for while purchasing a USB Hub.
Availability of USB Ports
This is the first thing you must be looking at when trying to make a purchase decision for the USB Hubs. The choice for this would totally depend on your personal needs and requirements. If you need more USB-C ports and multiple HDMI ports, you must look for a USB Hub that comes with both of them.
Ultimately, the USB Hubs aren't only meant to connect different USB devices as they also come with other types of ports. Sure, USB helps you connect several types of devices. However, one can use other ports like the HDMI port to connect with external displays. And one can also use the Ethernet port to have an ethernet connection on the laptop. So, while a USB-C data port and a USB-A port do many things, they still can't do everything. This is exactly why USB Hubs are great.
However, if you are looking for a USB Hub that can charge multiple devices, you mainly need to decide on the types and number of ports - as that would decide the USB cables you need to have.
Number of USB Ports
The number of USB Ports is also important while selecting a USB Hub. While a USB Hub can have several different ports, it might not have multiple ports of the same type - which is required quite a lot. So, selecting one with the availability - and multiple numbers of USB Ports becomes essential while making a purchase decision.
USB-C Ports and USB-A Ports are two of the widely used data ports in the industry. So, having multiple numbers of each of them is necessary. However, it would still depend on your needs, how many are needed, and how you are willing to use the USB Hub. Hence, decide on how many and which ports are necessary to be there - and select a USB Hub based on that.
The version of a USB Port on the Hub
Even if you have all the ports available on the hub and multiple ports of the same type, the USB Hub's performance might be lower than expected. This usually occurs when the USB Hub is not using the latest version of technology - that supports high-speed data connections.
So, for all USB ports - USB-A and USB-C, having USB 3.0 support on both of them is essential. With the newer technology on the USB ports, your USB Hubs will perform much better, especially in data transfer speeds. Also, if you go for a USB Hub that is capable of supporting Thunderbolt technology, you will be in for a treat as that will also allow you to easily connect a supported external monitor - right from that port.
The power source of the hub
While selecting a USB Hub, it becomes crucial to know where the Hub is getting the power to run the connected devices. Based on this, there are two main types of USB Hubs available in the market. One of them, which draws power from your computer or laptop, is mainly known as Unpowered USB Hubs. They can power the majority of USB devices - but it will affect the battery life of your main device. Also, there might be a few power-hungry devices that might not be able to run through such ports.
The other main type of USB Hubs is the Powered USB Hubs. These hubs are powered externally through an AC adapter. A powered hub can power regular devices and can also power devices that actually need to have higher power input. However, it becomes essential to notify that powered USB Hubs won't run well without using an external power adapter.
Pass-through charging support
When you are looking to buy a USB Hub for your laptop, it becomes essential to search for one that supports pass-through charging. When you attach these USB Hubs to the laptop, they will drain more power than normal as you will be connecting multiple devices through that. Sure, if the USB Hub runs on its own power, this wouldn't happen. But when we look for a USB Hub for a laptop, we need to have a compact package that a Powered USB Hub doesn't really have.
So, to continue to have your laptop getting charged while you work on it after attaching multiple USB devices, having pass-through charging support becomes a necessity. So, if you are someone who is looking for a USB Hub for your laptop, keep this point in mind while making a purchase decision.
Frequently Asked Questions
When you are on the lookout for purchasing one of the best USB Hubs available in the market, it is expected to have questions before making that final decision. But hey, you need not worry about that. We have prepared a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about USB Hubs here. So, there's a good chance that we have already answered your question here.
Powered USB Hub v/s Unpowered USB Hub - Which one is better and why?
The answer to this question cannot be binary - as it totally depends on exactly what you are looking for. If you need something compact that still has enough power to run almost all gadgets, you can go with the Unpowered USB Hub. However, if you need additional ports and extra power - which will also have the ability to connect with more powerful devices, then you should go with the Powered USB Hub.
It is essential to note that as the technology progresses, the Unpowered USB Hubs are getting quite capable. If there's a Thunderbolt USB Dock in the market, it can power many more devices than you would typically expect to do with the Unpowered USB Hubs.
Do these USB Hubs come with Thunderbolt 3 support?
Not all of them - but some do.
While looking for a USB Hub, it is essential to note that not every hub will be Thunderbolt 3 capable. You need to specifically look at the description and confirm that it supports that - before you place an order. With the Thunderbolt 3 support, you can attach a much wider variety of devices to your laptop or computer.
Is it possible to connect an external monitor through the USB-C hub?
Yes, it is definitely possible to do that.
There are a few ways actually to do this. However, it is essential to have an HDMI port or a Thunderbolt 3 Port on the USB Hub for it to be possible. If you have either of these two ports, you can easily attach an external monitor through the USB-C Hub.
I want to get a power hub to charge multiple devices at once. Do you have one in your store?
Yes, we do have a power hub that will allow you to charge multiple devices at once. If that's something you are looking for, you should be looking at the Anker PowerPort 5, as that comes with a total of 5 ports. One of them is a USB-C PD port which supports higher power delivery through a USB-C Cable. The remaining four ports are USB-A ports that would deliver power intelligently to the connected devices.
Is it possible to attach an ethernet cable to the USB Hub?
If the USB Hub you are willing to purchase has one, then why not! You will only need to make sure that there is an Ethernet Port on the USB Hub to attach an Ethernet Cable. Also, if you want to have the Gigabit connection, it will be necessary for you to double-check if the USB Hub comes with a Gigabit Ethernet port or now.
Do you have a portable hub that I can carry easily in a laptop bag?
Yes, we do have a portable hub that you can easily carry inside a laptop bag.
We totally understand that the USB Hubs are significant for several laptop users - and for those users, portability is an important factor. So, if you are one of those users looking for a Portable USB Hub, then you can check out the PowerExpand 5-in-1 USB-C Hub by Anker.
Do USB Hubs affect the data transfer speeds?
Yes, USB Hubs affect data transfer rates, especially for thumb drives and hard drives.
So, when you attach any data drive to the USB Hub, instead of attaching it directly to the computer port, it has to go through multiple ports - which will indeed reduce the data transfer rates. For SSDs, the transfer speeds are still affected, but you would notice them lesser as the SSDs are fast by themselves.
Also, the reduced speeds won't be noticeable on any drive for most of the usage - unless you're transferring huge files regularly.
Is a USB-C hub worth it?
If you need more numbers and types of USB Ports on your device, then a USB-C hub is totally worth it. However, as we say here, it still depends on your needs. If you need it, it will be worth it. If you already have enough ports and don't need a USB Hub, you can spend that money on other technology pieces.
While we are in the transition phase in USB technology, the USB Hubs are basically a necessity right now. With all the information that we have provided here about the USB Hubs, it will now be easier for you to select the best USB-C hub - depending on your usage. However, if you are still facing any issues or want to get some personalized recommendations, feel free to reach out to one of our Gear Guides. They'll be more than happy to assist you.