A Moshi Symbus Mini hub connected to a laptop with a USB flash drive, cable, SD card, HDMI cable, and USB-C charger also connected

Buying a USB-C hub? Make sure it's not yesterday's technology

By Trent

Believe it or not, the USB-C standard has already been around for more than 6 years, and as one of the industry's most versatile specifications it can be utilized to implement newer outputs and provide better performance as technologies improve. But not all USB-C hubs are made equal, with some using outdated components which provide connections far below what your laptop may be capable of. We've compiled this handy guide on what specs and features to look for in a USB-C hub so you can make sure you're getting the best performance possible.

 "Not all USB-C hubs are made equal, with some using outdated components which provide connections far below what your laptop may be capable of."

HDMI

This is the go-to standard for video output, with most monitors, TVs, and projectors supporting HDMI. Look for at least HDMI 2.0 support to ensure that you're getting 4K at the higher 50 or 60 Hz refresh rate. This will result in smoother videos and gaming as well as less eye fatigue when looking at a screen for extended periods of time.

USB PD

Power Delivery (PD) is the specification for transmitting power over a USB-C cable, most commonly used for laptop charging over a USB-C port. PD pass-though allows you to plug your laptop charger into the hub so that your computer will receive power through the same port while the hub is connected. A poor spec here could see the hub throttle your computer's power input, resulting in slow charging or even no charging at all. Choose a hub with a minimum pass-through output of 60 W (ideally 70 W) to ensure your device is getting all the juice it needs while you're working or gaming.

USB-A

Many people have devices with the older USB-A connector, which is still capable of some significant data transfer speeds and power output. Although many devices using this interface don't rely on high-speed transfer, support for at least USB 3.1 Gen 1 is a good idea, especially if you plan to use external storage devices. Additionally, USB 3.1 can provide up to 4.5 W of power output for compatible devices. You should also make sure there's at least two USB-A ports on your new hub, as you'll likely need to connect multiple devices simultaneously.

SD/microSD card reader

The transfer speed when reading to or writing from an SD card will largely depend on the card itself, but an inferior card reader can create a bottleneck, meaning more time will be required to get those latest photos or videos off your camera. We recommend going with at least UHS-I (Ultra High Speed), which at 104 MB/s can provide up to eight times the standard read/write speeds of the SD card specification.

Ethernet

Although the ports look almost identical, there's a ten-fold speed difference between Gigabit Ethernet and its confusingly-named predecessor Fast Ethernet. You should make sure your USB-C hub supports the newer 1000 Mbps Gigabit standard so that you're not restricting connection speed when using office, hotel, or conference center wired networks. Also, as this is the tallest port out of the lot, any intelligent engineering which can reduce the port's socket size when not in use will result in an overall reduction in the thickness of the hub.

Comparison table of Symbus Mini specs versus minimum standardsRecommended USB-C hub specs (Source: Moshi)

The right USB-C hub can vastly improve your desktop or mobile computing experience, often unleashing the true power and performance of your laptop. Be sure to check the technical specs of any device carefully before buying so that you're not left with prior-generation technology and inferior performance from the accessories and peripherals connected to your computer. 

Looking for a compact portable hub to give your USB-C laptop desktop-like connectivity? Moshi's Symbus Mini is the world's most powerful portable hub solution. Check out this in-depth review of Symbus Mini to learn more about all the benefits of using a USB-C hub with the latest specs. 

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