Best USB hub 2023 • 7 USB hubs Reviews
New laptops’ compact, lightweight design often mean they lack input options. In fact, it is becoming uncommon for computers to offer the four ports that most featured just a few years ago. Fortunately, innovations have led to USB hubs, which allow you to enjoy all your peripherals at once.
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What is a USB Hub and how does it work?
This electronic device features several USB connection inputs to expand the number of available ports on your laptop. That way, various peripherals can be connected simultaneously. These USB hubs generally integrate both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, but they can also include HDMI and USB-C ports as well as micro SD card slots, among others.
What types of USB hubs are there?
Firstly, we identify two types of USB hubs according to the number of ports the device includes. The first option, single-port hubs, offer up to four ports (usually all USBs), while the second option, multi-port hubs, feature at least eight ports and sometimes include different types of connections. These may be HDMI or DisplayPort, for example.
A USB hub is either active or passive, depending on the type of power supply it uses. Passive models simply act as a physical connection link and do not allow you to manage data traffic. They do not consume energy. Active USB hubs, on the other hand, require power because they amplify the signal that passes through them or the other devices connected to the different ports.
- Single-port hubs: This type of USB hub has up to four ports. You can generally transport them more easily, but their functions are relatively limited.
- Multi-port hubs: As the name suggests, multi-port USB hubs have numerous ports. They allow for the connection of many peripherals, sometimes of different types. But they consume more energy when they are active.
Shopping Criteria for the Best USB Hub
The price isn’t the only relevant factor when we buy any product. Making great savings on a device that doesn’t meet your needs is completely pointless. Similarly, investing more than you should on a sophisticated model with functionalities that you will never use doesn’t make sense either. To get the best USB hub for your needs, the following section will delve into the key criteria to consider while making your purchase.
Number of Ports
You might think that the more ports your USB hub offers, the better, since you will be able to connect more devices simultaneously. However, you also have to keep in mind that power is divided among the different connections. That means that your device will consume more energy and will therefore cost more over time.
This is why we recommend buying a USB hub that is tailored to your personal needs. If you have a compact laptop with too few connectivity options and only want an extra couple of ports, you can opt for a single-port model (i.e., four ports). If you need a larger number and variety of ports, on the other hand, you must choose a multi-port USB hub.
Variety of Ports
Many products available on the market offer more input types than simply USB ports. As we mentioned earlier, there are two different kinds of USBs: 2.0 and 3.0. In addition, you can find USB hubs that include memory card slots, HDMI inputs, or USB-C ports to charge your cell phone.
Note that the increased functionality of USB hubs that integrate different types of input, as well as their rarity on the market, make them more expensive devices. That said, we encourage you to go for it if you need them or find them more useful. Anything that simplifies your life is worth investing in!
Design & Portability
Portability goes hand in hand with the size and weight of the USB hub. If you only want to use your device at home, you can easily choose a multi-port model that is powered by a cable plugged into the outlet. These products tend to be heavier.
If you constantly transport your device from home to work or take it on trips, you will likely prefer a more compact USB hub with reduced dimensions and weight. As you can see from our selection of products, these aspects can change dramatically from one model to the next, so pay close attention to this.
USB hubs can be passive, meaning they won’t need to be plugged into an outlet or have their own power supply since they are mere physical connection points that don’t consume electricity. This is often the case for models that have a fewer number of ports or more basic functionalities.
Active USB hubs, on the other hand, must be connected to a power outlet, as they amplify the signal and pass it on to the other ports. Some models come with a power cord in case the used ports require a significant amount of energy. As you may have noticed, the USB hubs with the highest power consumption must be continuously plugged in.
The data transmission of USB hubs is typically measured in megabits per second (Mbps). Pick a model based on the devices you want to connect to it on a regular basis. The most basic devices on the market will only offer USB 2.0 connectivity, which allows you to meet your needs at an affordable price if you don’t require high-transmission capacity.
However, if you do need a higher transmission capacity, opt for a USB hub that integrates USB 3.0 ports. As we stated earlier, these are backward compatible with USB 2.0. That way, you won’t have to worry about not having enough capacity for reading and writing data. Keep in mind that USB 3.0 is ten times more powerful than its predecessor, the USB 2.0.
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What is plug-and-play technology?
This type of technology allows any computer system to configure itself automatically. That means that it doesn’t require the installation of drivers or software, and you won’t have to worry about configuration parameters since the device will automatically identify itself. Nowadays, most systems are configured this way.
What this technology does is make life much easier for those of us who don’t know much about computers. That way, you can connect a device and use it immediately without having to waste time on its configuration. However, your computer also must integrate plug-and-play technology for it to work.
What is the difference between USB 2.0 and 3.0?
The acronym USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, and the difference between the two types lies in the data transmission speed. The USB 2.0 has a rate that can reach up to 60 megabits per second (Mbps), and it is gradually being replaced by the USB 3.0, whose performance is ten times faster at 600 Mbps.
The former works well with such peripherals as keyboards, mice, speakers, or even USB sticks. However, with devices or files that require faster read and write speeds, such as HD movies, USB 3.0 is your go-to. The latter is compatible with USB 2.0 devices, but the reverse isn’t true.
How can I configure my USB hub?
While these devices are generally equipped with the plug-and-play technology, some USB hubs give you the opportunity to customize how the ports operate. You can, for instance, adjust the amperage or turn them on and off. Note that you will have to install specific drivers and customize the configuration parameters in order to do so.
What are the best manufacturing materials?
Since electrical energy passes through a USB hub, it will generate heat. Overheating can cause some components to melt, which is why the use of the correct manufacturing materials is fundamental. We strongly advise opting for a high-quality product, or you will end up spending more after the cheaper USB hub breaks down.
In that regard, choose a model that favors cooling and whose materials can dissipate heat. This means preferring USB hubs made from aluminum rather than plastic. Make sure that its structure is sturdy so that it is shock-resistant, especially if you plan on carrying it with you everywhere you go.
The following are some useful tips to extend the life of your USB hub.
1. Do not overload it with devices. This will prevent it from overheating, which can cause a component to break down.
2. Choose quality materials. Cheap products usually end up costing more in the end.
3. Keep the dust away. Your device will quickly overheat if its ventilation system is blocked.
4. Choose shock-resistant materials. This is particularly important for those who are prone to clumsiness and those who often travel with their USB hub.
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