Ok, so you bought a new MacBook recently, and you made a surprising discovery. Where have all the USB ports gone? If you’re lucky and purchased an older model then you may have gotten two ports, but one mouse and maybe an external hard drive will occupy them, and that’s it. You cannot charge your phone, you cannot use a stick, there is no space for anything else.
I don’t know if you noticed, but people got really mad about it. However, there’s one thing they don’t understand. The goal for Apple was to make their laptops as slim as possible. And they managed to achieve this goal. People love that a laptop can be so thin. But what they seem to forget is that the lack of ports makes a notebook so slim. The more they are, the thicker the device. But that’s why USB hubs were created.
What is a hub?
A hub is for USB devices what a power strip is for electrical equipment. It will split the capability of a single USB port among some devices that you may need to plug into your laptop. Just like a power strip that you use to plug in the electrical appliances in your home or office. Simple as that. So basically you use one USB port to create more ports. I don’t know if there is a simpler explanation. The point is that when you have only two ports, a USB hub is a must. That is if you want to use more than two USB devices at once. But I assume you don’t like taking turns.
The best hub for Mac buying guide
One thing you should know. Not all hubs are the same. They come in different shapes, sizes, and let’s not forget about quality. The latter is crucial because you would not plug in a device that cost you a couple grand in a 5 dollar power strip, would you? Same goes with hubs. You need to pay attention to quality, the number of ports, and last, but not least, you need to consider what pieces of hardware you are going to use.
- The number of ports – that really depends on your needs. Are you a person who uses many USB ports at once? Does your work require that? You must know that there are many models, from the ones with just 4 ports to the ones that have 10. Fortunately, you have where to choose from. I believe that you can even find a filter on some sites that sort the hubs considering the number of ports. But, as I said, it all depends on what you need.
- The existence of a power play – there was a time when I believed that all USB hubs can also be used for charging certain devices like your tablet or phone, but I couldn’t be more wrong. There are some that don’t charge at all, there are some which cannot deliver a significantwattage, so the charge takes forever, but then there are the power play USB hubs that can fast-charge your phone. That’s what you will want to aim for. Nowadays, a lot of people charge their phones through a computer, rather than using a wall outlet.
- The price – and now youwould say that it doesn’t matter, but it does. The price of a particular item is dictated by the number of resources used in its manufacturing. The fewer resources, the smaller the price. So, the middle of the road scenario is that you purchase a 2 $ knock-off with poor construction, poor wiring, and insulation that could potentially fry your beloved devices due to poor design. I don’t think anybody wants that. Which is why you should aim a bit higher when it comes to price. There is a reason for which they are expensive. But if you think about it, who buys a 2$ knock-off to plug in a 2000$ notebook?
- Beware of the standard – USB, just like anything else, evolves.There have been several iterations since its release in 1996. Each iteration comes to its own new features. The most notable of them all is the speed transfer. But there are also battery charging specifications and data handling for concurrent connections. As one may have expected, I don’t think they make USB 1.0 anymore, but the battle is between 2.0 and 3.0. The former can still be found, but the 3.0 is the best so far. So depending on your devices, aim for a USB 3.0 for a little more. The chances are that in a couple of years 2.0 will be what 1.0 is today.
- Powered vs. non-powered – powered hubs use an external power source to bring all ports to the same energy level. The most common power source is a wall outlet. That is if portability is not an issue. You cannot plug in a USB hub wherever you go. On the opposite side, we have non-powered hubs which do not have an external power source. They pull power from the device they’re plugged in (a computer or laptop). They are more portable than the powered version, they can read USB flashes and all, but you may have issues when you are trying to charge a device because the energy is limited to the hub’s capacity.
- Extra features – I don’t know about you, but I like a USB hub that can be used for more than flashes. For example, there are hubs that come with an ethernet port, which, in my opinion, comes in handy when you need a bigger broadband connection, or you have issues with your wireless connection. You know what they say. The more, the merrier. Nobody ever says no to more features.
What are the best USB hubs for Mac?
When you have so many options is kind of hard to make a choice in an instant. But now that you acquired some knowledge, you can push forward and make an actual purchase. Here are a few examples of the best USB hubs that are compatible with Apple computers or notebooks.
Sabrent Aluminum 4 Port USB Hub
The first thing you’ll notice about this products is its sleek design that goes with Apple products almost as if it was created by Apple. The color, the aluminum, the size, and the overall aspect scream Apple. But the difference between an Apple product and this one lies in the cable. You probably know how Apple cables have the tendency to fall apart months from purchase. But his one is shielded, which means its lifespan is a tad longer. It’s great news. Nobody likes shredded cables within a few months.
The hub comes with 4 additional USB ports, and it’s compatible with MacPro, iMac, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, MacBook, and Mac mini. The USBs are 2.0, which works for most devices, but the data transfer rate is up to 480 Mbps. That should be enough for simple tasks like transferring music or photos.
The Sabrent is very easy to use. You just plug it in, and that’s it. You can use it as you like. You don’t even have to restart your laptop because the device is hot swappable. You can plug it in while the computer is running. You don’t have to install any drivers in order for it to work.
The cord is only 9.5 inches, but I believe it’s enough. You keep your laptop within reach anyways, and with an iMac, the USB port is close enough. Portability is not an issue. It’s small, you can even put it in your pocket.
If I had to comment on something it would be the angle of the USB ports. It’s a bit awkward, but it’s not a deal breaker. You just have to be careful how you move around it, so you don’t bend the flash. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Anker 3-Port USB Hub
Now, this product is a little bit more advanced than the previous one. A little bit actually doesn’t begin to cover it. The USB is 3.0 which means a super speed of up to 5 Gbps, for faster sync times. The data can be accessed in an instant with such a data transfer rate. It’s true that it only provides 3 ports, but I would rather have 3 ports that work at that speed than many which work slower.
The design is sleek, and the device is portable. You can take it with you wherever you want. Storage space is close to non-existent. As far as appearance goes, I always loved black devices for some reason. The front is mirrored, which provides an elegant look. There is also a green LED to indicate normal operation
Feature-wise, the Anker will surprise you. It has a combination of 10 safety features that will provide ultimate protection for your devices and your chargers. The multi-protect system is very useful when you plug in a few devices at once. The built-in surge keeps all the data safe and will also support hot swapping.
Remember when I said above about the extra features? The Anker is one of those hubs that is able to provide more than USB ports. It also provides 1 gigabit Ethernet port. You can access superfast network speed, backward compatible with 10/100 ethernet. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely love this feature. Whenever your wi-fi is down or when you need to download stuff at higher speeds, such a hub is perfect fo the job.
The only thing that bothers me about the Anker is that it cannot be used to charge devices with irregular charging requirements (like iPads, for example). Also, to ensure a stable connection, you cannot use with high powerconsumption devices, such as large hard drives. But other than that this hub is compatible with any Mac and will do a perfect job. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
Anker USB 3.0 SuperSpeed 10 Port Hub
If you tend to use a lot of devices at once and you want them all plugged in at once, then this Anker is perfect for you. It has 10 USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports which will provide a data transfer rate up to 5Gbps.
Among all those ports, the 10th port delivers a BC 1.2 charging speedof up to 2 amps. That will provide a fast charging rate for your phone, tablet, or digital camera. The other 9 can charge too, but only at 0.9 amps. The hub comes with a high-power 60W adapter for a stable data transfer. I mentioned in the buying guide about the power play feature. Well, this Anker is one of those devices. A blue LED will let you know if the device functions properly.
Just as the previous model, this too has a built-in surge that protects your devices and supports hot swapping. There is no need for a driver and the compatibility in not an issue. It will work like a charm on any Mac.
Honestly, I couldn’t find anything wrong with this product. It’s high-quality, looks sturdy, and is compatible with Mac products, and with Apple devices that need charging as well. It’s slick, small, but very powerful. All the ports can work at once without issues. Click here to read more reviews and buy on Amazon.
My first tendency was to choose the Anker 3-port because of the Ethernet feature, but the power play feature from the Anker 10-port is a lot more attractive to me. I find it very annoying to leave my phone charging for a couple of hours for only 20% extra battery. That is why I consider that a fast charging USB port is more valuable than an Ethernet port.
I have to admit that USB hubs have come a long way in the last couple of years, but that is only because there is a higher demand for them. A few years back I could only see these devices in copy centers and places that used a lot of data transfer at once, but now they are everywhere. It seems that the hub industry achieved greater success when Apple managed to make Macs so slim. A man’s trash can be another man’s treasure apparently. Click here to buy on Amazon
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