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What is a USB Hub: Whether You Need It?

Updated on Thursday, April 11, 2024

iBoysoft author Connie Yang

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Connie Yang
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USB Hub Overview: What is a USB Hub & the Best USB Hub

Summary: What is a USB hub? This post introduces USB hubs, including what a USB hub is, whether you need the USB hubs, the advantages and disadvantages of USB hubs, and the best USB hubs for you. By the way, it answers the common questions about USB hubs. - From iBoysoft

What is a USB hub

What is a USB hub? You hear about USB hubs and want to learn about what they are and whether they are necessary for you. Well, you are in the right place as this article will tell you everything about the USB hub.

Table of Contents:

What is a USB hub?

What is a USB hub? A USB hub (or Universal Serial Bus hub) is a device designed with an upstream port to connect to the computer or other host device and multiple output USB ports for external devices.

It is used to expand the limited USB ports on the computer into more, similar to a power strip. Consequently, you can simultaneously connect a number of USB devices to your computer that has restricted or fixed USB ports.

The typical hubs are non-powered and powered USB hubs. Non-powered USB hubs rely on the power provided by the host device's USB port. While powered USB hubs come with their own external power supply that delivers power to the connected devices to keep them working properly.

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What does a USB hub do?

The USB hub works by splitting the single USB connection on the host device into multiple ports. Then, each of the ports on the USB hub can connect a USB device, such as external hard drives, USB flash drives, keyboards, and more.

Although USB hubs are categorized in sizes and configurations on the market, they have the same function. That is to allow multiple USB devices to be connected to a host device via the single built-in USB port.

Are USB hubs a good idea?

Whether or not to use a USB hub depends on your situation.

If you use a laptop having limited and type-fixed USB ports but you need to connect outnumbered or unmatched USB devices, it is necessary to use a USB hub designed with multiple and different types of ports. Especially if you have a MacBook Pro or Air which is designed with limited USB-C or Thunderbolt ports.

But if you commonly use one to three USB devices in daily life, it is unnecessary to prepare a USB hub. And it is worth noting that connecting too many devices to your computer through a single hub might impact the performance and data transfer speeds of these devices and drains the power of your laptop. Especially if several high-bandwidth devices are connected at the same time.

You can refer to the advantages and disadvantages of the USB hubs:

  • Pros:
  • Expand USB device connectivity
  • Makes it easier to work on multiple external devices
  • Cons:
  • Reduce data transfer speed on connected USB devices
  • May impact the host device's performance

The best USB hubs

So, what is the best USB hub, and how to choose it? To pick up the best USB hubs, you need to consider these factors:

  • The number of output ports. Ensure the USB hub has enough ports to attach to the number of USB devices you frequently use.
  • The type of upstream ports. Ensure which extra ports you need. Check if the USB hub you choose matches the port of your external devices. For instance, the USB-C hubs are usually for MacBook Pros released in recent years.
  • Whether the USB hub is powered or not. Powered USB hubs come with AC adapters to supply power to the connected devices. That can make power-hungry devices have enough power to work properly rather than receiving limited power from your computer.

Combining the mentioned factors, here is a list of the best USB hubs:

1. Anker 7-in-1 USB C Hub

This powered USB hub for Mac not only contains USB-C ports but also attaches an HDMI port, two USB-A ports, and microSD and SD card readers. And it is designed with up to 5 Gbps data transfer speed.

Anker 7 in 1 USB C Hub

  • Pros:
  • 7 ports available in one compact and portable hub
  • Fast data transfer speed
  • Cost-effective
  • Cons:
  • The enclosure is easy to be scratched

2. UGREEN USB C Hub with 4 Ports

This USB-C hub extends 4 type C (USB 3.0) ports. It is especially for MacBook Pro/MacBook Air 2022/2021 with USB C ports, iPad Mini 6/5, iPad Pro/iPad Air 5/4, and Galaxy S23/S22/S21.

UGREEN USB C Hub with 4 Ports

  • Pros:
  • 4 USB C ports are available
  • Best for MacBook Pro/Air 2022/2021
  • Up to 5Gbps High Speed
  • Cons:
  • Single interface type

3. Belkin USB-C Hub, 7-in-1 MultiPort Docking Station

This USB-C hub has 7 ports, including two USB-A 3.0 ports, a USB-C Power Delivery 3.0 port, a Micros SD and SD 3.0 Card Reader, an HDMI port, and a 3.5mm AUX. That greatly matches your different needs.

Belkin USB C Hub

  • Pros:
  • Different types of ports are available
  • Compatible with MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and Laptops
  • Compact and portable
  • Cons:
  • Relatively short cable

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FAQs about what is a USB hub

A

If you connect too many external devices, the USB hub will slow down the data transfer speeds of these connected devices.

A

A USB hub usually contains several USB ports, and some may even have an SD card reader. You can plug external hard drives, USB drives, printers, external keyboards, mice, and others into a USB hub.

A

A USB charger is used to charge an electrical device, like your laptop, while a USB hub is a device that expands a single USB port on a computer into several, enabling multiple USB devices simultaneously to be connected to your computer.

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