Apple’s new MacBook Pro line, announced in October, includes only a few Thunderbolt 3 ports and a 3.5mm audio jack. Depending on the model of MacBook Pro you prefer, you’ll either get two or four ThunderBolt 3 ports.
What’s the difference between Thunderbolt and USB-C? Mostly, Thunderbolt is just faster overall. A USB-C connection can deliver speeds up to 10Mbps, while Thunderbolt 3 can get up to 40Mbs. Literally, 4x as fast. According to CNET, a Thunderbolt connection could transfer a full hour of 4K GoPro footage in less than a minute.
However, as CNET pointed out, a future of universal USB-C cables is still far off. Those who want to use their USB ports to connect devices like phones, tablets, keyboards, mice, external monitors or TVs will need a myriad of USB converters and dongles. The new MacBooks don’t even have an SD or MicroSD card reader, so that too will require an external dongle.
1. The Arc Hub
The Arc Hub only uses one port, and delivers up to seven functions at once. It’s equipped with
two regular USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, two USB-C ports (for charging or other connections), one Mini DisplayPort, and on SD Card slot.
It’s a little pricey, at a little over $100, but the hub is also well-designed and ultra-portable.
2. Anker’s USB Hub With SD Slot
For those with a lot of regular USB-powered devices (like keyboards, mice, or controllers), a regular USB hub may be the best option. Anker has a USB hub which includes an SD Card reader for $39.99 with a 4-star Amazon rating. The hub also has a USB-C port for charging your laptop.
The inclusion of an SD Card reader is helpful for those with external cameras, especially GoPros. Not ever USB hub includes USB-C ports for charging, and this feature is a lifesaver for those who are short on USB-C ports.
3. Elago’s USB-C Hub
For those who aren’t a fan of the blocky style of most USB hubs, Elago has it covered. The company has created a sleek, aluminum USB hub specifically for MacBook users (but it will work with any USB-C device). The hub goes for $25.99 and has a 5-star rating on Amazon, but only has six customer reviews.
The hubs are missing a few key components that Anker’s hub possessed. First off, it doesn’t have an SD Card slot, so those who use external cameras or GoPros are out of luck. Also, there’s no USB-C port on the hub, so users can’t charge their laptop via the hub itself. In order to do so, they would have to use a separate port.
Keep in mind that the MagSafe charging port isn’t on any of the new MacBooks, so one of your precious USB-C ports will have to be used for charging.
4. Apple’s Multiport Adapter
An obvious choice for Mac users is the USB-C hub from Apple. The Multiport Adapter includes an HDMI output, one USB 3.0 output, and one USB-C output (for charging). The Multiport Adapter isn’t bad, but could include more bang for your buck, especially at $69.00.
The name “adapter” is apt, since this isn’t really a hub. Regular users will likely need more than one USB 3.0 port, though the addition of an HDMI port is helpful. Still, this adapter is fairly limited, and the previously mentioned Arc Hub may be a better bet for those who want more functionality out of their USB-C hub.
5. Simple USB-C to USB 3.0 Adapter
If you aren’t a power user, and just want to be able to plug in a regular old USB device every once in a while, these simple USB-C to USB adapters will do the trick. Even for power users, having one of these in your laptop sleeve or desk drawer might save you in a pinch.
It’s worth noting here that these converters aren’t for charging or anything that requires external power. All they do is convert your USB-C ports to USB 3.0 ports. They’re $9.99 for a two-pack, but if you find yourself buying one for each of your four MacBook Pro USB-C ports you may just want to spring for one of the hubs mentioned above.