USB-C is a newish standard of USB that allows transfer speeds of 10Gbps, as opposed to the current 5Gbps rate available with USB 3.0, while it also offers faster charging times. It’s no one-trick pony, either – USB-C handles data transfer, video output and power input.
You’ll find Type C on the 12in MacBook, and a faster variant of it (called Thunderbolt 3) on the MacBook Pro (13in and 15in) and newer (post-2018 models) of the MacBook Air.
Thunderbolt 3 Macs can use USB-C accessories, but may lose some of their extra bandwidth (T3’s 40Gbps vs USB-C’s 5-10Gbps).
Similar to Apple’s Lightning connector, USB-C doesn’t have to be plugged in at a certain orientation, which means that you can wave bye-bye to the age-old USB guessing game of “Which way does it go in?”
Fortunately for those without a full range of USB-C gear, Apple will provide you with an adapter to extend the functionality of this port… for a (high) price. Other companies offer more budget-friendly alternatives, along with a range of other USB-C cables, chargers and accessories. You can also add extra USB-C ports to a MacBook using Apple adapters, but these are not the most affordable on the market, as you might expect.
For more detail on USB-C, take a look at our guide to Mac and iPhone ports.
You’ll likely need some old non-reversible USB-A ports, and most adapters and hubs have at least one for your non-USB-C memory sticks and drives. Look for at least USB 3.0, which has a speedy bandwidth of 5Gbps compared to the sluggish USB 2.0’s 480Mbps.
Other ports to look for include Gigabit Ethernet for faster wired Internet access, and an SD or microSD Card reader for adding inexpensive portable storage to your system.
If you’re after a full desktop setup for your MacBook, look out for our recommendations for the best USB-C and Thunderbolt docking stations for MacBooks.
With adapters that offer passthrough charging (so you can charge your laptop even though you are using up one of the laptop’s USB-C ports), look for the charging power it offers. 12in MacBook and MacBook Air charge at 30W; the 13in MacBook Pro at 61W, the 15in MacBook Pro at 87W; and the 16in MacBook Pro at 96W. You can certainly use a charger at a lower power, but remember that it will power up slower than when using a higher-wattage charger, and if too low your laptop might run out of juice altogether when maxed out on power-hungry apps and devices.
Most of these adapters include older USB-A (3.2) ports for older devices (although plenty of accessories still use this standard). if you want to use these older USB slots for charging your phone, look out for chargers that include IQuick Charge 3.0 ports. If your smartphone is compatible, you can charge your phone up to 80% in just 35 minutes.
Most of the products tested here work with non-Apple USB-C laptops too, but you can read our more general roundup of the best USB-C hubs.
UGREEN USB-C Hub – Best hub for USB-A ports
If all you need from an adapter is the ability to connect a bunch of older USB-A devices to your MacBook, this simple adapter should do the trick.
For laptops that support only USB-C the UGREEN USB-C 4-port hub is a slim and inexpensive adapter that allows you to add four full-size USB 3.0 ports that can handle data transfer at up to 5Gbps.
It looks the part with most modern MacBooks, and is an easy way to connect memory sticks, a printer or other older devices that don’t come with USB-C.
Twelve South StayGo – Best portable USB-C dock
The StayGo is, as its name suggests, one for the home, office or on your travels. It’s lightweight and much more compact than most USB-C docks.
It features a full array of 8 ports, including: USB-C 3.1 for 85W Power Delivery (PD) charging of the laptop; an HDMI port (4K at 30Hz) for attaching to an external display; two 5Gbps USB-A 3.0 ports and another USB-A port with 7.5W for faster charging; Gigabit Ethernet for wired Internet; and SD and Micro SD card readers.
It comes with a 1m USB-C cable to connect with your laptop, plus a detachable travel cable that hides inside the dock when not in use.
It’s pricier than most of the adapters reviewed here, but it’s got the lot if you need everything, and we like it a lot. It feels more robust than some of the cheaper hubs.
Plugable USB-C 7-in-1 Hub with HDMI – Best lightweight adapter with pass-through charging
Slim and sturdy while still being very portable, the latest version of Plugable 7-in-1 USB-C hub comes with HDMI port that can support an external 4K display at 30Hz.
Thee are also two 5Gbps USB-A ports, Gigabit Ethernet, UHS-I SD and microSD Card readers, and a USB-C port for PD passthrough charging at up to an impressive 87W – enough for most laptops.
At just 106g, it’s the lightest of the truly multifunctional (display plus Ethernet) hub/docks available.
Kingston Nucleum 7-port USB-C Adapter – Most robust USB-C adapter
This is a very well-constructed USB-C hub that adds access to seven ports from one USB-C connection.
It includes two 5Gbps USB-A 3.1 ports, and two USB-C ports – one of which allows for passthrough charging at up to 60W.
There’s no Ethernet port with this adapter, but most of us are fine with Wi-Fi anyway. But if you need a wired Internet connection, look elsewhere.
There’s also an HDMI port for adding an external display (4K at 30Hz), and an SD and Micro SD Card reader slot.
Satechi USB-C Multi-Port Hub Adapter
The brushed aluminium Satechi USB-C Multi-Port Hub Adapter offers two 5Gbps USB 3.0 Type-A ports and 4K HDMI.
It lacks an SD card slot, but does include a USB-C pass-through port so you don’t sacrifice your laptop’s type-C port – allowing you to charge your laptop while using the adapter’s other outlets. This is especially handy for owners of the 12in MacBook, which has just the one USB-C port.
It doesn’t feature an Ethernet port, so you’ll have to stick to Wi-Fi.
it’s designed to complement Apple’s MacBook range with availability in Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, and Space grey colours..
Satechi USB-C Dual Multimedia Adapter – Best multiport adapter for 4K HDMI
This multimedia adapter uses the dual USB-C ports of a MacBook to connect to a hub of ports, including two USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, SD and Micro SD Card reader, a USB-C charging port (60W) and two HDMI ports.
It is compatible with MacBook models with two side USB-C ports on the same side. It does not support MacBook models with a single USB-C port.
One of the HDMI ports can handle 4K at 60Hz port, while the other supports 4K at 30Hz.
It’s available in either Silver or Space Grey.
Satechi USB-C Dual 4K HDMI Adapter – Best adapter for dual 4K displays
Satechi promises that this adapter can handle two 4K displays at 60Hz – most display-friendly USB-C hubs can handle 4K displays only at 30Hz, a lower frame rate that is fine for most tasks but not ideal for high-resolution gaming or broadcasts.
This simple double-HDMI adapter also includes a USB-C PD charging port (at up to 60W) so you can keep your MacBook charged while it’s in use.
It is compatible with MacBook models with two side USB-C ports.
It is available in either Silver or Space Grey.
Plugable USB-C to HDMI Multiport Adapter – Best alternative to Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter
Apple got a lot of flack when moving to USB-C because it meant that many of its users had to buy one or more adapters to replicate the ports they were used to, and needed.
It wasn’t so much that we needed adapters, but more to do with the price Apple was charging for its simple USB-C hubs and adapters.
Take, for example Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, which cost over £70/$70, for an HDMI port, one USB-A port and a passthrough-power USB-C port.
Plugable has a much cheaper alternative, at about a third of the price. And it looks pretty identical.
The one drawback is that the HDMI connection can connect a 4K external display at 30Hz rather than the full 60Hz, which may put off gamers.
But otherwise, this is a great alternative at a fraction of the price, and can charge at 60W.
Moshi Symbus Q – Best adapter with Qi wireless charging
If you don’t mind spending a little more, the Symbus Q dock from Moshi offers a lot of functionality in a seriously slick package – it just doesn’t come cheap.
There are dual USB-A 3.1 ports, along with Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI on the other, and it supports USB-C PD passthrough charging, so it will double as the charger for your MacBook. Best of all, the top of the dock is also a 15W wireless Qi charger – above the max charging capacity of the latest iPhones.
The main body is aluminium, with a soft fabric and rubber top to keep any charging devices from slipping around. The whole things feels solid but slick, a perfect match for your Apple gear.
The big downside is that this is very much a desk dock – it won’t function at all unless plugged into the mains, so you can’t use it on the go, meaning it’s more for beefing up your MacBook at your desk. There’s also no USB-C port, so if your laptop only has the one port then you won’t be able to use this dock along with any other USB-C accessories.
This is the only docking station with Qi wireless charging for your iPhone.
Satechi Type-C 75W Travel Charger – Best 2x USB-C travel charger
This portable travel charger boasts with two USB-C ports and two USB-A ports for owners of more than one USB-C device.
One of the ports charges up to 60W, and the other to 18W, so it’s ideal if you have a MacBook and another USB-C device.
Like all Satechi products, it will blend in with your Apple kit, and doesn’t disappoint sat next to your laptop.
Satechi Stand Hub for Mac Mini – Best USB-C hub for Mac mini
We tend to think of hubs for laptops, such as Apple’s MacBooks, which lack more than one or two USB-C ports and so require a dock to add further devices.
The Mac Mini, you’d think, has an army of ports in comparison to Apple’s laptops.
The latest models boast two Thunderbolt 3 / USB4 (fast USB-C) ports, two old-school USB-A ports, HDMI 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, and 3.5mm headphone jack.
That sounds like a lot, but Apple accessory specialist Satechi believes the Mini needs maxing.
Satechi’s Type-C Aluminum Stand & Hub for Mac Mini expands these capabilities with six ports: including a USB-C data port, three USB-A ports, micro/SD card readers, and another 3.5mm headphone jack port.
(Note that you can’t charge devices connected to the USB ports, as they are there for syncing and data transfer only.)
The crucial point is that these points are front-facing, and not tucked around the back with the unwieldy and unsightly power supply. It also lifts the Mini off the desk, and its built-in air vents help regulate temperature and encourage airflow.
Syncwire Nylon-Braided USB-C to USB-A Cable
Cables are one of the classic accessories where people like to save money – especially after they look at the prices Apple itself charges for replacements.
Unfortunately, being a cable cheapskate can sometimes be a false economy – you save money on each cable, but they break and require replacing so often that it doesn’t really work out any cheaper in the end. Luckily, Syncwire’s nylon-braided cables are impressively solid, without breaking the bank.
The nylon jacket will resist damage from moisture or bending, without sacrificing any flexibility, and it supports data transfer speeds up to 5Gbps, and charging output up to 3A.
Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport
Apple’s USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter allows you to connect your USB-C enabled MacBook port to an HDMI display, a standard USB device, and a charging cable – all at the same time. The USB port allows you to connect incompatible USB accessories (flash drives, cameras) to your USB-C enabled MacBook.
The adapter supports full 1080p HD video output to your TV (HDMI-enabled, of course) where you can mirror your MacBook’s display or play movies. There’s a catch, though, as the actual HDMI cable doesn’t come with the adaptor and you have to buy that separately, which comes as a surprise when you consider that the adapter costs £75/US$69.
Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter
Some older displays and especially projectors still use the VGA standard for connection. Unveil your shiny new 12in MacBook or Touchbar MacBook Pro at your next meeting, then die of frustration when the projector has a VGA connection.
All is not lost, except that meeting then and there and a pile of cash, as Apple’s USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter doesn’t come cheap.
But, hey, Apple doesn’t own USB-C, so there are far cheaper options out there.
Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 Adapter
This adapter is designed to help you smoothly transition to using USB-C. You may well have devices such as hard drives and external displays that use Thunderbolt 2 connections. This little gadget lets you keep using them with your MacBook or new MacBook Pro.
It also allows new Thunderbolt 3 devices to connect to a Mac with Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 ports – but to take advantage of it this way round Apple advises you need to be running macOS Sierra or above.
SanDisk Extreme Pro SD Card USB-C Reader
If you’re a digital professional or just a photography enthusiast, chances are you might be slightly peeved that the new MacBook Pro you held out for doesn’t have an SD card slot.
SanDisk is here to save the day. This neat SD card reader is USB-C compatible and will allow Thunderbolt 3 speed transfers of all your high-resolution photos and videos.
SD cards are also a very inexpensive way to add portable storage to your laptop, from 32GB up to 1TB.
Nonda USB-C to USB-A adapter
There’s a misconception that USB-C is an inconvenience, hence the existence of little adapters like this one from Nonda. USB-C isn’t so much an inconvenience as a completely new tech standard, so products like this are just there to help us bridge the gap. Positivity, people.
This cute little adapter is simply to allow you to plug in one standard USB device or cable at a time, great for charging or syncing your iPhone or using a USB stick. Just don’t misplace it, it’s tiny.
Moshi Integra USB-C Charging Cable
Moshi’s Integra USB-C to USB Charge Cable is a two-metre-long charge cable with smart LED indicators that keep a track of your charging status.
This is great, as the MacBook doesn’t have such a feature; one that might be missed by those used to it on the current MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.
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