Best USB-C adapters for adding ports to your laptop

In the old days, laptops used to have lots of connectors and ports dotted around their edges. But in the last year or two makers have slimmed down their devices even more and left no room for such things as an HDMI output or Ethernet socket.

Indeed, more and more laptops (including Apple MacBooks) and tablets use the latest USB-C connection standard because it’s small and versatile: the port can be used for a variety of things including connecting peripherals and even charging.

But if you still need to connect non-USB-C devices to your laptop you’ll need a USB-C adapter. This will let you attach external hard drives, memory sticks, DVD drives, phone chargers and external displays or a projector for meetings.

The great news is there is a wide choice of quality USB-C adapters and hubs now available, and at reasonable prices.

What is a USB-C hub?

While these products are often described and named as adapters or dongles (as so many devices hang off them) they are really hubs that take one port on the laptop and add multiple and varied other connection ports.

If you want something more substantial to anchor your laptop to at home or in the office, you should consider a full USB-C docking station that has even more ports and power delivery (USB PD) that charges your laptop at the same time. And if your laptop features Thunderbolt 3 (a sort of super-charged USB-C) read Macworld’s best Thunderbolt 3 docks, which is good for both Macs and PCs.

First, consider what you need from the hub or adapter. Most are multiport, so have more than one type of connection functionality included.

USB A: Also known as USB 3.0. Do you just need to attach some accessories that use older standard USB connections? If so, there are many simple adapters at low cost.

HDMI: Need an HDMI port for your laptop? There are plenty of USB-C hubs that include HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface), including 4K.

DisplayPort: These, er, display ports are more often found on full docking stations; see link above.

Power: Some laptops have just the one USB-C port, so add an adapter and you have nothing left to charge your computer at the same time. In which case, you should look for a hub with an extra USB-C Power Delivery (PD) port so you can continue to power your laptop while using the adapter. This is known as passthrough charging. 85W and over will power most laptops at full speed.

Chargers: And some hubs are really chargers with built-in adapters. Check out our Best USB-C Chargers roundup for a selection of recommended products.

Ethernet: Even with Wi-Fi so prevalent you still can’t beat the speed of a wired Ethernet connection, still found in hotels and of course from your router. If so, you want a hub with an RY45 Ethernet port – and make sure it’s a Gigabit Ethernet connection for faster data transfer.

Memory cards: Fewer laptops these days include memory-card slots – certainly none from Apple. If these are important to you, look for SD-, MicroSD- and TF-card slots on the hub or adapter. You can quickly and very cheaply add portable storage to your laptop setup.

Second, think about portability. If it’s your laptop that uses USB-C then you are likely to want the hub to travel with you and not be a giant brick. So, look for portability in size and weight. There are enough small and lightweight adapters that you can slip in your laptop bag or even pocket and not notice.

And third, of course, is the price. There are certainly some very cheap USB-C adapters out there, but we’ve tried to pick the quality end of the market (but still at reasonable prices) so you don’t risk the safety of your device or even home with a dangerously cheap adapter.

Cables: Read our roundup of the best USB-C cables if this is all you’re looking for.

Docking stations: Larger, abler (and usually less portable) docks can include many more ports and connect dual displays at 4K in Extended Mode; see our Best USB-C docking stations roundup for more choices.

Kingston Nucleum 7-port USB-C adapter

VAVA USB C Hub 8-in-1 Adapter with 4K HDMI

VAVA USB C Hub 8-in-1 Adapter with 4K HDMI

Startech USB-C Multiport 4-in-1 Video Adapter

Startech USB-C Multiport 4-in-1 Video Adapter

Lenovo USB-C to 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub

Lenovo USB-C to 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub

Satechi Aluminum Type-C Slim Multi-Port Adapter 4K

Satechi USB-C Multi-Port Hub Adapter

Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter

Moshi USB-C Multimedia Adapter

Anker 5-in-1 Premium USB C Data Hub

Anker 5-in-1 Premium USB C Data Hub

HyperDrive 7.5W Wireless Charger USB-C Hub

HyperDrive 7.5W Wireless Charger USB-C Hub

Moshi Symbus Q

Moshi Symbus Q USB-C Dock

Satechi Aluminum Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 Combo Hub

Satechi Aluminum Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 Combo Hub

LC-Dolida USB-C to HDMI and VGA Adapter

LC-Dolida USB-C to HDMI and VGA Adapter

HP Z9G82AA Travel Hub

HP Z9G82AA Travel Hub

StarTech 7-Port Charging Station

StarTech 7-Port Charging Station

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