In the old days, laptops used to have lots of connectors and ports dotted around their sides. But in the past 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 Dell's XPS) 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 hub or adapter. This will let you attach external hard drives, memory sticks, DVD drives, phone chargers, wired Gigabit Ethernet connections, 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.
Before we list our favourites, here's what you should look out for in a USB-C hub or adapter.
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 full 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 multi-port, so have more than one type of connection functionality included.
USB A: This is the classic non-reversible USB. Do you just need to attach some accessories - memory stick, hard drive - that use older standard USB connections? If so, there are many simple adapters at a 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. Most of the HDMI-packing hubs listed here support 4K displays at 30Hz rather than the fully powered 60Hz 4K that offers higher graphics for sharper video and gaming.
DisplayPort: These, er, display ports are more often found on full docking stations (see link above) but you can buy USB-C DisplayPort adapters.
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. The best docks will offer enough power for the connected devices as well as the laptop, but a well-powered hub might be enough if you don't use all the ports at the same time. Remember that for most you will need a separate wall charger to supply this pass-through power - your laptop charger should suffice. Check out our Best USB-C Chargers roundup for a selection of recommended PD chargers.
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 RJ45 Ethernet port - and make sure it's a Gigabit Ethernet connection for faster data transfer. Much more expensive adapters use the latest 2.5GBASE-T or 5GBASE-T ports that provide multi-gigabit speeds capable of up to 5Gbps over existing Cat5e or better cabling. But 1Gbps Ethernet will be speedy enough for most.
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.
The Black Friday sales season is coming! Our product recommendations are based on average retail prices, but the prices below show the best deals currently available from trustworthy online stores.
D-Link 8-in-1 USB-C Hub - Best USB-C hub for multiple ports
You get 8 ports to add to your laptop with D-Link's 8-in-1 USB-C Hub. There are three USB-A ports (including one with fast charging), and excellent PD USB-C pass-through charging (up to 100W) so you don't lose a valuable C or Thunderbolt 3 port on the laptop if you need to charge or sync.
There are SD and MicroSD (TF) slots for storage cards, so you can slot in a camera card, or use the flash memory for extra laptop storage.
Gigabit Ethernet is there, too, as is an HDMI port that can support 4K displays at 30Hz.
Remember that the hub's 100W will be mostly used for charging the laptop, so it might strain if you connect too many bus-powered devices. But the 100W is more generous than most hubs.
D-Link has smaller, cheaper USB-C hubs if you don't need so many ports.
The most basic, the 4-in-1 M420, has two USB-A, one USB-C and HDMI. The 6-in-1 M610 is similar to the M810 but lacks the Gigabit Ethernet port and the fast-charging USB-A.
Plugable USB-C 7-in-1 Multifuction hub - Best 7-port USB-C hub
The compact and very affordable 7-port Plugable USB-C Multifunction Hub has seven ports from one integrated USB-C connection, including a 4K HDMI output, power pass-through (at an impressive 87W) to charge connected devices, three 5Gbps USB-A ports, and SD and microSD slots.
You can use the HDMI 1.4 port to output to a 4K (at 30Hz) or Full HD 1080p monitor or projector.
Pass-through charging is especially handy if your laptop or USB-C device has just one USB-C port. The 87W power is more than you get from most hubs.
At 88g, it's lightweight, and, as with many hubs, features a short integrated cable so works well as a portable travel device.
There are a generous three USB-A ports that can also provide power pass-through to charge other devices.
There's just one USB-C port, so look elsewhere if you need more of the newer USB standard.
Kingston Nucleum 7-port USB-C adapter - 7-port USB-C hub with two USB-C
The quality 7-port Kingston Nucleum boasts seven ports from one USB-C connection, including a 4K HDMI output (30Hz), power pass-through (60W) to charge connected devices, two USB-C (5Gbps) ports, two 5Gbps USB-A ports, and SD and microSD slots.
You can power up a USB-C laptop while also connecting to a USB Flash drive and charging your smartphone. It’s compact in size and lightweight, and features a short built-in cable so works well as a travel accessory.
The two old-school USB-A ports also provide power pass-through to charge devices such as your smartphone or Bluetooth headphones.
One USB-C port on the Nucleum can be used for charging, and the extra USB-C port can connect your other more modern devices for data.
One port it does lack is Gigabit Ethernet. If you're happy with Wi-Fi, this won't matter, of course.
Startech USB-C Multiport 4-in-1 Video Adapter - Best USB-C adapter for display port choice
The Startech USB-C Multiport 4-in-1 Video Adapter can connect your USB-C laptop to a VGA, DVI, HDMI or Mini DisplayPort (mDP) display.
It features USB Power Delivery (PD), so you can power your laptop while outputting video using the same USB-C port. And it does this at up to 95W so can charge most laptops at full speed.
The short breakout cable features a magnetic retainer that secures it in place while you’re not using it.
The HDMI and mDP outputs support UHD 4K resolutions. All of the outputs (HDMI, mDP, VGA, DVI) support high-definition resolutions up to 1920 x 1200. The adapter is compatible with USB-C DP Alt Mode devices.
It's available in Aluminium, Rose Gold, and Space Gray trim, which will please owners of Apple MacBooks - but it will work with Windows laptops too, of course.
Moshi USB-C to HDMI Adapter - Best for 4K HDMI
This simple compact and lightweight (23g) adapter lets you connect any USB-C device to a display, projector or TV with HDMI - be it your laptop, USB-C phone, iPad Pro or USB-C tablet.
The Moshi USB-C to HDMI Adapter supports 4K displays at 60Hz for smoother quality, and HDR (compatible with HDR10). It also supports HDCP 2.2 for Netflix, Amazon Prime and other streaming services.
It will also allow pass-through charging to your device while you use the display with USB PD 3.0 up to 60W.
HyperDrive 7.5W Wireless Charger USB-C Hub - Best USB-C hub with wireless charging
The HyperDrive 7.5W Wireless Charger USB-C Hub is a USB-C hub that doubles up as a wireless charger for your smartphone - particularly an iPhone as Hyper aims this product at Apple users, but it will work with Android too.
As an 8-in-1 USB-C hub it includes 3 x USB-A (USB 3.0 at 5 Gbps) ports, 4K HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, SD Micro SD, and another USB-C 100W port for pass-through power delivery.
All tucked up in a compact, lightweight case this hub has it all, and then some – slide out the top and you have a wireless charging stand for your iPhone that is optimised for iPhone 8/X/XS/XR.
It's a 7.5W wireless charger that also supports 5/10/15W high-speed Android wireless charging.
Hub and wireless charging stand, the HyperDrive should be pretty much all you need on the road.
UGreen USB-C to 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub - Best USB-C hub for old-school USB ports
If all you need is a bunch of older, standard USB-A ports to add a phone charging cable, memory stick or external hard drive, then you won't need a more versatile hub - just an adapter with a row of USB 3.0 ports.
There are plenty of these about, but for a quality brand take a look at the UGreen USB-C to 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub, which is inexpensive and ultra-portable.
It has four USB 3.0 ports, and even a 5V/2.4A micro-USB power port for extra power supply for devices that require it - although this is weak at 12W, so nowhere near enough to charge a laptop!
Even with this handy extra, you should really just consider most of the four ports for data transfer rather than powered devices.
There's no HDMI, no extra USB-C port for passthrough charging, no memory card slots or Gigabit Ethernet. But who cares: you just want a few old-style USB ports, and this has enough to satisfy the most ardent accessory fan.
TrendNet TUC-ET5G - Best for super-fast Ethernet
Many of the USB-C adapters tested here have a Gigabit Ethernet port, but none except the TrendNet TUC-ET5G can boast 5X gigabit speed for the absolute fastest wired transfers.
This is the first-to-market USB-C to 5GBASE-T (5Gps) Ethernet Adapter that is compatible with existing Cat5e cabling or better. Now you can add super-fast Ethernet (which you usually find only on top-end workstations such as the Mac Pro) to your laptop.
It's not cheap, but it is the fastest. TrendNet also sells a TUC-ET2G model that can handle 2.5GBASE-T (2.5Gbps), which is about half the price and still 2.5X faster than Gigabit Ethernet. But if you want the very fastest only the TUC-ET5G will do.
Moshi Symbus Q - Best USB-C dock with Q1 wireless charging
The Moshi Symbus Q is a similar offering to the HyperDrive hub above. It offers slightly less functionality at a slightly higher price, but you're really paying for the sort of premium finish and build quality that Moshi delivers.
As with the HyperDrive, this is a USB-C hub that doubles as a 15W wireless Qi charger. Beyond that it packs in two USB-A 3.1 ports, 4K HDMI, and Gigabit ethernet, while it offers 60W USB-C PD pass-through charging to whatever laptop it's plugged into.
The main body is built out of aluminium, so feels pretty sturdy, while there's a soft fabric and rubber finish to the top to keep any glass-backed phones from sliding around. It'll also happily charge through most phone cases.
Bear in mind that this only takes power from the mains, so even if you don't want to use it for charging you'll still need to plug it in, meaning this is best suited to leaving on your desk, rather than a hub for travelling.
VAVA USB C Hub 8-in-1 Adapter with 4K HDMI - Simple 8-port USB-C hub
This USB-C 8-port hub from Vava is super portable for travel - it's slim and lightweight (63g), and could slip into your pocket without you noticing, although the dangling cable might attract some puzzled looks.
It attaches to the laptop by a 15cm flexible cable, and includes eight ports in its slim body. It also has a 100W Type C Power Delivery (PD) charging port, so you can keep your laptop charged while using the hub.
There are three standard USB 3.0 (USB-A) ports, which should be enough for most people. The HDMI port is 4K compatible (3,840-x-2160 at 30Hz).
There's a Gigabit RJ45 Ethernet port, that fits the slim hub by means of a drop-down flap.
Camera and memory card users will appreciate the SD Card and MicroSD Card readers.
Satechi Aluminum Type-C Slim Multi-Port Adapter 4K - Lightweight USB-C hub
Available in a range of colours (silver, gold, rose gold, and Space Grey) that match Apple's MacBooks - but compatible with any USB-C laptop - the Satechi Aluminum Type-C Slim Multi-Port Adapter 4K is one of the lightest and smallest multiport USB-C hubs we've seen.
Weighing just 46g and both slim and short, the hub/adapter boasts dual USB 3.0 ports for standard accessories and a 4K HDMI port for displays and projectors.
It also has an extra USB-C port for 60W pass-through charging, so you can keep your laptop powered up while it's in use.
The flexible cable is 15cm long.
Moshi USB-C Multimedia Hub - Simple 3-port USB-C hub
This Moshi hub is a simple 3-in-1 adapter with four ports.
It features two USB 3.0 (USB A) ports for adding extra peripherals, a built-in SD card reader for transferring photos and videos, and a 4K UHD (30Hz) HDMI video adapter for connecting to an external display.
The card reader slot supports both SD and SDHC/XC memory cards with transfer speeds up to 104Mbps.
It doesn't boast an extra USB-C port, so if your laptop has just the one USB-C port this hub won't allow you to charge at the same time as you're using it. Laptops that boast more than one USB-C port can of course use one of those for charging.
The adapter attaches to the laptop via a 12cm flexible cable, and weighs 64g.
Anker 5-in-1 Premium USB C Data Hub - 5-port USB-C hub
The Space Grey Anker 5-in-1 Premium USB C Data Hub calls itself a "USB, Video, and Internet Data Station".
Its width of just 2.3cm is one of the smallest - and weighing in at 52g, one of the lightest - we tested.
It has three standard 5Gbps USB 3.0 ports (great for connectivity but not powerful enough to charge the connected accessory), 4K HDMI display output, and a Gigabit Ethernet Port Network Adapter.
There's no extra USB-C port for passthrough charging.
OWC USB-C Travel Dock - Mini USB-C dock
The OWC USB-C Travel Dock is tiny, but also a little under-resourced when it comes to ports.
There are only 5: two 5Gbps USB-A ports, one pass-through USB-C PD port (100W), HDMI 2.0, and SD Card reader (fast UHS-II).
The version 2.0 HDMI is an upgrade on most adapters with HDMI 1.4, but it still can't get to 60Hz for 4K displays. That said, 30Hz 4K is good enough for most people, as are the two USB-A ports.
At 188g, it's also heavier than most of the USB-C adapters tested here.
As a mini dock, rather than in-pocket adapter, it's compact, solid and well built but lacks Gigabit Ethernet, which we'd argue is essential for any device calling itself a dock.
It's available in Space Grey, Silver and Rose Gold.
StarTech 7-Port Charging Station - Powered USB-C hub
If you want multiple USB-A ports with a couple of USB-C for good measure, the StarTech 7-Port Charging Station offers five of the older USB standard plus two type-C ports.
This hub is powered (48W) via a 1m power cable rather than relying on the laptop's juice, so you can charge a bunch of mobile devices and a couple of laptops at the same time, or use it as a USB-C dock. You don't need to add a wall charger as it comes with its own.
LC-Dolida USB-C to HDMI and VGA Adapter - Best hub for VGA
It might not be a super-multiport hub but the LC-Dolida USB-C to HDMI and VGA Adapter tackles that awkward moment when your prehistoric host proffers you the projector's VGA cable.
This handy adapter takes audio and video signals via a laptop's USB-C connector and switches to a display, TV, or projector equipped with HDMI or VGA input terminals.
While you can't use both at the same time, you can extend the computer screen and set up in mirror mode.
The HDMI port supports video resolution up to (4K) at 3,840-x-2,160 at 30Hz.
There are no extra USB-C or even USB 3.0 ports. This adapter has one purpose only, and that's to rescue you when there's no USB-C display option.
Satechi Aluminum Type-C 3-in-1 Combo Hub - USB-C hub for 12in MacBook
While aimed at MacBook users (with its brushed aluminium design and choice of Space Grey, Silver, Gold and Rose Gold) the Satechi Aluminum Type-C USB 3.0 3-in-1 Combo Hub will work with other USB-C laptops too.
It doesn't have the cable but attaches straight into the laptop's USB-C port. This makes it tidier and more compact but maybe a less flexible solution.
It features two USB 3.0 ports, an SD and Micro SD card slot, and a passthrough USB-C charging port - but no HDMI.
As it has no cable but connects directly to the laptop's USB-C port, it might cover additional ports if your laptop boasts more than one per side. It's perfect, however, for Apple's 12in MacBook.
HP Spectre USB-C Travel Dock - Hub built for HP laptops
While calling itself a dock, this HP USB-C port carrier is more of a hub.
For display, it stands out by offering an old-school VGA as well as HDMI.
It also has two USB-A ports (one 3.0 at 5Gbps and one 2.0 at 480MBps), and a USB-C port for charging at 60W.
It features a built-in 15in USB-C cable to connect to your laptop.
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.