USB Hub Considerations and Recommendations

Do you frequently run out of USB ports on your Mac? If so, then you might want to consider purchasing a USB hub. A USB hub is a splitter. The hub plugs into 1 of the USB ports on your Mac and then gives you a handful of additional USB ports. Hubs typically come with 4, 7 or sometimes 10 USB ports.  

If you’re considering buying a USB hub please keep the following in mind:

  • Make sure you buy a USB version 3.0 hub. Since USB ports were introduced in 1998, they have gone through 3 versions. USB 3.0 is the newest and fastest version. Apple started to included USB 3.0 ports in 2012. Thus, all recently manufactured Macs have USB 3.0 ports and would be best served by a USB hub that can provide the same data transfer speeds.
  • Get a powered hub instead of a non-powered hub. Powered hubs come with a power cord that you’ll plug into an electrical outlet. This way, the hub can provide each device with all of the electrical power it might need. A non-powered hub, by comparison, gets a limited amount of power from the computer’s USB port and this gets shared amongst all connected devices. This frequently leads to devices receiving insufficient power to operate. Note: Non-powered hubs are also sometimes called bus-powered hub since they get some power from the USB bus.
  • Consider buying a USB port that includes charging ports for your iOS devices (iPhone and iPad). Charging ports are designed to provide faster device charging then a regular USB port.
  • Decide if you need a hub with 4, 7 or 10 USB ports.

Here are a couple of USB 3.0 power hubs that I’ve recently used and like.

HooToo’s 7 port, powered, USB 3.0 hub with 2 charging ports.  I bought this hub after seeing that it was picked by The WireCutter as their recommendation for best USB hub.  I’ve setup several of these over the past 6 months and have been very pleased with them. [Update: October 2016. The WireCutter has demoted the HooToo since it reportedly has some performance issues with certain Macs. Read their web site for their current recommendation.]

A client recently purchased an xcellon 4 port, powered USB 3.0 hub from B&H. It has a sturdy aluminum case and xcellon offers a variety of models.

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