Five Best USB Hubs

Five Best USB Hubs

You know the feeling: you look for somewhere to plug in a phone, a portable hard drive or some other peripheral, and discover you're completely out of USB ports. When that happens, it's time to buy a hub — but some hubs are definitely better than others. This week we're looking at five of the best, based on your nominations.

Title photo by Clive Darra.

USB hubs come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and types. You can pay big bucks for a high-end USB 3.0 hub with powered ports and fancy lighting, or spend next to nothing on a portable USB 2.0 hub. While any USB hub will solve the basic problem of expanding your available range of ports, different models suit different approaches. It's a competitive market, so even once you've chosen a model, it pays to shop around online to find the cheapest deal.


Anker 7-Port and 9-Port Powered USB 3.0 Hubs

Five Best USB Hubs

Anker's powered USB 3.0 hubs are well regarded. The Anker 9-Port Powered USB 3.0 Hub (shown above) has just updated its design, and is small enough to go with you in your laptop bag. IIt even sports an additional port purely for charging your devices over USB. The hub is also powered, so if you have devices such as external hard drives that use USB for juice, they'll work without issue. They're not the cheapest models around, so make sure you have USB 3.0 devices and a USB port on your machine, as there's no real benefit otherwise.


Belkin 2-in-1 7-Port USB 2.0 Hub

Five Best USB Hubs

Belkin doesn't list this 2-in-1 USB hub anymore, but it's still widely available. It actually bundles two USB hubs: a portable 4-port unpowered hub that's perfect for mice, wireless device receivers, USB keys and other light devices, which expands to a 7-port powered hub you get when you dock the 4-port hub into its powered base. The powered base adds three more ports, and even has a little storage drawer for paper clips or to rest your devices while charging.

The 2-in-1 is a USB 2.0 hub, so you should expect slower speeds if you connect USB 3.0 devices, but if you don't have (or care) about USB 3.0, it's a great and affordable investment. The full body, complete with powered base, is small enough to toss in a laptop bag or a suitcase and take on the road with you, and once disconnected, the 4-port mini-hub is small enough to slip into a pocket.


Macally Mini 7-Port USB 2.0 Hub

Five Best USB Hubs

This pyramid-shaped USB hub is simple, affordable, and functional. It rests on its side and is small enough to fit in a corner of your desk or right under your monitor. If you don't need seven ports, a four-port model is also available. Both models separate out some of the ports to accommodate large USB devices with a big footprint, so they don't get in the way of the other ports. Both designs come with their own external power adaptor, and can be used in both powered or unpowered mode.


Plugable 10-Port Powered USB 2.0 and 7-Port USB 3.0 Hubs

Five Best USB Hubs

Plugable's 10-Port powered USB 2.0 hub earned multiple nominations for being affordable, portable and effective in small spaces. Two of the four rear ports flip up from the rear of the hub into a vertical position for easy use. Six front-facing ports keep the look slim, and while the hub is powered, Plugable doesn't recommend charging your gear with it. Still, it's a space-saving way to add a lot of USB ports to your PC without spending a large sum.


Any discount store hub

Five Best USB Hubs

If you don't need USB 3.0 and you're not relying on your hub to provide power, then there's no need to spend a fortune. Hit any discount chain store (or eBay) and you can find USB hubs for under $5. For desktop use, investing in something more flexible makes sense, but sometimes cheap and dirty does the trick.


Honourable mention this week for the Doctor Who Tardis 4-port USB 2.0 Hub. When we talked about it around Lifehacker HQ, many of us noted that we'd rather have a novelty hub on our desks than a plain black box with nothing visually special about it.

Have something to say about one of the hubs we've discussed here? Want to make the case for your personal favourite, even if it wasn't included in the list? Tell us what you use and why in the comments.


Comments

    I have an astrotek 4 port 3.0 hub. I never knew whether I could just buy any old no-name brand USB hub or whether I should shell out the extra cash for a known brand (e.g. Belkin). After using el cheapos for ages, I would say avoid the premium pricing and just get whatever is cheap and matches your needs.

    i have the 10th Doctor Version of the USB Tardis Hub, after a while it stopped working

    I have a 10 port powered USB hub, the most common "price + postage: lowest first" one on eBay.

    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/New-BU-High-Speed-10-Port-USB-2-0-Hub-Multi-Outlet-Power-Strip-Type-/231041694580?pt=AU_MobilePhoneAccessories&hash=item35cb287b74&_uhb=1

    I can't get it to keep all drives (mains powered ones) live. Seven or eight seems to be about the maximum. If I plug more than that in it drops drives.

    Is this a problem that could be solved by getting a more expensive hub or is it the USB port in my PC that can't handle the load (unlikely as I have tried it on several PCs)?

    On a sort of related matter, what is the best software to use for keeping an offline index of all of my external drives?

    I have about 20 of them ranging from tiddlers with 200MB (it seemed so large when I got it) to my latest 4 GB monster.

    I can't have them all online simultaneously for the following reasons:

    * the technical issue referred to above
    * for security I don't want the drives out of secure storage
    * some of the drives are stored off site at my mother's place
    * my partner would kill me if I had them arranged on the floor of the office around the PC as happens sometimes when I am looking for a particular file. For some reason she seems to think that her use of the room for ironing is more important than my hard drives.

    It should be noted if you're buying one of these for a raspberry pi, be careful. A lot of the cheap ones seem to route power back into the USB port on the pi and that can cause it to overload it or just not have the USB hub work properly at all.

    LOL. I can't believe people would seriously have a use for (standalone) USB hubs in this day and age.

    Decent laptops come with at least 3 USB ports, desktops often 6 or more. Monitors usually have built-in USB hubs.. Really, how many USB devices do people have that all need to be connected at the same time?

      I have an Acer Ultrabook which is 12 months old and only came with two USB ports. I have a wireless mouse receiver plugged into one (as I hate using a touchpad) and an external hard drive plugged into another. It's quite easy to see the need for more USB ports.

      You can't seriously be serious - seriously?
      Joking aside - you'd be very surprised at the number of folks that need <4 usb devices at the same time. As a working composer, I have 2 x 10 port hubs (about 6 in constant use on each) in use all the time. 2 x keyboards, a drum controller, external keyboard and trackball, 4 x usb software dongles (ilok, syncrosoft ilok2 etc) not to mention occasional drives etc.

      Just because something doesn't fit your world view doesn't mean its not in use.

      There are so many examples of this... looking around me right now...
      Just because you don't need to use 4 computers at once (and thus a 4 port KVM) doesn't mean there are not many people who need them in their day to day jobs. No one would manufacture them if they didn't.

      Ditto to 2x27" monitors (or folk using 4 displays for when immediate real time information is paramount) or....

      Can you imagine spending $4k on a pair of speakers? Yet I couldn't imagine NOT for my work.

      What about a control surface for protools that costs $20k? Who would ever need that? How about anyone who mixes a film or television show. Or a grading desk for colourists @ $15k. How about a 16bay SAS HD unit?

      There is SO much technology that YOU will never need, but is still common enough to be on the market. Think of all the medical devices out there worth millions. Robots for manufacturing. Military tech.

      And even for certain types of consumers. Do you modify coffee machines? I've spent entire weekends adding bits and pieces to mine... and the MODS are available as consumer kits....

      Just because you can't see a use scenario doesn't mean your neighbour doesn't. And that there isn't a market for that technology.

        Hi cranky
        I am looking for a usb hub for a small home recording studio. Can you recommend any?
        Does it seem to matter if the hubs are single or multi TT?
        Cheers

      3 Ports, 1 using an oversized Telstra Wireless Adapter, the 2nd Blocked by said Telstra Adapter and the 3rd Occupied by a mouse.

      Not my Machine admittedly but there is somebody who could use a Hub, as they effectively don't have USB ports.

      I've got an abundance on my Desktop, There's 2 on my keyboard, 4 on the back and 2 on the front.

      But Keyboard, Mouse, USB Headset, HDD, Webcam, DS Charge cable, Battery sensor cable, USB Boost drive, would leave me with nothing left.

      So I got a 4 Port Hub on the back using up 2 slots, 4 in the back being used 1 on the side and 1 on the keyboard being used. 2 free on the back via the Hub, 1 Free on the PC for charging Smart Phones (since my friends phones are flat by the end of the day) and 1 free on the Keyboard for USB drives or the Headset. You never know what devices people have.

      I'll eventually buy another Micro chopper and that's another USB port gone for the Battery Charger.

    Angkor website said the hub was not compatible with macs. Ironic the product shot in the article is taken with a mac in the background

    Interesting that you just republish the US Lifehacker article. The two best usb hubs sold by Anker and Plugable are not available in Australia!?

      They were available at the time of publication. (We skip Hive Fives if they have non-AU products.)

    mbeat Super Speed hub series, only 7 powered ports but induvidually selectable by push button with indicator light. 3 x UBB2.0 ports and 4 x USB3.0 ports. Works great!!

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