7 Reasons to Avoid a New USB-C Hub Today

What is a USB-C Hub?

A USB-C hub is a device that expands the number of ports and connections available on a computer, tablet, or smartphone with a USB-C port. As laptops and mobile devices become thinner and more compact, manufacturers have reduced the built-in ports to achieve a slimmer design. This is where USB-C hubs come in – they restore connectivity options so you can continue using legacy accessories and peripherals.

USB-C hubs typically feature a range of both new and old ports, such as USB 3.0 and 2.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, ethernet, SD card readers, and more. Some also provide pass-through charging to power your device. They easily connect to a USB-C port and sit conveniently on your desk to bridge the accessories and gadgets you use daily.

Why Buy a USB-C Hub?

As mentioned, the primary reason to purchase a USB-C hub is to regain ports and connections that your slim laptop or mobile device lacks. Rather than having to choose between displays, networks, storage devices, and other peripherals, a quality hub allows you to use them simultaneously.

USB-C hubs also enable legacy accessories and devices that do not have native USB-C connectors to interface with your Type-C machine seamlessly. This protects your past investments and enables flexibility.

Additionally, some USB-C hubs offer power delivery for charging your laptop or phone. This means you only need one cable from the wall instead of separate power cords for your hub and computer.

Reasons to Avoid a USB-C Hub Today

Despite their obvious appeal and utility, there are some compelling reasons you may want to refrain from acquiring a USB-C hub now:

1. High Prices

Since they are a relatively new product category, USB-C hubs currently demand premium pricing in the marketplace. Mainstream adoption is still underway, so prices have not yet normalized to mass-market rates you would expect from USB technology.

For example, a modest 4-port USB-C hub with HDMI and power delivery can easily cost $60-100. High-speed models with cutting-edge ports like Thunderbolt 3 and maximum power output for charging can cost $200 or more. If your budget is tight, this may put USB-C hubs out of reach for the time being.

However, analysts project USB-C product pricing will come down substantially over the next 1-2 years as adoption spreads. Unless you have an immediate need, waiting could mean saving 40% or more on future USB-C purchases.

2. Compatibility Concerns

Although USB-C aims for ubiquitous compatibility across vendors, devices, and operating systems, the standard allows flexibility in implementation. As a result, some USB-C hubs have reported intermittent connectivity issues with certain equipment combinations.

For example, a specific 4K HDMI dock may not reliably pass through video signals to that brand of television. Or an 8-port powered hub refuses to detect devices plugged into its USB 2.0 ports under the latest macOS. Unfortunately, USB-C compatibility cannot be guaranteed.

Before making any purchase, carefully study customer reviews and community forums discussing proven equipment matches. Weigh connectivity reports on your exact make and model of computer. This helps avoid the hassle of returns should your desired hub underperform. Allow the early adopters to vet compatibility rigorously first.

3. Questionable Reliability

With the market still developing and products remaining untested over long usage lifespans, USB-C hub reliability remains uncertain across many manufacturers. Speed to market has prioritized shipping products over confirming stable, enduring performance.

Reviews find quality control lacking on both budget and luxury-priced models, reporting unacceptable failure rates. For devices intended to expand connectivity, unstable hubs only lead to more frustration when ports die or devices unexpectedly disconnect. This defeats the entire purpose of their convenience promise.

Seek out reliability metrics before purchasing any USB-C hub models – scour Amazon reviews and community forums. Wait for clear stand-outs boasting proven longevity from rigorous testing by early adopters putting devices through their paces daily. Allow time for durable contenders to rise above the unreliable landfill fodder.

4. Insufficient Power Delivery

Today‘s USB-C hubs take a wide range of approaches to power delivery, with some models focused only on data while others emphasize charging devices. Without established standards in the market yet, likelihood is high that any given hub will fail to meet the power requirements you expect.

For example, premium laptops like the latest MacBook Pro 16-inch require up to a 96-watt power adapter for full-speed charging via USB-C. So a hub only capable of 60-watt output would charge your MacBook slowly, if at all, while connected. This could prove quite inconvenient compared to directly using the stock power adapter.

Before any purchase, carefully confirm the USB power delivery specifications of both your computer and prospective USB-C hub match expectations. Remember that total wattage must be shared across all connected devices, too. Avoid early disappointment by ensuring your power needs align with hub capabilities.

5. Missing Key Ports

Today‘s crop of USB-C hubs vary wildly in terms of included ports, from bare-minimum data-only 4-port models to feature-packed powerhouses with every legacy port imaginable. And port selection often directly relates to a hub‘s price tag, too – you typically get what you pay for.

So likelihood runs high that an affordable hub meeting your budget will inevitably lack at least one port you require regularly. Whether an SD card reader, HDMI connector, or other, expect occasional adapter needs to bridge connectivity gaps. And most hubs do not offer interchangeable ports either – what ships is what you get.

Before pulling the trigger, carefully weigh the port selection of any prospective USB-C hub purchase against your actual usage needs both now and into the reasonable future. Avoid easily overlooked regrets by simply noting where adapters would be mandatory additions before buying.

6. Better Value Coming Soon

Given USB-C‘s infancy in the consumer marketplace currently, analysts widely expect both pricing and value proposition for USB-C hubs to improve substantially in 2023 and 2024 as adoption spreads. Both cost savings and feature set expansion should arrive in coming generations of devices.

Unless your connectivity needs are urgent, benefit potentially awaits those willing to wait a product generation or two. As today‘s steep early adopter pricing drops significantly, holdouts will gain budget flexibility for even more advanced hubs. And rumored functionality like Thunderbolt 4 or universal wireless compatibility could prove game-changing.

For non-pressing hub needs, cautiously delaying purchases another 12-18 months could allow your budget to purchase higher-end gear for the cost of today‘s mid-tier offerings. Only early adopters require the very latest – others can spend smarter by waiting.

7. Unknown Longevity

As a category essentially launched in 2016, even the very first popular USB-C hubs only have around a seven-year track record at most. And considering rapid evolution in the USB ecosystem, seven years proves hardly a sniff test for expected decade-plus lifespans users desire from their purchases.

Today‘s USB4 specification, for example, remains distinct enough from existing USB 3.2 hardware that next-generation USB-C gear will likely require upgrades to achieve full backwards-compatibility. Early USB-C adopters may find their USB data speeds throttled unavoidably without upgrades.

For users without immediate connectivity needs, cautiously avoiding the bleeding edge around USB-C allows your future-proofing confidence to solidify while the specification proves itself over time. Unless you know you will recycle gear aggressively, permit maturity first before diving into commitments.

Alternatives Worth Considering Over USB-C Hubs

If after reviewing those reasons for caution around USB-C hubs you still require expanded connectivity immediately, alternatives exist without the downsides discussed above:

Thunderbolt Docking Stations

Devices like the excellent CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 Dock remain compatible with the latest USB-C and Thunderbolt 4 gear while delivering reliable performance for MacBook, Windows laptop, and tablet users alike needing expanded USB ports, Ethernet, HDMI/DisplayPort video output, SD card access, and more. With up to 85 watts of power delivery, simultaneous fast device/Peripheral charging proves no issue either. And front-side port access ensures no cable chaos even when closed.

Multi-Adapter USB-C Dongles

For road warriors with portability priorities, compact USB-C adapter dongles like Anker‘s Premium 7-in-1 USB C Hub adapt a single USB-C port into HDMI, standard USB, SD/microSD and beyond. Though lacking Thunderbolt speeds, five gigs per second USB 3.1 Gen 1 rates suffice for most peripherals. And pocket-friendly size conveys anywhere. Just plug your former USB-A accessories right in.

Wireless Bluetooth/WiFi Peripherals

If cables already feel too twentieth century, model-specific wireless hubs like the Logitech Logi Dock provide high-performance Bluetooth, WiFi and even Qi charging options for Logitech-branded mice, keyboards and more. Though limited to specific accessory brands by design, cutting cords can clean your workspace. Just mind potential battery, lag and driver issues.

Legacy Adapters

Finally, simple legacy adapters remain an option for those needing only to occasionally bridge one specific gap like USB-A or HDMI output. Models like Anker‘s Aluminum USB C to USB 3.0 Adapter plug straight into USB-C ports while welcoming older USB plugs for occasional needs. Very affordable and handy for specifically USB 3.0 peripherals.

Summary: 7 Reasons to Avoid USB-C Hubs Today

High PricesUSB-C hubs currently demand premium pricing that should drop over next 1-2 years
Compatibility ConcernsImplementation differences between vendors means connectivity can‘t be guaranteed yet
Questionable ReliabilityFailure rates and longevity remain uncertain during these early days
Insufficient Power DeliveryPower output capabilities between models vary widely so research needs match carefully
Missing Key PortsWith model variation high, odds are your ideal port mix will require future dongles
Better Value Coming SoonRapid evolution means waiting will likely deliver better gear for today‘s money
Unknown LongevityMax lifespan for these earliest models remains unproven through USB4 transition


USB-C represents the future. But for most owners of modern laptops and devices lacking their desired port selection today, compelling reasons exist to avoid rushing out and buying the latest USB-C hubs regardless of the appeal.

With high prices destined to fall substantially in coming years, compatibility concerns still shaking out between equipment vendors, general product quality and reliability uncertain, power delivery capacities still inconsistently satisfying devices, and the likelihood of missing your ideal port selection high, caution remains prudent.

Except for early adopters with either disposal income or technical sophistication to navigate firmware updates when improving compatibility arises, most consumers stand to benefit greater from exercising some patience before making any USB-C hub purchase today. Wait for market maturity over the next 12-24 months to allow wiser investments – perhaps into superior Thunderbolt docks or wireless peripherals bypassing connector limitations altogether.

Unless your situation demands immediate expanded connectivity lacking any reasonable alternative, take the long view before swiping any credit card. Tomorrow‘s USB technology almost always outperforms today‘s at the same price. Delay that hub gratification just a bit longer reap those future rewards!

Frequently Asked Questions

Will USB-C hubs work reliably with my older USB 3.0 external hard drive?

Yes, you should encounter no issues connecting legacy USB drives as USB-C ports maintain backwards compatibility. Just double check your hub provides ample power delivery for any connected power-hungry devices.

Do USB-C hubs require any driver installation?

No. The best USB-C hubs function as true plug-and-play devices with no drivers necessary. But some budget hubs with extra functions may optionally install drivers for things like legacy VGA ports.

How many years should a quality USB-C hub last before replacement?

Plan on a minimum five years of functional life expectancy from any decent USB-C hub – premium models lasting 8-10 years. If failing sooner, quality concerns likely exist. Compare reliability records in reviews before purchase.

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