Plugable USB-C multiport hub costs way less than Apple’s [Review]

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Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter review
The Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter adds three frequently used ports to MacBook or iPad Pro.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

There’s no reason to watch a movie on your MacBook or iPad when the world is full of external displays you can connect to. Of course, to make the connection you’ll need something like the Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter. Not only does it have an HDMI port, there’s a USB-A port for connecting an external drive. And a USB-C port for keeping your computer powered.

It was obviously designed to copy Apple’s Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter but at a much lower price. Here’s how it stands up.

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Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter review

Apple laptops and tablets are beautifully svelte, but one of the ways they accomplish this is by including only USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 ports. Hence the need for adapters.

The Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter includes three of the most-used ports, allowing you to simultaneously connect to a second monitor and an external drive or other USB accessory. All while keeping your computer charged.

It’s ideal for watching a movie stored on a flash drive, but is just as useful when getting work done.

Overall design

The three ports offered by Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter sit in one end of a 2.6 inch by 1.6 inch by 0.3 inch box. This connects to the MacBook or iPad Pro via a 3.25-inch cable.

The casing is white plastic, matching the look of Apple’s cables. Rounded edges let it fit in well with other Mac and iPad accessories.

HDMI port

The hub includes an HDMI 1.4 port so it can drive an external monitor, TV or projector at up to 4K (3840 by 2160 pixels) at a 30 Hz refresh rate. This means videophiles really into 4K should look for another adapter. That said, Plugable’s can handle 1080p and lower resolutions at 60 Hz, so it’s fine for ordinary users.

For comparison, Apple’s very similar adapter offers 4K at 60 Hz when used with recent Macs and iPads. With older ones, you still only get 30 Hz.

Or you can skip HDMI altogether and hook your Mac or iPad Pro to a USB-C monitor without an adapter. But there are just so many HDMI screens in homes offices, hotel rooms. Having a way to connect to them just makes sense for many people.

USB-A port

The Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter also includes a USB-A 3.0 port that can transfer data at up to 5 Gbps. It’s for connecting legacy peripherals, from keyboards to printers. And external drives, of course.

You won’t get a faster connection from Apple’s 3-in-1 hub. And while you can get a real boost from Thunderbolt 3/USB-C, being able to connect to USB-A peripherals can be a lifesaver.

USB-C port

Plugable’s multiport hub also has a USB-C port with 60W pass-through charging. This is especially convenient for iPad Pro users. Their tablet has only a single USB-C port, but this adapter can keep a computer charged while connected to a second screen and other accessories.

Plus, this port can be used to connect to other USB-C accessories, if needed. This allows you to have a USB-A drive and a USB-C drive connected simultaneously to copy files across. This port is not up to running a USB-C monitor, however.

Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter
The Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter lets you connect to flash drives and HDMI TVs.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter performance

This hub stood up to the range of real-world tests I put it through. I used each of the three ports, individually and together.

There were no problems connected the HDMI port in the Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter to several TVs, including the Vissles-M portable monitor.

The USB-A port performed very well with a range of accessories I tried, including many thumb drives. And the USB-C port fully lived up to expectations for keeping an iPad Pro charged.

In combination, this hub experienced no issues with a video stored on a Samsung T7 SSD being played on an HDMI monitor while recharging my computer.

Heat can be a problem in multiport adapters, which is why they often have aluminum casings. Although Plugable used plastic, its hub never gets more than warm, even with all of its ports in use for lengthy periods.

Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter final thoughts

There are certainly rival hubs with a lot more ports, but the Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter includes the most-used options. It’s pocketable and reliable.

And quite affordable when compared to rival devices, especially Apple’s offering.

Pricing

The Plugable USB-C Multiport Adapter costs $24.95. It can be purchased at that price from Amazon, and there’s a $5 off launch discount.

Buy from: Amazon

It’s also available from Newegg and Walmart.

Comparable products

There’s no room for doubt that Plugable designed its 3-in-1 UDSB-C hub to compete with the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter. The few performance differences are detailed above, and there’s a huge difference in price, as Apple asks $69 for its product.

Or, if all that’s needed is a way to connect to external displays, the Plugable USB-C to HDMI Adapter is $14.95.

Plugable provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.