Add dual 4K HDMI screens to your MacBook with this slim USB-C Hub [Review]

By

Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub review
The two HDMI ports are among the best features of the Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub (CB-C81) lets you add a pair of 4K HDMI screens to your MacBook. But that’s just the start because it packs in nine ports, despite a relatively small size. It offers a pair of USB-A ports, SD/microSD card readers, Ethernet and more.

After real-world testing, here’s how this multiport adapter stands up.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items. Read our reviews policy.

Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub (CB-C81) review

Big jobs take up a lot of screen space. There’s no reason to confine yourself to a small MacBook display when you can add a pair of 4K HDMI monitors and truly spread out. The Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub lets you do just that.

The adapter can be the heart of whole home-office setup. With it, you can access a trio of USB accessories as well as Ethernet. And read SD and microSD cards.

Hardware and design

Aukey’s product is called a 9-in-2 hub because it adds nine ports but also requires two USB-C ports on your MacBook. And the double tip that connects to your Mac is klutzy. Still, it enables the multiport adapter to handle two 4K HDMI monitors at 30 Hz, or one at 60 Hz.

It’s designed specifically for MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models released in recent years. Fortunately, Apple hasn’t changed the distance between the USB-C ports on these macOS laptops in a long time.

The main unit is 5.1 inches long, 1.8 inches wide and 0.6 inches thick. The casing is aluminum to shed heat. This unit attaches to the part with dual USB-C connectors via a 6.2-inch cable that’s non-removable.

The whole 9-in-2 USB-C Hub fits in a backpack or gear bag. It’s smaller than its functionality might suggest, though not pocketable.

Don’t be concerned if you’ve never heard of Aukey. It’s a company that makes quality products. Build quality on the hub is as good as you could hope. It doesn’t overheat, even with multiple ports in use for extended periods.

Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub lives up to its name, offering plenty of ports.
The multi-port hub has USB ports and memory card readers, too.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Ports

With both HDMI ports in use, this hub offers 4K video at 3840 by 2160 pixels and 30 Hz. When only a single external screen is connected, the refresh rate goes up to 60 Hz. This is a fine arrangement for a programmer, but someone doing video editing who needs 60 Hz on multiple screens might want to look elsewhere.

Please note that the new M1 MacBooks support only a single external display. A kludgy workaround is required to get more than that.

There’s a pair of USB-A ports. Use these for connecting to printers, keyboards, external drives… whatever. These can transfer data at up to 5 Gbps. I connected a thumbdrive and a mouse to be sure.

And that’s not all. The accessories market is in the process of moving from USB-A to USB-C. If you have a peripheral that needs a USB-C connection, there’s one built into the Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub for just that reason. It can transfer data at up to 5 Gbps, but isn’t capable of driving a third screen — I tested to be sure. But it had no problem with the Samsung T7 SSD.

Plus, there’s a second USB-C port on the multi-port adapter only for power. It can receive up to 100W to recharge your MacBook at top speed. I tested, and it doesn’t work with any other USB-C accessories.

Cameras store images on SD or microSD cards, and you can copy them to your MacBook with the card readers built into the Aukey hub. They support up to 5 Gbps data transfers, but don’t work at the same time. That means you can’t move files from a microSD card to an SD card without transferring them to your Mac. Otherwise, they work as expected.

The Gigabit Ethernet port supports 10/100/1000 Mbps connection speeds. It was able to handle the full capacity of my consumer-grade internet connection.

I tested all the ports of the Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub together. I had the screens, both USB-A ports, both USB-C ports going at once. It was a lot of cables but I ran into no problems.

Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub offers Ethernet, and double USB-C connectors.
An Ethernet connector is on one end, while the 9-in-2 USB-C Hub has double UBS-C connectors at the end os a cable.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Aukey 9-in-2 USB-C Hub (CB-C81) final thoughts

This multi-port adapter really can be the center of a home office. There’re ports to let you connect to a plethora of accessories to your MacBook. And that includes a pair of 4K HDMI screens.

The design is even portable enough to take your workspace on the road.

Pricing

Aukey markets its products through Amazon. In the U.S., the 9-in-2 USB-C Hub (CB-C81) is $59.99 on that retail giant.

Buy from: Amazon

That’s a reasonable price for a multiport adapter with this much functionality.

Comparable products

As an alternative, the Aukey CB-C78 12-in-1 USB-C Hub costs a bit more at $69.99, but it also has more ports. And while it can also handle two 4K HDMI monitors, can’t provide 60 Hz at all.

An other strong alternative is the Minix Neo Storage Plus, which offers a smaller array of ports but sports a built in SSD with 480GB of storage. It sells for $129.90.

Aukey 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.