The just-released Plugable AMS-5IN1E is a USB-C hub that attaches to the side of a MacBook and adds ports that Apple won’t, including USB-A and Ethernet. And it does so without blocking one of the USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and MagSafe charging.
I tested the five ports in this affordable hub to see how well they perform in the real world.
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Plugable AMS-5IN1E review
Apple’s most recent MacBook Pro and MacBook Air designs are amazingly sleek. But to get those trim figures, designers had to leave out ports that many professionals need. And average users, too.
The switch to USB-C is going very slowly, and there are still plenty of accessories with USB-A connectors. The Plugable AMS-5IN1E lets you plug a pair of USB-A peripherals into your MacBook.
And as sweet as Wi-Fi is, it’s not always the best networking option. This hub adds an Ethernet port.
There’s also a 3.5mm headset jack as a bonus.
Very portable USB-C hub
The shape of the Plugable AMS-5IN1E is a bit odd, but that’s because it’s designed to not interfere with the MagSafe charging port. Slide the hub into the two USB-C ports on the left edge of a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air and it will stay there (without getting in the way of the MagSafe port.)
That’s all it takes to start using this accessory. There are no software drivers — it’s plug-and-play.
Apple has kept the distance between the dual USB-C ports on the left edge of its MacBooks consistent for many years, so the AMS-5IN1E is compatible with macOS notebooks going back years. Given the lack of an HDMI port though, I think it’s best for the 2021 or 2023 MacBook Pro.
Because it plugs into both the USB-C ports, the hub stays securely attached to the computer. I don’t recommend carrying the Mac around with the hub attached, though.
But it’s easily pocketable. The accessory is just 4.25 inches by 1.4 inches by 0.4 inches. And it weighs a mere 1.4 ounces. It’s much smaller than traditional USB-C hubs, so it’s easy to carry everywhere.
The exterior is mostly aluminum, which helps it match the look of a MacBook and shed heat.
A 5-in-2 hub with useful ports
It’s possible the AMS-5IN1E feature that caught your eye is the pair of USB-A ports. Plug in this hub and your MacBook is ready to handle accessories that haven’t made the switch to USB-C.
Just be aware that these support USB 3.0, which means they top out at 5Gbps. That’s not important unless you want to connect an external drive and move around huge files. They’re fine for plugging in something as simple as a keyboard.
I tested the ports with a keyboard and mouse in my home office to be sure. No problems.
I also tested file transfers and got surprisingly good real-world performance. A 1GB test file moved from my computer to the drive in about 3 seconds. A 10GB files made the same trip in 26.5 seconds.
A quirk of the Plugable AMS-5IN1E is that it covers both of the USB-C/Thunderbolt ports on the left edge of a MacBook but it actually uses only one of them. The other USB-C port connects to a pass-through port, so the USB-C port on the hub can do exactly what the notebook’s hub can do. That means Thunderbolt 4 and 100W charging.
On the far end of Plugable’s latest hub is a Gigabit Ethernet port. Any time Wi-Fi isn’t available, plug in an Ethernet cable and you’re online. It passed my tests with flying colors because it’s able to handle connection speeds faster than my consumer-grade internet plan can provide.
The designers threw in a 3.5mm headset jack as a bonus. MacBooks have one of these already, but there is a reason for the second one. You can plug all your external accessories into this hub, including your speakers, and then connect/disconnect all of them by simply by attaching/detaching the hub.
I plugged my favorite headphones in and they worked just fine.
Plugable AMS-5IN1E final thoughts
If what your MacBook needs is a USB-A port or two, don’t get a big, clunky hub. The Plugable AMS-5IN1E fits your needs.
The selection of ports is good, but the lack of HDMI makes it a better fit for the latest MacBook Pro models that have one built in.
Based only on its feature set, I’d be more critical of this product. It might have gotten 4 stars, or even 3 and half. But there’s another factor that pushed up my rating: price.
The Plugable AMS-5IN1E is only $32.95 with a $2 off coupon. That’s a very good price.
Buy it from: Amazon
As a comparison , take a look at the Satechi Pro Hub Slim. It offers more ports, and the USB-A ones are faster. But it’s also $79.99 — more than double the cost of Plugable’s product.
Or consider the Pro Hub Mini. Its feature set is close to the AMS-5IN1E, and it goes for $69.99.