The movies and shows on a MacBook or iPad can be easily played on a full-size TV, but many computers need an adapter to add the HDMI port. The Plugable USBC-4IN1 has just what’s needed, offering 4K video at 60Hz. Or Plugable’s USB-C dock is well suited for using an HDMI monitor to get work done.
Plus, it stands out from the pack with a USB-C port that supports simultaneous 100W power pass-through charging and 10Gbps data transfers. There’s a couple of high-speed USB ports, too.
I put the surprisingly affordable accessory through a series of test to see if it lived up to its promises. Here’s what I found.
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Plugable USBC-4IN1 review
Although recent MacBook Pro models have an HDMI port, no MacBook Air does. The same goes for iPad. But all you need is a USB-C port and an adapter to make the connection between your computer and a big-screen TV.
The Plugable USBC-4IN1 could be that adapter, especially considering how inexpensive it is.
And despite the low price, it doesn’t ask users to make compromises. It has an HDMI 2.0 port, and two USB ports capable of 10Gbps data transfers. And its USB-C offers 100W power pass-through charging, as mentioned.
- Portable USB-C hub for Mac or iPad
- Connect to a 4K monitor at 60Hz
- More ports useful for work or fun
- Plugable USBC-4IN1 final thoughts
Portable USB-C dock for Mac or iPad
Plugable USBC-4IN1 uses a standard design for hubs: a candybar shape with a short connection cable on one end.
The main unit is 4 inches by 1.3 inches by 0.4 inches, with an integrated 7-inch cable. The whole dock is small enough to go easily into a laptop bag, backpack or purse.
The exterior is mostly aluminum that’s been painted to match a MacBook or iPad. The rounded edges and curved corners help with that, too.
Connect to a 4K monitor at 60Hz
The Plugable USBC-4IN1 takes up a single USB-C port on the host computer but adds three more.
While the dock has a relatively small number of ports, there are enough to put a MacBook at the center of a desktop setup, if you plan to use it in the office. Keep a monitor plus other accessories permanently plugged into the hub, and connect all of them to your Mac with a single connector.
A highlight is an HDMI 2.0 port that can drive a 4K monitor at 60Hz. It’s probably the reason you’re interested in this product, so of course I tested it out.
Plugable’s dock had no problems handling my 4K monitor at 3,840 by 2,160 pixels and 60Hz. I couldn’t tell any difference between it and my usual USB-C connection.
More ports useful for work or fun
A highlight of the Plugable USBC-4IN1 is its USB-C port capable of quickly charging even the most demanding MacBooks or transferring large files at high speed.
It supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 for 10 Gbps data transfers. In my real-world tests, that’s moving a 1GB file in about 3 seconds. A 10GB test file transferred in 14 seconds. To get these speeds yourself will require a top-quality drive, though.
But it’s not capable of driving a USB-C monitor. I tested to be sure. You’ll have to be satisfied with the HDMI port for that.
Thanks to the PS188 chip at the heart of the USBC-4IN1, the same USB-C port can also handle 100W of pass-through power. That’s more than any of my devices can handle, so I can’t fully test this capability.
Plugable also put in two USB-A ports. One supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 for 10 Gbps data transfers. The second uses the much slower USB 2.0, but is suitable for a keyboard, mouse or other legacy device.
One of those USB-A ports is supposed to be as fast as the USB-C one, and my testing confirmed that. Both my 1GB and 10GB files transferred just as quickly as the earlier test.
I plugged a keyboard and then a mouse into the other USB-A port. Both worked as expected. Just to be sure, I also plugged in an old-fashioned USB-A hub so I could test both accessories at once. No problems.
The Plugable USBC-4IN1 works with macOS, iPadOS, Windows and ChromeOS. It requires a full-featured USB-C, Thunderbolt or USB4 port.
Plugable USBC-4IN1 final thoughts
My favorite part of testing this USB-C dock was using it to connect my iPad Pro to a pico projector over HDMI to watch a movie being pulled off a USB drive also plugged into the hub. It was both fun and illustrative of how useful the USBC-4IN1 can be,
I’ve tested similar hubs in the past, like the Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, but that one is definitely inferior. The sole USB-A port Apple put in is slower, and its USB-C port doesn’t support data transfers at all.
Really, it’s surprising how full-featured Plugable’s dock is considering the very low cost. You can certainly find cheaper ones, but even many expensive models aren’t as quick as this one.
All that said, the permanently attached cable makes this accessory less portable than it could be.
The Plugable USBC-4IN1 is now available. Its list price is $28.95, but there’s a 30%-off deal at the time of this writing, lowering the cost to about $20.
Buy it from: Amazon
Plugable sells its products through this online giant, so it’s the only option.
For a price comparison, the Apple-branded HDMI adapter I mentioned earlier is $69.