Though any powered USB hub can provide some juice to mobile devices, most don’t provide the amperage you need to charge at full speed. Or, if they do, the added output is often limited to a set of dedicated charging ports that don’t do data.
Enter Plugable’s new USBC-HUB7BC hub which provides full USB 3.x (5 Gbps) speeds from each of its 7 ports while also promising up to 2.4 amps at up to 5 volts from each. Available today on Amazon for a starting price of $38 (when you click the $10 off coupon), hub uses a powerful 60-watt AC adapter to provide enough amperage to all your devices.
Providing 2.4 amps of charging is as fast the USB BC (battery charging) 1.2 spec allows. Considering that regular USB 3.0, without BC, is rated for only 0.9 amps, this is a huge improvement.
The USBC-HUB7BC hub itself is mostly flat (the middle top area is slightly raised) and rectangular so you can stack one on top of another if you own more than one of them. It is clearly designed to be laid flat, though if you don’t tug on it too hard, you can place it vertically on your desk.
All 7 Type-A ports live on the front of the chassis while there’s a type-B upstream port on the back, along with a barrel connector for the power supply. Plugable lists the USBC-HUB7BC as USB-C compatible because the upstream cable that comes in the box has a Type-C adapter you can place over its Type-A connector. So, if your laptop only has Type-C, you won’t need to buy any extra dongles to make this work.
At 5 x 3 x 1 inches and 1.4 pounds, the small black plastic box is lightweight and unobtrusive on your desk. However, its 12-Volt, 5-amp power supply is nearly as large as the hub itself so you may want to hide that behind a monitor or put it on the floor.
I had a chance to do some basic testing on the Plugable USBC-HUB7BC and found that it delivers a fair amount of power. Using our load tester on a single port, I was easily able to draw 2.4 amps, but my meter showed 3.97 volts, not closer to 5V, for a total of 9.5 watts. I was able to up the load to as high as 3.3 amps on 3.6 volts for a total of 11.8 watts. I was not able to test multiple ports at once to see if the power level stays the same if you have a device in each one.
I was able to power a Raspberry Pi 4 (8GB) by connecting it to one of the ports. However, even though a voltage meter showed the hub delivering exactly 5.0 volts and between 0.5 and 0.9 amps, the Pi gave a “low voltage” message throttled itself.
To test throughput, I ran CrystalDiskMark 8 on a Micro Center branded USB 3 Flash drive, both with the Plugable USBC-HUB7BC and a Sabrent USB 3.0 hub I own. The drive returned sequential reads and writes of 86.2 and 23.9 MBps when I tested it on Plugable’s hub and similar marks of 86.4 and 22.2 MBps on Sabrent’s.
For $38 right now or $48 when the sale is over, the Plugable USBC-HUB7BC is a good value. When I searched the listings on Amazon, most hubs that offer 60 watts of juice were more expensive and restricted their 2.4-amp charging output to ports that don’t do data. If you want a hub that doesn’t make you choose between data connections and solid charging speeds, the USBC-HUB7BC could be for you.