As more and more laptop makers drop traditional ports in favor of USB-C, you'll probably need to consider buying a USB-C hub. Devices like the Surface Pro X, the Surface Go 2, or even Apple's latest MacBook Air and Pros all don't have USB-A ports or HDMI connections.
There's a ton of USB-C hubs you can buy to bring back HDMI, USB-A, and even ethernet to your laptop, but Aukey recently sent me their latest 12-in-1 USB-C hub for review ($70 on Amazon). Here's why it is a do-it-all hub for any Surface or laptop.
Thanks to its MacBook-like unibody aluminum alloy finish, the Aukey CB-C78 sports a design that is straightforward and clean. For most people, that means the hub matches up with the finish on a Surface or most other laptops. It's not too surprising, as even my usual USB-C hub, the Anker PowerExpand+ has a similar design.
But looking at portability and usage, the Aukey has a slim and light profile. You can slide this into a bag, or a pocket, and carry it around wherever you go. I moved it around the house, using it on both my laptop in my home office, as well as when I wanted to connect my laptop to my TV in the living room.
Note that the cable on the Aukey end also has an end cap that completes that unibody look, making it look fancy. It's not entitled rubber, like on most USB-C hubs. As for the actual cable length, it's roughly 9 inches, which means there's plenty of room for it to twist around on your setup, or in hard to reach places like behind a TV. There are even rubber feet on the bottom, which can help you place it on your desk so it doesn't move.
And a note on the usage --- the choice in the material means that the hub is able to evenly dissipate heat. During use, it never got too warm, even with multiple USB-A devices plugged into it, as well as a USB-C charger.
But the most important part of any USB-C hub is the ports. It should be noted that as the name of the product implies, there are 12-ports on board this hub. The mix includes 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C 3.0 port, 2 HDMI Ports. a VGA Port, an ethernet port, an SD and microSD card reader, and a 100 watt PD charging port.
This basically functions like a Surface dock, giving you a one-stop-shop for everything you might need for plugging things into your device --- but over USB-C instead of Surface Connect. Do note that the hub is Thunderbolt 3 compatible if your device supports it, but it'll work just fine over regular USB-C, too.
You'll want to keep in mind that the two USB 3.0 ports and USB-C data port support data transfer rates up to 5Gbps. The two USB 2.0 ports support and SD & microSD card slots, meanwhile, data transfer at up to 480Mbps. I can confirm that, as I got to these advertised speeds when copying files for the OnPodcast from my HP laptop to my Samsung T5 SSD via USB-C and also USB 3.0.
The USB-C input, meanwhile, supports up to 100 watts of charging, depending on your device's power limits. It powered up my Surface Go 2 from 10-100% in about 1.5 hours when in use. This is appreciated, as some USB-C hubs max out at 60 watts. It is suggested, though, to connect a power adapter to the hub first when using high-power devices such as hard drives.
Another great thing I appreciate about the Aukey CB-C78 is the inclusion of an ethernet port. Usually, I'd need to use just a single USB-C to ethernet dongle to connect my Surface Go 2 to my hard-wire internet for streaming. This USB-C hub has it all for me, allowing me to plugin not only my cable for charging, and my Xbox controller, but also an ethernet cable to get the most out of game streaming with Amazon Luna.
Aukey has a strange advisory listed on the product page for this hub, which notes that due to the USB 3.0 radio frequency interference it is advisable to connect the USB 2.0 port. I never had issues plugging in a Logitech Unifying receiver to USB 2.0, and using a mouse and keyboard.
To end this review, I want to note that this Aukey USB-C hub supports a triple-display setup as well as 4K outputs with single displays. Basically, you can mirror or extend your laptop either using the HDMI or the VGA port onboard (as is typical,) or you can set up triple displays using the two HDMI ports, and the VGA port simultaneously to mirror or extend with more than one display.
This is greatly appreciated, to help boost your setup, but there's a caveat. When connecting three displays at the same time, the resolution can only reach up to 1920 x 1080 at 60HZ. Additionally, even with your laptop plugged in, only three monitors can actually display an image. There will always be one that can not be displayed, either the external display or the computer. You'll need to hit "second screen only" in Windows to turn off the laptop screen after connecting if you prefer to use your external monitor.
A do-it-all hub for Surface or laptop
If you're looking for a USB-C hub, then the Aukey 12-in-1 CB-C78 is great. It has a fantastic design, a wide range of connections, and it allows you to boost your setup with a triple-monitor setup. At a time when laptop makers ditch traditional ports, the Aukey 12-in-1 CB-C78 is there to have your back.