If you just purchased a brand new device like the Surface Go 2, or even Apple's new MacBook Pro, you'd be in for some slight trouble --- you will likely need a USB-C hub to go with it. That's because your new device only comes with USB-C or Thunderbolt ports, so plugging into your favorite USB-A accessories like a keyboard, mouse. or monitor would need a dongle.
There are plenty to choose from, no doubt, but all are not created equal. Some only have two ports, some only three, and some aren't PD compatible, so it won't charge your device when you plug in a USB-C input. This means choosing a USB-C hub can be especially tricky when you're on the go, say in the office, or at a meeting, or in a coffee shop.
That's where the $40 Aukey CB-C71 Link PD Pro USB-C Hub (sent to us by Aukey for review) steps in. This USB-C hub is one of the more compact, and unlike the 12-In-1 CB-C78 that I reviewed a few months ago, this one is designed for more on-the-go lifestyles, helping you keep connected, but not carry around too much bulk.
The Design of the Aukey CB-C71 Link PD Pro USB-C Hub is simple and straightforward. This USB-C hub is made out of two different kinds of materials. You'll find ABS and PC plastic on the top, and a Zinc alloy material on the base (with rubber feet to stop it from sliding.) The combination means the hub is a little under 0.24 pounds in weight, but also still sold. Heat dissipation wasn't an issue for me, either, as the plastic and alloy are able to equally spread the heat around the hub, even when I had a full selection of peripherals plugged in.
Elsewhere in design, it should be noted that the hub doesn't bend or break. I tried to flex the plastic top, and asides from some creaking, it didn't budge at all. As for the cable, the output-end USB-C cable is fairly long at around six inches. There's also a rubberized grip on the end, so you can feel it if you're pulling it out from behind a monitor or a desk. Note that the hub should have no problem snugging its way into and around your PC or Mac when you're using it. The design is definitely the highlight of this hub, especially since I think it's great to travel with.
Aukey also includes a travel pouch with the USB-C hub, too. You can slide the hub into the pouch and put it in your bag to avoid it getting scratched up. There's even a slot on the front for you to "tuck" in the cable. It's nice to see the inclusion of the pouch, as it tells you that this is designed to use on the go. I can see people throwing the hub into the pouch, and then putting it into a carry-on bag, or even a suitcase. Definitely catered for the traveling student, businessman, or tourist.
Design is one thing, but ports are another. On this end, the Aukey CB-C71 Link PD Pro USB-C Hub is also great. There are a total of 8 ports onboard. The mix includes two USB 3.0 ports, a USB 2.0 port, an SD card and Micro SD card reader, an HDMI port, as well as a USB-C PD port and Ethernet port.
All of these are likely going to be needed one way or another when you're on the go. Especially for transferring photos, plugging in a mouse, or connecting up to a display for presentations. Note that there's also a green LED light on the top of the hub, which indicates when it is in use.
When I used the USB-C hub with my devices (a Surface Go 2, Pixel Slate, and MacBook Pro) I had no issues at all. Each time, the hub allows me to extend out and plug in my devices. I used it to transfer footage to a Samsung SSD, used it to plug my device into a monitor, and even charge my iPhone when plugged into my Surface. The ethernet port is also nice, as it supports 10/100/1000Mbps network speeds, great for when I am streaming on Google Stadia.
Interestingly, I was able to fully load up the hub, too. I transferred files from an external SSD to a microSD card plugged into the hub and simultaneously moved files from one USB stick that was plugged into the other ports on the hub. I needed to plug the hub into power, though, via the PD port to do this, but it is nice to see that it's capable of doing this if you want to use it as a USB docking station.
Just be aware that the USB-C port onboard this Aukey is only for PD charging up to 100 watts, it doesn't carry any data. But this does mean you can plug it into devices like the Google Chromecast with Google TV, to connect up a keyboard, or USB-drives (which is what I did after my initial review period.)
Aukey notes that the USB 3.0 ports can transfer things at up to 5 Gbps. That's true, as I experienced when transferring over copies of the OnPodcast from my HP laptop to a Samsung SSD. As for the SD card slots, the transfer rates were around a 95 MB/s write speed. Finally, the HDMI port onboard can power up a monitor up to 4K at 30Hz. This is the one let down of the hub, as it limits the refresh rate, so I can see it not being used for gaming or high refresh rate monitors.
Buy it now if you need a compact USB-C hub!
As I said multiple times throughout this review, the Aukey CB-C71 Link PD Pro USB-C Hub is one that's compact yet useful. It helps you extend out your ports, without being too bulky or getting in the way. The hub also has a nice travel case, which lets you put it in a bag and go. Only the 30Hz limit over HDMI makes this not ideal for use for gamers who probably already have a dedicated HDMI port on their device anyway. Otherwise speaking, it works with everything you need or have. You can buy it now for $40 on Amazon. Check it out, and let us know what you think in the comments below.