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Best USB Port Cards 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated April 1, 2019
Best USB Port Cards of 2018
There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 3 of the very best options. If you’re scouring the market for the best usb port cards, you’d better have the right info before spending your money.
After carefully examining the reviews and ratings of the people who have used them earlier this listicle has been made. We’ve narrowed down our options based on the customer feedback (read positive reviews), functionality, material and size. In other words, we’ve put all fundamentals into consideration to come up with a comprehensive list that suits various needs.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this usb port cards win the first place?
The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable. I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack.
Why did this usb port cards come in second place?
I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office.
Why did this usb port cards take third place?
This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment. We are very pleased with the purchase — the product is great! It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time.
USB Port Cards Buyer’s Guide
The Limits of eGPU
The other thing to bear in mind about eGPU boxes is that they have some innate limitations by their very nature, and by the PCs you can install them on.
The reason you’re probably looking at an external graphics solution: You want to play the latest games on a laptop that has only CPU-based graphics acceleration. (On Thunderbolt 3-equipped laptops, that’s Intel HD Graphics or Iris Graphics of some flavor.) Having an up-to-snuff video card is a big part of getting to that goal. But there are other system requirements that, if not met, will keep the eGPU from reaching its full potential.
If a given game demands a certain grade of CPU or number of processing cores, the host system will still need that to perform well (or in some cases, to run at all). So don’t expect an eGPU to turn a slim, Thunderbolt 3-equipped ultrabook with a light-hitting, dual-core mobile processor into the fire-breathing equivalent of a Razer Blade Pro or an Alienware 1You may well run into a sad-face phenomenon known as ending up “CPU limited”; in other words, the graphics performance and frame rates may be held down by the processor’s inability to keep up with game demands. The rest of those gaming system requirements—those beyond the graphics card—still apply with an eGPU in play.
Another issue is bandwidth. Even if the computer in question is stacked in terms of CPU muscle, you may well see some “overhead”—which is to say, frame-rate penalty—because of the nature of the connection. The proprietary connection used by the Alienware Graphics Amplifier is an xpathway; the Thunderbolt connection may also extract its own pound of frame-rate flesh in the back-and-forth across the bus. And you may see better frame-rate performance running the signal out to an external monitor versus speeding up the frame rates on a laptop’s internal display. See our review of the Aorus box for more about that.
This overhead is impossible to quantify with every possible combination of video card, eGPU box, and host system. But we say this only to point out that you shouldn’t expect to gain the full 100 percent of performance you’d see with the same video card in a well-outfitted desktop PC, even if CPU-limiting is not an issue.
PROS: Elegant external design; uses Thunderbolt interface for data and charging; four rear USB ports, Ethernet port
GOOD FOR: Razer Blade laptop owners with deep pockets who want a plug-and-play gaming upgrade and docking solution in one.
Laptop Buying Guide: What to look for when laptop shopping
Choosing a new laptop is a lot harder than it should be. Every major brand has multiple product lines with overlapping prices and features, and every description is filled with jargon about processors, types of storage, graphics capabilities, screen resolutions and a laundry list of ports and connections. And don’t even get me started on names. Good luck figuring out the meaning behind a Pavilion/Inspiron/XPS/Latitude/Spectre/Envy/ZenBook/Odyssey or any of the others. It’s enough to make you go back to a no. pencil and a composition book.
That’s why we test and review dozens of traditional laptops every year, plus Windows tablets and 2-in-hybrids, and even Chromebooks. This handy buying guide will give you the basic background info you need to add context to those reviews and to make a smart purchase. Of course, if you’re looking to just jump right in, I’ve preselected a handful of my favorite current laptops to highlight. If you ran into me on the street, I’d probably steer you towards one of these as a starting point.
The first question I have when someone asks, “What kind of laptop should I buy?” is this: How many days per week do you plan on carrying your laptop around with you?
Daily or near-daily commutes mean you want something with a 13-inch or smaller display, that weighs under three pounds and is at most around 15mm thick. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro just hits those specs, while systems like the HP Spectre and Acer Swift both dip below 10mm thick.
Four-pin fan headers.
A cluster of four pins to which you connect a chassis fan. Motherboards typically come studded with these, the more the larger the board. The PWM header allows for fine control over fan speeds based on temperature guidelines that are set at a system level. The header sends a 12-volt current through one pin to power the fan, while a control signal on another pin tells the fan the amount of current to draw, regulating the speed (thus PWM, for “pulse width modulation”).
You’ll want to be sure that a motherboard you’re choosing has enough of these headers to accommodate the fans in your chassis. Some case fans will have only a three-pin connector; you can plug these into a four-pin header, but you won’t get the speed control.
Asus Q-Connector for front-panel header.
The front-panel header is a grid of pins on the motherboard, often with some color coding or other on-board labeling, that accepts wires from your PC case. To this set of pins, you’ll connect the thin cables for the case’s power and reset switches, as well as the hard drive activity and power-on LEDs (and, in some designs, an onboard speaker). Most of the time, the pins are in pairs; know that the polarity of the pairs doesn’t matter for the switch cables, but it does for the LEDs. The motherboard manual should contain a schematic that shows where the header is and which pins power what.
Some board makers, pioneered by Asus with its “Q-Connector,” provide a small block that plugs into the front-panel pin header, covering it entirely, but with an identical pinout on top of it. This lets you plug in the appropriate wires outside the PC case, then plug in the connector as a whole.
Read the Fine Print for Minor but Appreciated Features
Once you get past the basics: solid (and safe) build construction, bus-powered/self-powered, and the number of ports you want, the rest of choices are largely aesthetic in nature or focused on small but appreciated details. Each of the units we showcased today features these kind of details.
Other handy features you may find on nicer USB hubs include power switches. Some, like the LOFTEK, have a small power button that offers you the ability to toggle the whole hub on and off. Others, like the Etekcity Port USB 3.0 Hub, have multiple power toggles for different individual ports or sets there of. If you have peripherals that can be powered on and off via USB signal or you just want to easily disable access to certain devices without unplugging them, the extra switches are a very handy little addition.
View them online from Apple here.
If you want you can upgrade the processor to 1.4GHz, while you can also choose between either 8GB or 16GB of RAM.
While the clock speeds are only slightly higher than those featured in 2016’s 12in MacBooks, they should be faster in practice thanks to more modern Kaby Lake processor architecture. The RAM is faster, too: 1866MHz, up from 1600MHz in 2015.
The energy-efficient chips also help with battery life, adding up to an hour more than their predecessors: hours of web use, or 1hours of movie watching, with 30 days of standby – at least according to Apple.
While this is the lightest and perhaps prettiest MacBook available, it’s also one of the most expensive, and – while the new processors have closed the gap – they remain relatively low-powered for the price.
The other major downside is that it includes just a single USB-C port for both charging and data transfer. USB-C is the new standard of USB that will soon be widespread, but for now there’s an awkward transition phase during which you’ll need adapters (and they don’t come cheap) in order to use some accessories and peripherals.
While it is an utter joy to look at, and nice to use, we still feel it costs too much for too little.
Read our preview of the 20112in MacBook or, if you’d like to compare it to the previous model, our review of 2016’s 12in MacBook.
Rugged & Secure Flash Drives
Several flash drives are designed specifically for users who want to keep data safe on their person at all times. Rugged drives offer protection from physical damage, like when you leave it in your pants and throw it into the wash. Secure flash drives offer protection from humans who want to hack or steal your data.
Is your data so sensitive that it must be encrypted in addition to being password-protected? If yes, then buy a secure USB drive, such as the ones offered by IronKey or the Aegis Secure Key, which actually has a physical keypad for entering a password.
Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 120 GB FIPS 140-Level Validated 256-bit Encryption USB 3.0 Flash Drive (ASK3-120GB)
Apricorn Aegis Secure Key 120 GB FIPS 140-Level Validated 256-bit Encryption USB 3.0 Flash Drive (ASK3-120GB)
IronKey 6GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive
That being said, you might want to wait because a new wave of wireless USB flash drives is coming in. So far, we’ve only seen the SanDisk Connect, which works across different devices and connects to phones and tablets wirelessly. Kingston and others are working on similar technology, but haven’t released products yet.
SanDisk Connect 32GB Wireless Flash Drive For Smartphones And Tablets- SDWS2-032G-E57
SanDisk Connect 32GB Wireless Flash Drive For Smartphones And Tablets- SDWS2-032G-E57
Wirelessly store, share, stream movies, photos, music, and documents across your smartphones, tablets and computers
How your tablet works will depend very much on its operating system – what you actually see and interact with on screen. Which system is best largely depends on your own personal preferences as they each have their own benefits and drawbacks.
Android was created by Google, but is available on devices made by manufacturers such as Samsung and Sony. It’s customisable and user-friendly, though the experience will differ between brands. You have more control over how you use Android and how you manage files, but this can make it a little more complicated to use.
More apps are available for Android than any other platform. Google Play is the largest app store, but there are others to choose from. Having a larger app developing community does carry some risks, however, so it’s important to check apps carefully to avoid unsecure content.
Screen quality is measured in pixels. The more pixels, the higher the quality of the image.
Entry level tablets have a pixel count of around 102x 600, mid-range tablets have a resolution of around 1920 x 1080, and more high-end devices have 204x 153and above.
More is always better when it comes to battery life. Typically it’s the most expensive tablets that have the longest. Some low cost models may have long battery life, but that’s a reflection of their lower processing performance.
Remember battery life is an estimate. High demand tasks will use up battery power faster than low demand tasks.
SD card and SD slot
SD cards are a simple way to add more memory. A small card can be placed inside an SD slot to access any files it contains. It makes it very easy to transfer files, as many devices have an SD slot. Not every tablet has an SD slot, however, so an adaptor could be required.
After 120 hours of doing research, consulting with electrical engineers, and testing hubs, we determined that the Anker 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub is the best USB hub for most people. It’s compact and reliable, and it has well-placed ports aplenty. In our tests, it rose above the competition mainly because of its usability and design: Compared with most of the hubs we tested, it’s smaller and equipped with more ports, and those ports are easy to get to. It also has three high-speed charging ports, something our readers told us they wanted.
After testing a new model and revisiting our recommendations, we’ve determined that the Anker 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub is still our top pick for most people, and that the Anker AH23remains our pick for people who need more data ports. But our new portable pick is the four-port Sabrent HB-SGAR-5V4A, and we no longer recommend the Anker 7-Port USB 3.0 Hub, which is discontinued.
Its seven USB 3.0 data ports and three high-speed charging ports face upward, so cables and plugs take up less room on your desk.
Sabrent’s HB-SGAR-5V4A is smaller than a brick of sticky notes, and though it comes with a dedicated power adapter, it’ll run just fine without one. All four ports put out up to 1.amps, meaning this model is better suited for charging phones and tablets than most hubs of its size, and the adapter provides more than enough power, which is rare. However, this square hub has one port on each face, which means it’ll take up a fair amount of space on your desk when everything is plugged in.
Who this is for
A USB 3.0 hub is for anyone who has a computer with at least one USB 3.0 port and either wants more ports or wants those ports in a more-accessible place. Many laptops have only one or two USB 3.0 ports; many desktop computers have USB ports in difficult-to-reach locations.
This guide currently focuses on traditional, rectangular USB-A connectors. But USB-C ports are becoming more common on computers, phones, and other devices. While the new standard has yet to supplant the legacy USB-A port that all of these hubs use, new USB-A hubs seem to have stopped coming, and older models are getting discontinued without replacements. If you’re looking for accessories for your USB-C device, check out our full guide to USB-C accessories.
If your computer doesn’t have enough USB 3.0 ports, or if you want a more-convenient place to plug in your USB 3.0 hard drive or flash drive, you should consider a USB 3.0 hub. If you have a computer with USB 3.0 ports but a slow USB 2.0 hub, you should consider upgrading, as you’ll see significantly faster transfer speeds across all your devices with a new hub. If you need a dedicated charging port for your smartphone or iPad—and you’d rather not use a dedicated USB wall charger—or if you’re experiencing dropped connections or other undesirable behaviors with connected devices, you should upgrade to one of our picks.
What makes a great USB hub
We surveyed more than 700 readers and added the results of our own research to come up with the criteria for choosing the best USB hubs. A great USB hub must have USB 3.0 ports and should have dedicated power. It needs to be reliable, practically designed, compact, and (for portable hubs) light. LED indicators for each port and a decent warranty are also useful.
USB 3.0 hubs tend to be more expensive than USB 2.0 hubs, and the 3.0 standard has interference issues with 2.GHz wireless devices. Still, we chose to focus on USB 3.0 hubs, because the USB 2.0 standard is ancient—it was introduced back in April 2000, while USB 3.0 debuted in November 2008—and many times slower than 3.0. For example, our favorite desktop hard drive transfers files at about 150 megabytes per second on a USB 3.0 connection, but on USB 2.0 it maxes out at just 40 MB/s—if you think you’ll ever want to plug USB 3.0–capable external hard drives or flash drives into a hub for data transfer, you’ll want the extra speed that a USB 3.0 hub provides.
Using a dedicated power cord or adapter is a smart idea if you don’t want to risk accidentally corrupting everything on your hard drive.
Dedicated power is a must-have for most hubs—but not for all of them. (More on the kind that don’t require it in a moment.) To explain why, we first need to talk about how power flows through USB hubs. According to the official USB 3.0 spec, each USB 3.0 port must provide 900 milliamps of current at volts, or 4.watts. If you have a four-port USB 3.0 hub powered solely by your computer’s USB 3.0 port (in other words, without a dedicated power cord or adapter), that means you theoretically have four devices running on the amount of power usually provided to one. This arrangement can lead to devices losing power and disconnecting improperly from the computer, which can cause drive corruption and data loss.
However, it’s important to recognize that this theoretical setup has a lot of flexibility. The 900-milliamp-current requirement for USB 3.0 ports is a minimum rather than a fixed level, and manufacturers often provide more power to their hubs’ ports. The power consumption of devices also varies wildly based on the kind of device and what you’re doing with it at a given moment. For example, in its user manual for our top-pick hub, Anker provides the following estimates of power consumption by device: A mouse consumes about 100 milliamps, a keyboard uses a maximum of 500 milliamps, and a portable USB 3.0 hard drive consumes a maximum of 900 milliamps.
Those are very generous estimates, intended to encourage caution so that you don’t accidentally overload your hub. Devices generally draw the most power when you first plug them into the hub and while transferring data, but very few draw the theoretical maximum, especially for extended periods. Still, using a dedicated power cord or adapter is a smart idea if you don’t want to risk accidentally corrupting everything on your hard drive; and for a USB hub with more than four ports, a dedicated power cord or adapter is an absolute must. (It’s not entirely necessary for a travel-friendly four-port USB hub, but an unpowered setup requires caution to avoid having devices trying to draw more power than your laptop’s USB 3.0 port can give. We cover this topic in more detail below.)
Beyond minimum power, we know from our research on USB chargers that people prefer ports that can charge their phones and tablets more quickly; an informal Twitter survey of readers confirmed this. So we looked for hubs with high-speed charging ports, a feature that requires external AC power, and with the exception of portable hubs, we ended up focusing on powered models.
With those power requirements in mind, we eliminated any USB hubs without enough juice to fully power all their ports. For example, our top pick has seven USB 3.0 ports and three 2.4-amp charging ports. According to the USB 3.0 spec, that means this hub could need as much as 4watts to power all its ports at their theoretical maximums—and because it includes a 12-volt, 5-amp (60-watt) power supply, it gets enough power for all its ports at their theoretical maximums. Many hubs without adequate power aren’t significantly smaller, lighter, or less expensive to make up for that, so we ruled those models out.
Vertically stacked ports (front) make it easier to connect larger plugs and thumb drives than horizontally arranged ports (back).
A great USB hub also has to be designed with usability in mind. The ports should be spaced far enough apart that you can connect bulky thumb drives and card readers next to one another. In our tests, we found that vertically stacked ports were generally preferable to horizontally aligned ones. A hub should also be small and light, especially if you’ll use it for traveling, and it shouldn’t make the devices you plug in take up too much room on your desk: Hubs with ports on top (as opposed to around the edges) are better because the plugs you connect will stand vertically instead of fanning out around the hub and taking up even more space. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course, but it’s also nice if a USB hub doesn’t look like it fell out of the ’90s. And a decent warranty is useful in case you wind up with a faulty hub.
We found that an LED indicator for each port on the hub made troubleshooting much simpler when things didn’t work as intended, because we were able to tell which port was having issues.
In our reader survey, 5percent of respondents told us they wanted a USB hub with five to seven ports, while 2percent favored four or fewer ports. The remaining 20 percent said they wanted eight or more ports. Based on that feedback, we looked for picks with four, seven, and ports. Nearly a third of respondents said they were interested in a travel USB hub, and 7percent of them told us they wanted a travel hub without a dedicated power cord. So for the four-port category, we tried to find a USB hub that could work without a power cord but came with one; that way, the power cord would be available when you needed extra power but wouldn’t be a mandatory nuisance.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Despite being the best-designed hub we tested that has at least seven data ports, this Anker hub still has a couple of annoying quirks. The top plate is made from a glossy-black plastic that shows every fingerprint, smudge, and speck of dust. It’s easy to clean but just as easy to get dirty again the next time you plug in or unplug a device. (At least this model doesn’t have that glossy plastic on all sides like some of the other hubs we tested.) The upward-facing ports are great for making plugs and devices take up less room on your desk, but the port orientation means that the ports are susceptible to dust collecting inside. That said, they’re easy to clean out with a bit of compressed air.
Like most USB hubs, this Anker model comes with a chunky power supply. It’s a necessary evil, and the Anker’s is the same size as, or smaller than, the power bricks for the other seven- and 10-port hubs we tested, so it’s not a dealbreaker. This Anker hub also doesn’t have a power button, but only five of the hubs (and none of the seven-port options) we tested did, and we don’t think most people have a real need to turn off a USB hub (if you need to, you can just unplug the power cord).
If you need more than the seven data ports of our main pick (who are you?!), the Anker AH23is exactly the same size and shape as our main pick but designed with a different mix of connections: nine USB 3.0 data ports and one 2.1-amp charging port. (Unlike the 2.A ports on our top pick, which according to our measurements actually put out 2.A, this port maxed out at 2.A in our tests.) The AH23also has glossy white plastic around the sides and a different LED color than our pick, but the two models weigh the same and come with the same power brick and cables, and they worked similarly in all of our tests.
The Anker 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub (bottom) and the Anker AH23(top).
The Sabrent hub performs better than any other four-port option, but its sprawling layout isn’t great.
The four-port Sabrent HB-SGAR-5V4A is the most portable and versatile USB hub we tested. It’s quite compact, and you can use it with or without the included power supply. However, using it without its power supply carries the risk of overloading the hub, dropping connections, and corrupting data, so we recommend that you use the power cord whenever possible. That said, we tested the Sabrent hub with and without the power supply and found that file transfers were just as fast in both scenarios.
Each of the hub’s USB 3.0 data ports doubles as a higher-current charging port, capable of delivering up to 1.amps whether the hub is attached to a computer or not. For best performance, the hub requires 1W of power, and the included power adapter provides 20 W—it’s the only four-port hub we’ve found that gets enough power from its adapter. This means that you can use high-power-draw devices such as external hard drives with confidence. But the Sabrent has only one power-indicator light, rather than an individual light for each port.
The Sabrent hub measures just inches square and 0.inch thick, and it weighs only 1.ounces—it’s smaller than a brick of sticky notes. The hub’s four ports are arranged one per side. The ports are horizontally oriented, and because they’re not right next to one another, you won’t have any trouble plugging in large devices. But the layout is admittedly ugly, and it means that despite the hub’s small size, once you connect a few devices, it will take up more room on your desk than most others. This sprawling design is bad enough that we considered withholding our recommendation, but the hub’s performance is so much better than anything else in this category that we think it’s worth putting up with the mess. If you hate the design, consider the four-port Anker hub we describe in the Competition section below.
The Sabrent hub has an integrated USB cable that’s inches long; the cord on the included power brick is about 60 inches long.
We didn’t overload the Sabrent hub during our testing, but we do have some tips to help ensure the best performance if you’re using the hub without the power cord:
Long-term test notes
One of our editors has been using our upgrade pick, the Anker AH231, since September 2014, and it has been working great, providing plenty of power for any USB device hooked up to it and allowing reliable data transfers. The charging port has also worked flawlessly.
Devices that don’t work with USB hubs
Some devices must be plugged directly into the host computer’s USB port—they don’t work at all when you plug them into a USB hub. For example, the Apple SuperDrive works only when you plug it directly into a USB port on an Apple laptop.
It’s impossible to account for every setup, scenario, and device, so our advice is to do a bit of research before you buy: A quick Google search will usually turn up common issues with the devices you’ll be plugging into your hub. We also recommend testing, right when you get a new hub, compatibility with your existing USB devices so that you can return the hub if it has a problem.
A note on wireless devices and USB 3.0
USB 3.0 ports and devices have been shown to emit radio-frequency (RF) noise that can interfere with devices using the 2.GHz wireless band; such devices include wireless mice and keyboards that use an RF dongle for wireless communication.
The RF noise can come from anywhere along the USB 3.0 connection. For example, if you have a USB 3.0 hard drive plugged into a USB 3.0 port, the interference can come from the port on your hub, the USB cord, or even the drive’s USB port. This noise isn’t always an issue, but if your wireless mouse or keyboard constantly drops its connection, or if you lose clicks or keystrokes, you should try connecting the mouse or keyboard to a USB 2.0 port and keeping RF dongles and devices away from active USB 3.0 connections. If your computer doesn’t have any USB 2.0 ports, you can use a USB 2.0 extension cable to move the RF dongle farther from the source of the interference.
The Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub’s design isn’t great for wide plugs and thumb drives.
If you hate the look of our four-port Sabrent pick, the next-best pick among a field of compromised options is Anker’s Ultra Slim 4-Port USB 3.0 Data Hub, available on its own or with a power adapter. This tiny (4¼ inches by inch by ¼ inch) stick is the smallest hub we tested, but its four data ports are arranged in a horizontal line along one edge, closely spaced, so fat plugs or thumb drives will partially block adjacent ports. In addition, our data transfers failed when we attempted to use two portable hard drives at a time, even with the hub’s optional power adapter connected, so we recommend this hub only for low-power-draw devices such as flash drives, mice, and keyboards rather than for hard drives. That said, if you’re planning to use a bus-powered drive with this hub, make sure to choose the version with the power adapter.
The Unitek Aluminum 4-Port USB 3.0 Hub with Smart Charging Port is appealing on paper, but in our real-world use it turned out to be rather disappointing. It has only three data ports, with the fourth port reserved for charging. Though the company claims charging at amps, we measured only amp of charging output. The power adapter’s connector also fit far too loosely into the hub, suggesting poor manufacturing and leaving us uncomfortable with how this model might hold up over the long term.
Our previous top pick, HooToo’s HT-UH010, is still solid, but it’s not quite as appealing as the Anker hub that took its spot. Aesthetically, the HT-UH0is almost identical to the Anker: It has the same body and a similar port array, including the same number of data ports. It also has charging ports, but only two instead of the three of our top pick. HooToo labels these charging ports as 1-amp and 2.1-amp, yet in our testing both supported 2.4-amp charging; on the other hand, when copying data to seven flash drives at once, we saw the transfer rate of some of the drives drop. In our long-term testing, we noticed that a bit of the soft-touch coating started flaking off the bottom surface, but that isn’t a major concern because it doesn’t impact the usability or look of the hub when it’s sitting on a desk. Again, the HT-UH0is a good hub, but it’s not as good as our top pick.
Satechi’s 10-Port Premium Aluminum USB 3.0 Hub is physically larger than any other hub we tested. Rather than the clean, side-by-side power- and data-cable ports of our top picks, it has a port on each vertical end of its horizontal layout, making for more cable clutter.
The Sabrent High Speed Port USB 3.0 Hub is larger and uglier than our 10-port pick, and it was problematic in our testing. The first time we plugged it in, the first power-indicator light took about 30 seconds to turn on. We also encountered random disconnects, heard an annoying coil whine, and saw speeds slow down during multiple-device transfers. This model doesn’t have an overall power-indicator light, and during testing this hub got warmer than others.
MSI Gaming 27XT
If you’re looking to treat yourself to a gaming-focused all-in-one this year but can’t afford a wallet-intimidating behemoth like the Maingear Alpha 34, MSI’s 27XT might be for you. The 27-inch gaming machine lets you slot a graphics card into its rear-mounted trailer, and can be kitted out with anything up to Nvidia’s beefy Titan X GPU.
The ultimate all-in-one for neat freaks, it places all the components – including Intel’s octa-core Core i7-5960X processor – behind the display. Speaking of which, the 27XT comes with the very welcome option of a 144Hz QHD display with a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel-resolution, providing a tempting middle ground between the entry-level 1080p screen and high-end 60Hz 4K display that’s also being offered.
Asus ROG XG Station 2
As the creator of the original XG Station external graphics dock, Asus is no stranger to the docking station party. Its follow-up enclosure, the XG Station 2, closely resembles its ROG G20 desktop thanks to its engraved black and red patterned design.
Its main panel is made of glass, allowing you to peer into the case to watch your graphics card doing its thing, if that’s what you’re into. Like other docking enclosures on our list, the ROG XG Station uses a Thunderbolt-supported USB 3.0 connection, but it’s not yet known if the dock only supports Asus’ own laptops and graphics cards, or ones from other manufacturers too.
Intel ‘Skull Canyon’ NUC
Intel didn’t unveil anything new in terms of GPU docks at CES 2016, but it did set tongues wagging by announcing a gaming-focused NUC codenamed Skull’s Canyon. While it’s likely that the upcoming barebones PC will be too small to squeeze in a full-sized discrete graphics card, the company confirmed that it will sport a Thunderbolt port, enabling it to be hooked up to an external graphics card enclosure.
If you like to tinker with swapping-out PC components such as RAM, storage and graphics cards but don’t mind keeping the same processor for a few generations – and fancy getting yourself a portable NUC to play with – Intel’s upcoming micro PC might be just what you need.
TP-Link M7350 4G Mobile Router
TP-Link’s M7350 sits at the top of our chart in large part thanks to being network-unlocked. That means although you’ll pay in full upfront, you can choose any data deal from any UK network operator, and you aren’t tied to a contract.
The TP-Link’s 2550mAh battery should be good for up to hours of 4G connectivity, but lasts days on standby.
EE 4GEE WiFi Mini
EE’s 4GEE WiFi Mini is a good-looking MiFi that comes with three interchangeable colour bands and a cloth pouch. It lets you connect up to devices at once, and has a 1500mAh battery inside for up to 50 hours battery life on standby. A benefit of buying from EE is the decent-value data allowances and ‘double-speed 4GEE’ fast network. However, don’t be fooled by the 100MB of free EU data per month – you’ll quickly whizz through that when using the Mini abroad.
Several plans are available for the Mini, and EE recommends the £23-per-month 16GB plan for which you pay nothing up front, but it goes up as high as 64GB for £30.50 each month.
The GlocalMe Uis an Indiegogo-funded project that offers a mobile Wi-Fi router quite unlike others on the market. It’s best suited to frequent travellers who want to quickly and cheaply get online anywhere in the world, but it’s a useful device for back home too, especially for business users who are tired of dealing with flaky internet connections while commuting.
With embedded encryption the Ualso presents a safer method of getting online than connecting to potentially vulnerable public Wi-Fi hotspots.
It’s able to work as a standard Mi-Fi device, sharing the data connection of a mobile SIM (the network-unlocked Glocal Uaccepts both full-size and Micro-SIMs) with up to five devices, but what’s more interesting about the GlocalMe Uis its cloud-SIM functionality. You don’t need to insert a local SIM in this mobile router in order to get online in over 100 countries – you simply put some PAYG credit on it or buy a data pack and away you go.
GlocalMe works with multiple network operators including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, Orange, China Mobile, Vodafone, T-Mobile, O2, China Telecom and China Unicom, and supports a wide range of connectivity bands. Because it will automatically connect to the best network wherever you are, you’ll often find – as we did – that getting online via the Uis faster than with your current SIM.
Most data packages last 30 days, and the Uitself can keep going for up to 1hours on a single charge, which should easily power you through any working day. When the 3,500mAh battery runs down charging is fast (around 3.hours) over a 3A Micro-USB connection.
Vodafone Huawei R216
Vodafone’s offering is just as fast but not quite as good as those from Three or EE, allowing you to connect only up to five devices at once. The
R214G Mobile Wi-Fi is great value if you use a lot of data, though, with as much as 50GB of data available for just £30 per month – that’s with no upfront fee on a 24-month plan. If you don’t use a lot of data then the £1a month you’ll pay for just 2GB sounds a little steep.
Three Huawei E5330
The E5330 is a basic MiFi that supports only a 3G network, but if you can’t access 4G where you live then it might appeal. At its lowest price the E5330 starts at £per month with 2GB of data on a two-year contract, but you can get as much as 20GB for £2per month on a two-year contract. Opting for pay as you go or reducing the contract term increases the price.
Recommended USB 3.0 Controllers
The EyeX Controller requires a USB 3.0 port due to the high amount of data being received.If your computer doesn’t have a native USB 3.0 port, you must upgrade your PC to be able to use the EyeX Controller.
Below is a list of USB 3.0 PCI Express cards which are all tested and recommended by us.
StarTech 2-Port USB 3.Card
USB-C ports are great, but if you’re going to use a USB-C port with a device that has a USB-A connector, you’ll need to purchase an adapter. StarTech 2-Port USB 3.Card fixes this limitation and it comes with USB-C and USB-A ports.
CoolGear USB 3.PCIe Host Controller Card
This is another USB-C PCI card that comes from Coolgear. Unlike the previous entry on our list, this one comes with USB 3.Type-A and USB Type-C ports. This card is compatible with USB 3.Genstandard and it offers up to 10Gbps transfer speed. Regarding the compatibility, the device is fully compatible with older USB standards.
We have to mention that this card has 15-pin SATA power connector for powering. Regarding the compatibility, this card works with any version of Windows, but it should also work on Linux and Mac OS. at a discount price
Dodocool PCI-E Express Card
There are all sorts of USB-C PCI cards on the market, and if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require additional adapters, you might want to consider Dodocool PCI-E Express Card. This card comes with a single USB 3.Type-C and one USB 3.Type-A port. Card provides up to 10Gbps transfer speed and it works with PCIe x4, xand x1slots. Regarding the compatibility, the device works with any version of Windows and Linux.
The card is also compatible with older USB standards, and thanks to the USB-A port, you won’t need to purchase any USB-C adapters. It’s also worth mentioning that this device has 15-pin SATA power connector that can provide up to 5V 2A power on each port.
READ ALSO: best USB type C desktop chargers at a discount price
Mediasonic PCI Express Card
If you’re looking for a USB-C card that has both USB-C and USB-A ports, you might want to consider Mediasonic PCI Express Card. This card connects to your PC using PCI Express 2.0 or 3.0 xinterface and it delivers transfer speed up to 10Gbps. Regarding compatibility, the card is compatible with Intel Extensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) Specification 1.at a discount price
USB-C port will become a standard in the future, and we’re already seeing USB-C devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops. If you have a USB-C device, you might want to consider buying one of these USB-C PCI cards.
UDMA stands for Ultra Direct Memory Access and is a storage interface standard originally developed for hard disks. If your camera supports UDMA then the use of fast UDMA cards can mean quicker buffer clearing, thus allowing longer bursts of high-speed sequential shooting to be achieved. The earliest UDMA cards were rated between 200 and 300x, where 1x = 150KB/sec. Therefore, 200x cards, in theory, could reach a transfer rate of 30MB/sec, and 300x cards up to 45MB/sec. Today, 600x (90MB/sec) and even 1000x cards (150MB/sec) are available.
Whether or not your camera can really make much use of the faster speeds is a moot point. The first step is to check the specifications of your camera for any mention of UDMA compatibility. Still, as with faster SD cards, with a fast card reader and fast connection to your computer via ports like USB 3.0 and FireWire 800, you will at least be able to get your images off a large card with a significantly reduced waiting time.
CFast and XQD
Compact Flash isn’t going away any time soon, but alternatives are already available in the form of XQD, which is being backed by Lexar and Nikon, plus CFast, backed by SanDisk and Sony, among others.
XQD is a new high-performance memory card format aimed at professional users, and it’s been officially adopted by the independent CompactFlash industry association. It is based on PCI Express bus protocols, which many PCs use for connecting expansion cards. Nikon currently has the only digital camera compatible with XQD, the Nikon D4.
CFast is a similar form factor card to CompactFlash, although it uses the serial ATA bus standard (SATA) and the data connector used is the same as that for SATA hard disk drives. Power connection is not the same, however, and requires an adapter for use on standard SATA ports. SanDisk, which originally had plans for XQD cards, is now focusing on CFast, along with Sony and others.
Performance and performance ratings
Some memory card manufacturers use megabytes per second (MB/s) to indicate card performance but most use a speed rating based on compact disc and recordable compact disc performance. A music CD transfers data at 150K bytes per second. This is 1x speed. A memory card rated at 100x can transfer 100 x 150K per second, or 15MB/s, and so on. Conversely if a card is rated at 100MB/s, its equivalent speed rating is 100MB divided by 150KB, or 667x. It should be noted that basic speed ratings like these indicate the maximum ‘burst’ transfer rate possible and this is rarely matched by the card’s capability to sustain a transfer rate over a period of time.
SD card speed Class ratings
The Class of an SDHC card indicates the guaranteed write speed in Mb/s – something worth thinking about if shooting a lot of high-definition video.
Because the use of cards was changing and performance started to be critical (especially for video recording) the SD card industry introduced a numerical classification to help users match up the most suitable card for their devices. It looks simple on paper:
Practical speed limitations
If all that wasn’t complicated enough, MB/sec speed ratings actually only indicate an ‘up to’ data transfer rate. In other words a 95MB/sec card should be able to hit 95MB/sec but not necessarily sustain this rate. There are lots of reasons behind this.
Even with quoted speed ratings from the manufacturer, you may never see the sustained performance of a card peaking at these speeds. For example, if you use a card reader connected via a standard ‘High Speed’ USB 2.0 cable, the theoretical top speed of the cable is 480 megabits/sec (60MB/sec) – but, because of various factors, the speed may be limited to a maximum of just half that.
If you want to benefit from the faster speeds offered by fast cards you need a card reader designed to connect via a very fast interface, such as USB 3.0. Even so, sustained rates of 90-95MB/sec by cards rated at these speeds is rarely achieved. One reason is that data files stored on the card are probably fragmented, requiring the controller to retrieve many constituent parts of the file from its memory store, which is less efficient than with one contiguous file. Even with a very fast card reader connected to a super-fast port you may find that 50-60MB/sec is a more realistic real-world rate.
A UHS-I card, as shown by the logo on the right-hand side
Many SD cards now available are emblazoned with ‘U1′ and ‘I’, which stands for Ultra High Speed level-UHS-I cards have high-speed controllers that can enable very fast read and write times, up to a theoretical 50MB/sec. A later iteration of UHS-I also supports faster transfers of up to a little over 100MB/sec. But once again, be wary of UHS-I cards that appear to have fast read rates but also slow write rates. UHS-I cards will only be of full value if your camera supports the UHS-I protocol. It’s a good idea to check the manufacturer’s specifications of your camera to confirm whether or not UHS-I is supported. Nevertheless, you can use a UHS-I card in a camera that doesn’t support UHS-I.
Building extra performance into a camera’s memory card interface adds to the manufacturing cost of the camera. Part of this is down to the use of larger memory buffers in the camera. Less expensive cameras tend to have smaller buffers and slower bus speeds. What this boils down to is less frames-per-second and a shorter sustained rate of sequential frames shot at the maximum frame rate when shooting continuously. Some cameras will be able to sustain higher frame rates for longer when shooting JPEG images, which are relatively small, but shooting large Raw files and simultaneous Raw+JPEG burst sequences can really test a camera’s memory sub-system and the card attached to it.
Those using a continuous shooting mode for sports and other action photography should remember that achievable burst depth is partly dependent on the speed of the memory card.
If your camera is capable of fast continuous shooting, and you need to be able to shoot long sequences at high frame rates, you’ll require a card which has the fastest possible write performance. Not only will you be able to shoot more frames in one burst before the buffer fills and stalls the camera, but the camera will be more responsive because the buffer can be emptied faster, enabling you to resume shooting after a shorter wait compared to a when using a slower card.
Only really old computers have USB 1.0 ports. At just 1megabits-per-second theoretical maximum transfer rate, the real-world speeds can be as little as half or a third of that, meaning transfer speeds as slow as half a megabyte-per-second. This would mean a modest 2GB card would take over an hour to copy across.
Be aware that USB 2.0 operates at the same lowly speed as USB 1.0 unless it’s a ‘Hi-Speed’ port. USB 2.0 Hi-Speed has a theoretical maximum data transfer rate of 480 megabits-per-second, 40 times faster than standard USB 1.0 or USB 2.0, but real world speeds can vary widely depending on the card reader and the card, with typical sustained transfer speeds varying between and 30MB/s. The system bottleneck is still going to be the USB port rather than the card.
USB 3.0 is over six times faster than USB 2.0 Hi-Speed. With a USB 3.0-compatible card reader and a fast card it should be possible to sustain 95MB/s transfers, or even faster rates. This means you can empty a 2GB card 2seconds, or a 64GB card in just over 1minutes, assuming the card’s rated maximum speed can be sustained. A possible dampener is the speed of the hard drive onto which your files will be copied on your computer. If it’s a low-spec drive it may become the system bottleneck and erode transfer speeds.
The FLIRC USB dongle allows the use of any remote control with your Raspberry Pi. Configure the device on your desktop PC, then simply plug into your Pi for a perfect media center companion. Available from Pi Supply and The Pi Hut
Exo Ultra U12-413Mini Keyboard Bluetooth Adapter, Touchpad, Laser Pointer, Presentation & Multimedia Controls work perfectly, but it needs a little love and config for make it work.Exo Installer script
This section has been moved to a separate page. See RPi USB Wi-Fi Adapters
USB Sound Cards
You will usually want the alsa package for sound. In the Debian image for Raspberry Pi (and possibly other distributions) USB sound cards are prevented from loading as the first sound card, which can be an annoyance if it’s the only device you have. To disable this behaviour edit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf and
Panel Size and Resolution
When it comes to gaming monitors, bigger is almost always better. If you have the room, a 27-inch screen provides plenty of real estate and offers the opportunity to go beyond Full High-Definition (FHD), which offers a maximum resolution of 1,920 by 1,080. Many of the newer 27-inch models are Wide, Quad High-Definition (WQHD) monitors with maximum resolutions of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels. The higher pixel count provides much sharper imagery than FHD, but you’ll need a reasonably powerful graphics engine to play the latest games at the higher resolution, especially if you have all the effects enabled. If desk space is an issue there are plenty of 24-inch monitors out there, but you’ll be limited to 1,920-by-1,080 resolution. If you have lots of space, and money is no object, a 30-inch, Ultra-High-Definition (UHD) monitor will deliver a stunning picture with an amazing 3,840-by-2,160 resolution, or you can go all out with a 34-inch ultra-wide monitor with or without a curved panel. Ultra-wide displays typically have a 21:aspect ratio (as opposed to the usual 16:aspect ratio) and offer a much wider field of view than a standard wide-screen monitor, but they take up a lot of room. A curved panel ultra-wide monitor has just enough of a curve to make you feel a bit closer to the action
There are several types of display technologies and each has its pluses and minuses. Twisted Nematic (TN) panels are the most affordable and are popular among gamers because they offer fast pixel responses and refresh rates, but they are prone to color shifting when viewed from an angle. Vertical Alignment (VA) panels are known for their high native contrast ratio, robust colors, and ability to display deep blacks, but they are also known to produce noticeable ghosting effects, which can hurt gaming performance. In-Plane Switching (IPS) panels provide the best all-around color quality, strong gray-scale performance, and wide viewing angles, but they can’t match the pixel response of TN panels and are subject to motion artifacts.
Pixel Response and Refresh Rate
Gaming monitors should have a fast pixel response and a high refresh rate. The most commonly used pixel response spec is gray to gray, which is measured in milliseconds and signifies the time it takes a pixel to transition from one shade of gray to another (a few companies still use the older black-to-white measurement). A low pixel response will help eliminate the smearing of moving images and provide a smoother overall picture than a higher pixel response. A gray-to-gray response of milliseconds or less is ideal, but even a millisecond gray-to-gray response is typically adequate for gaming.
A monitor’s refresh rate refers to the time (per second) it takes to redraw the entire screen and is measured in Hertz (Hz). Most LCD monitors have a 60Hz refresh rate, which means the screen is refreshed 60 times per second, but fast moving images may appear blurry at this refresh rate, or the panel may suffer from screen tearing, an artifact that occurs when the monitor displays pieces of two (or more) screen draws at the same time. Look for a monitor with a 120Hz or higher refresh rate, which not only helps reduce image blur and eliminate tearing, but is a requirement for active 3D technology.
G-Sync and FreeSync
The latest crop of gaming monitors use synchronization technology to help reduce tearing and other motion artifacts while lowering input lag (which we measure on all displays we review using the Leo Bodnar Video Signal Lag Tester). Monitors equipped with Nvidia’s G-Sync or AMD’s FreeSync modules give control of the screen’s refresh rate to the GPU (instead of the monitor) which allows the display to operate with a variable refresh rate. The result is a very smooth gaming experience with decreased input lag. However, G-Sync and FreeSync monitors require a compatible graphics card with a DisplayPort 1.output.
Video Inputs and Other Features
A gaming monitor should be equipped with a variety of video inputs, so you can stay connected to multiple PCs and gaming consoles such as the PSand Xbox One. Dual HDMI ports are ideal, since major consoles use HDMI, while some high-end graphics cards offer both DisplayPort and DVI connectivity. USB ports are also a nice feature, as they make it easy to connect to gaming controllers, mice, thumb drives, and other external peripherals. A powerful speaker system with a built-in subwoofer will enhance your gaming experience and conserve desktop space, and a stand with height, tilt, and swivel adjustments offers ergonomic comfort for those all night frag marathons.
For more on what to consider when choosing a monitor, read our buying guide, as well as our guides for choosing displays for photo editing and graphic design. And be sure to check out our favorite gaming displays, as well as our top monitor picks.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your USB Port Cards wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of USB Port Cards
- №1 — Mailiya PCI-E to USB 3.0 5-Port PCI Express Expansion Card and 15-Pin Power Connector
- №2 — Anker 4-Port USB 3.0 Ultra Slim Data Hub for Macbook
- №3 — Anker 8-in-1 USB 3.0 Portable Card Reader for SDXC