USB 3.0 hubs are expensive and generally hard to come by. USB 3.0 is still in its infancy, though the significantly faster data transfer port is in every new computer you can buy today. At 5GB/s, it’s over ten times as fast as USB 2.0 and still supports the older generation USB input. However, with laptops getting smaller and thinner, and with the high price of USB 3.0 ports for your average computer, there’s a severe lack of available ports.
The Satechi 7 Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminum Hub is an inexpensive solution to the ‘I can’t connect enough devices to my computer’ problem. As the name bluntly states, it connects seven devices through a single cable to your computer; in my testing it worked perfectly well (albeit the first test unit failed and Satechi sent a replacement, and stated that any customers who might encounter a similar issue would receive a replacement).
With seven additional USB ports, the question isn’t whether you can connect everything you need to your computer. The question is if what you’re connecting via the hub requires more data than USB 3.0 can handle. Combined with my iMac (which sports two Thunderbolt ports and four USB 3.0 ports), there’s roughly 60GB/s of input/output available to the computer (20 for each Thunderbolt port [theoretical], and 5 for each USB 3.0 port). We’ll take a look later this week at a Thunderbolt solution. However, with seven additional ports, the iMac ends up with 10 available USB 3.0 connectors, three of which are full-power and full-speed.
At first, as an app developer, I used the hub for connecting iOS devices for testing purposes. It worked flawlessly; all iPhones (and all smartphones) connect via USB 2.0, so the data transfer rates never go overboard. It’ll even charge them, though very slowly (larger devices like tablets won’t charge).
I have two issues with the hub. First, it requires power and the USB connector to be plugged in, which is pretty messy. There is no cable management, so all cables in and out of the hub just kind of hang around. If you’re a clean freak or just can’t stand wires all over the place, most hubs are going to be a nuisance, and this Satechi is no different.
The second is that the hub is very lightweight, less than a pound. That means plugging or unplugging anything requires holding the hub down and putting some muscle into it. It also means that if any connected device pulls, the hub will too.
There’s a third but obvious side effect of using a hub like this, which is if you expect USB 3.0 speeds with multiple devices plugged in, all passing data simultaneously, then you are expecting a miracle. The total possible transfer rate is a generous 5GB/s. But if you want to have 1GB/s per device for seven devices, it just won’t happen no matter what hub you get.
The Satechi 7 Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminum Hub is a high-performance and good-looking hub. It comes in two trims, white and black, and currently sells for $55. With a little extra help users can make it more stable, though it will take much more work to have a user-friendly cable management system. For a quick hub at a very reasonable price, this is a great choice.
Bottom Line: A simple 7-port USB 3.0 hub that provides everything you need for a good price.