Plugable 5-in-1 hub review: Buy it for the Ethernet port alone

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
Plugable has launched the USB-C 5-in-1 hub hub that is both affordable and small in size -- but it's not much of an upgrade to a MacBook other than the Ethernet port.

Plugable's newest 5-in-1 hub
Plugable's newest 5-in-1 hub


The company's latest product is the 5-in-1 USB-C hub that expands a MacBook's capabilities with a few extra ports. It sits perfectly aligned with the host Mac, and a cutout allows access to the MagSafe charging port.

The hub is created explicitly for the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. It has a Gigabit Ethernet port, an audio jack, two USB 3.0 ports, and a fully functional USB4 port.

It can link an external display with a capacity of up to 6K at 60Hz, transferring data at a rate of up to 40Gbps, and allowing the charging of either the Mac at up to 100W or other devices such as phones or tablets up to 15W. Users can connect their MacBook to any USB-C, Thunderbolt, or USB4 device using the USB-C port.




The 3.5mm audio jack is a combination port with an analog audio input and output in a single port. A user can plug in a microphone, headphones, or a headset with a microphone and headphones into the combo port.

The hub's ports

As you can see, the ports on Plugable's hub are limited and don't offer much extra functionality. It requires two USB-C ports to plug into the MacBook.

Two connectors make sense because it adds stability and less wiggling, but that means it replaces two USB-C ports with one USB-C and two USB-A ports. Since the MacBook has three USB-C ports, we're now down to two -- one on each side.

That's great for people with cables and other accessories with USB-A connectors, but people who primarily have USB-C gadgets will feel left out.

The port that some people may find helpful is the Ethernet port, which modern MacBooks lack. However, since Plugable's hub isn't expensive, you could buy it purely as an Ethernet adapter and think of the other ports as a bonus.




Otherwise, the hub has the same features that our 2023 MacBook Pro does, with audio, Thunderbolt 4 speeds, and handling an external display at up to 6K at 60Hz over Thunderbolt. The hub would be even more limited if it weren't for the cutout with room for the MagSafe cable.

Plugable 5-in-1 hub - Pros


  • Gigabit Ethernet port

  • Cutout for MagSafe cable

  • Audio jack that can handle headphones and microphones

Plugable 5-in-1 hub - Cons


  • Only one USB-C port

  • The USB-A ports that replace USB-C aren't even high-speed

Rating: 3 out of 5

Plugable 5-in-1 hub -- Pricing & Availability

The 5-in-1 Hub from Plugable is available through Amazon for $32.95

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    ciacia Posts: 251member
    For this price it should have a 2.5Gbe ethernet jack instead of just gigabit.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 8
    SGilbertSGilbert Posts: 7member
    For the price, it is great! Check around for docks, $32.95 is a steal!  And, yes, I have one & it works very well.
    appleinsideruserwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    cia said:
    For this price it should have a 2.5Gbe ethernet jack instead of just gigabit.
    $32? That is hardly expensive for any kind of tech like this. For example, If I had a dollar for every word I wrote, $32 would last me long enough to say...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    ciacia Posts: 251member
    cia said:
    For this price it should have a 2.5Gbe ethernet jack instead of just gigabit.
    $32? That is hardly expensive for any kind of tech like this. For example, If I had a dollar for every word I wrote, $32 would last me long enough to say...
    You can get 2.5Gbe ethernet dongles for $19, and normal gigabit ones for under $10.  Since all this thing has is a basic USB hub and ethernet port, for $32 it should include a 2.5Gbe port at the minimum, otherwise it's a waste of money.
    appleinsideruserBiC
  • Reply 5 of 8
    Some/most of the more expensive docks from Plugable have firmware/software to increase the number of displays on a base M1 machine.  This is a hub, so I suspect it does not come with similar software.  If it does provide similar functionality, it would be a steal.  Have no need for another dock, so will not investigate further.  You are basically getting a device that connects directly to the laptop without a cable, gives you Ethernet, two lower speed USB in exchange for a lost USB-C port.  Attachment of the hub blocks most of the ports on the laptop that it replaces.  

    Have not seen any docks that attach wirelessly yet.  May be a market for that with some future increase in bluetooth speeds, or an inventive transmitter that plugs in as a dongle to usb-c.  Would reduce the number of cables attached to laptop to one (power), plus a short dongle terminating in a transmitter.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 8
    anomeanome Posts: 1,533member
    5-in-1? It looks like 5-in-2 to me. That's how they've been labelling the docks that use two USBc connectors to plug into the host.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 8
    chutzpahchutzpah Posts: 392member
    hub hub hub
    BiC
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