Should you buy a powered or unpowered USB c hub?

When buying a USB C hub for MacBook Air online, there are a lot of options to choose from and this can be confusing. Some brands claim to be the best and a few do deliver on this promise. It is up to you to do your research and determine the right USB hub to purchase.

One of the most important choices you will have to make is to choose between a powered and an unpowered USB hub. If you make the wrong choice at this point, you will end up with a hub that is not appropriate for your task.

Before you decide whether to choose a powered or unpowered hub, it is important to understand the difference between the two. As the name suggests, the difference is in how the hubs draw power. A powered USB hub comes with its own AC adapter and you have to plug it separately into the mains. On the other hand, unpowered USB hubs plug into the USB port of the computer and draw power from your computer. Knowing this difference is very important when it comes to choosing the most suitable hub for your device and needs.

When to choose a powered USB hub

We cannot say that a powered USB hub is better than an unpowered hub or vice versa. The suitability of each hub depends on your needs and how you want to use the USB C hub. You would use a powered hub if you need to run devices that use high voltages of power such as printers, external hard drives, and scanners. A powered hub would also be ideal if you want to use several devices at once. It is important to understand that electrical devices vary in the amount of electricity they need to charge or run. Because a powered USB hub uses the mains’ power, it can give all the devices connected to it enough energy. So, not only can it support more devices than an unpowered USB hub, but it can also support your devices at full power without a drop in performance of the connected device.

When to choose an unpowered USB hub

One thing you need to know about unpowered hubs is that they draw power from the USB port of the computer they are plugged into. As your computer USB ports produce an electric current in small amounts, they are best used for powering devices that use low voltage such as smartphone chargers, keyboards and mice, game controllers, e-readers, small speakers, and flash drives.

Using an unpowered USB hub with high voltage devices means that you will be drawing power from your computer, and this means that your computer will likely underperform. If the devices you are plugging into your PC have their own power adapters, then using an unpowered hub should do fine.

While buying a powered USB C hub for MacBook Air, it gives you a solution that generates its own power and can power several devices at once, it is usually more expensive than an unpowered hub and it requires access to the mains. On the other hand, unpowered hubs are compact and portable, cheaper, and don’t need a power outlet – but they cannot power high voltage accessories and struggle to power several devices simultaneously.  Choose based on your needs.

Written by Guest Contributor Andrew Skade