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Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to try out a number of Satechi’s USB hubs in my effort to combat my growing need to wire in more stuff to my Mac’s 4 USB ports. While wireless is often more convenient and downright necessary on laptops to have a good experience, I still enjoy the speed and reliability of a wired connection on my desktop setup. To have a completely ergonomic experience and avoid plugging and unplugging things, a USB hub of some sort is definitely needed. The challenge to buying the right hub for your needs is deciphering how each hub differs; it’s not just limited to the number of ports available…

Like most people, I don’t keep anything wired in to my MacBook Air. Even my backups are wireless with Time Machine over WiFi. My desktop, however, is a Mac mini with an external display. Right off the bat, the webcam and external microphone require USB ports (you can see where an iMac is advantageous here). Luckily my display includes two USB ports and wires out to one on the Mac mini, so now we’re down to one for mic and cam, but now we’re down to three on the Mac mini.

I also keep a Super Drive connected for convenience so I don’t have to dig it out of a drawer once a year when I need it (and also because it was $79 and I’m stubborn so it helps me justify the expense). Two ports left.

My printer is wireless, but it’s not AirPrint compatible (I use Printopia to get around this) and the scanner functionality requires a connection to work. One port left.

I also frequently connect my iPhone and iPad to my Mac over the Lightning cable (my iPad less frequently). I don’t do this to sync with iTunes or add content to my iOS device; rather, I connect to my iPhone and iPad to purge the photos and videos the Camera Roll on either device.

I also have a 2 TB USB 3 external hard drive (specifically, this big ol’ $80 box) for Time Machine backups wired to my desktop in case my Mac’s hard drive goes back or I lose a file unintentionally.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way…

4 port

satechi 4 port usb hub

The Satechi Premium 4 Port Aluminum USB Hub (Amazon Prime $19.99, Amazon $29.99 for 3.0) is probably the most affordable and portable of the three USB hubs I’ve used.

It doesn’t need a power adapter and the wire to connect to your computer is built-in so you don’t have to remember two pieces of hardware when you travel. The hardware matches the aluminum finish found on Apple computers, too, so it’s not an ugly accessory that you want to hide.

It’s really great for throwing in a backpack and having while you travel with a laptop, and it looks the best out of all the USB hubs. Where it falls short is when a device requires more power to function; for that, you need a less attractive setup, but the 7 port USB hub does a good job to make it presentable…

7 port

satechi 7 port powered usb hub

Just see for yourself. The Satechi 7 Port USB 3.0 Premium Aluminum Hub (Amazon Prime $54.99, also in black) also matches Apple’s hardware with its aluminum design and its trim comes in both black or white.

The extra expense here affords you a powered connection that is required by devices to function. For me this includes my external hard drive for Time Machine backups (which works great even while connected to the hub) and the Super Drive (if I wanted it connected to the hub). It also supports Apple’s USB-to-Ethernet converter and lots of other accessories that need power to function.

I think the 7 port hub is probably the best version for most people looking for a capable and attractive USB for a permanent desk arrangement.

It does have a few drawbacks for me though.

Conceptually, it’s appealing to have a hub that looks attractive like the 4 and 7 port hubs do, but when you have a lot of wires connected, it mostly looks like a bunch of different wires going in various directions so the USB hub is typically something I want to place out of site.

The 7 port hub also tends to get a bit front heavy as the balance gets less than even with several wires pulling it forward. This isn’t frequent but happens enough to notice; sticking a minimal amount of adhesive beneath it resolves the issue.

Lastly, USB cable from the hub to your computer connects on one side while the power adapter connects on the other; it would be a lot more elegant to have both on one side so you could have half of it out of sight.

Nevertheless, the 7 port hub is good looking and probably the right choice for most desktop setups… unless you want to charge an iPad.

10 port

satechi 10 port powered usb hub with ipad support

That’s where the big guy comes in. The Satechi 10-Port USB 3.0 Hub (9 Port USB 3.0 + 1 iPad Charging Port) (Amazon $59.99+free shipping) is the least attractive and most industrial looking of the three, but for me it’s also the most functional and I keep it out of site to hide the wires anyway.

It features nine USB 3.0 ports on top with three sets each with its own switch to power it off and on and a blue light behind it to signal that it’s powered on.

It also features a dedicated USB 3.0 port on its side with its own switch for charging the iPad. While the previous two USB hubs allow you to sync and import photos and videos from the iPad, you need this hub to have iPad charging functionality.

While it’s design doesn’t match Apple’s aluminum look (I bet it does look good next to a 2013 Mac Pro, but I wouldn’t know!), it is pretty sleek and minimal aside from the blue lights. I keep mine hidden behind my display and speakers and the top-facing USB ports are easily accessible.

Having 10 ports is somewhat excessive even for my desk, but it has especially came in handy when friends and family visit and need somewhere to plug and charge the smartphone.

Both this model and the 7 port model require external USB cables to connect to your computer and the power adapter to have full functionality so they’re not exactly portable solutions; for me, at least, the need for something as particular and powerful as the 7 and 10 port USB hubs stays at my desk and doesn’t travel with me.

Availability

If you’re frustrated with limited USB ports or just in the market for a new USB hub, Satechi’s offerings are top-notch in quality. While I prefer to simpler designed and more robust 10 port hub, the 4 port is very attractive and portable and the 7 port equally handsome and probably preferred by most people. You can find links and prices for each USB hub above or see all of Satechi’s plethora of computer accessories here.

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22 Responses to “Review: Satechi’s 4, 7, & 10 port USB hubs compared”

  1. weakguy says:

    I’m actually considering the Amazon Basic one. The reviews on Amazon are pretty good and the price is fair. Just wanna know if you have tried them because they actually don’t look half bad. Good reviews btw.

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    • I got one of these and I think it’s the best one out there for my money. I bought several for the office and we’ve had no problem with them (expect that they’re often out of stock.)

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  2. mpias3785 says:

    I’ve had seriously bad luck with USB 3.0 hubs, very surprising since I’ve been using USB hubs since USB was first introduced and never had a single problem.

    My first USB 3.0 hub wouldn’t work with my iPhone. The second was a small plastic 4 port Satechi that worked fine, but I quickly outgrew it. Three other multi-port hubs failed due to the Micro USB 3.0 socket having a tendency to pull up off the circuit board. The third was the Satechi 10 port hub, which I had high hopes for due to the fact that my only functioning 3.0 hub was the 4 port Satechi.

    No such luck. It lasted about two weeks before my external drives started being improperly ejected. Looking in the Micro USB socket showed the socket was so far off the circuit board that the plug could barely touch any part of it.

    I muttered a few choice words, got on Amazon and ordered the sturdy looking 7 port hub after leaving a bad review of the 10 port.

    The 7 port hub is very well designed and uses a standard USB 3.0 socket, not that bizarrely engineered third-rate micro socket. It’s been working flawlessly for months and I highly recommend it.

    Incidentally, the folks at Satechi saw my review of the 10 port hub, contacted me and sent me a new one. It’s still in the box because the 7 port hub is working so well, but kudos to them for caring about their customers!

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  3. I would be keen to see a comparison test of USB 3.0 hub speeds.

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  4. The mid-range 7 port hub looks awful to me. According to the author the only plus to counter out the many minuses of it’s operation (and mentioned too many times) is how “good looking” it is, but I’m just not seeing it. It has design issues, it’s functionality is problematic and it’s kind of cheap looking IMO.

    I also think that unless you have a specific, good reason for doing so (and “cheap” doesn’t count as a good reason), a person would have to be crazy to pick a Mac mini over an iMac of any description.

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    • Zac Hall says:

      I’ll comment specifically on your iMac versus Mac mini line… for me, I picked up an external display, mouse, and keyboard to connect to my MacBook Air for docking at my desk, then grew tired of resizing windows and connecting and disconnecting after a few weeks. Picked up the $799 Mac mini a few months after the last refresh and now I have an always-on Mac… very satisfied

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    • One word: upgradeability (ease of it anyway). The Mac Mini can do a tool-less RAM upgrade, and a hard drive swap isn’t too hard. It also supports two drives easily. Only the big iMac has user upgradeable RAM, and for both the hard drive is behind the display so the upgrade it far more difficult to perform.

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  5. dcj001 says:

    Satechi’s USB hubs are out of sight.

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  6. Any thoughts on these for use with Apple Configurator? I’m looking to be able to sync around 10 ipads at a time.

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  7. As I understand it some (or is it all) USB hubs default to the speed of the slowest comnnection so if you connect a USB2 printer then your USB3 hard disk also operates at USB2 . Is this right and if so does the 10 port hub with three separate batches of connections get round this?
    If the answer is Yes to both that would be a major reason to go for it however many connections one would actually use.

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    • Satechi confirm: ‘Unfortunately, once a USB 2.0 device is connected to the hub, the whole unit will have USB 2.0 data speeds.’
      As most people will have a mix of devices (eg USB2 printer & USB3 HDD) this rather devalues the point of a 10 port & probably a 7 port hun UNLESS you only have a single USB3 socket or 2 & need to use a superdrive, or see below about multiple HDDs.
      In real world you would get better performance from two 4-port USB hubs – one of which was USB3 & powered.
      Note that Satechi also say that the 10 port hub with three chips will only give good performance with three HDDs (in the sockets closest to the power input) – it is optimistic (to say the least) to hang multiple HDDs off a 4-port hub with a single chip. Again in that case the 10-port hub may be good value IF you need to hang 3 USB3 HDDs off it.
      I note that few reviews tests hub speeds using more than one HDD.

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  8. eriseris says:

    “Out of sight”, not “Out of site”.

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  9. rgbfoundry says:

    I’d be interested in a hub that could drive at least 4 USB bus powered hard drives. I bought a Belkin 7 port (with the two vertical ports on top) thinking I could use it to connect several drives to an Airport base station. No such luck. Three bus powered drive prevents the entire hub from working. You can argue “that’s obvious” by looking at the volts/watts/amps, but it should be said that having 7-10 USB ports in a single hub has limited potential.

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    • pecospeet says:

      I had a similar problem – including twice having apparently knowledgeable store techies advise me that “this” hub will work, but alas, they were proven to be wrong. (If you don’t know the actual answer, just admit it it and then if you want, tell me what you think the answer is, but don’t lie). After much searching, I found a line by Star Tech (I picked my 4-port model up at Staples for about $125). I’m not sure if it can handle usb drives on all 4 ports though, but it does handle 3 drives. I would test it for you, but I don’t have a 4th drive to try. Also, mine is plugged into my Air Port Extreme and the specs for that say it will only handle three drives – but does not say that you need a special order powered hub!

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  10. zoidbert says:

    Does anyone make a hub with enough power to charge an iPad as well as sync it? (I’ve also run into problems with Apple’s external DVD drive with hubs; i.e., the “not enough power” issue.) Seems odd that no one’s stepped up to bat with a “super powered” USB hub yet.

    FWIW, the guys at one hub maker basically told me no hub *can* provide enough power to charge an iPad; that it wasn’t possible.

    My Anker hub does okay with my iPad mini; it will charge but will give you the “not enough power” warning. It will not power the Apple DVD drive, but it will power pretty much any other bus-powered device I attach to it (including other manufacturers’ bus-powered DVD/BD drives).

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    • mpias3785 says:

      The 10 port hub has a port dedicated to charging iPads, but note the problem I pointed out above with the micro connector. Since the port only charges and does not sync, I’ve been just as happy with the sturdier 7 port hub and a separate charging adapter.

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      • zoidbert says:

        Understood, and I’ve seen many hubs with charging ports — I’m at least happy for that, but I still would like to see the hub-makers up the game so devices can both charge and sync when plugged in. Again, to be fair, my only issue is with the Apple-made DVD drive (which I rarely use) and the iPad mini (which will charge, but tell you it’s not onscreen).

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  11. Charles says:

    So you can run an apple superdrive directly from this hub?? Really???

    I have yet to find a USB hub which can do this. I always get the error message that the device needs more power…

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  12. enzoduca says:

    Be nice if it could be advised where this can be bought worldwide (ie down under) instead of just Amazon in the US?

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  13. In the UK the ORICO H10CI-U3-BK USB 3.0 10 Port Hub (available from Amazon for £37.99) seems almost identical to to the Satechi right down to the triple chipset.

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