USB Type C — it’s no longer a novelty but an emerging connectivity standard for Apple products. As a newer, more powerful variation of the same USB we all know and love (well, kinda), USB-C features higher power and faster data transfer than its predecessors via a smaller connector.
While older USB Type A and B were a great gift for Mac users — few mourned the passing of ADB and SCSI — USB is often finicky. Just plugging in an old-school USB cable can prove challenging, since you must position the connector just so for it to slide smoothly into the port. That often means several tries to achieve the proper angle and orientation.
Those obstacles disappear with USB-C because, in addition to its smaller size, it is designed to be reversible — with no up or down orientation, just like a Lightning cable — and the cables can have the same type of connector on both ends.
While the Type C connectors are not backward-compatible with USB-A and USB-B, the fast USB 3.1 standard can be used across multiple generations of connectors, allowing adapters to link with older devices. USB-C can transmit simultaneous video signals and power streams for connecting and powering DisplayPort, MHL and HDMI devices. USB-C cables are bidirectional, so a device can send and receive power and transmit data simultaneously. With the USB PD (Power Delivery) standard in a USB Type C port, a device can support up to 100 watts of power, but not all USB-C ports support USB PD.
Starting in 2015, Apple introduced USB-C by outfitting the 12-inch MacBook with a lone USB-C port, following up with USB-C connectivity via Thunderbolt 3 ports for the 13- and 15-inch 2016 MacBook Pros. USB-C is universal as opposed to an Apple proprietary standard, and is destined to appear on additional Apple and other devices over time. Observers predict that eventually USB-C may end up replacing Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and other older connection types.
Meanwhile, a huge slate of accessories are compatible with the new connector, adding additional power and speed to your computing experience. We chose the best USB-C accessories in several popular categories: hubs/docks, battery packs, cables/adapters, chargers and hard drives.
What to look for in USB-C accessories
USB-C hubs and USB-C docks
USB-C hubs are designed for boosting performance, offering faster data transfer speeds, and powering multiple external displays. Many creative professionals, content creators, gamers, and 4K workspaces that use them benefit from a smoother workflow. To choose the right hub, determine how many and what kinds of ports you need, the amount of heft you can tolerate, and how well it blends in with your other devices. Some hubs include camera card slots and Gigabit Ethernet as well as older connectors for mice and keyboards. You’ll want something fairly streamlined if you intend to take your hub on the road. Also consider whether your hub connects directly to your computer or is attached via a cable.
USB-C battery packs
The best USB-C battery packs use Type C ports for both input and output and have at least one USB-C port and one USB-A port. In addition to ease of use, compact design, and simple buttons and controls, laptop battery packs ideally should output 45 watts, enough to quickly charge a 13-inch laptop. More watts means your device charges faster and the power bank will be compatible with a wider range of devices. Watch for transmission speed as well as battery capacity and the tradeoffs of size and bulk.
USB-C cables and USB-C adapters
Cables span the range from specializing in fast data transfer to charging a laptop quickly, but with slower data transfer. Cables can be double-braided or have reinforced necks for durability, and come in an assortment of lengths and charging speeds. USB-C marks the first time adapters are required with some USB connections. The USB Implementers Forum, the group responsible for developing USB standards, says that USB Type C is designed to be “future-proof.”
Most electronic devices from laptops to smartphones include a charger in the package. But if you lose it, or just want a second one on hand for emergencies or traveling, there are plenty of third-party chargers out there. Choose your charger carefully, including the cables that may or may not ship with them. A flawed charger pushing 100 watts through the pipeline can damage your equipment, and even if the charger is safe, inferior quality cords used with them can also damage your devices.
USB-C external hard drives
You probably own more than one of these supplemental storage units, perhaps for your Time Machine backup, or just for locally storing selected files, photos, documents, music, and movies. Buying a USB-C hard drive is much the same as buying any other kind of hard drive. Consider whether to buy a hard disk drive or an SSD, storage capacity, transfer speed, good looks, and price.
Best USB-C hub/dock
Kingston Nucleum USB-C Hub
A highly rated Amazon pick, the Kingston Nucleum USB-C Hub lets you leave the dongles behind by connecting up to seven devices at once. It has two USB Type A 3.1 ports, two Type C ports, including one for power, an HDMI output for up to 4K resolution, an SD card slot, microSD card slot, and a power passthrough port. That’s great for transferring data, powering monitors and using your favorite keyboard and mouse accessories. Use it to connect a flash drive or power up your iPhone. You can shoot, ingest, and edit your video footage using the hub’s SD and microSD slots. Compact size combined with complementary Apple design makes it a natural for toting around.
Buy from: Amazon — $49.99
Best USB-C battery pack
Dodocool 20100mAh 45-watt PD Portable Charger
Looking for some charging muscle? The Dodocool delivers with USB-C input/output and dual USB output for your MacBook. With its Power Delivery USB-C Port, you can charge a USB-C device or MacBook at the optimal charging speed, up to 45 watts. With a PD-enabled USB-C charger, you can fully recharge this product in about three hours. The company’s smart tech detects devices for the optimal current, allowing you to charge up to 2 USB-A powered devices and 1 USB-C device simultaneously. It also offers protection from overheating, short-circuiting, over current, over charging, and over discharging. Four LED indicators let you know the exact battery level at a glance.
Buy from: Amazon — $64.99
Best USB-C charger
Anker Premium 60-watt 5-Port Desktop Charger
With Amazon’s choice Anker Premium you can charge your USB-C device with the Power Delivery port at 30-watt maximum speed, while at the same time four other intelligent ports recognize devices from iPhones to MacBooks to boost charging speeds up to 2.4A per port, all from a single outlet. Safety features include surge protection and temperature control. Although it’s utilitarian, it’s also beautiful, with a scratch-resistant, anti-smudge body.
Best USB-C hard drive
LaCie Porsche USB-C Mobile Hard Drive
Another Amazon fave, The LaCie Porsche mobile hard drive offers the best combination for the union of style and tech. With its minimalist, all-aluminum enclosure, it is lightweight but feels sturdy in the hand. It features USB-C connectivity for compatible Macs with USB 3.0 ports and speeds of up to 5 GB/S1, so you can drag and drop files and achieve speedy backups. Rounded corners, high-polish beveled edges, and a sandblast finish combine to form the distinctly Porsche Design style. When you buy the drive, you get a two-month complimentary membership to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan, available until January 31, 2020.
Buy from: Amazon — $74.94
Best USB-C cable
RAVPower Fast Charging USB C To C Charging and Sync Cable
With the RAVPower USB C To C Charging and Sync Cable, feel free to replace your existing MacBook cable for transferring data between USB-C devices and your laptop. Stability, multi-layer shielding, and TPE coating offer greater resistance to wear and tear and cat teeth, so it frays less and lasts longer. Sometimes connectors are a weak link, but not here. The connectors feature durable, molded strain relief to stand up to frequent unplugging. At 6.6 feet in length, the cable is long enough to connect devices wherever you want and delivers 60 watts when charging a Mac. The aluminum case, with anodic oxidation tech, offers heat dispersion, generates less heat, and cools off quickly. What more could you want? Two of them — which is great because the cables are sold as a two-pack.
Buy from: Amazon — $16.99
Other USB-C Apple accessories
If our top picks somehow don’t win you over, there are plenty more highly rated USB-C accessories to fit your exact specifications. We picked some of the highest-rated items in their categories, but if you have something you like that we didn’t mention, don’t be shy.
Sinstar 8 in 1 Aluminum Multi Port Adapter
If you’re looking for a one-port wonder for your 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro, the slim, compact Sinstar 8-in-1 Multi Port Adapter may be a plan. With Sinstar, you can expand Your Type C port with three USB 3.0 ports, SD and Micro SD card slots, Ethernet, charging port, and 4K HDMI video output. It provides fast data transmission up to 5 Gbps.
Buy from: Amazon — $65.99
HyperDrive USB Type-C Hub
With an aluminum enclosure that seamlessly and aesthetically blends with Apple notebooks, this slim little device packs plenty of plug-and-play punch. Through a single USB-C port, the HyperDrive adds 2 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB Type C port with power delivery, and 1 HDMI port. Use the 4K HDMI port with your 2016 MacBook Pro and 12-inch MacBook to attach a monitor or TV to your device.
Buy from: Amazon — $89.99
Aukey USB-C Hub
It’s got — count ‘em — four USB 3 data ports for your connection convenience to bridge the gap between USB-A and USB-C and for connecting older devices to your USB-C Mac. The ultra-thin and light Aukey hub boasts better circuitry with comprehensive EMI (electromagnetic interference) and ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection and thus more reliable performance than some of its competitors.
Buy from: Amazon — $33.99
AmazonBasics USB 3.1 Type-C to 4 Port USB Hub
It may be no frills, but for the AmazonBasics USB 3.1 hub, the mission of helping transform your Mac’s Type C port into four separate USB Type A 3.1 ports for connecting phones, keyboards and other peripherals gets accomplished. It features fast USB data-transfer speed (up to 5 Gbps) and supports USB 3.1 with backward compatibility to USB 2.0.
Buy from: Amazon — $15.99
RayCue USB-C Hub to 4K HDMI Adapter
Slender, attractive, and portable, with a high-grade aluminum alloy shell, the Amazon five-star rated RayCue USB-C hub comes packed with four ports to serve your 13-inch MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac 2015 models and later. It supports data transmission and HDMI output to maximum resolution of 4K at 30Hz.
Vava USB-C Hub
Need a Gigabit Ethernet Port, a 100-watt PD charging port, 4K HDMI, SD/TF Card Reader, USB 3.0 port for the MacBook — you know, the works? Check out Vava, the 8-in-one USB hub. Vava provides power and clarity for Ultra HD and 4K UHD at 30Hz or 2k at 60Hz. The memory card reader works with SD, SDHC, and SDXC for high-resolution photo and video transfer.
Buy from: Amazon — $59.99
Totu USB-C Hub
Totu gives you whole package: Ethernet port, 4K USB-C to HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, SD/TF card reader, and USB-C power delivery for MacBook Pro. Connect to your smartphone, tablet, hard drive or other USB peripheral via the USB 3.0 ports and transfer data between your computer and device. The USB 2.0 port is great for mouse, keyboard and similar devices. Built-in SD and TF slots provide easy access to files from universal SD and Micro SD memory card and supports reading two cards simultaneously. It also supports PD charging at 87 watts. Oh, and it’s cute too, with a lightweight, unibody aluminum alloy construction, convenient for travel.
Buy from: Amazon — $59.99
If you’re looking for a USB-C hub for your MacBook Pro 2016, 2017 or 2018, look no further than the Anker 4-in-1 for full compatibility with USB-C and USB 3.0 devices and cables with transfer speeds up to 5 Gbps. You get stable, wired access to the web at up to 1 Gbps through the Ethernet port. Weighing just over 2 ounces and measuring 0.8 inches, the hub is your go-to for on-the-go use. Its premium aluminum exterior and compact design ensure this Anker hub looks great with your Apple laptop.
Buy from: Amazon — $29.99
USB-C battery packs
If you’re planning to navigate some tough environments, consider the rugged ZeroLemon ToughJuice, a battery pack compatible with the MacBook 2015 and 2016 that can charge an iPhone X up to 11 times. It has a 30000mAh 7A output portable charger with five ports, letting you conveniently charge multiple devices with a single pack. It’s great for outdoors and on the go.
Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL
The Amazon favorite, Mophie Powerstation USB-C XXL, wrapped in beautiful and durable fabric, is a high-capacity universal battery with enough power to charge a USB-C laptop and other assorted USB devices. The 19,500mAh rechargeable battery provides USB-C laptops with up to 14 hours of extra battery life. Plug your cable into the Powerstation battery’s USB-C PD input/output port, which features 30-watt fast-charging. A high-output USB-A port lets you charge a second device simultaneously.
Buy from: Amazon — $149.95
Omnicharge Omni 20 USB-C
The Omnicharge is a 20,100 mAh battery dual USB-C power bank that can output up to 60 watts for charging laptops and phones. It lets you connect several USB-A and USB-C devices to one USB-C port for file transfer and peripherals connection to a USB-C port on your laptop. An OLED display, with an interactive menu, lets you monitor battery level, temperature, input/output power and remaining time. It even meets FAA standards for airline travel.
Buy from: Amazon — $199.00
Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-C
The Anker PowerCore 20100 uses USB-C input and output to deliver a high-power connection for recharging 2015 and 2016 Mac laptops. This battery also provides two USB-A ports for tablets, headphones, and other gadgets. The battery’s smart-charging and current-stabilizing technologies offer a fast charging. With a capacity of 20100mAh, PowerCore+ can charge a typical iPhone about seven times without needing its own recharge. PowerCore+ can be fully recharged in eight hours by a 2.4A charger and the included USB-to-USB-C cable.
Buy from: Amazon — $69.99
Aukey USB-C Charger
You can use the compact dual-port Aukey USB-C charger with both Power Delivery and standard USB to charge all your USB-C and USB-powered gear at home, the office, or on-the-go. The USB-C port provides up to 46-watt Power Delivery for swift charging performance. A 10.5-watt USB port powers all 5-volt USB devices with output up to 2.1 amps. It’s got a convenient foldable plug for portability. The charger’s built-in safeguards protect devices from excessive current, overheating, and overcharging.
Buy from: Amazon — $49.99
Jackery Supercharge 26800 PD
You’re not sitting still and neither is your laptop — so your charger can’t be far behind. With the Jackey SuperCharge 26800, an Amazon favorite choice product, traveling is a cinch. It powers USB-C laptops like the MacBook with 45-watt USB PD output and takes just 30 minutes to charge an iPhone X about 50 percent. The included 45-watt wall charger fully recharges the unit in three hours. It’s ideal for business travel, meetings, studying at the coffee shop, and outdoor adventures. Bonus: It also meets TSA standards for air travel.
Buy from: Amazon — $119.99
Apple 87-watt USB-C Power Adapter
It’s Apple’s own USB-C power adapter, so you know it works with your Mac to offer fast charging on the go. Just be sure to buy the right one. The adapter comes in 87-watt USB-C for the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. The 61-watt USB-C Power Adapter works with any USB-C–enabled device and Apple recommends it for the 13-inch MacBook Pro. The Apple 30-watt USB-C model pairs with the 12-inch MacBook as well as the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, X, XS, XS Max, XR and some iPad Pros. USB-C cables are sold separately.
Buy from: Apple
USB-C hard drives
G-Technology 1TB G-Drive Mobile USB-C Portable Hard Drive
G-Technology offers a low-key, stylish aluminum hard drive for USB-C-connected Macs that’s USB 3.0- and Thunderbolt 3-compatible. The plug-and-play USB-C port supports transfer speeds up to 140MB/s to back up videos, photos, music and documents, anywhere.
Buy from: Amazon — $71.00
CalDigit Tuff USB-C 2TB HDD
With its Type C port, the bus-powered CalDigit Tuff connects to a Thunderbolt 3 computer with only one cable. The Type C interface supports speeds of about 10Gb/s. It’s also backward-compatible with USB 3.0 and 2.0. The unit is water-, dust- and shock-resistant, and the package includes the cable.
Buy from: Amazon — $169.98
Samsung T5 Portable SSD
With the Samsung T5 SSD, a shock-resistant metal design fits in the palm of your hand, you get read-write speeds of up to 540 MB/s in a less-that-2 oz. package. The T5 comes in two aluminum finishes — blue for 250 GB and 500 GB models, and deep black for 1 TB and 2 TB models. It includes USB Type C to C and USB Type C to A cables.
Buy from: Amazon — $99.78
USB-C cables and USB-C adapters
Apple USB-C Charge Cable
Sporting USB-C connectors on both ends, you can use Apple’s USB-C Charge Cable for charging, syncing, and transferring data between USB-C devices. Pair the cable with a USB-C power adapter (sold separately) to charge your devices from a wall outlet and leverage its fast-charging. Apple recommends the following pairings: 12-inch MacBook with USB-C port with the 30-watt USB-C Power Adapter; 13-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with the 61-watt USB-C Power Adapter; and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports with the 87-watt USB-C Power Adapter.
Anker Powerline USB-C to USB-C 2.0 Cable
This six-foot cable supports USB Power Delivery, offering enough output to power laptops and other devices that were previously impossible to charge over USB, incuding your MacBook. It’s built with aramid fiber reinforcement for durability.
Buy from: Amazon — $9.99
j5create USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-C Coaxial Cable
The J5 Create USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-C Coaxial Cable features a reversible Type C connector on both ends. It supports USB 3.1 speeds up to 10 Gbps and power output of 100 W, 5A for fast charging. Coaxial cables ensure maximum signal performance. Use this cable to connect Type C compatible devices to USB Type C tablets, phones, computers, or wall chargers.
Buy from: Amazon — $24.99
Anker Powerline+ USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable
Designed for use with a MacBook, this three-foot cable offers fast sync and charge for phones and tablets. A double-braided nylon exterior, tough aramid fiber core, and laser-welded connectors support a transfer rate of 5 Gbps.
Buy from: Amazon — $11.99
Belkin USB-A to USB-C Charge Cable
Belkin’s 3-foot A to C charge cable lets you connect USB-C devices like MacBooks with standard USB-A devices like hard drives, mice, keyboards and other peripherals with a 10Gbps data-transfer rate and 3-amp charging output.
Buy from: Amazon — $7.99
YouLin USB-C Cable
With its durable nylon braided jacket, the YouLin USB-C fast-charger cable supports safe high-speed charging (5V/3A) and 5 Gbps data transfer without tangling. The solid wire core sits in a premium aluminum housing for safe and reliable charging up to 2.4A. It’s compatible with the 12-inch MacBook (2015) and the MacBook Pro (2016).
Wgge Metal USB-C 3.1 Type-C to USB-C 3.1 Type-C Cable
Connect your MacBook Pro with the Wgge nylon braided cable. This flexible 10-foot Amazon fave supports data transmission, audio, and power. It’s compatible with USB 2.0, 3.0 and USB PD. It also supports fast charging beyond the existing USB PD USB power supply.
Aukey USB-C Adapter
This package gives you two USB-C-to-USB 3.0 adapters for your MacBook Pro 2016 0r 2017. It connects USB-A devices like flash drives, keyboards, mice and hubs to USB-C devices, enabling up to 5Gbps data transfer of videos, photos, music and files between your USB-C device and a USB-A peripheral. No need for a computer at all.
Buy from: Amazon — $6.49
SanDisk Ultra 32GB Dual Drive USB Type-C
If you’re transferring data between USB Type A and USB Type C devices either to free up space on your smartphone or move content between USB-C devices, check out SanDisk’s two-sided Ultra Dual flash drive. The drive uses a slider to switch between a USB 3.0 Type-A connector on one side and a USB Type-C connector on the other. It’s available in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB capacities.
Buy from: Amazon — $12.98