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USB hubs with a USB-C connector have long been a topic for people who own a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air or an iPad Pro. The manufacturer Inateck sent me one of their latest USB-C hubs to review and check out.
If you look for Inateck USB-C hubs on Amazon, you will find quite a few models. These can be distinguished by the model number, which begins with HB. The hub that I tested is the HB2026, which provides a total of 10 ports and of course also allows the MacBook Pro or Air to be charged via the hub - and that with 100 watts of power.
But let's start with the technical data, which will certainly interest one or the other expert.
What should be noted in advance is the USB protocol used by the Inateck Hub. This is USB 3.2 Gen 2 and not the USB 3.0 protocol often used by cheap hubs.
The differences are less noticeable with printers or scanners, but with data transfer from SSD hard drives. Spinning hard drives also have too little data throughput and cannot utilize the speed of USB 3.2 Gen 2.
But if you work with SSDs or M.2 NVMes and depend on data being exchanged between Mac and the data carriers at high speed, you should prefer a USB-C hub that works with USB 3.2 Gen 2.
Here is a comparison of the speed differences to be expected in relation to USB 3.0. The values refer to read operations.
You can see that there is a noticeable improvement in speed, especially when using the very fast M.2 NVMe data carriers. Well-known models of external M.2 NVMe storage include the Samsung T7 or the SanDisk G Drive Pro. With the right one M.2 NVMe enclosure you can also easily put together such a memory yourself.
Unfortunately, I don't have M.2 NVME storage available and therefore couldn't do a meaningful speed test for this media. Instead, I plugged in a SanDisk SSD and compared the speed when connected directly to the MacBook Pro with the connection via the hub.
Incidentally, these speeds are no different if you have connected a display via the HDMI port.
It's a bit strange what I measured here, but I repeated the measurements several times and used the same cable each time to connect the hard drive to the hub or MacBook Pro.
I would have assumed that a direct connection would always be faster than going through a hub. I cannot explain why this is not the case here. If someone has a tip on how to explain this behavior technically, I'm happy about a comment.
I used the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test software to measure the speed.
The next test I ran was connecting my external 34 inch display through the HDMI port. The maximum resolution of the display is 3440 x 1440 pixels and is unfortunately not quite 4K. However, the Inateck Hub supports 4K displays - and after contacting Inateck also with 60Hz.
In my test, I was also able to use the maximum resolution and had the choice between 30 and 50 Hz - exactly the options that my MacBook Pro also offers when I connect the monitor directly. The fact that I didn't get 60Hz to choose from is probably because my monitor doesn't support this frame rate.
I compared the hub's built-in SD or micro SD card reader with the built-in card reader in my MacBook Pro. A SanDisk Extreme Micro SD card with the speed classes U3, A2, V30 served as the card. At this point a reference to my article, which explainsfor what A1 and A2 on memory cards stands.
The built-in card reader in the hub is about as fast as the one built into the MacBook Pro by Apple.
When I first held the hub in my hand, I was surprised by the black, inset plastic surface that looked a bit like it would act as a display for something.
When using it, however, it quickly became clear that only the Inateck logo is illuminated in blue and no other data is displayed. However, there is a small label on the edges that shows which port is hiding at the point. This is superfluous for most ports, since you can quickly see whether you have an HDMI or an Ethernet port in front of you. However, since there is a USB-C port for data transfer and one for the USB PD power supply, the labeling makes sense here.
But - and now we come to the point of criticism - the writing and the symbols are so small that you can hardly see them with the naked eye. Why weren't the symbols printed larger, since the black plastic surface isn't of much use otherwise?
The following information is not a criticism, but only neutral comments that I wanted to list briefly so that you know where you are with the Inateck HB2026.
Judging by my measurements, the Inateck USB-C hub is a successful solution. The long connection cable also ensures more comfort in everyday life.
But the optics, with the odd dark panel and the barely legible symbols on the top, are two of my gripes. They do represent "whining at a high level" if you will, but I didn't want to leave them unmentioned.
If you are looking for a USB-C hub that offers HDMI, Ethernet, USB-C-PD, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and a card reader, you will find it with the Inateck HB2026 to become happy.
Jens has been running the blog since 2012. He appears as Sir Apfelot for his readers and helps them with problems of a technical nature. In his free time he drives electric unicycles, takes photos (preferably with his iPhone, of course), climbs around in the Hessian mountains or hikes with the family. His articles deal with Apple products, news from the world of drones or solutions for current bugs.
The page contains affiliate links / images: Amazon.de