We have another quick review today: a jack-of-all-trades USB-C hub. Designed for the MacBook, Chromebook Pixel and other USB-C devices, this hub allows you to turn a single port into eight: you can connect three USB 3.0 devices, connect a monitor or projector via HDMI, connect to wired networks via ethernet, plug in Micro SD or SD cards and even charge your device using USB-C Power Delivery at the same time. It’s a pretty sweet list of features, but how does it actually work?
Specs & Features
- USB-C Power Delivery pass-through for MacBook, Chromebook & other devices
- 3x USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, gigabit ethernet, Micro SD card slot, SD card slot
- HDMI supports 4K at 30Hz
- Available in silver, gray, gold, rose gold
- 105 x 48.5 x 11.5mm
The GN30H is a compact device, constructed from an aluminium alloy and festooned with ports on all sides. Its look matches the MacBook exactly, but it looks fine plugged into other USB-C devices as well.
You’ve got the permanently attached USB-C lead on one end, with the ethernet port and USB-C passthrough port on the other. On the longer sides, you have the three USB 3.0 ports and HDMI on one side, and the Micro SD and SD card slots opposite.
It’s a sensible layout, requiring free space only in one or two directions — handy for cramped working conditions like a small desk or train tray table.
The entire device can be stored in a bag (provided), to keep dust and other muck out of the many ports. Even inside this bag, you can still fit the hub inside a large jeans pocket.
We tested the GN30H with our XPS 15 9560 laptop and Note 8 smartphone. We found that the Note 8 could recognise all of the hub’s many inputs simultaneously, as long as power was provided down the USB-C pass-through cable.
The XPS 15 laptop fared a little worse, with all peripherals working but our USB-C power adapter wasn’t able to provide enough charge to keep the laptop’s battery from slowly trickling away. However, this isn’t the fault of the hub, and it still massively expanded the laptop’s range of ports.
One other limitation is the HDMI port. While it is possible to connect a 4K monitor, you’re limited to half of the standard 60Hz refresh rate. 30Hz is fine for most video content, but it’s very noticeably choppy for work tasks — even watching your text appear at 30Hz is disconcerting. If you’re looking to connect to a monitor for work or games, then it’s worth getting a dedicated 4K / 60Hz adapter like this one from Anker.
Apart from these minor limitations, we could find no flaws with the GN30H. The build quality is solid and each of the ports and card slots worked as described. The hub gets a little hot while it’s being used, but it didn’t ever reach dangerous levels.