While the ports on modern laptops are enough for most users, photographers and filmmakers have much higher connectivity demands than the average person. A portable hub can be a lifesaver for a creative on the go. In this review, we take a look at the Anker 555 USB-C 8-in-1 Hub and if it can provide both the ports and performance a demanding workflow requires.
I have always been a fan of Anker products. They make some of the best and most reliable charging products available, and I have quite a few of them around the house and in my office. They make quite a few products beyond charging equipment, however, so when I needed a hub for my new MacBook Air, it was an easy choice.
I had some specific needs. First, I needed Ethernet, as the Wi-Fi in some of the places I work can sometimes be a bit slow and spotty. Second, I needed HDMI so I could easily hook up to a TV when I teach. That combination alone eliminated a lot of options. Lastly, I wanted pass-through power delivery. The Anker 555 USB-C 8-in-1 Hub fit the bill, and given the reliability of their other products, it was a logical choice.
- HDMI port providing 4K at 60 Hz
- Two USB-A 3.2 ports with 10 Gbps throughput each
- USB-C 3.2 port with 10 Gbps throughput
- 100-watt Power Delivery USB-C input
- Power charging of up to 85 watts
- Ethernet port with 1 Gbps bandwidth
- SD port with 104 MBps speed
- microSD port with 104 MBps speed
- Dimensions: 4.76 x 2.17 x 0.6 inches
- Weight: 4.5 ounces
The hub is very small and light, barely larger than the dimensions of all of its ports combined, a big plus for anyone who watches the size and weight of what they are traveling with. Its host cord is about six inches (15 cm) long and fairly stiff. The hub itself is solid, dark plastic with a small silver Anker logo and subtle black labels over each port. A small, white status light sits at one end. Both USB-A ports and both card slots sit on one side, while the PD, USB-C, and HDMI port sit on the other. The Ethernet port sits at the far end.
It's a carefully designed layout. My only quibble would be the lack of any rubber feet or the like. Its plastic housing is slick and the device is light, so expect it to slide around a bit under the tension of whatever you have connected to it. If it bothers you, you can buy stick-on rubber feet for a few dollars.
From the 100-watt input, the Anker hub takes 15 watts to run things and makes 85 watts available for charging. For most computers, this is plenty of power. For example, my MacBook Air can fast-charge at 67 watts, meaning the hub can give me 50% battery life in just 30 minutes. Larger laptops, like the 16-inch MacBook Pro, demand a bit more power. For example, the aforementioned model takes 96 watts for charging at the regular rate. This means if you are driving a power-hungry laptop at full speed for extended times, the hub won't quite be able to keep up, but it's quite rare that will be the case. It should be noted, however, that the hub does not come with a USB-C cable or power adapter, so if you want to make use of the pass-through power delivery capabilities, you'll need to bring those along as well.
The HDMI port offers 4K at 60 Hz, which is a nice perk over many other portable hubs, which typically max out at 30 Hz. That might not matter so much to a photographer, but if you are editing high-frame-rate video, gaming, or doing anything for which a faster refresh rate is beneficial, you will appreciate the bump. While not everyone will need an HDMI port on a hub for a computer they travel with, I love having it. For example, I can display a Powerpoint in class while keeping the notes on my screen. Or, you can simply mirror your display to a larger one or set them up as two separate displays to have more workspace available. It is very handy to have, and it works flawlessly in practice.
With USB-C slowly taking over from USB-A, most of us have a need for both ports, myself included. Thus, the inclusion of two USB-A ports and one USB-C port, all with 10 Gbps of bandwidth, is much appreciated here, as it saves you from having to carry a bunch of adapters or buy new cables. And in practice, the hub had no problem keeping up with the demands of speedy SSDs, easily maintaining the fastest possible speeds, which is great news for anyone who frequently transfers a lot of data.
A lot of people have not used an Ethernet port for years. Wi-Fi is quite reliable and fast enough for many applications nowadays. That being said, for those of us who frequently move extremely large files or do not always have access to a fast Wi-Fi network, having Ethernet available is a real lifesaver. Both of those apply to me, and it is why an Ethernet port was a dealbreaker for me when picking a hub. In use, the port reached its advertised bandwidth of 1 Gbps, and combined with a slim cable, it ensures I can always fall back on a reliable and fast wired connection if desired.
No hub for creatives would be complete without at least an SD card reader, and the Anker hub comes with both that and a microSD reader. Both max out at 104 MBps, which will not max out the capabilities of UHS-II cards, but will be plenty for most file intake tasks.
What I Liked
- Very compact footprint
- Excellent array of ports
- 4K 60 HZ output over HDMI
- 85-watt pass-through charging
- Minimal design
What I Didn't Like
- No rubber feet
Final Thoughts and Purchase
Altogether, the Anker 555 USB-C 8-in-1 Hub strikes the right balance in a portable hub, keeping its size and weight compact, but including a nice array of ports that should satisfy the needs of just about any creative on the go and matching it with performance that can keep up with demanding workflows. And at $80, it's easy to recommend.