The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the Plugable Cube (opens in new tab) was its astonishing size. The diminutive gadget comes in at just 2.5 inches by 1.4 inches, making it smaller than my palm. It doesn't skimp on convenient ports, packing all the common-use connectivity options that most people use on a daily basis. After a few rounds of testing, the Plugable Cube has found a permanent home on my desk.
Price: $79.95Bottom line: Manage your cables in a compact way without sacrificing usability.
- Plenty of ports for the average user
- Sleek look and feel
- Tiny footprint
- Can't charge your laptop
- Bright blue light
- Short AC cable
Plugable Cube: What I like
In a world of computers that feature only a couple of ports, it can be hard to connect All The Things. For example, on a daily basis, one might use an external display, a separate keyboard, and a Bluetooth mouse. Add in a phone charger or hard drive and it's easy to run out of room, being forced to prioritize which peripherals you want to use and when. The Plugable cube is small, but mighty, offering up three USB-A ports, a USB-C port, an HDMI port, and an RJ45 Ethernet port. That means you can pop it on your desk and plug in all sorts of external gear, all using a single Thunderbolt port. You can power the Cube via its included AC cable, which is a bit short, making it ideal if you plan on keeping the Cube parked at your desk. On the go, use the included USB-C cable to connect the Cube to your computer.
It's sturdy, with a rubberized base to prevent slippage, and everything but the USB-C port is located at the back of the Cube. That makes for a minimalistic appearance, even in the age of Octo-puters. I've used several USB-C docks and dongles, and the Plugable Cube has a premium feel compared to others I've tried. It doesn't overheat and it doesn't look cheap. In fact, it has made my desktop look neat for the first time in months. Other options that I've used featured similar ports, but the real clincher here for me is the Ethernet option. If you're on the hunt for faster gaming or stable conference calls, a wired connection is the way to go, and it can be a major (or expensive) pain to hardwire a MacBook. The Cube takes care of that, making it a fantastic companion for company-wide meetings or tech conferences where every iota of speed counts. The HDMI port supports resolutions up to 4K at 30Hz, too.
The Cube also has arguably the perfect mix of ports for the average consumer. Up until now, I was using another third-party USB-C hub, which has three USB-A ports, a single USB-C port, an HDMI port, and an SDHC reader. It's gotten me by just fine, but I wasn't ranting and raving about it to anyone. However, the Plugable Cube has everything I use from my other device, plus the option for Ethernet. As someone who doesn't use an SDHC reader often, the Plugable is a much better fit for me, and it might be for you as well.
Dim The Lights
Plugable Cube: What I don't like
As with every gadget, there are a couple of drawbacks. The Plugable Cube cannot charge your laptop. When it's plugged in, it does show that your computer is charging, but the 15W of power provided by the Cube is not enough to keep your computer charged under normal use. That means you'll need to charge your computer via its other USB-C port, so if you have a model that features a singular Thunderbolt port, the Plugable Cube is not for you. One other minor caveat that I found during testing is the bright blue light that remains on when the Cube is powered. There's no way to turn it off or dim it, meaning this may not be the perfect solution if you're sensitive to light or your desk is located in a heavy-traffic area. The Plugable Cube is also a somewhat hefty investment, coming in at $80. There are a few similar options as far as ports go, some of which are less expensive, but in my experience, most cheap USB-C accessories are exactly that: cheap. The Plugable Cube doesn't get blazing hot or stutter, making the price worthwhile to me. If you aren't working on your computer for multiple hours at a time, you may be able to get by with something less expensive.
Want For Nothing
Plugable Cube: Bottom line
It can be hard to find the perfect accessory to complement your USB-C computer. For me, the Plugable Cube is it. The itty-bitty footprint includes every port I need on a day-to-day basis, and it handles eight hours of work without overheating or faltering once. This is probably the last USB-C docking station I'll ever need to use.
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Louryn saves money on everything she buys. In between waiting for Amazon deliveries, she googles the Animal Crossing Switch release date, hand-letters on her iPad Pro, and downloads a zillion match-three apps. She also loves Skyrim, makeup, and beer. Find her on Twitter: @lourynstrampe
They also make a great NVMe PCIe SSD enclosure that is USB 3 3.1 gen 2 compatible. No tools needed to put the SSD in. And it works with my MaBook Pro. Fast as all get-out. And it's $49. I put a 1TB SSD in one and use it a lot.
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