Review: PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB-C PD Media Hub

Anker was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their PowerExpand Direct 7-in-2 USB-C PD Media Hub to test and review. Below are my thoughts after using it with my 2017 15" MacBook Pro for a few days.

First impressions

When I first took the hub out of the packaging, my initial impression was that it’s smaller than I expected. The marketing photos for the hub made it seem larger than it is, but in the hand it’s nice and compact and easily fits in the pockets in my bag. It also eased my original concerns about my expensive laptop supporting the weight of a big heavy USB hub using only Thunderbolt ports.

My second takeaway was just how good the build quality is. Anker did a fantastic job with the quality of the aluminum frame of this hub, and the port cutouts are up to Apple’s level of precision. It genuinely looks and feels like it was made for a MacBook Pro. And for those with a laptop in Space Gray, I compared the two and the color is very similar. It’s not perfect, but I don’t think most people would notice a difference without close inspection.

Using the hub

After plugging in the hub to my 15” MacBook Pro, the rest of my concerns about the size and weight disappeared. The hub doesn’t sag like I thought it might, and even with multiple devices plugged in the Thunderbolt ports support the weight without any trouble. The power indicator next to the Thunderbolt port lights up whenever the hub is plugged in though, which is a bit strange. I would have expected the light to only come on when connected to power, but since I never see it while using my laptop I don’t consider it a problem.

The next thing I noticed was just how convenient it is to have pass-through charging. While I can easily live with plugging in power and a USB hub separately, only needing to plug in a single device when “docking” at my desk was a nice change. I was also happy to see that charging didn’t cause the hub to warm up, which means the power is transferring into the laptop efficiently. I did notice that the hub got warm whenever the laptop got warm, thanks to the aluminum frame picking up some of the heat. It never got uncomfortably warm though, and was never warmer than the laptop itself.

Another concern I had was whether the USB ports could handle the power demands of the devices I plug in. Another Anker hub I own doesn’t supply enough power to some devices, and I need to plug those directly into my MacBook Pro using an adapter. This hub on the other hand seems to handle everything I plugged into it, even with multiple devices connected simultaneously. USB speeds also seem to be just as fast as plugging a device in directly, easily taking advantage of the throughput of USB 3.0.

The rest of the ports work as expected. My 1080p monitor was detected immediately after plugging it into the HDMI port, and it worked every time I plugged the hub into my MacBook Pro without any issues. The memory card reader also works well, but since I don’t normally use memory cards I don’t have anything else to add. One thing to note is that the second USB-C port is just that - a USB-C port. It doesn’t support power passthrough or Thunderbolt 3 speeds. The last thing I tested was the hub’s ability to be plugged into the left or right sides of my laptop, which it passed. All of the Thunderbolt ports on the MacBook Pro are reversible and support charging, so it’s nice to see this working as expected.

My only major complaint in the connectivity department is the lack of an Ethernet port. I can understand why Anker decided to leave Ethernet out in favor of a slim design, but this means I need to have a second USB dongle or hub with Ethernet for the instances where wireless networking doesn’t cut it. This isn’t a deal breaker, but it’s definitely a negative for me.

Closing thoughts

Now that I’ve been using this hub for a few days I’m more attached to it than I would have expected going in. I didn’t think I would care that much (it’s a USB hub after all) but it has genuinely improved the experience of connecting my laptop to all of the devices at my desk. It’s also nice to be able to plug a USB device into the left (or right) side of my laptop again, and I definitely prefer it over a USB hub that attaches with a cable.

The hub does have one glaring problem though - if you don’t have a recent MacBook it’s not going to do anything for you. You’re not going to be able to plug this into any other laptop, so the market for a hub like this is going to be pretty limited. That being said, I think it will make a lot of MacBook owners happy who are looking for a convenient and well-made USB hub. If you’re in that group, Anker has you covered.



Ethernet, it is technically viable in this size.

My own view is you either don’t need these dongle often, or you bought the wrong laptop for your needs. All technology is a compromise and picking the right ones for you is tricky part. Technically people who need these dongles are asking for access to larger storage, more display, so are dealing with larger media, and an expensive laptop with a high end CPU is common on media transformation, those files are large and Ethernet is a lot faster than Wifi, so you’re correct dongle should add Ethernet, but also I’d say if you needed it often then you bought the wrong laptop.

Great review @jaredk-beta and glad you’re enjoying using it.
The ethernet wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me but can see where having it would be a benefit.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Great Review , thanks for sharing, suits a MacBook Pro :ok_hand:

@professor I personally prefer a hub with a cable going into the PC, not a solid attachment as this specific - these I feel tend to damage the laptop (the Macbook) over a period of time, but I have a Lenovo Laptop… so its a different story

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Either a dongle is used infrequently so reliability long-term should not be an issue, or you bought the wrong laptop for the problem. A laptop with few ports is designed for… people who need few ports.

I do keep two Ethernet dongles going, an A and a C type, for Chromebook and tablet. They solve niche issues, and … I think I used over a year ago.

Ethernet though still is the fastest network, a lot faster, so know why people would use for fast network transfer, but anyone doing that often… would be wanting a different laptop so the dongle issue solves itself.

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Agree with your points, I have a total of 3 USB-A, 1 USB-C port, Ethernet Port and Memory card slot on laptop, which are more than sufficient but at times have more devices to connect (phone, USB-C headset, charging headset, powering up laptop and more…

:point_up_2: this is the main reason I still prefer Wired Ethernet network connectivity for my work laptop, and wireless is a secondary option and keep it enabled anyway.

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I used to have a 56K modem for a laptop that did that, it was awesome.

Not necessarily - some users need to work in the Mac ecosystem but Apple doesn’t have a single laptop with Ethernet built in. A hub or dongle is the only option. I’m not one of those users but I can understand their frustration in being forced to use a hub or dongle on a daily basis.

I’ll report back if I notice any damage or wear from using the hub long-term. That would definitely not be worth it if it did.

Best is you need no hub!
My old LENOVO T410S has all sockets I need.
Even a reader for SD card.

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Thanks for your honest review!
I have to say this product is specially made for MacBook users, it can’t fit all the laptop users need, but I believe that as long as we can identify the target users demand, even if the market is limited,we can still have some outstanding results.:hugs:

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Good review and reference pictures @jaredk-beta :+1:

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I completely agree. There’s definitely a need for a product like this thanks to Apple’s limited port selection, so glad to see Anker making products like this even if the market for it isn’t huge.

And thanks @AnkerOfficial for the sample, that was my first review and it was a fun experience!

Great review! :clap::clap:

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Good job on the review

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