USB Type-C Aluminum Stand and Hub for Mac Mini
At only $79.99 Satechi’s Type-C Aluminum Stand and Hub for Mac Mini is the perfect companion to the Mac Mini. The complementary designed hub brings 6 ports to the front of the diminutive Mac and looks like it shipped from Apple. Perhaps it should have. Every Mac Mini owner needs to own one of these hubs.
The Satechi Stand and Hub for Mac Mini comes with a rare recommendation. For most peripherals, a plethora of choices turn into reviews with tradeoffs and comparisons. In this case, we can say that this unique hub is the one peripheral all Mac Mini owners should own. There are no trade-offs among competing products. This hub’s innovative, patent-pending design proves the perfect complement to the Mac Mini in looks and features.
What we like
While the functionality of the Type-C Aluminum Stand and Hub for Mac Mini aligns well with the needs of Mac Mini users, the brilliant design really makes this peripheral a standout. This hub is also a stand, which the Mac Mini actually needs. I am glad I waited for this hub to arrive before putting non-slip feet on my new Mac. The hub did that for me.
While the functionality of the Type-C Aluminum Stand and Hub for Mac Mini aligns well with the needs of Mac Mini users, the brilliant design really makes this peripheral a standout.
The hub delivers a USB-C data port, three 5 Gb /s USB-A 3.0 ports, 104 MBp /s microSD and SD card readers, and a 3.5mm headphone jack port for convenient access to your essential peripherals.
Because this hub was designed for the Mac Mini, it adds features that no other hub could, like air vents to help hot chips stay cool. And no other hub could because it just extends the Mini’s edges downward. It fits under the Mac Mini, keeping its surface clear, and its footprint intact.
The hub powers exclusively from one of the Mac Mini’s two USB-C Thunderbolt/USB-4 ports.
The 7.75 x 7.75 x 0.69 inches, 0.66 lbs hub comes in silver or space gray. The Type-C Aluminum Stand and Hub for Mac Mini comes with a 1 year warranty.
What could be improved
For most Mac Mini use cases, the Type-C Aluminum Stand and Hub adds the right ports. Unlike port starved notebooks with one or two USB-C ports, the Mac Mini already offers a good array of ports, including HDMI, USB, Ethernet, and audio. What the new Mac Mini lost were additional USB ports as well as its memory card slot. This hub brings them back. Mac Minis don’t typically need VGA ports which is the only port one could argue is missing on the Satechi hub.
So what can be improved? From the basic design perspective: nothing. The Stand and Hub deliver a perfectly designed peripheral out of the box. Satechi focused on a very specific audience, understood its needs, and created the ideal product to solve the challenges faced by the majority of users.
But that doesn’t mean the Type-C Aluminum Stand and Hub is perfect. It comes with some specification caveats I think people would be willing to pay a bit more if they were included.
First on the list would be improved power distribution. The documentation suggests plugging in only one bus-powered peripheral at a time, and that the type C-Port is for data transfer only. The USB-A ports don’t support charging either. Satechi explicitly states these ports will not support Apple’s CD/DVD SuperDrive.
The design choice means limiting the new ports to 5 Gp/s. The biggest issue for some might be giving up a powerful USB-4, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt 3 port with up to 40 Gb/s for the convenience of this hub. Of course, removing the hub isn’t hard should the moment call for a second USB-C port’s special powers, but…
These Satechi Stand and Hub for Mac Mini footnotes likely result from using a less expensive USB controller, which, while keeping costs down, makes the otherwise elegant hub seems less well executed. Like the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock at $279, more expensive units come it at $200 more to hit full power specs. Satechi should consider a pro version of the hub for power users–but keep in mind that most mobile hubs take power and redistribute it, including back to the computer, rather than in this case, the Mac providing all of the power to the hub, given that the Mac Mini takes in power directly via AC. [Apple should consider powering the Mini via USB-C, which would allow for hubs to work as they do on mobile devices.]
Second, and certainly not necessary, it would be nice to see a SATA slot for installing an SSD. I would not suggest that Satechi install drives, but that they offer a place to do so. My guess is there is plenty of room for a drive, but if not, a slightly taller case would not weaken the design aesthetic. The Satachi FAQ said they considered this, but heat became an issue. I think they could engineer that out with side vents and height.
Satechi Stand and Hub for Mac Mini: The Bottom Line
I bought an M1 Mac Mini with some concern over available ports compared to my 2021 i7 Mac Mini. Once this hub arrived, everything just fell into place. Well, it actually improved my overall Mini experience by placing its ports in an elegant, forward-facing design. I no longer have to fumble around the back of the Mini to place an SD card, or hunt, hunched over with a flashlight, for the audio port. Even with the power constraints, this is THE must-have accessory for all Apple Mac Mini owners.
Note that this hub works with Mac Mini 2018 and later as it requires a USB-C port to connect.
Satechi provided the USB Type-C Stand and Hub for Mac Mini for review. Images courtesy of Satechi.
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Satechi do offer a version of this with an inbuilt M.2 connector to use as an external SSD. It looks like it’s only available on preorder at the moment and Satechi have stated it only comes in Silver with no Space Grey option at this time.