The Best USB to HDMI Adapters for Mac and Windows

HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) ports are becoming rare on thin and light laptops, while USB-C or Thunderbolt ports supporting HDMI and even DisplayPort are almost everywhere. Not to mention nearly every (Android) smartphone and most newer tablets have these handy USB ports.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to have at least one USB-to-HDMI adapter in your tech kit. Whether you’re using your phone for a PowerPoint presentation or just want to watch Netflix on your hotel TV, these cables have a variety of uses. We’ve rounded up some of the best USB-C adapters for great value, quality, and compatibility.

Factors to Consider in a USB to HDMI Adapter

Consider the maximum video resolution that the adapter can support and make sure it is the same as your HDTV or monitor’s resolution. Many adapters only have support for 4K video at 30Hz, for example, the majority of 4K televisions will have a frequency of 60Hz or higher today. If you’re attempting to run a lower frequency, make sure the adaptor can at least 60Hz at that frequency. Remember that the HDMI cable mentioned earlier must also support 4K 60Hz!

Some adapters may have additional features that you can access through the USB hub, extra ports, or software. These features allow you to change the display settings. Other adapters can support connections that are legacy, such as VGA and DVI. Think about whether or not these traits are important to you and, if so, whether or not they are part of theAdapter you’re considering.

Pay attention to the specific USB standard employed by the adapter. While USB-C to HDMI converters are currently the most prevalent type, Thunderbolt adapters use the same physical connector as USB-C devices. In most cases, Thunderbolt 3 or 4 adapters will also work with USB-C, albeit at a slower speed. However, some adapters are exclusively designed for Thunderbolt, so it is essential to ensure compatibility.

While we have not extensively covered compatibility with Linux systems or Chromebooks, it is worth mentioning that compatibility issues may arise if you are not using a Windows or Mac computer. Nonetheless, smartphones and tablets have been taken into account due to their popularity.

Lastly, despite being solid-state devices, USB to HDMI adapters can wear out over time. Hence, it is prudent to select one that comes with a reasonable warranty.

Top Recommendations for USB to HDMI Adapters

Best All-In-One Mac Solution

HyperDrive Dual USB Type C Hub Adapter for MacBook Pro

HyperDrive USB C Hub, Dual Type C Hub Adapter for MacBook Pro 13" 15"

Compatible with MacBooks, the HyperDrive Dual USB-C hub adapter offers an elegant solution to expand connectivity options on your slim and lightweight computer. This adapter utilizes two Thunderbolt ports, so it is important to ensure that your MacBook has two ports before purchasing. While using two female-to-male USB-C extenders is a possible workaround for laptops with a single port, it may not be the most seamless solution.

Apart from supporting up to 5K at 60Hz, the adapter includes Gigabit Ethernet, two USB-A 3.0 ports, USB-C 40Gbps, and USB-C PD (Power Delivery) for fast charging when connected to a suitable power supply. It serves as an aesthetically pleasing docking station for your desk or a portable accessory that eliminates the need for multiple dongles or converters. However, it lacks an SD or TF card reader.

Best Solution for Older Computers USB 3.0 to HDMI Adapter

Best Solution for Older Computers: USB 3.0 to HDMI Adapter

Most USB to HDMI adapters available today predominantly utilize a USB-C port, which may pose compatibility issues for older computers lacking this newer port type. Although you can find USB-C to A converters on platforms like Amazon, many of them do not support video output or may lead to compatibility problems. Trust us, we’ve tested numerous options.

A reliable choice is to opt for a native USB Type A to HDMI adapter like this excellent unit from StarTech. It employs DisplayLink technology, which is a software-based solution. While it may not be ideal for applications such as video games, it works exceptionally well for connecting to a 4K UHD screen to watch movies, conduct presentations, or enhance general productivity.

The best part is that since it’s a separate software solution, the graphics card’s support for 4K output becomes irrelevant. Additionally, you don’t require a specialized USB port certified for video signals. Any USB Type A 3.0 port will work seamlessly on both Mac and Windows systems.

Best Productivity Solution

Anker USB C to Dual HDMI Port Adapter

Anker USB C to Dual HDMI Port Adapter

There are numerous reasons to connect two monitors and utilize them as separate extended displays. Whether you want to boost your laptop’s productivity at your desk, run a monitor and projector simultaneously for a presentation, or mirror two displays to showcase the same video to two groups of people, a dual HDMI setup can be incredibly useful.

Anker’s USB C Dual HDMI adapter relies on the DisplayPort over USB-C protocol, which is supported by most modern laptops and computers. To ensure compatibility, it’s advisable to check your computer’s specifications and confirm the presence of DisplayPort on the USB-C port you intend to use.

The adapter’s performance varies depending on the version of the DisplayPort protocol supported by your computer. For instance, if you have a DP1.2 port, you can achieve up to 4K 30Hz using dual monitors, at least in Microsoft Windows. On macOS, according to Anker’s documentation, you’ll get 4K 60Hz regardless of your computer’s specs. Additionally, it’s worth noting that this adapter also works with iPad Pro and Air devices featuring a USB-C port, although it can only drive a single secondary display in this setup.

Best Apple Compatibility

Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

The transition made by Apple to USB-C and Thunderbolt on its computers and some iPads is a welcomed change as it opens up a wide range of accessories that are not limited to the costly “MFi” program, which is mandatory for accessories with a Lightning plug.

However, despite USB-C being a reliable standard, its enforcement isn’t always consistent. While devices labeled as “MFi certified” are guaranteed to work seamlessly with Apple devices using Lightning technology, the same assurance cannot be extended to USB devices. We’ve encountered various strange bugs when connecting USB-C dongles that work perfectly fine with Windows PCs or Android phones to Apple devices.

To ensure compatibility and avoid such issues, it’s advisable for Mac and USB-C iPad users to invest in Apple’s official multiport adapter directly. This adapter allows you to connect a charger, a screen, and one USB device. If that USB device happens to be a small USB hub, you’ll have all your needs covered. Although, with the increasing popularity of wireless keyboards and mice, most users probably only require a single USB port anyway.

This adapter supports 4K Ultra HD at 60Hz, provided you have a compatible device. You can consult the comprehensive list for verification, but recent devices like the iPad Pro 12.9″ 3rd generation or most Macs released from 2017 onwards fall into this category. Otherwise, if your device doesn’t meet the requirements, the maximum refresh rate will be limited to 30Hz, unless you lower the resolution to 1080p.

Best for Future-Proofing

Cable Matters 48Gbps USB C to HDMI 2.1 Display Adapter

Cable Matters 48Gbps USB C to HDMI 2.1 Display Adapter

Finding a USB to HDMI adapter that supports 4K at 60Hz, especially at a reasonable price, can be a challenge. Cable Matters offers an affordable solution with their high-speed adapter that supports HDMI 2.1, a standard capable of 8K 30Hz HDR output and 120Hz 4K. This adapter is compatible with USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 and 4 ports, providing excellent color bit depth and the best possible picture quality.

However, Mac users are currently limited to 4K at 60Hz with this adapter. Nonetheless, considering its exceptional value and durability, it remains one of the best all-round solutions available.

Best for Portability

Anker 310 USB-C to HDMI Adapter

Anker 310 USB-C to HDMI Adapter

For users primarily seeking 4K at 60Hz capability, Anker offers the sleek and compact 310 USB-C to HDMI Adapter at an affordable price. This high-quality aluminum adapter supports up to 4K 60Hz and is compatible with Macs, iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy devices, and various other USB-C enabled devices. Its functionality relies on the DP Alt Mode supported by the USB-C port, determining the maximum resolution and refresh rate based on the source device’s capabilities.

Alternatives to Physical Connections

While USB to HDMI adapters serve as indispensable backup solutions, it is important to remember that physical connections are not the only way to connect to a display. Many modern smart TVs, for instance, support wireless protocols like MiraCast, Apple AirPlay, or Google Chromecast for casting content over Wi-Fi. These options offer convenience and speed, although they may not provide the same level of latency or picture quality as a direct connection.

USB to HDMI adapters are essential accessories for seamless connectivity in various scenarios. Consider the specific features, compatibility, and resolution requirements when choosing an adapter that best suits your needs.

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