The 7 Best USB
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The 7 Best USB

Jul 10, 2023

We’ve removed a discontinued adapter and updated some links throughout.

Many modern laptops use small, versatile USB-C ports to connect to everything from chargers to monitors to hard drives, but most monitors, TVs, and projectors still have only older, more common ports like HDMI or DisplayPort. We’ve found the best USB-C–to–HDMI, USB-C–to–DisplayPort, USB-C–to–DVI, and USB-C–to–VGA cables and adapters to help you use your new computer with the video display you prefer. Most of the cables and adapters we tested worked identically, so we’ve examined the small details to figure out what sets the best models apart from the rest.

As Wirecutter’s accessory writer, I’ve tested hundreds of accessories across a wide swath of categories over the past several years. I’ve been deeply immersed in the confusing world that is USB-C since the standard launched. Before that, for a little more than three years, I was the accessories editor at iLounge, where I reviewed more than 1,000 products, including dozens of adapters.

Uni’s USB-C to HDMI Cable is an expensive-feeling nylon braided cable with aluminum plug housings that comes in a range of lengths from 3 to 15 feet, offering more options than the competition. It works perfectly, like all the HDMI cables we tested, properly transmitting a 4K signal at 60 Hz. You get a lifetime warranty on the cable if you’re willing to sign up for the company’s newsletter.

More than just functional (the cables we tested worked identically), this cable is especially well designed, with premium materials and more length options. It transmits a 4K signal at 60 Hz.

Uni’s USB-C to HDMI Adapter is the best way to connect a USB-C computer to a high-definition TV or monitor if you already have an HDMI cable you like. The Uni adapter is our pick because it is made of the same high-end nylon and aluminum materials as our HDMI cable pick, it doesn’t take up much room in a bag and comes with a carrying pouch, and it works properly with both Windows PCs and Macs.

This is one of the least expensive adapters that support 4K video at 60 Hz for HDMI 2.0 computers and monitors, and it has the best materials.

Most USB-C–to–DisplayPort cables we tested worked flawlessly, offering a pixel-perfect image and full 60 Hz performance, even at 4K. That said, we recommend the Uni USB-C to DisplayPort Cable because, like the HDMI models the company makes, its cable and housing materials are top-notch, and it comes in 3-, 6,- and 10-foot options, offering more lengths than any comparable model.

Most of the DisplayPort cables we tested worked perfectly at 4K resolution and 60 Hz, but this one is made with nicer materials and comes in more lengths.

If you already have a DisplayPort cable or just want to carry an adapter for connecting to a DisplayPort monitor and cable at an office or workspace, we recommend the Cable Matters USB-C to DisplayPort 1.4 Adapter. It passed a proper 60 Hz refresh rate at 4K resolution in our tests, it’s smaller than the competition, and Cable Matters promises that it supports 8K monitors, as well (although we weren’t able to test that at this time).

This simple adapter can drive 60 Hz 4K screens with both PCs and Macs.

We found only a handful of USB-C–to–DVI cables in our research, and the best among them is the Cable Matters USB-C to DVI Cable. The 6-foot cable can pass a signal up to 1920×1200 at 60 Hz; USB-C Dual-Link DVI cables that support higher resolutions don’t exist yet. Unlike the other cables we tested, this one doesn’t have a big plastic collar to contain its converter chip and DisplayPort controller, which makes it better for packing.

This cable supports up to 1920×1200 at 60 Hz, and there’s no need to buy a separate DVI cable.

May be out of stock

Kanex’s USB-C to DVI Adapter performs as well as every other DVI adapter we tested. The main advantage it has over the competition is that it offers just a bit more length, 9¾ inches from end to end, for the same price. That’s enough of a difference to give you more options for positioning the adapter on your desk, but not so much that the extra length will get in the way or make the adapter less portable.

This convenient single-link DVI adapter edges out the competition by being just a bit longer. It supports resolutions up to 1920×1200 at 60 Hz.

If you need a VGA cable to connect to an older projector or monitor, we recommend picking up Plugable’s USB-C to VGA Cable. The 6-foot cable puts out 1920×1080 resolution at 60 Hz for a reasonable price. We like that the VGA end of the cable has thumb screws, allowing for a secure connection into your display (most other USB-C–to–VGA cables we tested lacked them).

This cable connects to VGA monitors and projectors at up to 1920×1080 at 60 Hz.

We focused our research on simple, inexpensive cables and adapters from reputable companies. You can find more expensive options that provide extra features, such as passthrough power or USB-A ports, but this guide is specifically about video accessories.

In general, we recommend USB-C–to–video cables that plug directly into your computer and your monitor rather than adapters to make older cables USB-C-compatible, because cables cost around the same price and you have one fewer thing to disconnect accidentally. But if you have a cable you’d like to keep using—because it’s already wired into your setup, say, or it’s a specific length—an adapter may be better.

To ensure compatibility across platforms, we tested each cable and adapter with both a MacBook Pro (16-inch, 2019) and an early-2018 USB-C–only Dell XPS 13. For the male-to-male cables, we connected directly to the monitor we were using, and we used cables we knew to be good to connect the male-to-female adapters. We used a Philips 272P7VUBNB/27 monitor for HDMI and DisplayPort testing and an older Dell monitor with DVI and VGA inputs for those connector types. To measure the refresh rate, we relied on the Blur Busters Motion Tests.

Unless specified below, almost all of the cables and adapters we tested worked the way they were supposed to, and in many cases the difference between a pick and a non-pick came down to a few Amazon reviews, a price difference, or better shipping options.

Nonda’s USB-C to HDMI Cable works well, but the company’s website shows that it has pivoted to car accessories, and our emails to confirm whether this cable would continue to be sold and supported went unanswered.

Anker’s Nylon USB-C to HDMI 4K Cable is available only in a 6-foot length but otherwise works great.

The Anker PowerExpand+ USB-C to HDMI Adapter and the Cable Matters Aluminum USB-C to HDMI Adapter both worked well in our tests, but they’re typically a bit more expensive than our pick despite offering no specific benefits.

The Plugable USB-C to HDMI 2.0 Adapter has a warning that explicitly says “NOT compatible with late 2016 MacBook Pro.”

Although the Accell U187B-002B USB-C to HDMI 2.0 Adapter and StarTech USB-C to HDMI Adapter worked well, both cost more than our pick at the time of our tests, offering no advantages in exchange for their higher price.

The Kimwood USB C to HDMI Adapter performed well and tended to be a little cheaper than our pick at the time of our tests, but it also felt cheaper in terms of materials and build quality.

The adapters we tested from Amazon Basics, Monoprice, and Kanex were plastic, though they still seemed well made. We prefer our pick, but if it’s out of stock any of these adapters would do.

Nonda’s USB-C to HDMI Adapter performed fine and had a cute fold-up design, but we found it hard to unfasten (a drawback that outweighed the cuteness of said design).

Satechi’s Aluminum Type-C to HDMI Adapter looks expensive (and it is), but it felt flimsy and failed to outperform our pick.

We liked USB-C–to–HDMI cables from Cable Matters, but none compared to our pick in build quality.

Nekteck’s Thunderbolt 3 to DisplayPort Adapter was the only cable we tested that simply failed to work. We tried two units, and neither established a connection between our computer and monitor over repeated attempts.

The Amazon Basics Bi-Directional USB-C to DisplayPort Cable is rubber rather than braided nylon, yet it costs about the same as our pick.

Cable Matters’s USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter is, just like our pick, an 8K-capable adapter. The only difference we found in our testing is that the plastic housing on this one is a bit bigger.

In our tests, Plugable’s USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter didn’t always connect, and when it did, it maxed out at 1080 resolution, rather than full 4K.

The Accell U188B-006B USB-C to DisplayPort Cable, the Plugable USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter Cable, and the StarTech USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter Cable are identical to one another and work just as well as our top pick—they simply lack the clip that locks the DisplayPort plug in place. Don’t hesitate to get one of these if the price is particularly good or if our pick is out of stock.

Monoprice’s Select Series USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter works as effectively as our pick, but Monoprice’s shipping isn’t quite as convenient as purchasing from Amazon, especially not if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

Kanex’s USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter is also a strong contender, but it is typically more expensive than our pick by a fair margin, with no particular benefits.

We noticed that Cable Matters’s USB-C to DisplayPort Adapter is a bit shorter than our pick, but it works just as well.

StarTech’s USB-C to DVI Cable usually costs more than our pick but doesn’t perform any differently, and it has a large plastic collar that makes it less convenient to take with you.

The Belkin USB-C to VGA Adapter and the Cable Matters USB-C to VGA Adapter are functionally equivalent to our pick, but they cost more and offer no advantages.

Even though the CableCreation USB-C to VGA Adapter worked well in our testing, we’ve seen enough customer reviews citing failure over time that we don’t feel comfortable recommending this adapter.

The Cable Matters USB-C to VGA Cable costs the same as our pick and works just as well but doesn’t have as many owner reviews to back it up.

Nick Guy

Nick Guy is a former senior staff writer covering Apple and accessories at Wirecutter. He has been reviewing iPhones, iPads, and related tech since 2011—and stopped counting after he tested his 1,000th case. It’s impossible for him not to mentally catalog any case he sees. He once had the bright idea to build and burn down a room to test fireproof safes.

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