The 10 Best USB to HDMI Adapters
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in February of 2018. Whether using Type-A or C connectors, USB offers plenty of versatility when it comes to display options. The right active chipset can transmit an Ultra HD picture over the older plug style, while several types of hub and passive adapter can turn the newer connection type into an HDMI port, thanks to Alternate Mode technology, while also providing a range of additional features. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 13, 2020:
Advances in adapters tend to lag a bit behind the technologies they mediate, and as such there haven't been many truly revolutionary innovations since our last update to this list. However, more and more USB-to-HDMI devices are being released with the ability to support 4k UHD transmission at a 60 Hz refresh rate. The Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1 is a fantastic example, and it combines its robust display capabilities with fast data transfer using the USB 3.1 format. It's also a remarkably versatile hub, combining a huge variety of different ports in a single device.
Another new entry is the StarTech Dual, one of the few adapters available that can handle true 4k resolution on two displays at once. It's a great choice for professionals in digital media fields, since it allows for dual-monitor setups with extremely sharp visual detail. However, it won't do anything at all if your USB-C port doesn't support Thunderbolt 3, which limits the range of computers it can work with. It's taking the place of the CalDigit Mini Dock, which in theory was a more versatile version of the StarTech that also featured ethernet and USB-A ports. Customer reviews, however, suggest that it was too unreliable to justify its high price relative to other multiple-input devices like the Lention Hub or the Anker PowerExpand 8-in-1.
If you're after a dependable, no-frills connector that's compatible with a wide range of devices, the Uni Cable and the Choetech XCH-1201BK are both great options; the Choetech has an L-shaped design that can reduce the strain on your computer's port, but makes it a bit harder to use with smartphones in thick cases. The Uni has a more standard look but is offered in a wider range of lengths.
We have some other lists that might help if you're looking for a new monitor, a projector, or a splitter to link up multiple displays. Or, if what you need is a way to capture high-quality video content, you can check out our review of the top HDMI recorders.
May 16, 2019:
There's more than one way to turn a USB port into a video output. If you're limited to Type-A ports, look for a product that uses a DisplayLink chipset. Plugable makes some of the best ones; in fact, they actually make most of them, according to DisplayLink's website. In effect, these are external graphics adapters that work with a set of software instructions that you install in Windows. They use your PC's general hardware to encode, transmit via USB, and decode into an HDMI cable the signal that your actual GPU would normally deal with. One of the consequences of these is that they can cause CPU load increases. These increases can be minor, significant, or in some cases, major. Also, they do require a certain level of GPU, CPU, and RAM. But overall, it's a very interesting technology, and it's available for Type-A as well as Type-C ports.
If your device has Type-C ports and supports what's called DisplayPort Alt Mode, you have considerably more options than those limited to Type-A and non-DP Alt Mode connectors. DisplayPort is a little bit confusing in that it's the name of both a plug format and transmission format (shocking, we known, that anything related to connector and transmission methods would have a confusing naming convention). A lot of newer Windows PCs have USB-C ports with DP Alt Mode capability, as do most MacBooks, and some smartphones. If your device has that, and your display uses an HDMI 2.0 input, you're in luck; you can get the full glory of a 4K resolution at a smooth 60 hertz using the simplest of these adapters, which would be the Uni. Uni also makes a cable that's basically identical to the adapter, except that it's long and ends in a male plug. Alternately, the Lention Hub is an excellent choice if you'll be using any other devices or trying to charge via that same USB-C plug while using the video output. Finally, if you have the famed Thunderbolt 3 connector, check out the CalDigit Mini Dock, which is small enough to fall into the poorly defined adapter class, yet full-featured enough to pass for a dock, though it doesn't allow for charging pass-through of any type.