A well-thought out concept with a few kinks left to work out.
When I upgraded my laptop in 2016 to a 13-inch MacBook Pro, I was hesitant for one reason — the lack of ports. That model laptop only has USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to easily enjoy peripherals as I had in the past. Fortunately, technology prevailed and companies began designing docks to assist MacBook Pro users. One of the most revolutionary options available was the HyperDrive.
When it was originally released in 2017, the HyperDrive was the first and only drive to feature Thunderbolt 3 as one of its connectivity ports. The dock was designed to tap into two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports on the MacBook Pro for maximum bandwidth delivery for users while maintaining a small footprint. The goal was to provide MacBook Pro users with the same UI they were used to on the 2015 model of the laptop. The hub was an innovative product that solved a lot of problems for MacBook Pro users including eliminating the need for multiple dongles.
Early in May this year, Hyper released an updated version of the HyperDrive — the HyperDrive Duo — a 7-in-2 USB-C Hub for Mac Notebooks. This new HyperDrive includes the same wide variety of expansion ports as the original model. In total there are 7 ports to use for connection to your laptop. Those ports include two (2) USB-A, one (1) SD card slot, one (1) Micro SD card slot, one (1) HDMI, and two (2) USB-C ports (one capable of Thunderbolt 3 with 100W power delivery). These are the same ports that were included in the original HyperDrive, but the HDMI connection now supports 4K 60Hz HDMI.
In addition to the updated HDMI technology support, the HyperDrive Duo comes equipped with a removable magnetic insert that rests between the dock and the connected computer. It’s designed to increase the sturdiness of the dock to decrease the amount of accidental disconnects a user might experience. Hyper has included a similar grip with their iPadPro USB-C Hub. One of the reasons Hyper provided this extension grip is because the hub itself has longer than usual USB-C connectors. This was included to be able to accommodate different models of notebooks and any covers/cases they might have equipped.
The HyperDrive Duo can be utilized with single-port USB-C devices by connecting the USB-C extension that is provided. This gives users with non-MacBook USB-C devices the opportunity to take advantage of all the features of the hub. Hyper also includes a vegan leather pouch for storage of the hub, its extension cable, and grip. Hyper is offering the HyperDrive Duo in two colors — silver and space grey.
|Compatible USB-C Devices: 2019 MacBook Pro 16”, 2016-2019 MacBook Pro 15”, 2016-2019 MacBook Pro 13”, 2018-2020 MacBook Air, 2018/2020 iPad Pro, works with protective cases, and any USB-C device|
|Dimensions: 4.5” x 1.25” x 0.34”|
|Weight: 102.1 grams|
|Output Ports: HDMI 4K 60Hz HDR, USB-C 40 Gbps 100W PD, USB-C 5 Gbps 60W PD, Micro SD/SD UHS-1 104 MB/s, 2 x USB-A 5 Gbps|
|Input Connector: Dual USB-C|
I’ve been waiting a long time to try the HyperDrive. In the past 4 years, I’ve tested out a lot of hubs and docks that mimic what HyperDrive does, but they aren’t the original product. The HyperDrive Duo comes in a nicely designed retail box. A clear image of the product is provided on the front with a diagram of the different types of connections that are available with the hub. The cover of the package also highlights the magnetic strip feature. The back of the box has some additional details provided in multiple languages. I have to admit that I actually found this a little confusing because at first glance, it looks like a lot more detail than it really is simply because there is so much text.
The inside of the box is a pretty standard plastic molding that houses the hub and its extension cable. The vegan leather case is stored below the plastic. There is no manual or paperwork included with the device. This isn’t really a problem since the hub is essentially plug-n-play.
The hub is designed to be sleek, simple, and portable. It’s also designed to fit flush against the MacBook Pro when it’s connected along with the magnetic insert. I did connect it to my 13-inch MacBook Pro with and without the insert. I don’t currently have any sort of case installed on my laptop so I was directly connecting the dock to the laptop. There is a sizable gap between the body of the hub and the body of the laptop. This is by design though. As previously mentioned, Hyper wanted users to be able to use the hub no matter what type of computer is being used and whether or not it is housed in a case. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised that there was a gap.
Next, I connected the insert to the dock and reconnected it to the MacBook Pro. The first thing I noticed was that the ‘magnetic’ function of the insert isn’t very magnetic. It’s really only magnetic on the ends and it’s very easy to detach the insert from the hub. In fact, the magnet resides in the hub itself. The insert is really just a simple piece of plastic. To me, this was a disappointing discovery. I expected the magnetic insert to really stay connected to the hub almost as if it were one piece.
Since the two pieces detach from each other so easily, the dock as a whole doesn’t stay connected well. In addition to that, the design of the insert makes it impossible to close your screen when it’s attached. This causes two problems — one, working remotely and needing to travel from place to place and two, you can’t use the hub while the laptop is in closed-clamshell mode. Since I frequently use my laptop in that mode, this was automatically a turn-off for me.
Even though I had some issues with the form of the HyperDrive Duo, I have to say that it’s function worked remarkably well. I ended up using it a couple of different ways. First, I used it with a ThinkPad T570 15-inch laptop running Windows 10. The laptop has a single USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port and so I was able to use the USB-C extension cable with it. I had an issue where I had to use a very short HDMI cable to connect the Lenovo laptop to an external monitor. I plugged the USB-C extension into the laptop and then the other end onto the hub. Then I connected the HDMI cable into the hub and voila! The laptop synced up to the external monitor immediately. It was a pretty quick and painless process.
With my MacBook Pro, I ran through some additional tests including disk speed tests with a USB-A flash drive, USB-C SSD, and an SD card. One thing I noticed right away is that the HyperDrive Duo is ill-supported. What I mean by that is it just doesn’t fit on the MacBook Pro well and can easily come apart from the computer. I noticed when I went to remove the USB-A stick I had plugged in that the wiggling to get it free caused the HyperDrive to become loose on the computer. It’s just not a tight fit.
I’ve seen on other reviews that users report the HyperDrive Duo gets warm after extended use. I can confirm that this is true for me as well. When I was using it just to connect the external monitor, it was slightly warm, but when I connected it to the MacBook Pro and ran several devices through it — including power — the hub warmed up quickly. It never got ‘hot’ to the touch, but it was noticeably warmer than room temperature.
In addition to the comments I noted in the FORM section of this review, I want to add that connected devices also had a gap between their body and the body of the hub. Again, I’m not a big fan of this since I believe that it can be easier for a device to become detached suddenly, and then there is a risk of data loss.
As far as speed goes, I was encouraged by the results the Blackmagic Speedtest provided. I tested a SanDisk Ultra 8GB Class 6 SD card, 64GB Flash Drive by Silicon Power, and an external SSD by RAVPower. The results are shown in the screenshots below. Each media type transferred at a rate that I was expecting based on the spec of the HyperDrive and the individual device.
While I love the concept of the HyperDrive Duo, I feel that there are still some improvements that can be made on it. When you look at the Form and Function of the device and compare that to the Features, it just doesn’t add up to a 5-star product in my mind. The hub being loose when connected to the MacBook Pro is a major con in my opinion. I want docks to be a tight fit because I don’t want there to ever be a concern that data might be lost. I hope that Hyper takes a good look at the design of this hub and improves on it for a next-generation option. When it was connected properly, the hub functioned really well. I do think it’s price-point of $79 (at the time of writing this review) is a little on the high side considering the faulty connection between the hub, insert, and computer.