Last month, I revealed the launch of the new Satechi USB hub for Apple’s Mac mini, a delightful little gizmo that matches Apple’s new M1 Mac mini in appearance and size. I’ve now managed to lay my hands on one which I’ve been able to put to the test. These hubs will be selling like proverbial hotcakes so move fast if you want to grab one.
The Satechi Mac mini hub looks like a natural extension of the mini and has an indentation on its top that mates perfectly with the M1 Mac mini so that both units stack perfectly together. There are four rubber pads for the Mac mini’s feet to rest on, ensuring no rattles or squeaks when the two units are mated. The indentation even has duplicated cooling slots so that the Mac mini can carry on drawing air whenever its fan stirs into action.
A fixed USB-C cable unfurls and plugs into one of the Mac mini’s USB-C ports. This is a USB-C hub rather than a Thunderbolt dock, so be aware that the hub will take up one of the Mac mini’s USB-C/Thunderbolt ports but most people are unlikely to be using both Thunderbolt ports and the same time. As a USB-only device that’s bus-powered, the hub doesn’t have video output capability as some USB-C docking stations do.
All the ports on the Satechi Stand Hub for Mac mini with SSD Enclosure (to give the product its correct title) are on the front and include SD and microSD slots for memory cards; a 3.5mm stereo jack for listening to headphones or using a headset; three USB-A ports and one USB-C port. There’s also an LED activity light that aligns perfectly with the Mac mini’s power light.
The build quality of this hub is superb and it has all its connections, slots and ports on the front, meaning there’s no fumbling around the back of the Mac mini to reach the ports most likely to be used every day for thumb drives, keyboards, mice, etc. That still leaves two spare USB-A ports at the rear of the Mac mini for more permanent peripherals like a webcam, printer or mouse/keyboard receiver dongle. It’s possible to use one of those ports for an additional hub to take other peripherals. I’d recommend the Plugable USBC-HUB7BC 7-Port Hub that I reviewed earlier this month. That should provide more connections than anyone needs.
In the base of the hub, there is a small, removable plastic door that reveals a bay for an M.2 SATA SSD to add extra storage for data. Buying an M.2 SATA SSD will be much cheaper than buying higher capacity built-in SSD for the Mac mini and it’s easy to fit. Satechi even provides a mini screwdriver and screw to fasten any size of M.2 SATA SSD into the drive bay. It took me a minute to fit a 250GB Samsung EVO drive and all I had to do was initialize the drive using Apple’s Disk Utility.
A 1TB Samsung EVO M.2 SATA SSD costs around $105 on Amazon. Upgrading the base specification Mac mini from 250GB of SSD to 1TB will set you back $400 for what is, in effect, just 750GB of extra storage. Maybe the smart move would be to buy a Mac mini 8-Core GPU with 16GB of RAM and 500GB of SSD and spend $105 on a 1TB M.2 SATA SSD for the Satechi Mac mini hub.
The Satechi Mac mini hub only fits Apple’s M1 Mac mini (2020) and isn’t available in Space Gray. The SSD storage works only with M.2 SATA SSD and not NVMe – so ensure the correct SSD is fitted.
Verdict: The Satechi Stand Hub for Mac mini with SSD Enclosure puts all the ports that are needed most often at the front and it’s so slim it hardly notices once it’s nestled underneath the Mac mini. I love it and think it’s a great way of making Apple’s Mac mini more usable while boosting the data storage without paying Apple’s SSD prices or fiddling around with unsightly external drives. Whoever decided to add the M.2 SATA SSD bay is a genius. Of course, the drive speeds aren’t going to match the speed of the Mac mini’s SSD which is soldered to the motherboard, but I think it’s perfectly fast enough at a maximum of 5GB for storing documents, photos and other data. Due to changes in macOS, it’s soon not going to be possible to boot from external storage, so you won’t be able to use the hub or any external drive as a boot volume, but there goes Apple taking out choices away again. Satechi’s Mac mini hub is great value at $99. Every M1 Mac mini owner should probably have one. Highly Recommended.
Pricing and Availability: Satechi’s Type-C Stand & Hub for Mac Mini with SSD Enclosure is available now at Satechi.netand from Amazon.com for $99.99.
More info: www.satechi.net
- Mac Mini (M1, 2020). Not available in Space Gray. Does not support 2018 & earlier Mac Mini models.
- SSD drive not included. Internal SSD enclosure only fits M.2 SATA SSD drives, does not work with NVMe.
- USB-A ports will not charge iPads or support SD readers, including Apple SuperDrive. Only connect one bus-powered device at a time.
- Connector type: USB-C
- Dimensions: 7.8 x 7.8 x 0.9 inches
- Weight: 0.93 lbs
Connections and speeds:
- USB-C data port – up to 5 Gbps, no charging/video
- 3 x USB-A data ports – up to 5 Gbps, does not support charging or CD readers, including Apple SuperDrive
- Micro/SD card readers
- 3.5mm audio jack port