This $24 Surface Pro 6 port expander works great (but looks terrible)

The Surface Pro – including the Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro (2017, fifth gen) and new Surface Pro 6 – is not known to have a lot of options for ports. Just one USB Type-A and a mini DisplayPort are available, which, as noted in our review, is getting dated.

The Eletrand Multi-Function Surface Pro 4 USB 3.0 Hub is low-cost, and it feels like it. But it also packs just about every port or adapter you would ever want for the Surface Pro, and it works quite well.

Eletrand USB 3.0 Hub features

The Eletrand Multi-Function Surface Pro USB 3.0 Hub uses both your current Type-A and mini DisplayPort to operate. The tradeoff, however, is worth it. You get:

  • Full SD card reader.
  • TF/microSD card reader.
  • Two USB Type A 3.0.
  • Full 10/100/1000 Mbps over RJ45 Ethernet port.
  • 4K HDMI adapter (4K/2K@30Hz; 1080P@60Hz).

Ditching mini Display Port in favor of 4K HDMI is an excellent option if HDMI is easier to leverage for you. Many hotels and conference centers rely on HDMI still, and while mini DisplayPort has its advantages (such as bandwidth), HDMI is just sometimes more straightforward to use.

The addition of a full RJ45 Ethernet port is also useful where Wi-Fi is limited or high-bandwidth connectivity is desired.

The rest of the ports are great for productivity – doubling Type-A is useful for plugging into multiple accessories, and dual card slots for microSD and full SD make photo editing a breeze.

Build quality is an issue, though. The Eletrand is plastic and feels a bit hollow, but that's OK. It's a low-cost, knockoff hub with decent build quality. It's all black, save for some silver trim. The hub fits in the palm of your hand but still looks big and gangly when plugged into the Surface Pro 6.

The Eletrand hub is angled where the connectors are so it lines up nicely with the Surface Pro's tapered edge. With both the native USB Type-A and mini DisplayPort being used, it also gives the hub a stable and firm connection to the Surface Pro with no wiggle.

Eletrand Multi-Function Surface Pro USB 3.0 Hub usage

The Eletrand performs as expected. Doing a speed test with the Ethernet port maxed out my home connection matching my router output exactly, so there is no detectable data loss. Likewise, for the SD card reader which matched my SanDisk card from my Nikon camera at 90 MB/s sequential transfers, just as it should.

I much prefer using HDMI over mini DisplayPort, and the conversion worked well there too. Unused bandwidth from the mini DisplayPort is used for the other ports on this hub, including the dual USB Type-A ports, card readers, and Ethernet. That's a clever substitution for those of us who are OK with full HD at 60Hz for an external display. (You can do 2K or 4K, but you'll drop to a less-desirable 30Hz.)

Due to the size of the hub, you'll want to remove it from the Surface Pro during transport as you could risk it snapping off. The hub has a firm grip on the Surface Pro, too, so you need to give a solid yank, but that is better than it being too loose.

So should you buy it?

There are much cheaper hubs available for the Surface Pro 6, but they omit the HDMI converter and RJ45 Ethernet port. Those extra "premium" features bump the price from about $13 without those capabilities to $24 with them.

The Eletrand Multi-Function Surface Pro Hub is still a bargain. Instead of one Type-A port and a less-useful mini DisplayPort, you gain five other functions. Sure, it looks terrible, but that's no big deal, at least not for me.

There is another downside with those dual Type-A ports: they're very close together. That makes using two thumb drives cramped - if not impossible - especially if one of those drives has a large body. To make it work you may need a port-extender cable, which makes the whole gangly setup even worse. While it's nice Eletrand jammed a lot into this hub, it may be too much to be practical.

The LED on the side is also useless since it's not visible when using the Surface Pro. It would have been nice to have an activity LED on the front to show that the hub is active or transferring data.

Putting these gripes aside, though, for $24 the Eletrand hub gives you an HDMI port, Ethernet, and the ability to directly edit photos from two SD cards at the same time. That's cool, and it makes the Surface Pro that much more useful when on the go. So, yes, if you're looking for an affordable way to expand your Pro's ports and aren't too worried about looks, buy this. You won't be disappointed.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.