A year ago I purchased for home use Apple's Mac Mini M1 with 512 GB SSD built into the computer. Coming more from a Windows and Linux background, it wasn't the operating system or Apple services that lured me to make the purchase but instead its small footprint in both size and presence. While the Mac Mini is a neat computer on its own, there are a couple tradeoffs. The negatives include fewer ports and the lack of ability to upgrade both memory and internal storage. I was afraid to turn this around, I was looking at unattractive cables to external devices spread across my desktop making that "small footprint" no more. Luckily, I looked and found a more elegant solution with my purchase of the newly released Qwiizlab UH25 SE USB C Hub.
The Qwiizlab UH25 SE is a USB C Hub intended to be used with Apple's 2018/2020 Mac Mini and the Mac Studio. Qwiizlab's website also calls this hub a docking station for laptops but I suspect most laptop users will opt for other options given the UH25 SE's squarish form factor seems out of place for a laptop environment. Given that the UH25SE primary pupace is intended to be used for the Mac Mini, I would describe this device as more of a "stand and hub" than a docking station. Regardless, this hybrid device is very good. Key features of the UH25 SE includes:
- Internal Storage Expansion - supports 2.5-inch SATA SSD up to 8TB and SATA III HDD up to 2TB to expand storage for Mac mini 2018/2020 and Mac studio.
- Fast Docking Station Ports - features with 5Gbps USB-C port, 5Gbps USB-A ports and UHS-I SD/microSD card readers up to 104MB/s for quick access to essential peripherals.
- Ultra HD Video Output - supports to extend the screen of your Mac to one external monitor through either HDMI port (4K@60Hz) or VGA port (1080P@60Hz).
Given that Qwiizlab and it's competitors offer other USB stands and hubs for the Mac Mini, why did I choose specifically the Qwiizlab UH25 SE? I've had looking for some time now a docking station at a reasonable price that allows for SSD storage, convenient connections in the front, and didn't require a secondary power source. The fact that with the UH25 SE I only had to use a single Thunderbolt USB-C port from the back of my Mac Mini instead of two like other products was a big plus for me. For these reasons I also ruled out this hub's bigger brother, the UH25 Max. Having the HDMI and VGA connections in the back of the docking station is an added bonus but at this time I don't have a need to use the video ports. For video, I'm using the HDMI and remaining Thunderbolt (USB-C) connection on the back of my Mac Mini for this purpose.
As previously mentioned, I needed more drive storage for my Mac Mini. It took no more than 15 minutes to put a SATA SSD drive into the UH25 SE and then connecting the dock via the provided USB-C cable to my Mac Mini. My choice for the internal SATA solid state drive was the Western Digital 1TB WD Blue SA510 but any good SSD drive will do. The only negative I experienced was due to me being relatively new to the Mac world. I had to go online to learn how best to initialize the SSD drive within Mac OS X. This is more a Mac thing than a Qwiizlab problem but it would have been nice for the instructions to walk through the steps required. Regardless, the final result is I'm happy with my experience as the front ports and the new storage capacity all work great.
I've been using the Qwiizlab UH25 SE with my Mac Mini M1 for more than almost two months and I have had no issues. The only regret I've had up to this point was that I didn't buy a hub/docking station sooner for more breathing room in storage and the convenience of not having to go back of the unit when I had need for a temporary USB connection. Overall though, this is the best thing I've bought for my Mac Mini outside of my initial purchase of a wireless keyboard/mouse.
Currently, the Qwiizlab UH25 SE with my Mac Mini M1 can be found on Amazon for as low as $69.99 but prices will vary with MSRP at $99.99.
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Note: A version of this article was published at After Work Pub.