Laptop Mag Verdict
The Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter is a real Swiss Army Knife, small enough to sit comfortably in a pocket, and well prepared to save the day if you find yourself in a pinch for ports — just don’t get stung by Dell’s inflated price tag.
Decent port selection
Pocket-sized and ultra-portable
Great support for external displays
Up to 90W of Power Delivery
Awful cable management
Plastic chassis feels fragile in places
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The Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter (DA310) sounds dull in name, and could maybe find itself at the business end of a wider audience if it went with something like the Port Puck 9000. However, corporate marketing exists and here we are. Thankfully, Dell’s adapter/hub proves to be a solidly useful device — ideally suited to those who need ports, power, and portability in equal measure.
Dell’s prior iteration of this USB-C hub (DA300) previously secured a place on our list of the best USB Type-C hubs available today, and there’s now a worthy successor to take its spot. So what is it that this port-providing puck has to offer? Let’s find out.
Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter (DA310) price and availability
Dell’s original pricing “estimate” is wildly off the mark at $160. For what the Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter has to offer, slapping that kind of price tag on it is akin to highway robbery. While the hub’s extensive external display support is impressive (and worth paying a little more to secure), it’s not $160 worth of impressive.
By contrast, much cheaper USB-C hubs are available, including Monoprice’s $54.99 13-in-1 Dual-HDMI + DP MST Dock and Plugable’s $30 USB-C 7-in-1 Hub. Both options are cheaper and feature similar levels of port selection, though neither offers the same full range of DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, and USB-C monitor support as Dell’s Mobile Adapter.
Its current Amazon pricing brings the USB-C Mobile Adapter closest to its true value, but ultimately the hub’s worth varies from person to person. This is a device best suited for a desk-swapping office nomad, or the troubleshooting techie who needs a portable plethora of ports and power.
Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter (DA310) ports and connectivity
Dell's DA310 is a 7-in-1 port offering that does itself no justice by adopting the "adapter" namesake. This is a USB-C hub in all but title — and not a bad one either.
The Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter also features a multipurpose MFDP USB Type-C port that you can plug your laptop charger into for up to 90W of power delivery to the host machine, use as a data port for speeds up to 10Gbps, or connect to an external monitor. The port can handle displays at resolutions of up to 4K with a refresh rate of 60Hz and serve up to 90W of Power Delivery to the host machine at the same time.
Taking a spin around the dock showcases the following ports:
- (Host) 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (10Gbps, 90W of Power Delivery)
- (Power) 1 x MFDP USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (15W charge, 10Gbps, Supports external displays up to 4K @ 60Hz)
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 (Supports displays up to 4K @ 60Hz)
- 1 x HDMI 2.0 (Supports displays up to 4K @ 60Hz)
- 1 x VGA (Supports displays up to 1080p @ 30Hz)
- 1 x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
- 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (7.5W charge, 10Gbps)
That’s an impressive selection of inputs, featuring support for almost every display you’re likely to encounter as well as speedy data ports and an ample supply of power. The only thing missing from the hub is access to media storage such as an SD or microSD card reader. However, with so little space left to place such a port, I can understand why it’s absent.
Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter (DA310) design
The hub's hockey puck design is split into two segments, the top of which houses each of the seven additional ports and is crowned by a chrome Dell logo. The plastic chassis does give the device a slightly cheaper feel, but it seems fairly durable and well-reinforced. For good measure, I gave it a few drops on the floor. After all, if something is travel-friendly, it should be able to withstand the occasional drop or shock.
Thankfully, I didn’t smash Dell’s USB-C Mobile Adapter into smithereens — it remained in full operation without any signs of an issue. However, I wouldn’t trust the plastic chassis to hold up against many heavy impacts without it beginning to crack or break.
The base of the device allows you to twist it as if solving the world’s easier Rubix puzzle or gently breaking apart an Oreo. Though, instead of being treated to a creamy splodge of pancaked sugary goodness, out spools the hub's tethered USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C host cable. (Don’t eat that though; it’s bad for you.)
Twist it in the opposite direction and the cable retracts into the body of the hub, safely tucked away to remain safe while pocketed or not in use. A small ring of rubber at the base of the device caps off its design and provides some stability while in use. Paired with the hub’s surprisingly commodious weight of 96 grams (~3.4 ounces), there won't be a great deal of travel going on. However, even when you do experience it, it isn’t much of an issue for a device of this kind, and won’t be any frustration or annoyance.
The Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter has a smart and economical design that makes use of every inch of space while remaining ultra-portable.
Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter (DA310) performance
Let's start this off by saying the Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter is no docking station replacement. Not only is its tether relatively short at just 5 inches long, the radial placement of its ports would make for a nightmare scenario when it comes to cable management. That being said, as a portable hub that is small enough to fit in your pocket, the DA310 is neigh unbeatable as a quick accessory to pull out and get to work with.
While there are seven ports on offer, the hub is designed to work as something of a Swiss Army Knife — a tool you can easily take out of your bag and use to access legacy USB storage, a different monitor setup, or quickly hook up your machine to a wired Ethernet connection without any fuss. And in that role, it’s ideal.
Hell, you could even swing the thing around by the host cable and enjoy a makeshift flail. However, the accompanying booklet doesn’t suggest this as a use case, and I doubt the hub’s plastic chassis would survive the righteous smiting of a would-be assailant.
I used the Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter for the majority of my week, solely relying on it to handle my workstation needs. It proved to me that more doesn’t mean better, and its limited port selection helped me cut down on desk space and keep things on the minimal side. Not because I wanted to, but because with anything more than three cables connected to it, things start to get a little Japanese Spider Crab in appearance.
I hate cables, hate them. Nothing ruins the aesthetic of a clean desk quite like streams of black and white wire spiraling and swirling in all directions. Just thinking about the hellscape I lived in for days on end is giving me palpitations. It’s not often a man gets prescribed beta blockers after an adverse reaction to desk spaghetti.
While that alone would ideally allow me to score Dell’s hub at a zero, I do have to give it credit for its versatility and flawless performance. It managed to keep both of my laptops fully charged up around the clock, connected my daily peripherals and an external display without issue, and its port speeds are exactly as advertised.
The Dell USB-C Mobile Adapter is a fantastic device to have in a pinch or when on the move. Its tidy engineering and portable frame make for a great travel companion, and the variety of ports on offer can be a godsend in the right circumstances. However, it won't measure up against a decent docking station as an everyday tool for home use.
Dell’s high pricing estimate leaves a lot to be desired, but tracking down the right deal online can see you save a huge amount and snag one of the best travel-friendly USB-C hubs there is today.
Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.