Before you return your new MacBook Pro due to pure lack of connectivity options and dead-end support, check out the Kingston Nuceum.
This small hub is an absolute life saver and gives you back control over your existing external hardware.
Apple’s switch to USB-C happened swiftly, and although there’s nothing wrong with the new connection type, adapters are needed to use existing hardware with the new range of MacBooks. In my case almost £200 worth.
The Nucleum features ports USB-A, USB-C, HDMI, MicroSD, SD that then connect to your Mac through one USB-C cable.
If you own a MacBook Pro, and you’re frustrated with the connectivity, then the Nuceum will instantly ease your pain.
USB Hub / kingstongo.com / £60 / $75 at time of review
I’m just one of countless Mac users who’ve been frustrated by the latest generation of Mac’s. We, the devout, pay a premium for the logo, and despite there being an imbalance of price to power we still buy Apple because they work and we can get on with our jobs.
That was until Apple soldered everything to the Logicboard and fazed out all hardware connections bar USB-C. I’ve now been in several photo studios, and production houses where the frustrations of the latest Macs are apparent, underpowered and the once excellent support now seems to be fading.
However, the Apple platform still provides many photographers with the tools, power and let’s face it style that they require.
So what to do about connecting in all your old hard drives, mice, keyboards, Wacom, scanner, printer and let’s not forget the power cable.
The answer is the Kingston Nucleum, one of the handiest Mac accessories of all time.
It’s a one-stop connectivity solution enabling you to plug in a series of devices into the hub which in turn connects to the computer through one USB-C cable.
The hub is relatively small at 125mm x 45mm and weighs in at 100g.
Made from durable plastic, the Nucleum has a nice ergonomic feel and look to the design.
Along the sides are all of the connectors with MicroSD, SD, USB-A and USB-C on one side, USB-A and USB-C (Also Power in) on the other and an HDMI port on one end.
The HDMI port is V1.4 so supports 4K. USB-C is 3.1 GEN 1 (5Gb/s) and USB-A is USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) power 5V/1.5A.
The SD card reader will take all modern USB cards SD/SDHC/SDXC and UHS-I-II.
The MicroSD card reader MicroSD/MicroSDHC/MicroSDXC UHS I
The power passthrough is up to 60W.
Build and Handling
The build quality of the Nucleum is excellent, with a good solid feel. The main body is simple in design with just the integrated USB-C cable sticking out the end.
Connecting into the Mac is easy enough, plug the USB-C cable directly into the computer and then connect whatever you like into the Hub.
There’s little on the device to go wrong, all the ports felt tight, and the SD card readers enable easy insertion and withdrawal.
What sets the Nucleum apart from the usual series of adapters is that it’s a single device you don’t have to worry about countless adapters for each type of connection.
It also keeps all of those ports together and when plugged in only occupies one USB-C port rather than all four. This is especially important for those who own last years MacBook Pro 13-inch which just had two USB-C ports, one for power and then the other for an external HD, or your card reader etc.
It doesn’t sound like too much of a faff until you’re out on the job, having to continually switch between hard drives and card readers with the power out.
Despite the increase in connections, there is still one port missing, and that is for the network cable. It’s understandable that it doesn’t appear as all Mac’s now ship with Wi-Fi built in, but if you have to deal with video files or those from the latest high-resolution cameras you still need the speed and reliability of a hard-wired connection.
Some hubs are fast others not. When using the Nucleum, there was no noticeable difference in speed between a USB-C external drive plugged in directly to the MacBook and one that was connected through the Nucleum.
USB-A ports did the job that USB-A ports do, as did the two USB-C. The HDMI port enabled me to connect the MacBook directly to my TV and a couple of BenQ monitors that I have in for review with no issue.
The port was automatically picked up, and in no time I was watching Agent Carter on the big screen, so all good.
The Kingston Nucleum arrived in the nick of time; I’d already had to return a MacPro a couple of years ago and revert to an older MacPro due to expansion and heat issues. Then with the shinney new MacBook Pro in front of me and finding the frustrations through connectivity, I had finally decided to take it back and switch to PC.
However, the Nucleum like paracetamol to a headache instantly soothed my pain, once again giving me rational and a baseline working relationship with my Mac. A couple of months on I still have the MacBook Pro and have returned to a status of equilibrium with the system.
I’ve even splashed out and bought it a new jacket.
That would not have happened without the Nucleum. It is by far the best device that I have ever used with my Mac; it has changed the way I use my Mac, so it is more akin to the way I wanted to use it.
It’s so good I now no longer think of it, it’s just part of the Mac, I no longer mention it, comment on it, it just is.
It does what any decent product should do, work without fuss, so I don’t have to think about it. Which unfortunately is what I have done, it has become a part of my everyday life, I use it daily and in doing so forgot that it was in for review.
In summary, my MacBook Pro is brilliant but only due to the Nucleum, so buy one.