Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapters

Even though Apple had significantly slashed the prices of their USB-C accessories (until end of this year), I thought it would still be worthwhile to checkout 3rd party offerings. I am quite pleased with a previous USB-C to VGA dongle I got from Lazada, so I was quite hopeful the various USB-C VGA Multiport Adapters might be good too.

The short story is, they work, but they aren’t very good.

Then there’s the long story. This is where I get worried that USB has become somewhat complicated. There was a point some time ago that we all realised that not all USB cables are the same, because some can charge faster than others, and that’s nothing to do with QuickCharge or other type of charging technology that hastens the recharging of batteries.

Later, Benson Leung showed us some of the dangers of USB-C. I had hoped that cables would either just work, or they don’t, and that that’s all there is to it. Unfortunately, it’s not.

So anyhow, I’ve got this “3 in 1 Converter USB 3.1 Type-C Male to VGA / USB 3.0 / UBS 3.1 Type-C Female Cable Adapter Converter” (yes it’s quite a mouthful) from Lazada. You can see it in the photo below. One of them is the original Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter. I’m sure you can tell the Lazada one from the Apple one. (Apple’s on the right, in case you really can’t tell.)

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

Alright, so I wasn’t expecting the 3rd party one that sells for less than half of Apple’s price to look as good. But I wasn’t expecting it to look that bad either. The Lazada one looks really poorly made. The plastic finishing is so bad I thought there might be a layer of protective plastic wrap on it, but there isn’t. The finishing on the metal edges are really bad.

Nevemrind that the adapter is more clunky, which I already suspected to be so from the Lazada product photos, but I didn’t think that the build quality would be so bad.

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

Does the Lazada adapter work? Oh yes, it works. I plugged in the USB-C power cable and a VGA cable into the adapter, and then the adapter into the MacBook Pro, and everything just worked. Not terribly elegant, but this is sort of a convenient docking solution.

Alright, so while the adapter works, it turns out it doesn’t really work terribly well. There are two main problems:

  • The adapter gets very hot when power is delivered through it.
  • The VGA display on my external monitor flickers from time to time.

Now, to be clear, my monitor works perfectly, as does the MacBook Pro, without the adapter. Apple’s USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter doesn’t get hot (just mildly warm), and there aren’t any problems with the VGA connection.

It’s almost like the Lazada adapter had some loose connection problem, because even the MacBook Pro will beep once a while to notify that the power had been connected, so that would mean the USB-C power connection was broken occasionally. It doesn’t happen at the same time as the VGA flicker though, so I don’t suspect the connection between adapter and the MacBook Pro itself.

Perhaps I had a bad adapter? Maybe. Except I also bought a similar “USB Type C to HDMI with Charging Adapter Kayenne USB-C to HDMI Hub (Silver)” that had the same problems. Monitor display would flicker, and the adapter gets very hot. I did check that the adapters were from different sellers on Lazada, though of course they might have been manufactuered from the same factory. The packaging were identical.

USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

Both adapters also have this peculiar problem that USB-C connecters don’t fully insert into the adapter’s USB-C port. See the photo above, that USB-C cable has been fully pushed in, but about a millimetre of it is still showing.

The adapter’s own USB-C connector also doesn’t fully insert into the MacBook Pro’s USB-C port, but this time it’s just about 0.5mm that’s left outside.

I don’t have such problems with other cables, including those from Apple, Google and Huawei, or the respective ports on their various devices.

For some reason, this adapter has some fit issues. It’s exactly the same for the other HDMI version of the adapter. The fit issue on its own wouldn’t be so much of a problem for me. I’m more concerned about the adapter getting hot, and then, also annoyed by the occasional display flicker.

So now it seems there’s some good with the original Apple USB-C accessories.

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