Occasionally, however, a product like this odd little charging brick from ACEFAST drops into our inbox and it’s just too intriguing to ignore. So I accepted the offer of a review unit, spent a lot of time with her, and am now ready to share my impressions with her.
The device discreetly bears the name “Smart Wall Charger-Hub A17 GaN PD65W”. You all know what a wall charger is, and we’re sure most of you know what a Type-C “hub” type device is. is it basically a device that plugs into a Type-C port and offers more ports and features, usually relying on the base USB spec or something fancier like Thunderbolt that might sit behind a Type-C port. Well, the Charger-Hub A17 is both in one.
ACEFAST Charger-Hub A17 Specifications at a Glance:
- Body: 96.8 x 31.7 x 51.9mm, 135g; flame retardant PC.
- Grab: AC100-240V~1.5A, 50Hz/60Hz, EU and US plug available.
- Production: USB-C: 60W max (support PPS, QC3.0, AFC, FCP); USB-A: 5W, 5V / 1A max; HDMI: 4K / 3840×2160 / 60Hz.
- USB Type-A specifications: USB 3.1 gen.2 up to 10Gb/s data rate. Maximum power 5V / 1A.
- Accessories: 1.8m braided USB Type-C to Type-C cable (100W, 10Gbps).
- Certificate : PSE, FCC, UL test report.
We can think of at least two reasons where this might be useful. First of all – one less thing to carry. Want a good portable Nintendo Switch setup or one to hook up a phone and use something like Samsung’s DeX? This could be a good solution.
The other potential use case for us is a clean setup. Hubs are great, but the vast majority come with a short Type-C male cable, which means the hub itself is meant to go right next to the laptop, phone or other device that you plug in. With the ACEFAST -Hub A17 charger, you can hide all the messy plugs and cable ends and manage them properly with just one Type-C cable going to your device on the desk.
To be clear, none of what we have just described is ever seen before. For example, there are many monitors that can feed and output video from a phone or laptop via a single Type-C cable. Even so, what ACEFAST offers is convenience and versatility. in a clever way that we haven’t really seen anywhere else. This alone made us believe that there is a market for this particular gadget.
Overview of specifications and features
There really isn’t much to the individual parts that make up the Charger-Hub A17 once you break it all down. There are a total of three ports on it. Type-C is good for up to 60W of power (the 65W power rating on the box is actually cumulative for it and the USB Type-A port). It also carries a USB data connection and video output from the connected device.
The USB Type-A port is for connecting a USB device to the host. It’s advertised as a UBS 3.1 port, which means very little. The port itself is good for 5W of power and, according to our tests, achieves 10Gb/s of data transfer, making it a “gen 2” port.
The HDMI port isn’t “basic” either. It supports up to 4K@60Hz output, making it an HDMI 2.0. This is great to see as many Type-C hubs are limited to 4K at 30Hz on an HDMI 1.4 port.
The ACEFAST Charger-Hub A17 also comes with a very sturdy 1.8m USB Type-C to Type-C cable. According to our POWER-Z USB meter, this is a passive cable, good for up to 20V@5A of power or 100W and 10GBps of data transfer. Perfectly adapted to the needs of the charger/hub.
How does it work as a charger
The charger part of the Charger-Hub A17 is impressive in terms of space efficiency. The entire gadget measures 96.8 x 31.7 x 51.9mm and tips the scales at 135 grams. This is an impressive density that can only be achieved through the use of gallium nitride or GaN technology. And the overall size becomes even more impressive once you consider the additional hardware also crammed in there to handle hub tasks.
ACEFAST advertises a nice and wide charging standard compatibility for the Charger-Hub A17, including USB PD with PPS as well as support for QuickCharge 3.0, AFC and FCP. However, our review unit only supports PD up to 60W with only fixed outputs and no PPS. 5V@3A, 9V@3A, 12V@3A, 15V@2.6A and 20V@3A, to be exact. We don’t know why this discrepancy exists, but the retail units should hopefully support all advertised standards.
How well does it work as a “dongle” for HDMI and USB
Video output over Type-C is quite versatile on the Charger-Hub A17. To be fair, unlike other parts of the confusing USB Type-C and its underlying USB and Thunderbolt standards, video output is relatively simple and usually done via USB Alternate Mode. Even so, there are subtle differences and nuances that need to be considered to make an HDMI hub work with a wide variety of modern devices.
We managed to get both video output and USB connection with the Charger-Hub A17 on a total of three laptops we tried, including those from Apple. We’ve also had success with a few Samsung and Huawei devices with their respective DeX and Desktop Mode implementations. We also had a perfectly stable experience with a Nintendo Switch, which is known to have poor compatibility with some third-party dongles. ACEFAST has done its homework in this department. You can find a longer list of devices verified to work with the Charger-Hub A17 on its Amazon listing.
It’s also worth remembering that the Charger-Hub A17 supports HDMI 2.0 and up to 40K@60Hz. This is especially important for work scenarios such as connecting a laptop or using DeX, as 30Hz is horrible for productivity and the “desktop” experience in general.
The ACEFAST Charger-Hub A17 is currently listed on Amazon US for $49.99. That’s a pretty reasonable price in our book for what is essentially a GaN PD charger, USB Type-C HUB, and Type-C cable. Pricing and availability in Europe should follow soon.
We love the Charger-Hub A17 and think it’s a really nifty little gadget. Again, none of its features are revolutionary in any way, but the clever way they’re implemented here is worth considering. The Charger-Hub A17 is ideal for being either a very light and portable solution to carry, or a way to achieve a cleaner docking setup. Both are great use cases.
We also didn’t find any major issues with the Charger-Hub A17 during our testing. Well, aside from the somewhat disconcerting absence of some of its advertised charging protocols on our device, which shouldn’t be the case with the retail ones. We also would have liked to see another USB Type-A port there, as one is kind of limiting. ACEFAST may be able to offer this with a 2.0 version at some point. Other than that, the Charger-Hub A17 performs very well and offers wide device compatibility.
We’re sure at least a few of you will find the Charger-Hub A17 intriguing, and smart products like it deserve more exposure.