USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docks are indeed the newest computer communication and extension technologies. They replace Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C hubs and docks, providing considerable improvements in the future while remaining backward compatible with earlier connectivity technologies.
Hubs and docks let you add extra sorts of connections to your primary computer if it doesn’t have them already. This is especially useful with laptops that just have a few ports on the side. Front and rear ports are common on desktop PCs and Macs. While just a few are common on laptops and tablets.
As a result, you’ll need to connect a multifunction adapter, hub, or more capable docking station with the ports and slots you’ll need to connect other devices like memory sticks, hard drives, storage-card readers, printers, and so on, as well as cable input tools like a keyboard or mouse.
They’re also the ideal method to add an additional monitor or two as well as Gigabit (or faster) Ethernet for cable Internet connection to your more mobile PC. All of the docks and hubs of Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 are here, which can handle two external 4K screens at 60Hz, one 8K display (Windows), or one 6K display (Mac).
Caldigit’s tiny yet strong Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus conquered the Thunderbolt 3 roost for years (TS3 Plus). The Thunderbolt Station 4 (TS4), its Thunderbolt 4 successor, is physically and artistically identical to the TS3. However, it has more ports and better speeds.
All of the USB (5x USB-A, 3x USB-C) and Thunderbolt (3x TB4) connections are lightning-fast and provide excellent device charging. There’s even a USB-C connector with 20W power on the front.
Caldigit has given one of the TB4 ports for a special DisplayPort connection, which is good if you require that video port but not as versatile as keeping three downstream TB4 connections for external display adapters.
A single 8K display at 60Hz can be connected to a Windows computer with a TB4 or USB4 dock. A single 6K monitor at 60Hz can be connected to a Mac computer with a TB4 or USB4 hub. Older Intel Macs, as well as the later M1 Pro and M1 Max MacBooks, can connect two 4K monitors at 60Hz, although basic M1 MacBooks can only connect one external display.
If you have 2.5GbE compliant devices, cable Internet is 2.5 times better than any other Thunderbolt 4 dock or hub. The dock’s 230W power supply is by far the most efficient of any dock on the market, and it can charge a laptop at a rate of 98W.
The Caldigit TS4 offers the most ports, the quickest speeds, and the most power, so it has to be your top pick if you’re looking for the best.
Caldigit’s tiny and relatively inexpensive Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 Element Hub has the most contemporary USB ports on a hub or docking station, and they’re all reliable at their maximum speeds.
It has four Thunderbolt 4 connectors (all with 40Gbps speed and 15W charging) as well as four USB-A 3.2 Gen.2 connections (10Gbps and 7.5W). That’s more than anyone has seen or tried from any other Thunderbolt 4 hub.
Upstream is one of the TB4 ports for connecting to your computer. The remaining three are Downstream. That can be used as a connecter to connect to other devices.
Caldigit’s Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub isn’t strictly a docking station, but it has so many USB connections (both Type A and Type C) that this can easily use as one, whether you have the appropriate serial peripheral ports or adapters for connecting external screens.
The Element Hub is one of the tiniest docks you’ll discover with its own power supply when it is used as a dock.
The power supply should be sufficient for most of your demands at 150W, with up to 60W left for powering the laptop or tablet. Plenty for all but the most powerful machines.
If you need to connect more than one external monitor to your laptop, the Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Dock Station is an excellent option.
For display connections, other Thunderbolt 4 docks rely only on the TB4 ports. If you wish to connect two external screens, you’ll lose two of the three downstream TB4 ports. And also you’ll require HDMI or DisplayPort converters unless the displays are USB-C compatible.
Because Anker includes two HDMI ports, you won’t need any adapters to connect your screens. There’s only one downstream TB4 connector, but if you connect two screens to one of the other docks or hubs, that’s all you’d have left.
However, there is a catch for Mac users. Because they can only utilize one of the HDMI connections, putting two on the dock instead of a TB4 port is a waste of space. Windows users may connect up to 3 screens using each of these ports, as well as the extra TB4 port.
This dock is less versatile than some other Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docks where the TB4 ports can be used for display or whatever else you want if you aren’t intending on adding two displays.
Owners of Thunderbolt 4 Windows laptops may attach an external monitor to the dock’s single downstream TB4 connector. This allows them to have as many as three displays streaming out of the dock: two HDMI and one TB4. To get three monitors on a Mac. You’ll need to install third-party DisplayLink software.
An additional point for including a power button on the front of the dock so that your laptop doesn’t get a charge while it’s not in use and for keeping the dock cool at night.
The Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station is a high-quality dock with everything you’d expect from Kensington: four TB4 ports, three fast USB-A ports, and one slow USB-A port (that at least has 7.5W charging power in comparison to the 4.5W charging power of the faster USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports), SD Card reader, Gigabit Ethernet, and audio jack.
The power supply is the greatest in all of the Thunderbolt 4 hub and dock, at 180W, which is ideal if you’re powering many devices from the dock. We enjoy the On/Off button and the informative LEDs that indicate whether the dock is active and when it’s connected.
One will believe that spending a little more for this dock is well worth it, especially considering the three-year guarantee.
With one upstream Thunderbolt 4 port, three downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports, plus an additional USB-A port thrown in for good measure. The OWC Thunderbolt Hub delivers. This is the cheapest one of these new Thunderbolt 4 or USB4 hubs.
There are four Thunderbolt 4 ports, each with a bandwidth of 40 Gbps and a charging power of 15 W. And also one USB-A 3.2 Gen.2 (10 Gbps and 7.5 W) port. Depending on your demands, the TB4 ports may be expected to connect SSDs and other USB-C, TB3 or TB4 devices, or external displays.
It comes with a 110W power supply. This should be enough for the number of connections it offers, and it can recharge a laptop at up to 60W.
The Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Small Dock is comparable to the other Thunderbolt 4 hubs, but it calls itself a “mini dock,” which is OK because all Thunderbolt 4 hubs can be used as docks with the correct Ethernet and external display adapters.
With its 85W laptop-charging power, it outperforms most similar Thunderbolt 4 hubs. However, given the possible 67.5W power loss if all of the ports were to be connected at the same time. Its total external power supply of 100W feels a bit low.
Although there are formal meanings for these phrases, they are widely used.
A hub generally collects a few distinct ports in a compact shape, often with a power supply, and usually combines multiples of the same kind of port. For example, ancient USB-A connections. A multi-format adapter adds many types of ports in a small, portable package that can either take power from the host computer or give power via a USB-C port with your USB-C charger.
A docking station is a bigger beast with its own massive power source and a variety of connections to meet all of your connectivity and charging needs. The definitions have converged to the point that they are now more about size and format than capabilities.
Thunderbolt 4 is now here, and even if you have a Thunderbolt 3 machine. You should consider getting an authorized Thunderbolt 4 dock since it’s both backward compatible with previous USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 devices and future-proof. At least until Thunderbolt 5 arrives.
Because it works with Thunderbolt 3 and 4, but not the older Thunderbolt 2, OWC labels their Thunderbolt 4 docking station simply the “Thunderbolt Dock.”. If your PC has T2, it’s time to upgrade.
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