Thunderbolt 4 dock

Thunderbolt 4 dock DEFAULT
  • Due to ongoing shortages of our previous budget pick, Plugable’s Thunderbolt 4 Hub is our new budget pick if you need more Thunderbolt ports.

October 13, 2021

Several of our picks are out of stock or available only as preorders at this writing. We stand by our picks, and we think they’re worth waiting for.

Whether laptop owners like it or not, manufacturers including Apple are replacing the ports on their laptops with slimmer, multifunction Thunderbolt and USB-C connectors. If you need to plug in accessories with any sort of regularity, a Thunderbolt dock offers various inputs and outputs over a single cable and also charges your computer. CalDigit’s TS3 Plus is the best among them, offering more ports than other docks and excellent performance in a package that takes up little space on a desk.

Our pick

CalDigit TS3 Plus

CalDigit TS3 Plus

The best Thunderbolt dock

This dock has the most—and the most useful—ports, including USB-A and USB-C ports and an SD card slot. It can charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed or a 16-inch model at close to that.

Ports and features

Two Thunderbolt 3 (one passthrough)Audio-in
One USB-C 3.2 Gen 1Audio-out
One USB-C 3.2 Gen 2S/PDIF digital optical audio
One DisplayPort87-watt charging
Gigabit Ethernet

No other model offers a greater number of the most useful ports you can expect from a dock than the CalDigit TS3 Plus. The second Thunderbolt port allows you to pass through data from Thunderbolt accessories. You can hook up two 4K monitors at 60 Hz, too, and this is the only dock with S/PDIF audio. And whereas most docks have a strictly horizontal orientation, the TS3 Plus can also stand vertically, minimizing its footprint. This CalDigit model has the best combination of ports, size, and shape we’ve found, though it is more expensive than many other docks.

Ports and features

One Thunderbolt 3Gigabit Ethernet
Two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1One audio-in/out
One USB-A 3.2 Gen 2Two DisplayPort
Two USB-C 3.2 Gen 260-watt charging

Consider Monoprice’s Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Docking Station if you don’t need a Thunderbolt passthrough port for connecting high-speed accessories or an SD card slot, and if you’re okay with fewer USB-A connectors and slightly slower charging than on our top pick. Although that may sound like a lot of sacrifices, the array of ports on this dock is still impressive, especially compared with similarly priced models; nothing else in the sub-$200 range matches it. And with its two DisplayPort connectors, you can run two 4K monitors at once.

Ports and features

Four Thunderbolt 3 (three passthrough)Gigabit Ethernet
One USB-A 2.0One audio-in/out
Three USB-A 3.2 Gen 290-watt charging
SD card slot

We’ve concluded that most people are better served by the wider port selection on the CalDigit TS3 Plus, but if you prefer the flexibility of Thunderbolt, go with OWC’s Thunderbolt Dock. This model has three Thunderbolt 3 passthrough ports, which you can also use as USB-C connectors or for hooking up monitors with the right adapters. You do give up dedicated video outputs, as well as one of the USB 3.0 ports.

Ports and features

Four Thunderbolt 4 (three passthrough)60-watt charging

Plugable’s Thunderbolt 4 Hub is the smallest way to add three extra Thunderbolt 4 ports to your setup—and it’s cheap. The port selection is too limited for most people who might require a dock, but if it fits your needs, the performance is good.

Why you should trust us

I’ve been covering mobile and computer accessories for more than a decade. During my tenure, I’ve reviewed more than 1,000 iOS and Mac products, including numerous docking stations over several iterations of this guide.

Who this is for

A Thunderbolt dock is useful if your port-equipped computer—whether Thunderbolt 3, Thunderbolt 4, or USB4—doesn’t have enough ports and connections, or if those connections are inconveniently located. You can run a single Thunderbolt cable from the computer to the dock and put the dock somewhere more accessible.

If you want to connect several peripherals to your Thunderbolt computer—displays, drives, printers, and such—a Thunderbolt dock lets you attach them all with a single cable. If you use a laptop as your main computer and regularly move that laptop to and from a desk with multiple peripherals, you can leave all of those accessories plugged into the dock so that when you sit down at your desk, you can simply plug your Thunderbolt cable into the laptop to connect everything instantly.

Thunderbolt docks are ideal for creative professionals and other people who demand a lot from their computers, including the fastest possible transfer speeds and the widest port selection. Most people, however, are just as well served by a much less expensive USB-C hub; such hubs use the same connector and can do almost all the same things, but they don’t support Thunderbolt 3 transfer speeds and don’t usually include the same quantity or variety of ports.

  • The Best USB Hubs

    The Best USB Hubs

    USB hubs offer the best way to add more functionality to a PC or notebook without many ports, and we have recommendations for almost every situation.

USB-C vs. Thunderbolt 3 vs. USB4 vs. Thunderbolt 4

Although USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 use the same USB-C connector, they aren’t the same thing, so a Thunderbolt 3 device may not work like it’s supposed to if you plug it into a USB-C port. Thunderbolt is more complicated and thus more expensive for computer makers to include, and you’ll find it mainly on recent Macs and higher-end Windows PCs such as our top ultrabook picks. If your computer has USB-C but not Thunderbolt 3, the docks in this guide aren’t for you—check out our guide to USB-C accessories.

As this Intel blog post explains, Thunderbolt 3 does everything that USB-C can do and a little more. Specifically, Thunderbolt 3 supports faster data-transfer rates (up to 40 Gbps, versus a maximum of 5 or 10 Gbps for USB-C depending on the device), allows data to transfer in both directions at the same time (useful when you’re connecting a slew of devices through one cable), and can simultaneously transfer data, output video, charge your computer, and daisy-chain other Thunderbolt devices over a single cable.

USB4 (sometimes stylized as USB 4) is now being advertised on Apple’s M1-based Mac laptops, among others, and is functionally identical to Thunderbolt 3. Unlike Thunderbolt 3, a specification owned and controlled by Intel, USB4 (PDF) is a royalty-free standard established through the USB Implementers Forum, the industry group that oversees all things USB.

Then there’s Thunderbolt 4. As PCMag explains, “Thunderbolt 4 isn’t a speed play; it is more about minimum requirements than maximum speeds.” It implements double the minimum requirements for video and data but has the same top speeds and specs. We’re starting to see some Thunderbolt 4 docks, and in our testing, they’ve worked just fine with Thunderbolt 3 computers. For the sake of this guide, we consider Thunderbolt 3 and Thunderbolt 4 to be interchangeable.

How we picked and tested

Our four favorite thunderbolt 3 docks, shown in a stack.

A great Thunderbolt dock extends the functionality of a computer by offering additional connections, each capable of the fastest data-transfer speeds. These docks are particularly practical for computers that have a limited number and variety of ports, such as the current M1-equipped MacBook Air, but docks are also useful for more conveniently connecting peripherals to a desktop or laptop computer. In evaluating our picks, we looked for the following features:

  • Port selection: In general, more ports are better, but we especially prefer useful ports such as USB-A and digital video output. Less expensive docks generally don’t have extra Thunderbolt ports, so you can’t connect extra Thunderbolt devices through the dock.
  • Port performance: Devices connected via the Thunderbolt 3 dock should perform almost as well as devices connected directly to the computer. (We discuss our test procedure for each type of port below.)
  • Design and size: Everything else being equal, a smaller dock is better for your desk than a larger one. We also prefer docks that you can stand on end to take up even less space.

Thunderbolt docks have always been somewhat niche, so you won’t find many. We’ve tested almost every dock that has been released since June 2017. For our 2021 testing, we used a 2019 16-inch MacBook Pro to test performance and speeds, and we confirmed compatibility with a 2020 13-inch, M1-based MacBook Pro and an HP Spectre laptop. Specifically, we ran the following tests:

  • USB-A, USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 or 4: The “standard” USB-A port is still the most common input for peripherals—including external drives, wired keyboards, and more—and most Thunderbolt docks have several of them. USB-C ports are less common, as are extra Thunderbolt ports. To measure the read and write speeds of each, we ran AJA System Test speed tests using Samsung’s Portable SSD T5 for the USB ports and the now-discontinued LaCie Bolt 3 for the Thunderbolt ports. The docks we tested offered a range of port speeds, from USB 2.0 at 480 Mbps to USB. 3.2 Gen 2 at 10 Gbps.
  • Video: Almost all Thunderbolt docks promise dual 4K monitor support at a full 60 Hz, assuming your computer and monitors support it; we ruled out any that couldn’t handle two monitors at once. Using an array of DisplayPort cables, HDMI cables, and USB-C adapters, depending on each dock’s port selection, we connected our 16-inch MacBook Pro and a pair of 4K monitors to each dock. We set each monitor to its maximum resolution and verified that both were performing at the proper refresh rate. (Apple’s late-2020, M1-based MacBooks support only one external display, even if you’re using a dock.)
  • Power output: Thunderbolt docks can charge your computer, too, so you don’t have to worry about plugging in a second cable. We’ve found the Power tab in macOS’s System Report to accurately report the wattage of the power source, and we compared the figures stated there against what each company advertised.
  • Audio: We tested each dock’s audio inputs and outputs by plugging microphone-equipped headphones into each of the audio jacks, making sure the input or output source was properly set in macOS and monitoring the resulting audio levels.
  • Ethernet: We verified the connection speed in Network Utility on a Mac, which displays the link speed.
  • SD card: For digital photographers, SD cards are still a common way to transfer images to a computer. We ran AJA System Test on a 64 GB SanDisk Extreme Pro to measure the read and write speeds.

The best Thunderbolt dock: CalDigit TS3 Plus

The best thunderbolt 3 dock, the CalDigit TS3 Plus.

Our pick

CalDigit TS3 Plus

CalDigit TS3 Plus

The best Thunderbolt dock

This dock has the most—and the most useful—ports, including USB-A and USB-C ports and an SD card slot. It can charge a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed or a 16-inch model at close to that.

CalDigit’s TS3 Plus offers more ports than the competition—including the most USB-A ports and USB-C ports, plus an SD card slot—without sacrificing other important inputs, which makes it the best Thunderbolt 3 dock for most people. The TS3 Plus supports up to two 4K monitors or one 5K monitor at a full 60 Hz refresh rate, and it’s also one of the most compact models available, so it takes up less room on your desk—especially if you stand it up vertically on its end, an option you don’t get with most docks. And the 87 watts of power it can send to a connected laptop means it’s capable of charging even a 15-inch MacBook Pro at full speed, or a 16-inch MacBook Pro at close to that.

Ports and features

Two Thunderbolt 3 (one passthrough)Five USB-A 3.2 Gen 1

One USB-C 3.2 Gen 1

One USB-C 3.2 Gen 2

One DisplayPort

Gigabit Ethernet

Audio-inAudio-out

S/PDIF digital optical audio

SD card reader

87-watt charging

Almost every other Thunderbolt dock we tested is long and flat, designed to lie horizontally on your desk. The TS3 Plus, in contrast, can sit horizontally or stand vertically. When it’s standing on its shortest edge, it takes up only about 6.25 square inches of desk space.

Our favorite thunderbolt 3 dock, the CalDigit TS3 Plus, shown on its side..
Read (MB/s)Write (MB/s)
USB-AFour at 347.7, one at 425Four at 312.3, one at 389
USB-COne at 516.3, one at 347One at 474.7, one at 310
Thunderbolt2,234771.7
SD card8873.7

Read and write speeds on the CalDigit TS3 Plus.

In our USB-A testing with Samsung’s Portable SSD T5, we measured average read and write speeds from four of the ports that were about a third slower than what we saw from other docks with USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectors. You may find that to be an issue if you’re transferring data using USB-A accessories, but it won’t make a difference for peripherals such as a keyboard or webcam. The fifth port (the lowest one on the back of the CalDigit dock) produced faster speeds. The USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 read and write speeds were almost identical to those of the slower four USB-A ports, while the USB 3.2 Gen 2 port was noticeably faster and in line with every other Gen 2 device we tested.

The TS3 Plus is one of the most compact docks available, so it takes up less room on your desk—especially if you stand it on its end.

In our data-transfer tests using a Thunderbolt 3 drive (a LaCie Bolt 3), the TS3 Plus’s Thunderbolt 3 read and write speeds were many times faster than its USB results but—as with all the docks—still a bit slower than when the test drive was connected directly to the computer via Thunderbolt, and slower than the maximum speed LaCie advertises for that drive. Again, these numbers are comparable with our test results across the rest of the docks, and these figures still indicate blazing-fast speeds next to those of most connection types. However, you shouldn’t buy this dock (or any dock, for that matter) expecting to see the same performance as you’d get with a direct connection between your computer and the fastest Thunderbolt 3 drives.

The TS3 Plus’s SD-card transfer speeds were on a par with those of every other SD-equipped dock we’ve tested but slower than what we measured with a standalone card reader for our guide to the best SD cards.

Our favorite thunderbolt 3 dock, the CalDigit TS3 Plus, shown from the front.

The front of the CalDigit dock has (from left) an SD card slot, audio-out, audio-in, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 port, and one USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Our favorite thunderbolt 3 dock, the CalDigit TS3 Plus, shown from the back.

The back of the CalDigit dock has (from left) Gigabit Ethernet, S/PDIF audio out, a DisplayPort connector, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, and four USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Most Thunderbolt 3 docks, including this one, use DisplayPort for video output. When the dock was connected to two 4K monitors, we measured a proper 60 Hz refresh rate on both displays; one was connected directly to the DisplayPort, while the other was attached through a USB-C–to–DisplayPort cable plugged into the Thunderbolt port. We didn’t test 5K monitor support, but we’re confident in CalDigit’s claims.

The TS3 Plus can charge connected laptops at up to 87 watts. Most 13-inch laptops charge at 45 or 60 watts, and even the most power-hungry MacBook Pro models max out at 96 watts, so regardless of which computer you’re using, you’re likely to get full-speed charging or very close to it. Some other docks offer similar charging speeds, but less expensive models usually top out around 60 watts.

Thunderbolt docks require large power bricks, and the TS3 Plus is no exception. The 6-by-3-by-1-inch power adapter is only slightly smaller than the dock itself, but it’s not noticeably bigger than the others we saw in our testing. This CalDigit dock (like all the docks we tested) comes with a Thunderbolt cable, so you don’t need to buy one separately.

CalDigit offers a two-year warranty on the TS3 Plus, which is as good as the coverage length on any of our other picks.

Reviews of the TS3 Plus have been positive, matching our findings. “Of all the Thunderbolt 3 docks I’ve tested so far, CalDigit’s TS3 Plus is my new favorite,” writes Eric Slivka of MacRumors. In another review, 9to5Mac’s Jeff Benjamin writes, “All of this, coupled with the TS3 Plus’ diminutive design, and 15-ports in total, make CalDigit’s latest dock a very compelling option for Mac users.” And Mike Wuerthele of AppleInsider calls it “a superb choice.”

Cale Hunt, who tested the TS3 Plus with a PC for Windows Central, also praises its performance and versatility: “With 15 ports, great performance, and a small footprint, the TS3 Plus is about the best Thunderbolt 3 dock you can buy today.”

Flaws but not dealbreakers

A Wirecutter editor who uses the TS3 Plus with two LG 27UK850-W monitors and a 2017 MacBook Pro has reported issues where one or both displays don’t wake up when the computer wakes from sleep mode: “The solution is usually to unplug one or both of the displays and replug. Occasionally it requires a restart.” He has noted similar quirks with the headphone port. Another Wirecutter editor has experienced wake-from-sleep problems with a similar LG display, the 27GN950-B, using direct connections from a PC. We didn’t experience these problems in our testing, but we have seen issues with several Thunderbolt docks when connecting two displays directly to the dock.

Budget pick with port variety: Monoprice Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Docking Station

A low cost thunderbolt 3 dock with port variety, the Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Docking Station.

If you want to spend a little less and don’t need to hook up any extra Thunderbolt accessories, Monoprice’s Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Docking Station is the dock you should choose. Although its port selection is more limited than that of the CalDigit TS3 Plus, it still has plenty of options to suit most needs, including the ability to connect to multiple monitors at full resolution.

Ports and features

One Thunderbolt 3Two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1

One USB-A 3.2 Gen 2

Two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2

Gigabit EthernetOne audio-in/out

Two DisplayPort

60-watt charging

Read (MB/s)Write (MB/s)
USB-ATwo at 417, one at 515.3Two at 409, one at 464.7
USB-C515.7466

Read and write speeds on the Monoprice Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Docking Station.

As we expected, the Monoprice dock’s ports all performed as advertised, matching the top speeds of every dock we tested. We had no issues running two monitors on the DisplayPort connectors.

Compared with our top pick, the Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Docking Station has two downsides. First, because it lacks Thunderbolt passthrough, you can’t hook up additional Thunderbolt accessories through the dock. For someone who uses any Thunderbolt accessories, this is an automatic dealbreaker, but plenty of people don’t.

A low cost thunderbolt 3 dock with port variety, the Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort, shown from the front.

The front of the Monoprice dock has (from left) a Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, and a combined audio-in/audio-out port. Photo: Sarah Kobos

A low cost thunderbolt 3 dock with port variety, the Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort, shown from the back.

The back of the Monoprice dock has (from left) Gigabit Ethernet, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and two DisplayPort connectors. Photo: Sarah Kobos

Depending on your computer, you may also sacrifice laptop charging speed. The Monoprice dock can power a computer at up to 60 W, which is top speed for pretty much any 13-inch computer. But if you have a more power-hungry machine, such as a 15- or 16-inch MacBook Pro, the docking station will charge your computer at a slower rate. This could be a problem if you’re docking only here and there and you expect your computer to be fully charged when you pick it up, or if you’re running intensive apps that tear through your battery faster than the dock can charge it.

Like all Thunderbolt docks, the Monoprice comes with a huge power brick, as well as a Thunderbolt 3 cable. Its footprint is relatively small next to that of the other docks we tested, which tend to be a bit wider, but unlike the TS3 Plus, it’s not made to stand on its end.

Monoprice covers its dock with a one-year warranty. We’ve generally had positive experiences with Monoprice on the whole, as well as with the customer service process, but it’s not uncommon for products to go out of stock for stretches of time. We’ve also found that the company doesn’t usually design products like this dock itself but rather slaps its branding on a generic design. That’s not a bad thing, but it means you may see an identical dock from other companies.

Also great: OWC Thunderbolt Dock

A thunderbolt dock with three thunderbolt ports, the OWC Thunderbolt dock.

Ports and features

Four Thunderbolt 3 (three passthrough)One USB-A 2.0

Three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2

SD card slot

Gigabit EthernetOne audio-in/out

90-watt charging

The (theoretical) beauty of a Thunderbolt port lies in its flexibility: It can be whatever you want it to be. You can plug in a high-definition monitor, an audio interface, or a super-fast drive, all using the same port. OWC’s Thunderbolt Dock is the model you should choose if you want to take advantage of this kind of flexibility, as it has three Thunderbolt 3 passthrough ports in place of some of the single-use ports that our top pick, the CalDigit TS3 Plus, offers.

If you mainly need additional Thunderbolt connectors, you might choose the OWC dock over the CalDigit TS3 Plus. Although the OWC Thunderbolt Dock doesn’t have any USB-C ports, any of its three Thunderbolt ports can serve to connect USB-C accessories. We confirmed this with a Samsung drive connected over a USB-C cable, which worked as expected.

Read (MB/s)Write (MB/s)
USB-AThree at 514, one at 37Three at 465.7, one at 36
Thunderbolt2,242.7796.3
SD card91.774.7

Read and write speeds on the OWC Thunderbolt Dock.

All of the OWC dock’s other ports behaved as expected in our testing. Each of the three Thunderbolt ports matched the TS3 Plus’s (and every other dock’s) speeds, in addition to pushing out 4K video at 60 Hz. We had no problem running two external displays at once using USB-C–to–DisplayPort cables. Results from the SD card slot and the two USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports on the back of the dock matched the highest figures we measured on other docks. This is one of the few docks we tested with a USB 2.0 port, as well; located on the front of the unit, the port is best suited for hooking up a keyboard or mouse, not for fast data transfer.

The front of the OWC Thunderbolt dock.

The front of the OWC dock has (from left) an SD card slot, one USB-A 2.0 port, combined audio-in/audio-out, and a Thunderbolt 3 port. Photo: Sarah Kobos

The back of the OWC Thunderbolt dock.

The back of the OWC dock has (from left) three Thunderbolt 3 ports, as well as Gigabit Ethernet and three USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports. Photo: Sarah Kobos

The OWC Thunderbolt Dock offers the same ports and specs as Kensington’s SD5700T dock for a lower price. The difference between the two is the power supply. An OWC representative told us that its dock can provide 90-watt charging to a laptop (which we confirmed), but that the speed drops to 60 watts if you’re running three bus-powered devices on the Thunderbolt ports. The Kensington model, on the other hand, maintains full power even if every port is loaded up. We think such a situation is rare enough that we have no qualms about recommending the OWC model, but if you have heavy-duty needs, note that we were otherwise impressed with the more expensive Kensington.

OWC offers a two-year warranty on the Thunderbolt Dock. At this writing, in early March 2021, the company is selling the dock on a preorder basis for individual production runs.

Budget pick for Thunderbolt passthrough: Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Hub

The Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Hub, shown on a sage green table with one wire plugged into the front, and one plugged into the back.

Ports and features

Four Thunderbolt 4 (three passthrough)60-watt charging

Plugable’s Thunderbolt 4 Hub is the best budget option if you need multiple Thunderbolt ports rather than a range of single-function ports. It has the least diverse port selection of the models we recommend, but it’s also the smallest pick here by far.

Read (MB/s)Write (MB/s)
Thunderbolt2,144814.3

Read and write speeds on the Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Hub.

In our tests, the Thunderbolt ports were able to support two 4K monitors at 60 Hz when we connected them using USB-C–to–DisplayPort cables. The Thunderbolt data rates were also comparable to what we saw from everything else we tested.

The back of the Plugable Thunderbolt 4 hub, which shows three Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The back of the Plugable dock has three Thunderbolt 4 ports. Photo: Michael Hession

The front of the Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Hub, which shows one Thunderbolt 4 port.

The front of the Plugable dock has one Thunderbolt 4 port. Photo: Michael Hession

The Thunderbolt 4 Hub does stand out in terms of design, as it’s smaller than any other dock we tested. The Thunderbolt-to-computer port (which supports 60-watt charging) is located on the front, with the other three Thunderbolt ports and the power input on the back. Like every Thunderbolt dock, this Plugable model needs to be plugged into an outlet, and it comes with a sizable power brick. Plugable also includes a Thunderbolt cable and a USB-C–to–HDMI adapter.

Other good Thunderbolt docks

If you need a budget pick with more ports:CalDigit’s Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub offers the same three Thunderbolt passthrough ports as the Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Hub, plus three USB-A connectors. It has been in and out of stock over the past several months, and the price has increased dramatically. But if you can find it and the port array matches your needs, it’s a good option.

If you plan on loading up every port for peak performance:Kensington’s SD5700T has the exact same port selection and layout as the OWC Thunderbolt Dock but costs significantly more due to how it distributes power. “Kensington has engineered the power distribution to allow users to fully load the dock and not lose any power to the host laptop,” a company representative told us via email. “The SD5700T is a bit more expensive as it uses a larger PSU [power supply unit] but we guarantee fixed power, so you can load up the entire dock and get full speeds (Dual 4K @ 60Hz, 40Gbps, 90W PD and Gigabit Ethernet).” This Kensington model might be a better buy than the OWC, but most people wouldn’t get much, if any, benefit for the extra cost.

What to look forward to

Sonnet’s Echo 11, slated for an April 2021 release, has the same ports and specs as the OWC Thunderbolt Dock. We can’t recommend it before we test it, but if it performs just as well as the OWC model, it’ll be worth considering if you need a dock with multiple Thunderbolt ports.

The competition

HP’s Thunderbolt Dock 120W G2 supports two displays but can only mirror the same image on both rather than extending the image across the two, which isn’t nearly as useful as a true dual-display setup. We also dislike that its cable is permanently attached—if something happens to the cable, you have to replace the entire dock.

Anker’s PowerExpand Elite requires a USB-C–to–dual-HDMI splitter to connect to multiple displays, something our picks can do without an extra purchase.

We didn’t test Brydge’s Stone Pro because it offers fewer USB-C and USB-A ports than our picks and no additional benefits, for the same price. Similarly, we skipped over Razer’s Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma, which has one fewer USB-A port than the OWC Thunderbolt Dock and costs a lot more. It does have RGB lighting, though, if that’s your thing.

CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock, with one fewer USB-C port and no USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports, is more expensive than our budget pick from Monoprice. We were otherwise impressed with the dock—it offers an SD card slot and faster, 85 W charging. If you need either of those elements, it’s a good pick.

The port selection on Plugable’s TBT3-UDC3 almost mirrors that of the Monoprice Thunderbolt 3 Dual DisplayPort Docking Station. This model swaps one of the DisplayPort connectors for HDMI and offers faster, 96 W charging, but it also costs significantly more.

Cable Matters’s Thunderbolt 3 Docking Station with 60W Power Delivery and Promise Technology’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock TD-300 were runner-up picks in a previous version of this guide and are identical to one another aside from their paint jobs. Each model costs less than our top pick from CalDigit but offers the same number of USB-A ports (five) and an SD card slot. However, unlike our top pick, these docks lack USB-C ports and an S/PDIF output, can’t charge larger laptops such as the 15- or 16-inch MacBook Pro as quickly, and use combined audio-in/audio-out jacks instead of separate jacks. They also have HDMI 2.0 video output instead of DisplayPort; it’s difficult, but not impossible, to get a Mac to output 4K resolution at 60 Hz over HDMI.

Like CalDigit’s USB-C Pro Dock, the Kensington SD5550T works with both Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C computers. This Kensington dock is more expensive, and although it has one more USB-C port, it lacks an SD card slot and charges at only 60 watts, which may be too slow for heavy-duty use with a 15- or 16-inch computer.

The Elgato Thunderbolt 3 Pro Dock has two USB-C ports and adds SD and microSD card slots. But it offers only two USB-A ports and one DisplayPort connection, in a relatively wide design, and it carries a high price tag.

The OWC 14-Port Thunderbolt 3 Dock has the same ports as our top pick from CalDigit, plus a microSD card slot. OWC’s model performed just as well as our pick across our tests but takes up much more desk space. The two docks usually cost about the same, so you should stick with the more compact CalDigit model unless you value a card reader above desk space.

Plugable’s TBT3-UDV was a previous top pick, but it commands a relatively high price and doesn’t have an SD card slot or USB-C ports. The only extra feature you get for your money is a DisplayPort-to-HDMI adapter, but that typically costs less than $10 if you were to buy it separately; most people are likely to find the extra ports and card reader in our top pick to be more important.

Elgato’s Thunderbolt 3 Dock provides 85 W charging but has only three USB-A ports and no SD card slot. It also tends to be more expensive than most of our picks, and you can’t position it vertically, so it takes up more desk space.

We didn’t test StarTech’s TB3DK2DPPD since it is larger than our top pick, costs more, and doesn’t include an SD card slot. This dock has the same design and ports as StarTech’s less-expensive TB3DKDPMAW, but it supports 85-watt charging and comes with a USB-C–to–DisplayPort cable in addition to its Thunderbolt 3 cable. We don’t think the included cable makes this model worth buying.

Sources

  1. Jason Ziller, Thunderbolt™ 3 – The USB-C That Does It All, Intel, June 2, 2015

  2. Eric Slivka, Review: CalDigit's 'TS3 Plus' Dock Gives You 15 Ports, 85W Charging, and an SD Card Reader for $250, MacRumors, September 5, 2018

  3. Jeff Benjamin, Hands-on: CalDigit TS3 Plus – the best Thunderbolt 3 dock for Mac?, 9to5Mac, February 8, 2018

  4. Mike Wuerthele, Hands on: $249 CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 Plus is a great port expander for new MacBook Pro owners, AppleInsider, January 30, 2018

  5. Cale Hunt, CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt 3 dock is about as good as it gets, Windows Central, April 16, 2018

Sours: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-thunderbolt-dock/

Anker's 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Dock: Modern Connectors Meet Old Ports

Anker has quietly started selling its rather unique 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 dock that has both modern and outdated ports as well as a simplistic 5-in-1 TB4 mini dock for those who need more USB-C connectors and up to 100W of power delivery. 

Thunderbolt 4 has been around for about a year, but so far not many TB4 docking stations have been announced. Thunderbolt 3 and 4 are very similar, which makes users less inclined to upgrade. Another reason is the ongoing chip shortage, which makes it hard for developers to design a new product and ensure its steady supply. With Thunderbolt 4, it gets even harder since Intel has very strict requirements about capabilities of the interface. Consequently, there are not so many TB4 docks to choose from. So it may be a surprise to some to see Anker launching not one, but two Thunderbolt 4-compliant products.

The Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station

Anker's Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station features a Thunderbolt 4 input for its host PC that can supply up to 90W of power, enough to feed a high-performance notebook like Apple's MacBook Pro. 

The unit has three connectors for displays: one Thunderbolt 4 port that can drive two 4K60 monitors (or one 4K120 LCD) or one 8K30 monitor (5K/6K60 monitor on Apple Macs) as well as two HDMI 2.0 port that can connect 4K60. The TB4 output port can naturally be used to connect any TB3/TB4 peripheral, such as a high-end storage sub-system. It can also deliver up to 15W of power, which is enough for bus-powered SSDs or HDDs.

In addition, the docking station has a Gigabit Ethernet port; one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connector with a 20W power delivery; two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports; one 3.5-mm TRRS audio jack for headsets; as well as an SD UHS-II 4.0 slot (up to 300MB/s) for cards and two USB 2.0 Type-A connectors, which can now be considered legacy ports. The dock uses an external 120W power supply, so it can power a laptop while charging a smartphone or a tablet using its TB4 or USB-C connector. To make the unit more comfortable to use vertically, Anker will offer a special stand for it.

The Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station is available now directly from the company and its resellers for $299.99.

The PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock

For those customers who do not need GbE or USB-A connectors as well as an SD card slot, Anker has its PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock, which looks more like a Thunderbolt 4 hub. This unit allows to connect multiple TB/USB-C devices to one TB4 port on a PC.

This unit has one Thunderbolt 4 upstream power that can deliver up to 85W of power to its host PC, three Thunderbolt 4 downstream ports to connect Thunderbolt or USB-C devices and/or displays (two 4K60 LCDs, or one 4K120, or one 5K/6K/8K60 monitor) as well as one USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A connector. One thing to note is that Apple's M1 SoC only has two display pipelines, so M1-based devices cannot support more than two displays.

While capabilities of the PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock look modest, internal architecture of a Thunderbolt 4 hub is rather complex and expensive, so it's still priced at $199.99.

Sours: https://www.tomshardware.com/news/anker-launches-thunderbolt-4-docks
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Sours: https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/p/accessories-and-software/docking/docking_thunderbolt-docks-(universal-cable-docks)/40b00135us
FINALLY 4 USB-C/TB PORTS for M1 Macs/PC - OWC Thunderbolt [4] Dock Review, Speed Test, \u0026 Unboxing

Thunderbolt 4 is now launching, so hardware has a limited stock. Let’s take a look at some of the best Thunderbolt 4 docks out there. In this article, we’ll cover why you need to be looking for a new dock and what options are available on the market today. 

Regardless if you have a PC with Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C ports, many of these devices will provide extra ports that can help keep your desk neater by consolidating wires and cables into one location. 

The emergence of Thunderbolt 4 has created an opportunity for manufacturers to create more powerful hubs/docks, which make it easier than ever before to connect multiple peripherals in desktop environments without sacrificing performance. 

It’s hard to keep track of all the lightning-fast technologies coming out nowadays. USB4 and Thunderbolt 4 both use a type C connector, but they are not identical. 

The difference is that you can plug in any device with just one cable for faster speeds when used on supported laptops or PCs. Thunderbolt 4 also includes mandatory charging and wake from sleep functions, something that is lacking in Thunderbolt 3. 

Here are some of the best Thunderbolt 4 docking stations, from which you can select anyone according to your taste:

Our recommended list for the Best Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station

  1. Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock
  2. Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station For Window and Mac OS
  3. Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma
  4. Club 3D Smart Power Portable 5-1 Thunderbolt 4 Hub

1. Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock

Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock

When it comes to Thunderbolt 4, everyone wishes to have it to enhance the video and data performance. A thunderbolt 3 is there to support one 4k monitor, whereas a thunderbolt port can connect two 4k monitors or one 8k monitor. 

There are no such big differences between Thunderbolt 4 and 3, but the minor changes also make huge differences. The Anker PowerExpand Thunderbolt 4 is the perfect size to travel with. 

It allows you to connect your USB Type-C laptop and charge up to 85 watts while also connecting it to any other devices in order to get a power boost if needed. It handles media experience beautifully with dual monitors for an immersive experience. 

You can even share data at speeds that make the Thunderbolt 4 Network connection on an Apple MacBook Air Pro.  The 3 downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports support max 15w output while the 1 USB-A port supports max 5w, so there will always be enough juice to keep your gear on time. 

This Thunderbolt 4 dock by Anker can support one 8k monitor with 30 hertz and two 4k monitors with 60 hertz. With the help of this Anker Thunderbolt 4 mini dock, the data transfer speed enhances up to 40 Gbps. That means the 20 GB file will transfer in just 10 seconds. WOW! The measurements of the products are 4.88 x 2.83 x 0.94 inches, and it weighs around 5.9 ounces. 

2. Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station For Window and Mac OS

Kensington SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station For Window and Mac OS

When it comes to getting USBs or ports, we all must have heard the name of Kensington. The Kensington SD5700T is a Thunderbolt 4 docking station for all of your hard-working, hard-playing needs. 

Plug it into any operating system Windows 10 laptop or MacBook with macOS 11. Since the invention of Thunderbolt 4, everyone is trying to get this docking station, so in that case, the data transfer rate would be a lot faster.  

The SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 dock can be an excellent solution for those looking to keep their workspace clean with multiple ports. This docking station has 10 ports including one USB-A 2.0, three USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), and three downstream.

Thunderbolt 4 ports are available, which allow you to charge your laptop while necessary connections are made at the same time without sacrificing space on your desk. This Thunderbolt docking station by Kensington comes with three years of warranty. 

This thunderbolt 4 device can do a daisy chain with multiple outputs to avoid taking space over the desk. This thunderbolt 4 docking station can deliver up to 90 watts of power for charging your laptops and mobiles.

This device’s future proof design has eleven connectivity ports while delivering at an ultra-fast transfer rate. The measurements of this product are 8.7 x 5.94 x 4.37 inches, and it weighs around 3.27 pounds. 

3. Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma

Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma

If we contrast between thunderbolt 3 and 4, then we came up to a conclusion that there are minor differences but a big amount of similarities in them. The first notable difference is that Thunderbolt 3 only supports 16 Gbps data, whereas Thunderbolt 4 supports 32 Gbps data.

Other than that, the Thunderbolt 3 connects one 4k display only, whereas Thunderbolt 4 can connect two 4k displays or one 8k display. In other words, Thunderbolt 4 means that the user will get a better version of the USB 4. 

The Razer Thunderbolt 4 docking station provides a good enough speed of 40 Gbps. The buyer can daisy chain multiple devices with this docking station to avoid numerous modems on their desk. This docking station has ten ports in total, all packed in together. 

There are four Thunderbolt 4 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5 mm audio combo jack, UHS-II SD card slot, and 3 x USB Type-A3.2 Gen ports. The measurements of this docking station by Razer are 7.48 x 2.95 x 1.06 inches, and it weighs around 12 ounces. 

Apart from providing the best speed rates and features, this docking station is a blessing for gamers. How? Let me tell you, this beast has RGB lighting that means aesthetics will be on the top.

4. Club 3D Smart Power Portable 5-1 Thunderbolt 4 Hub

Club 3D Smart Power Portable 5-1 Thunderbolt 4 Hub

Club 3D is a smart power hub that delivers real-time power distribution based on the power consumption of connected devices. This is a thunderbolt 4 4K dock, that allows you to flexibly distribute power to PC and Hub in real-time, permitting the consumption of connected devices. Furthermore, with the help of this smart Hub, you can also monitor and adjust the power output of each device by remote.

The Hub contains a Thunderbolt port that allows you to connect up to three devices, such as your laptop, printer, or even a projector. So, for example, the Hub can share a printer with a copy machine, a network printer with a PC, and even a laptop with a projector. 

Share the USB port on your computer so that it can be connected to other peripherals such as an external hard drive or flash drive. This compact design is slim enough to fit your desktop and is powered by the USB Power Adapter and the included DC power adapter. The Hub has no fans and has no moving parts; ideal for those who want reliability and durability out of their computer.

It is a High-Quality Power Hub built with an aluminum case and five Thunderbolt 4 ports for data transfer, four standard USB 3.1 ports as default, two high-speed USB 3.0 as default. The Hub also supports connection standards such as Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1/3.0, DisplayPort, etc.

The power hub is the bridge between the USB and Thunderbolt ports to transfer data and power between devices.

Top Rated Thunderbolt 4 Hub Buying Guide:

Thunderbolt 4 docks are deliberately driving over for the best Thunderbolt 3 docks. Gratitude to much better execution and adaptability with many other interfaces. Even if you have a PC with Thunderbolt 3, USB4, or USB-C, many of these docks will provide extra ports. In this buying guide, you will get to know some important factors why you should buy a Thunderbolt 4 docking station:

Thunderbolt 3 vs. Thunderbolt 4:

In the Thunderbolt 4, the newest generation of Thunderbolt protocol with twice the performance and bandwidth as its predecessor, is now available. Unlike previous generations that only supported data rates up to 40 gigabits per second (Gbps), this new generation doubles them by supporting speeds at 80 Gbps. 

With a Physical Layer Interface Data Rate of 20 Gigabit Per Second (Gbit/s) for both upstream and downstream directions combined over just two lanes in each direction using copper wires from 5 meters away or more than 10 times farther when used wirelessly. 

The thunderbolt 3 is a predecessor that has only the ability to connect one 4k display at a time, whereas Thunderbolt 4 can connect 2 x 4k displays and one 9k display at a time. 

Power Delivery Rate:

Thunderbolt 4 is the newest and most powerful version of Thunderbolt, but not all docking stations support this new technology. Keep in mind that the power adapter wattage on your laptop will determine what kind of power you can deliver from a docking station’s USB ports in order to charge your computer while also transferring data between devices or using an external monitor. 

Although some laptops require more than 100W to run at full speed, it may be possible for those with lesser requirements to use up one port by combining video output. As well as charging, depending upon if there are two available connectors next to each other. 

Connectivity and Ports:

A Thunderbolt 4 dock with USB Type-A and video output ports can help you take advantage of legacy devices. Most laptop manufacturers are now favoring a single port or type, so it’s becoming harder to find one that has all the old ones we need. 

Many top laptops have abandoned most legacy ports in favor of Type Cs but because many users still require them for their current equipment. 

There is always room for more docks with older connectors, and if they also include more modern options like HDMI, then even better. The noted thing is that the more the ports, the better the option is of getting a docking station. 

Also See: – Best Motherboards With Thunderbolt 4 – Best Laptops With Thunderbolt 4

Related

Categories BlogSours: https://vasportscomplex.com/best-thunderbolt-4-docks/

Dock thunderbolt 4

Thunderbolt 4 is here, and so is the first fully powered Thunderbolt 4 docking station. Kensington’s SD5700T includes a whopping 11 ports, 90W of power delivery, and transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps. It provides either one 8K output at 30 Hz or two 4K outputs at 60 Hz.

Make no mistake: This is a fancy dock. It’s listed for $289.99 on Kensington’s site. But if you’re the kind of person who uses an elaborate desk setup with multiple monitors and peripherals, and you have the money to spend, this could be a good choice.

If you look at the most recent Thunderbolt 4 laptop releases, you’ll probably notice that some of them have... sparse port selections. That’s par for the course as laptops get thinner. The Dell XPS 13, for instance, only has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, one audio jack, and one microSD card reader. (And one of those ports will sometimes need to be occupied by the charger.) If you’ve decided to buy one of the XPS 13 models (which is a good choice — they’re great), and you want to use an external monitor, peripherals like a mouse and keyboard, or an Ethernet connection, you’re going to need a dock of some kind.

That doesn’t mean you need the SD5700T — Thunderbolt 4 ports will still support a cheaper Thunderbolt 3 dock if you already have one lying around. But I do think the SD5700T is worth shelling out for if you need more connectivity and value Thunderbolt 4 functionality. It essentially packs a full home-office setup into one very portable box.

The dock is also compatible with Thunderbolt 3 MacBooks that are running macOS Big Sur. It worked just fine with my 2019 MacBook Pro.

Besides the aforementioned Thunderbolt 3-enabled MacBook Pro, I’ve been using the SD5700T with a Thunderbolt 4-enabled Acer Swift 5 as well. I’m someone who often needs to plug in way more mice, cameras, drives, headphones, and other thingamabobs than my laptops allow, so my workspace is often covered in a mess of dongles and docks. The SD5700T provides a heck of a lot more connectivity than docks of this size that I’ve used in the past, and it’s made my life a lot easier.

With a single Thunderbolt cable (which is included), Kensington 5D5700T owners have access to the following:

  • Four Thunderbolt 4 ports (with transfer speeds up to 40Gbps and dual 4K video output)
  • Four USB-A ports (one 5V / 1.5A charging port on the front and three Gen 2 @ 10Gbps ports on the back)
  • One Gigabit Ethernet port
  • One audio combo jack
  • One UHS-II SD 4.0 card reader
  • 90W power delivery (regardless of the number of connected devices)

Obviously, use cases vary, but I really can’t think of anything else that the vast majority of people would need. And remember, these aren’t all you get — plugging the dock into one port frees up the other ports on your laptop that might otherwise be occupied by a charger, monitor adapters, and other peripherals.

The SD5700T didn’t require any expertise whatsoever to set up: I plugged the dock into the wall, plugged in all my odds and ends, turned it on, and then connected it to the laptop. And that was it — it just worked.

Everything I connected worked just fine. I didn’t experience any bugs or performance issues. The one thing I’d like to see is a way to disconnect the dock as a whole with a single click. Currently, you have to eject every connected device individually before unplugging a laptop from the SD5700T, which can be a pain if you have a bunch of things plugged in. There are third-party apps that can make this happen, but some companies like Corsair provide ejection utilities optimized for their own docks.

Final observation: It’s not a bad-looking dock. It’s got a nice finish that’s shiny but unobtrusive — nothing that will stand out on your desk or turn any heads in the office. At 0.96 pounds (0.435 kg) and 7.68 x 2.95 x 1.18 inches (195 x 75 x 30 mm), it’s also easy to carry around if you need to move your workspace. You can slip it in into a purse or backpack without a problem (though the 180W brick is a bit clunky).

You can preorder the Kensington SD5700T now, and it will ship in the second week of January.

Photos by Monica Chin / The Verge

Sours: https://www.theverge.com/22219031/kensingtons-sd5700t-thunderbolt-4-dock-90w-charging
Top 5 Best Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station

Brydge unveils Stone Pro TB4 Thunderbolt 4 docking station

Brydge, known for its collection of iPad keyboards, has just announced the upcoming availability of their newest Thunderbolt 4 dock, the Stone Pro TB4.

Designed to work with macOS, Windows, and ChromeOS, the Stone Pro TB4 is a docking station designed to help expand your workspace efficiently. It boasts twelve ports to manage that ever-growing collection of devices you use alongside your laptop.

The Stone Pro TB4 features the following ports:

  • 3 x Thunderbolt 4 ports
  • 1 x USB-A (2.0 5V/1.5A)
  • 3 x USB-A (3.3 Gen 2 10 GBps)
  • 1 x Thunderbolt 4 PD 3.0 90W
  • 1 x SD Card reader
  • 1 x Ethernet (Gigabit)
  • 1 x 3.5mm audio port (headphone/microphone)
  • 1 x dock power port

While the Stone Pro TB4 does not feature an HDMI or Display Port, it can support a single 8K display at 30Hz or two 4K displays at 60Hz through Thunderbolt 4. However, the M1 MacBook Air and M1 13-inch MacBook Pro do not support multiple displays.

This dock supplies up to 90 watts of charging power, making it compatible with all current MacBooks.

Brydge also includes a stand, allowing you to orient the dock vertically to maximize desk space.

The Stone Pro TB4 isn't out yet, but Brydge plans on shipping starting in November. It's currently priced at $349.99, and those interested can head to Brydge's website and sign up to receive an email when sales go live.

Sours: https://appleinsider.com/articles/21/09/22/brydge-unveils-stone-pro-tb4-thunderbolt-4-docking-station

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