Thunderbolt Four is pushing apart Thunderbolt Three and USB-C, because the backwards-compatible and future-proof connecting know-how try to be putting your bets on.
We’ve examined a number of smaller Thunderbolt Four hubs, however just a few Thunderbolt Four docking stations.
Anker is a well known model that makes one among our favorite Thunderbolt 3 (TB3) docks, the PowerExpand Elite 12-in-1 Thunderbolt Three Dock.
Its Apex Thunderbolt Four Docking Station has a number of surprises and can attraction to individuals trying so as to add a number of exterior shows to their laptop computer setup.
Specs and options
The Apex Thunderbolt Four Dock options one 40Gbps upstream TB4 port (that connects to the pc with the included Thunderbolt Four cable) and one 40Gbps downstream TB4 port for different gadgets, comparable to a quick SSD storage drive.
The upstream Thunderbolt port can provide as much as 90W of energy to your laptop computer, whereas the downstream port can cost different gadgets at 15W.
The whole energy provide is 120W, so leaving 30W to energy linked gadgets when charging a laptop computer at its full 90W.
On the entrance, there’s a 10Gbps USB-C port that may fast-charge at a powerful 20W.
On the again, there are 4 USB-A ports: two at 10GBps and two less-able USB 2.zero at 480Mbps. The weaker two might be high quality for wired keyboard and mouse, or any gadget that doesn’t require quick information switch.
All 4 USB-A ports cost at 4.5W.
We have been shocked on the scarcity of Thunderbolt Four ports. TB4 can assist as much as 4 on a hub or dock (one upstream, three downstream), and that’s what you discover in Anker’s personal PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt Four Mini Dock. Why does the total, non-mini dock have simply two TB4 ports?
The reply might be area and energy provide – three linked and charging TB4 ports will demand 45W of energy, which might require a bigger energy provide.
And the area the place we might have anticipated the opposite two TB4 ports to go gives one thing we haven’t seen on a Thunderbolt Four docking station earlier than: two HDMI ports to connect with exterior shows.
Different TB4 docks we’ve examined have relied solely on the Thunderbolt Four ports for show connections.
Anker’s inclusion of two HDMI ports is much less versatile than we’ve seen elsewhere however will please HDMI show house owners, who gained’t want to purchase USB-C-to-HDMI adapters.
The only downstream TB4 port will also be sued to attach an exterior monitor, so it’s attainable to have as many as three shows operating out of the dock: two HDMI and one TB4.
Show choices embody connecting a single monitor: 8K at 30Hz through the Thunderbolt Four downstream port, or two 4K at 60Hz through both the HDMI ports or one HDMI and the TB4.
You’ll be able to even join three 4K displays utilizing the HDMI ports (each at 30Hz) and 4K at 60Hz through the Thunderbolt Four downstream port.
Observe that Apple’s M1 Macs assist only one exterior show, and also you’ll want to put in third-party DisplayLink software program to handle three displays on an Intel Apple laptop computer.
Additionally on the entrance of the Anker dock is an SD Card slot for inexpensive moveable storage, a combo 3.5mm Audio In and Out jack, and an influence button.
Anker appears to be the one producer so as to add an influence button to its docks, and I applaud this as leaving a laptop computer completely charged doesn’t do its batteries any good.
On the again with the twin HDMI, quad USB-A, and TB4 port is Gigabit Ethernet for quick, steady wired Web entry – one thing else you gained’t get on an easier Thunderbolt Four hub.
The dock works with Home windows 10 or 11 laptops geared up with Thunderbolt 4 (not Thunderbolt 3), and Macs operating macOS 11 (Large Sur) or later. Anker warns that it doesn’t work with M1 MacBooks, which could be very odd certainly. We all know there’s a irritating one-monitor limitation for the M1 MacBooks so perhaps M1 house owners wouldn’t fancy this dual-HDMI dock anyway.
Design and construct
Whereas Anker’s TB3 dock is a compact vertical format, its TB4 dock is slim and horizontal, though you should buy a separate, if overpriced, stand ($29.99; £19.99) that sits it upright to save lots of desk area.
It’s a handsome dock that, like most others, sadly, locations the upstream computer-connecting Thunderbolt Four port on the entrance, which, in my thoughts a minimum of, spoils the look and the required cable will get in the way in which.
Anker isn’t alone on this, so there’s no actual various proper now, apart from the Caldigit Thunderbolt Four Component Hub (with 4 TB4 and 4 10Gbps USB-A) that situates the upstream TB4 port on one facet.
The Anker Apex Thunderbolt Four Docking Station is priced at $299.99 or £279.99.
That is about $100 greater than a extra primary Thunderbolt Four hub however does boast many extra ports, comparable to Gigabit Ethernet, SD Card reader, audio jack, and let’s not neglect these two HDMI ports.
As compared, the Sonnettech Echo 11 Thunderbolt Four Dock prices $319.99 or £384.
The Apex ships with a 2.3ft Thunderbolt Four cable.
The Anker Apex TB4 dock raises eyebrows with its sole downstream Thunderbolt Four port, nevertheless it makes up for this with its two HDMI ports. In case your exterior show setup makes use of HDMI quite than USB-C displays, this may occasionally swimsuit you higher than a dock with three downstream TB4 ports that can require show adapters.
It’s a well-priced dock – though we might have appreciated the stand being a part of the bundle – with all the things you’d anticipate of a laptop computer docking station and highly effective laptop computer and gadget charging capabilities.
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