Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docking stations
The best Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docking stations are slowly taking over for their Thunderbolt 3 counterparts thanks to much better performance and compatibility with many other interfaces. Even if you have a PC with Thunderbolt 3, USB 4, or USB-C, many of these docks will provide extra ports, charging, and more. If you’re ready to turn your laptop into a true workstation, let’s take a look at some of the best Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docks out there.
Best overall dock: CalDigit TS4
Source: Windows Central
The CalDigit TS4 Thunderbolt 4 docking station is a follow-up to the awesome CalDigit TS3 Plus. I’ve been using the dock regularly since my CalDigit TS4 review, and I can still say it’s the pinnacle of modern docking. It follows a similar design as the TS3 Plus, with three solid aluminum pieces held together with four robust screws. It has a rubber pad on the bottom for a vertical orientation, and further rubber feet can be added to the ribbed sides if you’d like to use it horizontally.
The TS4 has the most ports of any Thunderbolt 4 dock currently on the market. The 18 total ports are split between the front and the back of the dock, with the host Thunderbolt 4 port and the other two downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports on the back. Why not four total TB4 ports? One was sacrificed for a native DisplayPort 1.4 hookup. The back of the dock otherwise has four USB-A (10Gbps), 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, USB-C (10Gbps), and dual 3.5mm audio ports in and out. A Kensington lock slot is great for use in an office.
The front of the dock has another USB-A port, a 3.5mm audio combination, dual USB-C ports (one with 20W of charging power), and UHS-II SD and microSD card readers that can be used simultaneously. The dock supports dual 4K display each at a 60Hz refresh rate or an 8K display at a 60Hz refresh rate. When connected to the host laptop, the dock can deliver up to 98W of power.
Availability is spotty due to the dock’s popularity. For now, browse CalDigit’s official site for best results.
- The most ports available in a TB4 dock
- Lock slot for added security
- DisplayPort 1.4 included
- UHS-II SD and microSD card reader
- Up to 98W charging to host
- One fewer TB4 port to make room for DP 1.4
- Less warranty than some competition
- Spotty availability
Best overall dock
The CalDigit TS4 has the most ports and the most power out of any Thunderbolt 4 dock available today, so it’s easy to recommend.
Best overall hub: CalDigit Element Hub
Source: Windows Central
The Element Hub is another fantastic docking solution made by CalDigit, which holds a number of spots in our best laptop docking station roundup. When I reviewed the CalDigit Element Hub I found it to be the perfect high-performance accessory to handle everything from an eGPU to a RAID storage setup to multiple high-res displays.
The Element hub is sized smaller and priced lower than some of the other Thunderbolt 4 options, making it a good choice if you lack space on your desktop. It does require a substantial AC adapter, so don’t expect to take it with you on the road without quite a bit of bulk.
The host laptop plugs into the side of the dock and opens up seven extra ports. The front edge is four USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2) with 10Gbps speeds and 7.5W of charging power. The back edge holds the AC input and three Thunderbolt 4 ports with 40Gbps speeds and 15W of charging power. While connected, note that the host laptop will receive up to 60W charging power when needed.
You can daisy-chain the Element hub with a larger dock (like the TS3 Plus or TS4) for even more ports, and the reversible design gives you extra options for desk setup. As for monitor support, the Element hub handles up to dual 4K displays at 60Hz in both extended or mirror modes, single 8K display at 30Hz, or 5K Thunderbolt display at 60Hz. And if you’re connecting high-speed external storage, expect read speeds up to 3,000MB/s. As long as you’re not searching for a wide variety of ports and want to add USB-A and Thunderbolt 4, this is a great dock that isn’t as expensive as many of the other options.
- Adds four USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2)
- Adds three Thunderbolt 4
- Durable aluminum design
- More affordable price
- Compact size
- No Ethernet
- No SD card readers
- Sizeable AC adapter makes it hard to travel with
Best overall hub
CalDigit Element Hub
The CalDigit Element Hub is a great little Thunderbolt 4 hub for anyone who wants to add USB-A and Thunderbolt 4 ports without taking up a lot of space.
Also great: Kensington SD5700T
Source: Windows Central
The SD5700T Thunderbolt 4 dock is another great choice if you’re looking for a permanent solution and have ample space on your desk. It’s a bit larger than the Element hub, but it adds a better mix of ports. And while it doesn’t have as many ports as our top pick, it doesn’t cost nearly as much. If you need Ethernet, a UHS-II SD card reader, or a 3.5mm audio jack, this dock is no doubt going to make a great choice. In my Kensington SD5700T review, I note that the two lock slots and bracket mounting option make it ideal for a public office where tons of desk space isn’t always provided.
It connects to the host with Thunderbolt 4 and adds 10 ports, including one USB-A 2.0, three USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), and three downstream Thunderbolt 4. You can get up to 90W charging power back to the laptop (great for PCs with dedicated GPUs that require more power), and there’s support for a single 8K display at 30Hz or dual 4K displays at 60Hz.
For some extra security, the dock includes a Kensington lock slot and a Kensington Nano lock slot. And if you don’t want to keep the aluminum dock on your desk, there are mounting solutions available. There is also an SD5750T designed specifically for the newest Surface PCs, including the Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop Studio. It’s one of the best Thunderbolt 4 docking stations if you’ve invested in the latest from Microsoft.
- Three-year warranty
- Up to 90W host charging power
- SD card reader and Ethernet included
- Three downstream TB4 ports
- Can be mounted
- Costs more than other options
- Takes up more desk space
Need a better variety of ports? Don’t mind a dock that’s a bit larger and costs a bit more? The Kensington SD5700T should be considered.
Best RGB dock: Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma
Source: Windows Central
Razer seems to have a version of just about any peripheral you can think of, including a Thunderbolt 4 dock. And true to Razer’s vision, it’s a high-performance option that’s soaked with RGB. Yes, even your docking station can have a sweet chroma underglow to make your office look that much cooler. After testing the dock for a couple of weeks for my Razer Dock Chroma review, it was clear that this is the right accessory for laptop gamers.
The dock follows nearly the same port setup as the Kensington SD5700T, though it drops the wimpy USB-A 2.0 port on the front. Connecting with Thunderbolt 4, you get access to three downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports, 3.5mm audio jack, a UHS-II SD card reader, three USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), and up to 90W charging power to the host. If the regular black color doesn’t suit your setup, there’s also a Mercury option now available.
Razer’s Chroma RGB syncs up with your other compatible accessories and offers 16.8 million colors for you to mess around with. Note that the dock has a relatively short one-year warranty.
- Fancy RGB underglow lighting
- Three downstream Thunderbolt 4
- Black finish might be better suited to some desks
- Dual 4K @ 60Hz display support
- Up to 90W charging power to host
- One fewer USB-A port than other picks
- One-year warranty
Best RGB dock
Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock Chroma
Want a powerful Thunderbolt 4 dock to match the rest of your gaming gear? Leave it to Razer to add RGB lighting.
Good value: OWC Thunderbolt Dock
OWC’s Thunderbolt Dock is in many ways almost identical to Kensington’s SD5700T, right down to port selection, port layout, and lock slots. A notable difference, however, is the price. It used to be a lot more pronounced, but after the SD5700T’s price drop it’s not as big of a deal. Why the price discrepancy? OWC’s dock has a lot more plastic and a shorter two-year warranty. If those things don’t matter, you’re going to get the same connectivity for a lot less money.
The dock connects to the host laptop with Thunderbolt 4 and provides up to 90W charging power. There’s a USB-A 2.0 port on the front, flanked by a UHS-II SD card reader and 3.5mm audio jack. The back edge has three downstream Thunderbolt 4, Ethernet, three USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), and the AC hookup. It will handle dual 4K displays at a 60Hz refresh rate or a single 8K display at 30Hz.
A Kensington lock slot and Kensington Nano lock slot are included on the side. The first production run of this dock sold out fast, but there are more docks on the way. You can buy it now from the OWC website.
- Cheaper than other options
- Great port variety
- Up to 90W host charging
- Lock slots included
- Shorter two-year warranty
- More plastic
OWC Thunderbolt 4 Dock
Want generous port variety without paying as much as possible? OWC’s Thunderbolt Dock is probably what you’re looking for.
The best Thunderbolt 4 hubs and docks all provide robust external monitor support, lots of USB-A connectivity, and charging back to a host laptop. If you need an SD card reader or an Ethernet port, the full-size docks are no doubt going to be a better choice. The CalDigit TS4 is our top pick thanks to the most ports and the most charging available in a TB4 dock.
But if you don’t want to go with a full-size option and instead need to add USB-A ports and downstream Thunderbolt 4, the compact CalDigit Element Hub is your best choice. It costs less than the other options, it still supports external monitors, and you can daisy-chain with other docks if you need even more connectivity.
If Thunderbolt 4 isn’t really what you’re looking for, be sure to check out our collection of the best Thunderbolt 3 docks for more buying options. And for more information about the future of connectivity, have a look at our guide to Thunderbolt 4 vs. Thunderbolt 3 vs. USB4 vs. USB 3.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, accessory coverage, and the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Daniel Rubino is the executive editor of Windows Central. He has been covering Microsoft since 2009, back when this site was called WMEExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Xbox, and future computing visions. Follow him on Twitter: @Daniel_Rubino.
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