With fewer ports located even on the highest-end laptops, using a docking station is becoming inevitable for many people. To address the needs of those who use high-end 8K or 5K displays, Sonnet has launched its Echo 11 10-in-1 docking station that's compatible with Apple's Macs and Windows-based PCs.
Sonnet's Echo 11 Thunderbolt 4 Dock has one TB4 input for its host PC that can supply up to 90W of power, which is enough for high-performance laptops like Apple's MacBook Air 16. In addition, the docking station is equipped with a GbE port, three Thunderbolt 4 connectors that support two displays and a high-end storage sub-system; three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports; one SD UHS-II 4.0 slot (up to 300MB/s); one 3.5-mm TRRS audio jack for headsets; and one USB 2.0 charging connector.
The unit comes with a 20V/6.75A power input (135W) that simultaneously charges the notebooks and peripherals.
There are docking stations aimed at professionals (that require legacy things like S/P DIF, FireWire, etc.) from various niche markets that have many more ports than the Echo 11 Thunderbolt 4 Dock. But the key selling point of the Echo 11 Thunderbolt 4 Dock is its three Thunderbolt 4 connectors.
These three Thunderbolt 4 (TB4) ports allow you to use two 4K monitors or one 6K/8K display without 'wasting' Thunderbolt connectors on the PC itself. This support seems pretty straightforward on paper, but in reality, it is slightly more complicated (see the table below).
Apple's latest Macs with the M1 SoC do not seem to support a dual display output over a single Thunderbolt port (at least according to Sonnet), so for the M1, the Echo 11 Thunderbolt 4 Dock can drive one monitor with an up to 6K resolution.
All Intel-based Macs can support up to two 4K displays (or one 5K monitor) over a Thunderbolt connection, but some older Macs do not support Apple's latest 6K Pro Display XDR.
To use an 8K display with the Echo 11 Thunderbolt 4 Dock, you have to use a Windows PC. Meanwhile, only one 8K monitor is supported over a TB4 cable, so other displays will have to be connected using ports located on the host itself.
Sonnet does not disclose pricing of the Echo 11 Thunderbolt 4 Dock just yet, instead advising you to sign up for notification and get a $50 discount when the unit ships.