Anker has quietly started selling its rather unique 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 dock that has both modern and outdated ports as well as a simplistic 5-in-1 TB4 mini dock for those who need more USB-C connectors and up to 100W of power delivery.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