Buying Guide: Key Information About Thunderbolt 4 Dock

What you need to know about Thunderbolt 4 docks before you buy
ACASIS Shopping Guide


What is a Thunderbolt 4 Dock?
USB-C Docking Station vs Thunderbolt 4 Dock
Benefits of using a Thunderbolt 4 Docking station
What User Groups are Thunderbolt 4 Docks Suitable For?
How to Choose a Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station?


As we all know, buying a Thunderbolt 4 dock is a significant investment, and it usually costs hundreds of dollars.Therefore, it is crucial to be informed in order to make the wisest choice. After all, a Thunderbolt docking station is an upgrade for computer accessories, and no one wants an unsatisfactory upgrade. We hope this blog can provide some assistance as you go through the process of selecting a Thunderbolt docking station.


What is a Thunderbolt 4 Dock?

A docking station (or dock station) is a device designed to solve the issue of limited docking ports on laptops by expanding the available interfaces. Through a single data cable, a docking station can extend a computer's interfaces, allowing various peripheral devices such as displays, hard drives, network cards, and USB devices to be connected to the computer, thereby enhancing its expandability and usability. A Thunderbolt 4 docking station builds upon the foundation of a USB C docking station by incorporating Intel's Thunderbolt 4 technology—the integration of PCI Express data transfer technology and DisplayPort display technology, which can not only transmit data but also transmit video and audio signals and provide power supply.


USB-C Docking Station vs Thunderbolt 4 Dock


The Thunderbolt 3/4 interface can achieve a maximum transfer speed of up to 40Gbps, while the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 transfer speed is only 20Gbps. Compared to the USB 3.2 interface (with a maximum transfer speed of 20Gbps), the Thunderbolt interface supports higher resolution and faster video output transfer speeds. It's worth noting that USB 4 docking stations are already available on the market, which, like the Thunderbolt 3/4 interface, also support transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps.


Thunderbolt is backward compatible with USB-C (including USB4). However, when connecting different cables/interfaces, only the lowest common data rate is supported. For example, if you connect a device that supports up to USB 3.2 to a Thunderbolt 4 port replicator, that port replicator will process and transfer data, power, and video according to the USB 3.2 standard. Additionally, because the USB-C port has multiple protocols, not all USB-C docking ports have full functionality. Some USB-C docking ports only support charging and data transfer but do not support video signal transmission.


Users often ask: why are thunderbolt 4 dock so expensive? Due to the significantly higher patent fees for Thunderbolt technology compared to USB-C, such as the use of Thunderbolt chips and conducting Thunderbolt certification will require higher costs. Therefore, Thunderbolt docking stations are generally more expensive than USB-C docking stations. For example, currently, the prices of Thunderbolt 4 dock stations are much higher than those of USB 4 dock stations.

Overall, if you only need to simply expand your computer's interfaces for daily office work and multimedia entertainment, a USB-C docking station is an extremely cost-effective choice. However, for professional users, Thunderbolt 3/4 docks can provide a better performance experience.


Benefits of using a Thunderbolt 4 Docking station

Expand Laptop Docking Ports

Through a Thunderbolt 4 dock station, you can easily connect multiple external devices such as displays, keyboards, mice, USB drives, printers, etc., with just a single Thunderbolt data cable. It is easy to plug and unplug, and there is no need to repeatedly plug and unplug all docking ports.

Improve Office and Gaming Efficiency

The Thunderbolt 4 interface can provide faster data transfer rates for peripherals, improving personal productivity. For example, with the Thunderbolt 4 docking station for laptops, users can connect multiple 4K displays or a single 8K display without lag, rapidly transfer large files to a mobile hard drive (Thunderbolt 4 supports up to 40Gbps transfer rates), output 4K high-resolution video, and connect high-end graphics cards for smooth gaming performance.

Empower Older Devices

For users with older laptops, although their device configurations may be limited, they can still meet their daily work needs by using a docking station. The investment cost of a new laptop may be higher, but by using the Thunderbolt 4 dock, users can easily upgrade and expand functions such as high-end graphics cards, additional memory, etc., thereby enhancing their user experience and extending the lifespan of their docking computer.

Efficiently Set Up an Office Environment

For those who frequently work on the go, Thunderbolt docks are compact and portable, helping them efficiently set up their work environment. By simply carrying the Thunderbolt 4 dock and a laptop, they can work from anywhere. More importantly, the integrated multi-port dock station saves desktop space and avoids messy cables, creating a cleaner and more organized work environment.

High-Power Charging

Thunderbolt 4 docking stations can provide more power than a USB hub, offering up to 100W of power output, enabling fast charging support for smartphones, laptops, and other compatible USB devices. Note: Thunderbolt 3/4 docks are suitable for charging laptops with a power requirement below 100W.


What User Groups are Thunderbolt 4 Docks Suitable For?

Compared to other types of docking stations, Thunderbolt docks offer many advantages, such as no need for driver installation, easy setup, and native operating system support. Additionally, with their powerful expandability and portability, they cater to the diverse needs of different user groups.

Creative Professionals

For creative professionals such as video editors, graphic designers, and photographers, they often need to operate large professional software, process high-resolution videos and images, etc., which require high-performance devices. At the same time, they frequently need to handle large amounts of resources and files, and a Thunderbolt 4 dock station can meet their demands for powerful hardware performance and high-speed data transfer.

Advanced Users

This user group includes but is not limited to software developers, data scientists, financial analysts, and other advanced users whose work often requires multi-window operations and running multiple large programs, which consume significant hardware resources. They need to connect multiple high-resolution monitors and external desktop-level high-end graphics cards, high-speed SSD arrays, etc. With the help of a Thunderbolt 4 docking station, the expansion needs of these high-end hardware peripherals can be solved in one stop.


By connecting an external dedicated graphics card to a Thunderbolt 4 dock, both work and gaming laptops can provide gamers with a console-class gaming experience.Furthermore, Thunderbolt 4 supports DisplayPort 1.4's high refresh rate, high resolution, HDR, G-Sync, and other top-tier gaming displays, meaning that with a simple docking connection, users can enjoy smooth visuals and low-latency gaming experiences.

Audio-Visual Enthusiasts

Playing high-resolution audio-visual content such as 4K and 8K Blu-ray videos requires massive decoding capabilities and data throughput, which have high hardware demands. With the help of a Thunderbolt 4 docking station, users can easily achieve 4K/8K HD playback and HDR video output to enhance the viewing experience. Additionally, the Thunderbolt dock can connect professional-grade audio devices, allowing audio and visual enthusiasts to enjoy lossless, high-quality audio.

General Users

Thunderbolt Docking Station for General Users

Even for general household users, a Thunderbolt 4 dock station can provide an upgraded user experience. For example, docking to connect a larger display, USB drives, printers, network cables, etc., can improve office efficiency, or docking a mobile hard drive for storage expansion can solve the problem of insufficient laptop memory.


How to Choose a Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station?

Port Variety and Quantity

ACASIS Thunder 4 Docking Station DS9001 Interface Introduction

Select a suitable Thunderbolt docking station based on your actual needs, as having more ports is not necessarily better. If you only need to expand video output, you can choose a model that includes multiple Thunderbolt ports or one that has DisplayPort or HDMI interfaces. If you also need to connect multiple USB devices, choose one with the appropriate number and types of USB ports.

Power Output

Laptops require sufficient power to operate normally. If you need to charge your laptop via the Thunderbolt docking station, ensure that it provides enough power output capability, so that it can power both the docking station and charge the laptop simultaneously without affecting the use of the laptop. Generally, a 60W power output is sufficient for charging most ordinary laptops. If your laptop is a high-end gaming laptop with higher power consumption, it's best to choose a Thunderbolt docking station with an output power of 85W or above to ensure stable charging and power supply.

Certification and Compatibility

ACASIS Thunderbolt 4 Dock Intel Certification

Purchase Thunderbolt docking stations from official channels with Thunderbolt certification, and check their compatibility with your system and devices. Some docking stations are only fully compatible with Windows, while macOS and Chrome OS are becoming increasingly prevalent. Therefore, choose a Thunderbolt docking station that is compatible with multiple systems whenever possible.

Portability and Appearance

In order to provide sufficient power, traditional N-in-1 docking stations often need to use larger power modules.However, if Gallium Nitride (GaN) power technology is adopted, it can effectively reduce the size and weight of the power supply, meeting the trend of mobile office and slimmer designs. Therefore, Thunderbolt docking stations equipped with GaN power supplies become a better choice for office users. If long-term use is required, try to choose a Thunderbolt docking station with a durable AL alloy casing.


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