CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 review (2023) a great docking station

Small, sturdy, and powerful

CalDigit has shown that it is one of the best docking station and hub companies. we reviewed a number of its products over the years, from the TS3 Plus to the USB-C Pro Dock to the Element Hub, and the features and quality have always impressed me. The TS4 is the newest accessory from CalDigit. It is a docking station for Thunderbolt 4. It’s not the first TB4 docking station on the market, but it’s sure to be a tough rival.

Windows Central was given a review unit of CalDigit’s TS4 Thunderbolt 4 docking station by the company. This is the replacement for the very popular CalDigit TS3 Plus Thunderbolt dock, which came out about four years ago. So far, the only places you can buy the CalDigit TS4 are the CalDigit website and B&H. At the time this was written, the product was sold out at both stores. This is not surprising, since the TS3 Plus was also very popular for a long time.

CalDigit says that Amazon will start to sell the TS4 around the middle of March. When the TS4 docking station is in stock, you can expect to pay about $360 for it. This Thunderbolt 4 dock works best with a PC with the same port technology, but it will also work with Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB-C, though at a lower performance level. Check out our guide on the differences between Thunderbolt 4, Thunderbolt 3, USB4, and USB3 to learn more.

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Versatile Connectivity Options
  • High-Speed Thunderbolt 4 Performance
  • Convenient Cable Management
  • Solid Build Quality

Cons

  • Relatively Expensive
  • Limited USB-A Ports
  • Requires Thunderbolt 4 Compatible Devices
  • May Require Firmware Updates for Full Functionality

Specification Table

SpecificationsDetails
Thunderbolt Ports2 x Thunderbolt 3 (40 Gbps)
USB Ports3 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A (10 Gbps)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (10 Gbps)
Display Outputs1 x DisplayPort 1.4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) supporting DP 1.4
(Up to two 4K displays or one 5K/6K/8K display)
Ethernet Port1 x Gigabit Ethernet (RJ-45)
Audio1 x 3.5mm Audio Input/Output Combo Jack
1 x S/PDIF Digital Optical Audio Output
1 x Analog Microphone Input
Storage1 x UHS-II SD Card Reader
2 x M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 x4 slots
(Supports RAID 0, 1, and JBOD)
Power DeliveryUp to 85W to charge a connected laptop
(Thunderbolt 3 laptop with PD support)
Dimensions4.4 x 3.2 x 0.9 inches (112 x 80 x 23 mm)
Weight0.45 lbs (200 g)
Official LinkVisit Website

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4: Design

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 review

Docking stations can be set up in either a horizontal or a vertical position. We like vertical because it saves space on our desks, but horizontal can look cleaner. Caldigit’s TS3 Plus and now TS4 docks are more flexible because they can be laid flat or stood up. Some docks need a special stand to do this. It has two rubber feet that can be put on in either direction. Since the power cord is on the back, it doesn’t matter much which way you turn the dock to face you.

Except for Caldigit’s own Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub, every other TB4 dock or hub puts the computer-connecting TB4 port on the front, which we have always thought was an ugly place for it. Who wants a cable sticking out of the front when it could be hidden around the back with the also-essential power cable? Yes, plugging in at the front is quicker and easier, but the cable will be flapping around your desk the whole time.

The upstream port on the Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Station is in the back, and I’d give it an extra star just for that. Other than that, the TS4 looks the same as the TS3 Plus. It’s not smooth or shinyโ€”it’s grilled to help heat escape but it’s beautiful because it works.

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4: Ports

As with all USB-C ports, you have to use one of your computer’s Thunderbolt ports to connect to the dock. The dock also has a connection that works only with your computer. If you connect the dock to a laptop, as most people do, you can use the up to 98W charge that goes through the computer port. When you do the math on this dock, you don’t get much more Thunderbolt connectivity. The two unused Thunderbolt jacks on the dock replace the one that is already in use on your computer, so you only get one more.

CalDigit’s USB-C and Type-A jacks that use USB 3 standards are all 3.2 Gen 2 10Gbps, which means that both USB-C and Type-A can transfer data at up to that rate. On the other end, you need a 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A device that works with it, or else the speed drops to 5Gbps. The USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports work the same as Thunderbolt 3 ports and are both backward-compatible and compatible with other USB standards.

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4: Connectivity

The case is ribbed so that heat can escape better, but I didn’t have any trouble with that. It also gives it a bit of style. The TS4 is a little bit bigger than the TS3, and it has more ports. This is a Thunderbolt 4 dock, and while it will work with older technologies like Thunderbolt 3 and standard USB-C, you will have the best experience if you connect it to a laptop with the latest Thunderbolt standard.

There is a Thunderbolt 4 port on the back of the dock that lets you connect to the host laptop with a 0.8-meter cable. We always like a cable that can be taken off, because if the cable gets broken, you won’t have to replace the whole dock. Once you connect the dock, you can use 17 more ports. In addition to the host port, the back of the dock has two more downstream Thunderbolt 4, 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, four USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2), 3.5mm audio in and out, USB-C 3.2 (Gen 2), DisplayPort 1.4, and the plug for the AC adapter.

On the front of the dock, there are UHS-II SD and microSD card readers, a 3.5mm audio combo jack, two more USB-C 3.2 (Gen 2) ports, and a USB-A 3.2 (Gen 2) port. Many people probably won’t use all three 3.5mm jacks to their full potential, but you still get a lot of connections that will make your work easier.

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4: Performance

CalDigit says that the Thunderbolt Station 4 has “18 ports of extreme connectivity,” and I’m happy to say that they are right. Power output is one of the most important parts of CalDigit’s dock. There are a lot of Thunderbolt 4 docks that claim to have a high Power Delivery to the host machine, but the more devices you connect, the more power is taken away from the main connection.

The TS4 doesn’t have this problem because its 230W power supply is so big. No matter how many devices are using power from the dock, the host machine will always get 98W of Power Delivery.We put CalDigit’s claim to the test as best we could by connecting as many devices as we could to the dock to see if it was true.

We charged my phone, iPad, Logitech G Pro X Superlight wireless mouse, Logitech G Pro X Superlight wireless keyboard, a second tablet (and phone), and then connected my Dell XPS 15 to the host port. My laptop made a little bit of a fuss when we didn’t connect it to its normal 140W power supply, but the CalDigit did charge it at a steady enough rate to not only keep it going through my work day, but also charge it up to full (though at a slower rate than usual).

Price and Availability

CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 review

CalDigit’s TS4 came out in early 2022 and sold out almost right away. The good news is that most of the problems with stock shortages seem to have been fixed, and you can often buy it from third-party stores like Amazon and B&H. It is also for sale on CalDigit’s official website, along with other great docking devices like the Element Hub and the SOHO Dock.

This dock costs about $400, making it one of the most expensive Thunderbolt 4 options available. We’ll talk about why the dock is still so popular even though it costs a lot, but keep in mind that this hardware isn’t cheap.

Final Words

The CalDigit TS4 is a good replacement for the TS3 Plus. Like the older dock, it’s a top choice for power users who can spend about $400 on an accessory. The TS4 can handle more accessories and charge them faster than many other docks. It’s a great match for a modern laptop with Thunderbolt 4 or USB4 ports.

Since the dock came out last year, stock levels have evened out, and you can now find it for sale more often. It will cost more than a lot of the other options, but if you want to set up the best workstation, it’s worth it.

FAQs

Is the CalDigit reliable?

The TS4 is more reliable than other Thunderbolt docks I’ve used, just like the TS3 Plus was. Everything worked as expected every time I plugged my laptop into the dock, except for my temperamental Thunderbolt SSD and the steps for setting up the Ethernet connection and CamLink.

Why is Thunderbolt 4 dock so expensive?

They usually come with power adapters that are bigger than the laptops themselves. “One device to connect them all” is both valuable and complicated. Even though a dock doesn’t have a screen, keyboard, trackpad, or any real use unless it’s connected to something else, the price goes up because of what it’s connected to.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staffhttps://www.bollyinside.com
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!

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The CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 is a docking station that stands out for its design and quality. The metal chassis is a sleek, lightly brushed aluminum frame that stays relatively true to CalDigit's signature design that has wowed since 2015. Weighing just 1.41 pounds, the TS4 feels light in the hand and isn't a burden to carry in a backpack when traveling.CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 4 review (2023) a great docking station