The Plugable TBT4-UD5 Thunderbolt 4 just dropped at CES 2024 — catchy name, I know. But look beyond the muddle of numbers and letters, and you’re looking at what is probably one of the most fully-featured (and affordable) docking stations to be announced at this year’s show.
I’m no stranger to docking stations — having gone hands-on with a ton of them in my past — and when it comes to Thunderbolt 4 options, there are three big annoyances for me. They’re normally not prepared to take full advantage of this connectivity standard, don’t sport all the ports a dock needs, and the cost is usually sky high.
Well, Plugable has taken this list and checked each one off. Allow me to explain.
When it comes to the pricing of Thunderbolt 4 docking stations, you’re in rare air if you find one any less than $300. The technology used to drive the high bit rates and power standards usually jacks the cost up super high.
Well, the TBT4-UD5 comes in at $199 with a $20 off coupon for its launch. That undercuts a lot of its competition — more surprising given what it is capable of too.
Thunderbolt 4 docking stations have been getting a little better at offering you more than a few USB-C ports recently, but none quite hit the versatility of what this dock offers:
- 1x Thunderbolt 4 downstream
- 1x USB-C at 10Gbps
- 2x USB-A at 10Gbps
- 2x USB-A at 5Gbps
- SD and microSD card readers
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 3.5mm audio jack
- 2x HDMI 2.0 ports
That last one is particularly interesting, as they are such a rarity around docks like these, and it ensures compatibility with any and all setups.
We all know what Thunderbolt 4 (and USB 4) is capable of doing — up to 240W of power delivery. It’s a dream that laptops are getting closer and closer to achieving. Once they do, it’s going to be a little annoying to see that pricey docking station you bought doesn’t have the cable you need to make it work.
Plugable’s keeping that in mind by packing a one-meter 240W/40Gbps Thunderbolt 4 cable, so you’re ready for when it happens!
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Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.