Thunderbolt 4 is the new connector in town, and a slew of hubs and docks are on the way to provide multiples of the super-fast port via a single straightforward connection to your computer.
The Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock is a small and compact dock that includes a strong laptop charger.
Anker’s solution is referred to as a Mini Dock, whilst competitors’ offerings are referred to as Hubs.
There is no such thing as a correct or incorrect label. All of the so-called “hubs” are really “tiny docks,” and Anker’s definition is more accurate in some aspects.
Compact Thunderbolt 4 hub boasts 85W laptop charging.
Specifications and features
The Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock has four 40Gbps Thunderbolt 4 connections, one of which must be connected to your computer.
Anker is a charging expert, and the tiny dock’s upstream laptop charging capacity of 85W is outstanding. Only the far more expensive Sonnettech Echo 11 Thunderbolt 4 Dock outperforms it at 90W. Other hubs with identical features to the Anker Mini Dock have a maximum power output of 60W.
The remaining three TB4 ports on the Anker can charge connected devices at 15W apiece, but there is a catch: the total external power supply is rather low at 100W.
That implies that if you are charging a laptop at 85W, the maximum remaining power to charge other connected devices is 15W – therefore only one of the other three TB4 ports may be fully powered.
In actuality, you may only use one of the three accessible ports on a regular basis, and the 85W power to your laptop will be the most significant to you. However, a larger wattage external power supply would have been preferable. For example, the Caldigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub has a 150W power supply to power its other three TB4 and four 10Gbps USB-A ports.
Aside from power, the three TB4 ports can be utilized for a multitude of connectivity options.
Fast SSDs that can take advantage of the 40Gbps bandwidth to deliver a super-fast data-transfer rate is the apparent opportunities.
It lives true to its tiny dock designation by allowing you to connect up to two external screens.
If the monitors have a USB-C connector, these might be connected directly. If they don’t, you’ll need an HDMI or DisplayPort adapter. These adapters are not included, however, it does have a 2.3ft Thunderbolt 4 cable for connecting to your laptop or tablet.
The Thunderbolt 4 downstream ports allow you to connect a single monitor in up to 8K at 30Hz or dual displays in up to 4K at 60Hz.
Apple’s most recent M1-based MacBooks only support a single monitor. Intel-based Macs can handle two.
Most TB4 hubs, but not all, contain an old-school yet fast USB-A connector at 10Gbps, and the Anker tiny dock has one on the front.
Along with the three TB4 ports and power slot on the back, there is a useful on/off button. Anker included one of these with their larger PowerExpand Thunderbolt 3 dock, and we appreciate the ability to power down the hub/dock at the end of the day. A laptop’s battery will degrade over time if it is left plugged in.
Design and Build
The Anker Mini Dock is small (124-x-72-24mm) and light (224g), but when you consider the external power supply, it’s not really portable – at least not in the pocket.
Its corrugated aluminum body looks fantastic next to even the best-looking laptop.
The front-facing TB4 port is located next to the USB-A port. We would have preferred it at the back because it is less noticeable there – it could be exchanged for the Power button.
When compared to other TB4 hubs, the Anker Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock costs $199 or £199. The Caldigit Element Hub costs the same in the UK (although it is more expensive in the US, at $229), but it contains three more 10Gbps USB-A connections. The Anker wins in terms of laptop charging, but the Caldigit wins in terms of total power supply.
The OWC Thunderbolt Hub is less expensive at $189/£139 and is comparable in every way except the 85W power and on/off switch.
- Four TB4 ports
- 85W laptop charging
- Low 100W overall power supply
With its 85W laptop-charging capacity, the Anker PowerExpand 5-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Mini Dock outperforms other similar Thunderbolt 4 hubs (compared to 60W elsewhere). However, its total external power supply of 100W feels a touch weak given the possible 67.5W power dissipation if all of the ports needed charging at the same time.
We also like the Power button, which sets it different from the crowd.