Battle Thunderbolt 4 Docks Show Down - CalDigit TS4 Dock vs Sonnet Echo 20 SuperDock

Maximum budget (USD)
$400
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Specs and performance

HarborFront

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Oct 9, 2016
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There are many such TB4 dock reviews on the net. The below site is chosen for this show down


I find the TB4 dock is better suited for laptop user rather than a PC user for the PC will usually come with some TB and many other ports as well.

For laptop, generally, it comes with 1x TB4 port (for Intel 11th Gen and onwards). For 10th Gen Intel and below you’ll get the 1x TB3 port instead. Exception is the DELL XPS laptop series whereby you can get 4x TB ports (one for power supply).

CalDigit TS4 Dock

PROS

1) Power supply of 230W
2) Provides consistent 98W PD
3) Has 1x DP 2.1 which supports 8K@60Hz
4) Has UHS-II 4.0 SD & micro SD slots
5) Can stand the unit vertically and lie flat
6) Has 1x USB-C 20W charging port

CONS
1) More expensive at US$380
2) Comes with 18 ports
3) No built-in M.2 NVMe SSD slot

Sonnet Echo 20 SuperDock

PROS

1) Cheaper at US$300
2) Comes with 19 ports
3) Comes with an M.2 NVMe SSD slot. Add to 8TB of storage inside
4) No need to use up 1xTB port since it has an internal M.2 NVMe SSD slot
5) Has 1x HDMI 2.1 which supports 8K@60Hz
6) Provides up to 100W PD

CONS
1) M.2 NVMe SSD slot has a transfer speed of up to 800MB/s only
2) Power supply of 150W. May not give consistent 100W PD with all ports used
3) Has a UHS-II 4.0 SD slot. Needs adapter for micro SD card
4) Can only position it lying flat
5) Lack of a USB-C 20/30W charging port

Specs of the two(2) docks as below

Thunderbolt 4 Dock | TS4 | CalDigit – CalDigit
Echo 20 Thunderbolt 4 SuperDock - Tech Specs - SONNETTECH

My Verdict

1) CalDigit TS4, although more expensive, is a better product because it delivers consistent 98W PD (there's a YT video on this) with a balance of 132W for other port uses. On the contrary, the Sonnet Echo 20 SuperDock has only a balance power of 50W for other port uses if it delivers consistent 100W PD. However, there’s no mention that the Sonnet Echo 20 SuperDock provides a consistent 100W PD which means PD would be less than 100W in use (maybe around 60W+) so that more power will be diverted for other port uses. That explains why the CalDigit TS4 power supply is 230W vs the 150W power supply of the Sonnect Echo 20 SuperDock. Take note that if a dock does not specify a consistent PD that would mean the PD can drop from its specified value to something less when other ports are in use. This is to divert some power to other port uses. This is especially true if the power supply comes with 100W+ of power. Even if the dock specifies it can provide a consistent PD you must question whether the balanced power can meet the needs of the other ports when they are in use.

2) Although the Sonnet Echo 20 SuperDock has a M.2 NVMe SSD slot the transfer speed is limited to 800MB/s only. An external TB3 SSD, more expensive and for the same capacity, can have a higher transfer speed.

Example - To maximize the 8TB M.2NVMe storage

For Sabrent Rocket Q, 8TB M.2NVMe, 3300 MB/s Read and 2900 MB/s Write, US$1500

Note that the speed is limited to 800MB/s by the Sonnet Echo 20 SuperDock

https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/9479/sabrent-rocket-nvme-8tb-ssd/index.html

For Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 8TB external TB3 SSD, 2700 MB/s Read and Write, US$2000

Speed test is about 2189 MB/s Read and 1845 MB/s Write

https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/9557/sabrent-rocket-xtrm-8tb-portable-ssd/index.html

3) Having a 20W USB-C charging port is useful for e.g. wireless charging station for charging a combo of smartphone/smartwatch/earbud

4) As to whether you need 3x downstream TB4 ports or 2x downstream TB4 ports with either a 1x HDMI 2.1 or 1x DP 1.4 port will depend. Afterall if you connect 2x monitors you’ll use up 2x TB4 ports for the first case. You can also make use of the HDMI port on your laptop and the HDMI2.1/DP1.4/TB4 port on the dock for a 2x monitor connections so that you have 2x balanced TB4 ports in all the cases.

5) Lastly, the ability to stand the dock vertically implies you can have more horizontal desk space


I would choose the CalDigit TS4 Dock if I need one albeit more expensive.

Note:- The two(2) docks can be purchased from their websites.
 
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