CalDigit TS4: An excellent choice for a Thunderbolt dock.
- CalDigit TS4 Video: Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 Dock
- additional specifications
- Design and form factor
- additional ports
- Front SD card reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)
- Rear Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 port
- Front 20W USB-C port
- Rear audio output (3.5mm)
- notable improvements
- USB power supply
- Dual display 4k or 6k connectivity
- Support for USB-C host devices
It’s been a few years since the arrival of the original TS3 Plus dock. Considered in its time as one of the best available for Mac users. Since its launch, many other docks have passed their respective journey and trend. However, it’s time for the CalDigit TS4, which may turn out to be one of the favorites and best Thunderbolt.
Recently, CalDigit has launched the successor to its line, called the TS3 Plus, simply under the name of TS4. However, you have to take multiple considerations and verify what the advantages of this base really are. To know if it is really a worthy successor to the TS3. The CalDigit TS4 is a much more refined and capable one, but we’ll take a look at what it has to offer below.
A lot has changed since the original TS3 Plus hit the market. There’s also Thunderbolt 4, which is built on top of USB 4 and is backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3. Also, one of the most notable changes to this is that the iPad Pro now includes a Thunderbolt 4 port, which also allows for backwards compatibility. total with the CalDigit TS4.
The original TS3 Plus was at the time a major hardware release. It wasn’t just because it included an absurd 15 ports, but because of the type of ports it included. For example, it was one of the first docks to include a UHS-II compliant SD card slot. The CalDigIt TS4 builds on the foundation left by its predecessor and includes a whopping 18 I/O ports with plenty of other added enhancements.
CalDigit TS4 Video: Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 Dock
The CalDigit TS4 is packed with ports, making a total of 18, all in a relatively small package. Next, you will see a small review where you will find everything that it includes:
- 1 Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 upstream port (98 W)
- 2 Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 downstream ports (15W)
- 1 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port (Thunderbolt or USB 4 compatible)
- 1 x a combined front audio jack (3.5mm) (with priority over rear jacks)
- 3 x USB-C 3.2 data ports (10Gbps, 1 x 20W and 2 x 7.5W)
- 5 x USB-A 3.2 ports (10Gbps and 7.5W offline charging)
- 1 SD card reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)
- 1 microSD card reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)
- I x DsiplayPort 1.4
- 1 rear audio input (3.5mm)
- 1 rear audio output (3.5mm)
- Height 5.55″ (141.0mm) x Width 1.65″ (42.0mm) x Length 4.46″ (113.4mm)
- Supports portrait or landscape orientation.
- 1 DC input (19.5V 11.80A)
- 98W power delivery to host.
- Kensington security slot.
- Supports two 4K monitors.
- Supports a single 8K monitor.
- Weight: 1.41lbs (0.64kg)
- 1 x Thunderbolt 4 cable
- 2 x strips of rubber feet
- 1 x power cord
- 1 x power supply (230w)
- 2 years warranty
- Price: 360 dollars (Around 330 euros)
Design and form factor
At first glance, the CalDigit TS4 seems almost indistinguishable from its predecessor. However, a closer inspection suffices to make the details in the design changes clear. For example, first of all we have that the TS4 is a bigger dock than the TS3 Plus. This design of the CalDigit TS4 is 0.35 inches taller, 0.08 inches wider, and 0.59 inches deeper. The new base made for the CalDigit is also 0.37 pounds heavier than the TS3 Plus. The larger base size can be partly explained by all the extra ports that have been added. Also, mention that there was an addition of a security slot.
The CalDigit TS4 has included the familiar ribbed aluminum design language that has appeared on many of CalDigit’s signature products in the past. In addition to now looking cool, the ribbed design allows the included pair of rubber feet to easily attach to the chassis, allowing the dock to sit flat on a desk surface.
There are many other docks, which can only sit on the desktop horizontally, taking up a lot of desktop space. The CalDigit TS4 allows users to decide depending on their need. The base has an integrated rubber surface on the bottom to allow it to stand upright if required.
Compared to the 15 ports of the TS3 Plus, the CalDigit TS4 has 18 ports, among which you can find the following:
Front SD card reader (SD 4.0 UHS-II)
It has a built-in microSD card reader, which means you no longer have to search for another adapter to download files from the smaller cards. Nowadays, many other devices use microSD cards for storage, so it’s nice to have this feature already built in.
Rear Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 port
Having an additional Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 port means that multiple Thunderbolt devices can now be connected without the need to daisy chain them through another Thunderbolt-enabled device. This really gives users a lot of extra freedom to connect external Thunderbolt drives and other devices that terminate at their connection point.
Front 20W USB-C port
The CalDigit TS4 includes not just one, but two USB-C ports on the front. The second USB-C port has an output power of 20W, which is really relevant, because it allows you to connect to devices that require at least 20W of power. For example, Apple recommends a connection of 20W or higher for its MagSafe wireless chargers.
Rear audio output (3.5mm)
This base has, in fact, integrated four new ports. This is because CalDigit removed the optical audio connection found on the TS3 Plus and replaced it with the rear 3.5mm audio output. The TS4 has two 3.5mm output connections, one being a combo port on the front that can accommodate headphones with built-in microphones. Also another output-only port at the rear, but the front combo port has priority.
The improvements of the CalDigit TS4 go far beyond having ports to spare compared to the TS3 Plus, as you will find improvements in the ports that already exist. For example, all USB ports on the dock (including USB-A ports) are 10Gbps connections. The Ethernet port, previously limited to gigabit Ethernet, can now function as a 2.5GbE connection when connected to a Thunderbolt host. Lastly, the DisplayPort connection gets an update from DisplayPort 1.2 to version 1.4.
USB power supply
One of the biggest advantages of Thunderbolt 4/USB 4 is the ability to power connected devices. The CalDigit TS4 offers a maximum of 98W of power delivery, instead of the 87W of its predecessor. So the TS4 can more easily power a 13-inch MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, 14-inch MacBook Pro, or even any iPad with full-speed USB-C. The dock can also recharge the 16-inch MacBook Pro. However, you would need to use Apple’s Fast Charge-enabled 140W USB-C Power Adapter to charge it at full speed.
CalDigit, speaking of power, has made only two of the four rear USB-A ports supply power while not connected to a host machine. This is really useful for devices that you don’t want to receive power while not connected to your Mac.
Dual display 4k or 6k connectivity
The CalDigit TS4 can be wired to accommodate a variety of display output configurations based on the type of device you plan to connect. For example, M1 Mac users are limited to a single external 4k or 6k display at 60Hz, while M1 Pro/Max users can connect up to two 4k or 6k displays at 60Hz. While macOS is limited to 6k at 60Hz. The TS4 can support up to 8k60 on Windows if both the computer and display support Display Stream Compression and DisplayPort 1.4.
Other lower resolutions with higher frame rates are also available, with up to 144Hz in 4K and up to 240Hz in 2560×1440. The higher frame rates are useful when connected to a gaming monitor.
There are many ways to connect to a display through the CalDigit TS4. you can connect via:
- One of two available Thunderbolt ports.
- DisplayPort 1.4 port
- DisplayPort Adapter – Active DisplayPort to HDMI
- USB-C-HDMI adapter
It is to be considered that the three USB-C ports are for data only. In case you need to connect a display via USB-C make sure you use one of the two Thunderbolt ports.
Support for USB-C host devices
Compared to the TS3 Plus, which only had an older Thunderbolt chipset, the CaliDigit TS4 allows users to connect to both Thunderbolt and non-Thunderbolt USB-C ports. While this does not allow access to peripherals, only Thunderbolt, such as Thunderbolt SSDs, it does allow users to interface with other devices connected to the dock. We have, for example, how useful it is when used with an iPad Air or an iPad mini with USB-C.