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CalDigit's Thunderbolt Station 4 (TS4) is a dock with 98W charging power and an impressive array of 18 ports, ideal for Mac setups with a wide range of connection requirements.

caldigit-ts4-main.jpeg

The dock comes with a price tag of $399.99, reflective of its high-speed data transfer, expansive connectivity, and powerful charging abilities. While it may not be the most budget-friendly option on the market, its performance and convenience make a compelling case for professionals with demanding workloads and complex Mac setups. In this review, we delve into the TS4's capabilities to determine whether its cost is justified, and help you understand if it is the right fit for your specific needs.

caldigit-ts4-connected.jpeg

The dock comes with a 0.8m Thunderbolt 4 Cable, two rubber feet strips, one power cord, one 230W power supply, and a two-year CalDigit warranty.

Design

The CalDigit TS4 dock features a high-quality, durable aluminum design. Its overall footprint is reasonably compact, measuring 141mm x 42mm x 113mm, meaning that it avoids taking too much space on a desk. If that is too tall for your desktop, just slide on the included pair of rubber strips for cushioning and tip the dock over on its side. The aluminum casing has a ribbed design that gives it a more industrial look while also offering some extra surface area for effective heat dissipation.

caldigit-ts4-sideways.jpeg

The TS4's design, despite its compactness, does not compromise on functionality. It houses an impressive total of 18 ports that are logically divided between the front and rear of the dock. The front features easily accessible USB-C, USB-A, and SD card slots, alongside an audio input and output port. The back, meanwhile, is equipped with the remaining ports, including Thunderbolt 4, USB-C, USB-A, DisplayPort, and Ethernet.

The dock is accompanied by a large power brick that, while necessary for its function, detracts slightly from the portability of the device and is an important consideration in terms of cable management.

USB Ports

The dock is outfitted with a total of eight USB ports, split between USB-C and USB-A variants. There are three 10Gb/s USB-C ports (two located conveniently on the front and one at the back), offering high-speed data transfer rates and power delivery. The dock also features five 10Gb/s USB-A ports to accommodate slightly older hardware. Four of these ports are located on the back of the device, and one is placed on the front for easy access.

caldigit-ts4-rear-closeup.jpeg

One notable advantage is that the USB ports also deliver power sufficient for charging. One of the front USB-C ports delivers 20W, suitable for a MagSafe charger or even a HomePod mini. The two rear Thunderbolt ports can supply 15W, while the remaining USB-C and USB-A ports offer 7.5W. This means that even in the absence of the host computer, many of the ports will continue to supply power to your devices, effectively turning the TS4 into a handy charging station.

SD Card Slots

Two slots accommodate both full-size SD and microSD cards, with UHS-II support ensuring adequate data transfer rates for photographers or videographers. The positioning of these slots on the front of the TS4 is another thoughtful touch, enabling easy access and the quick swapping of cards.

It is worth noting that these slots are UHS-II and not the latest UHS-III specification, which means they will not offer the absolute highest transfer speeds available on the market for users with UHS-III cards. Despite this, UHS-II is still more than fast enough for the vast majority of users.

Display Support

The CalDigit TS4 offers comprehensive support for external displays, a feature that is particularly valuable for professionals who require multiple monitors for their workflow. The dock supports up to two 6K, 60Hz screens when connected via the Thunderbolt 4 ports, offering ample screen real estate. Moreover, if your requirements are focused on refresh rates, the TS4 can support up to 240Hz at a 1440p resolution. This makes it a perfect fit for graphic designers, video editors, and others who require high-resolution multi-monitor Mac setups.

caldigit-ts4-rear.jpeg

In addition to the Thunderbolt 4 ports, the TS4 also includes a DisplayPort 1.4 port. DisplayPort 1.4 supports high resolutions and refresh rates, as well as features like HDR, making it an excellent choice for a wide range of displays. However, an HDMI port is noticeably absent on the device, which may be a drawback for those who rely on HDMI for their display setup, such as those using smaller OLED TVs as monitors.

Ethernet

A 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet port promises substantially faster data transfer rates compared to standard Gigabit Ethernet, offering solid perfor... Click here to read rest of article

Article Link: Review: CalDigit's Thunderbolt Station 4 Offers 18 Ports to Level-Up Mac Connectivity
 
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Saturnine

macrumors 65816
Oct 23, 2005
1,490
2,462
Manchester, UK
I recently bought a TS3. It worked great with my MacBook. No issues.

Unfortunately, I bought it as a “one cable solution” to be used with my personal MacBook and my work-provided Microsoft Surface Laptop.

As the Surface Laptop 3 and 4 only have USB-C connectivity (no Thunderbolt) I knew that only one 4K60 monitor would work, as per CalDigit’s documentation. In reality, however, I could only get 4K30.

I tried two different Surface Laptops. Upgraded drivers, downgraded drivers. Checked all firmware levels. Purchased brand new, certified, cables. I went through everything and could not get 4K60 working on a single monitor.

I contacted EU support, who passed the issue to US support who eventually escalated it to the engineering team. The issue went unresolved and I ended up returning the dock.

I don’t know if these issues are resolved in the TS4. Potentially great products but they’re certainly not perfect and may not fit all use cases.
 
I bought the high end TB3 dock from them. I have consistent issues with the displays connected to it not always wanting to come back when the M1 Max goes to sleep and then wakes up. I don't have any issues with the direct connected displays, which makes me think is is more related to the dock itself. Other than that I have loved the dock, even though it was expensive when I bought it.

I see no reason to upgrade, for me TB3 is doing the job, I would need to have more TB4 accessories to make it worthwhile. However, I really hope that when I upgrade at some point they will have fixed the display connection issue.
 

vegetassj4

macrumors 68000
Oct 16, 2014
1,751
9,576
Is it just me, or do most of these more powerful (TB vs USB C) docks look ugly. (Performance trumps aesthetics in most cases, but still..). Maybe I just don't like all of the logos and text alll over the things.

OWC's probably have the best look IMO.
 
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MrCubes

macrumors regular
Dec 21, 2008
200
228
United Kingdom
I've had one of these for about a year and, for me, they are worth every penny!
I have a personal M1 Pro MacBook Pro, a work M1 Max MacBook Pro and (as of more recently) an M2 Max Mac Studio. Being able to switch my multiple monitors (a 5K Studio Display and a 4K LG), audio interface, Stream Deck and other peripherals between those machines quickly by just switch one cable is a game changer. It's the closest we have to a KVM for the modern age (I would prefer an actual KVM if one that supported TB4 existed - admittedly I haven't looked for a few months).

Other than switching a cable rather than flipping a switch the only other annoyance with that set up is re-connecting the BT keyboard and mouse (which I do by having a lightning cable connected to one of them and switching that over, too). But that's not the fault of the TS4.
 

Trey M

macrumors 6502a
Jul 25, 2011
961
329
USA
Have been a TS4 user for around a year and it is one of my favorite personal tech purchases. I previously had an Elgato Thunderbolt 3 dock (purchased around 2017) that made me fall in love with the concept of one cable docking.

As Saturnine, the only downside with Thunderbolt docks in general is compatibility to external displays for whatever reason. I actually purchased the Caldigit TS3 model a number of years ago and ended up returning it because it wasn't compatible with an LG display I was using (hence I purchased the Elgato model). However, it seems Caldigit is generally pretty responsive about these incompatibility issues and does fairly reguarly issue updates that improve compatibility. Not something you'll get with most other Thunderbolt dock manufacturers.

I currently run 2 4K displays; one of which is the Gigabyte M32U which runs at 144Hz using MacOS. I use the TS4 every single day for work and I have never had a single problem.
 

MrCubes

macrumors regular
Dec 21, 2008
200
228
United Kingdom
Is it just me, or do most of these more powerful (TB vs USB C) docks look ugly. (Performance trumps aesthetics in most cases, but still..)
I was worried about that before I bought one. They don't look that appealing in the photos. But in practice they're a lot nicer. Very solid and high quality looking. Looks right at home on top of my Mac Studio. They're not going to win any design awards but for something that is just a box of sockets its much nicer than I had expected.
 

i4k20c

macrumors 6502a
Sep 10, 2005
867
122
I was worried about that before I bought one. They don't look that appealing in the photos. But in practice they're a lot nicer. Very solid and high quality looking. Looks right at home on top of my Mac Studio. They're not going to win any design awards but for something that is just a box of sockets its much nicer than I had expected.
my biggest problem is that there is no way to turn off the light. normally, i just put electric tape on things, but because of the vented design, the light shines through. only way is to unplug it which is kind of frustrating.

i wish more manf realized that people have these things in their bedrooms and to give an option to turn it off.
 

RemedyRabbit

macrumors regular
Aug 5, 2014
137
445
I wish there was a more slimline dock available with 95W+ power output. Seems that only the high end docks with dozens of ports can handle that, and they’re all huge, ugly and expensive.

All I want/need is a subtle single cable solution that I can easily tuck out of the way at the back of my desk to handle power, 2 monitors and a usb. That’s it. Wouldn’t even need to be cheap tbh so long as it did the job. But no.
 
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fc4090

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2008
50
18
Using it (TS4) for more than 18 months (got it preordered), really happy with it. Somehow the SSD data transfer rate is not at par with direct connection to mac. Also it had few issues of disk getting disconnected when mac goes to sleep mode, has been corrected since last firmware update.
Works fine with iPad Pro, Macbooks, Mac Mini etc.
I also use Caldigit TS3 at another setup, which works fine too, except the audio jack is at front end, which looks awkward.
 
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kevinbal

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2006
190
22
Storrs, CT
I bought the high end TB3 dock from them. I have consistent issues with the displays connected to it not always wanting to come back when the M1 Max goes to sleep and then wakes up. I don't have any issues with the direct connected displays, which makes me think is is more related to the dock itself. Other than that I have loved the dock, even though it was expensive when I bought it.

I see no reason to upgrade, for me TB3 is doing the job, I would need to have more TB4 accessories to make it worthwhile. However, I really hope that when I upgrade at some point they will have fixed the display connection issue.

I had this issue as well -- if you haven't run the firmware update on the unit, nor installed the utility, do that. It cleared up every similar issue I had.
 

fc4090

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2008
50
18
I wish there was a more slimline dock available with 95W+ power output. Seems that only the high end docks with dozens of ports can handle that, and they’re all huge, ugly and expensive.

All I want/need is a subtle single cable solution that I can easily tuck out of the way at the back of my desk to handle power, 2 monitors and a usb. That’s it. Wouldn’t even need to be cheap tbh so long as it did the job. But no.
You can use the Caldigit Element Hub, small enough to tuck it away in the back of the desk, or stick it under the desk; has enough USB A and C ports to run two monitors. Except the output is 60w, but 60w is good enough if you are working long time connected to the hub. :)

 
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i4k20c

macrumors 6502a
Sep 10, 2005
867
122
I had this issue as well -- if you haven't run the firmware update on the unit, nor installed the utility, do that. It cleared up every similar issue I had.
im looking on this page, is there a way to know which firmware i have on the dock? is the "utility" software for the dock? i don't see it.

 

kevinbal

macrumors regular
Feb 28, 2006
190
22
Storrs, CT
im looking on this page, is there a way to know which firmware i have on the dock? is the "utility" software for the dock? i don't see it.

If you bought the dock in the last couple of years, firmware should be fine -- but you'll want to install both "optional" links, the updater for the Superdrive, Keyboard, and charging as well as the utility.
 

Sorinut

macrumors 68000
Feb 26, 2015
1,670
4,557
These things are cool, but I returned my last caldigit. I just couldn't find a use-case to have such an expensive accessory for what little computing I do.

My Dell 4k monitor usb-c monitor has a hub and ethernet. Works fine for me, but I'll look into these again if I find a reason.
 

Xgm541

macrumors 65816
May 3, 2011
1,098
818
I have one of these. Been using it for nearly 10 months. Excellent device. Had to update firmware using my windows machine since at the time there was no utility to update the device via mac. Occasionally have some issues with device wake up, but generally, having so many ports has been very helpful. I use a dual monitor setup, external audio, ethernet and peripherals. i also charge my devices using the dock.

It does run warm, hot even, while in use.

I just recently purchased the previous version, TS3+ for my office.
 
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