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With Intel accepting delivered a new Thunderbolt 4 chipset, we’re seeing abounding companies all-embracing that belvedere to accomplish advancing stations with the latest technology.
But, the differences amid Thunderbolt 3 and 4 are subtle, and the best aspect of the advancement ability be approaching USB 4.0 compatibility.
With several analogously defined Thunderbolt 4 Docks on the market, how does the Sonnet Echo 11 compare?
The Echo 11 is currently accessible anon from the makers for $319.99, and we begin it through a UK online reseller Scan for £360. Typical European appraisement is afterpiece to €400.
Docking stations these canicule accept above bottomward to aluminium tubes that authority electronics, and adage abundant added about them is embuing their exteriors with added application than they absolutely deserve.
We’d go as far as to say that area the OWC Thunderbolt 3 Berth had some breeding about it, the Sonnet Echo 11 is a celebration of architecture alienation over aesthetics. But it additionally appears to be actual agnate to addition berth we’ve seen, but added of that later.
The crumb blanket activated to the aluminium carapace is asperous like bluff skin, and it’s not at all nice to touch.
It ability abridgement in beheld and concrete departments, but this berth has affluence of ports. Sonnet alike included a ability about-face for those that animosity active accouterments in and it actuality anon live.
On the advanced face is the Thunderbolt uplink band that additionally serves to allegation a affiliated laptop, an SD agenda reader, USB 2.0 anchorage (with charging), 3.5mm admixture audio jack and two LEDs to appearance ability and articulation status.
On the rear is the 20V DC basin for the included ability supply, three Thunderbolt 4 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and three USB-A ports (USB 3.2 Gen 2 10Mbit).
What’s missing is committed alien affectation outputs, unless you accept Thunderbolt monitors. Thankfully adapters are broadly accessible to breach these out of the downlink ports.
These acquaint an added cost, but it avoids accepting DisplayPort on the berth back you appetite HDMI or carnality versa. Actuality able to customise the ports in this way is a able advantage and is one of the affidavit that Thunderbolt has become so accepted with PC owners.
While it is accurate that the improvements over Thunderbolt 3 with Thunderbolt 4 are subtle, its approaching affinity with USB 4.0 could accomplish it the technology that anybody migrates to eventually.
The added we looked at this dock, the accretion levels of déjà vu we experienced. Eventually, we realised that about absolutely this exoteric architecture and anchorage blueprint is accessible from Kensington as the SD5700T. The anchorage blueprint is additionally a echo of the OWC Thunderbolt 4 dock, admitting that apparatus has a altered enclosure.
A added dive into the raw blueprint appear a few differences, but for applied purposes, these are mostly the same.
Before anyone from these companies complains that their berth is the absolute one and the others are bald imitators, the similarities amid them are too accustomed to ignore.
We doubtable they’re all fabricated in the aforementioned ability application a accepted Intel Thunderbolt chipset, with slight variations based on specific chump demands.
Looking through the blueprint of the Echo 11 and Kensington SD5700T, we noticed that the SD5700T is 5mm narrower in width, and it has Kensington aegis slots on the larboard side. And conversely, the Echo 11 is 13 grams lighter than its counterpart.
They both appear with a 135W PSU and bear 90W of that to a laptop affiliated to the downlink, which is affluence for charging.
Each Thunderbolt downlink anchorage can bear 15W, and the USB 3.2 Gen 2 get 7.5W to administer to their peripherals. But not all at the aforementioned time, back those numbers don’t absolutely add up to 135W back you booty abroad the 90W of charging capacity.
In the aforementioned way that back you accept this abounding ports and a account of 40Mbits, of which alone 32Mbits can be allocated for data, it isn’t accessible to action the best acceleration on all ports simultaneously.
For those who buy the acclimatized adapters, Thunderbolt 4 will abutment a distinct 8K/6K/5K affectation or bifold 4K affectation on the Echo 11.
But, there are a few caveats to some of this if you don’t accept Thunderbolt 4 and alone Thunderbolt 3.
On paper, this accouterments looks ideal for abounding laptop owners with a Thunderbolt port, as it can accommodate a distinct cable affiliation to appointment systems and peripherals back they’re sitting at their desks.
It’s a abashment that the majority of absolute Thunderbolt users ability not be able to accomplish any use of it, back according to Sonnet, it won’t assignment with PCs with Thunderbolt 3, alone Thunderbolt 4.
What makes this alike beneath acceptable for PC owners is that abnormally it will assignment with Apple Mac systems that accept Thunderbolt 3 ports, aloof not PCs. This is the aforementioned limitation that the OWC Thunderbolt 4 berth has, we noted.
What makes this bearings added abstruse is that the Sonnet website says about PC compatibility, “Compatible with Thunderbolt 4 and Late-model Thunderbolt 3 Windows Computers (see Affinity PDF)”
But, those that apprehend the PDF will ascertain that it fails to acknowledgment ‘Late-model Thunderbolt 3’ anywhere. Instead, it reiterates that the Echo 11 isn’t accordant with Windows PCs with Thunderbolt 3 ports.
More abashing accustomed back we affiliated it to a Windows 10 desktop PC with an Asus Z170 Pro motherboard and an Asus Thunderbolt EX3 card, and it formed happily!
What constitutes ‘Late-model’ compatibility, we’re unsure. Those advantageous abundant to accept it will be accomplished with the Echo 11, and others will not, it appears.We brainstorm that Sonnet ability get a cogent cardinal of allotment area bodies affected that they had the actual anchorage alone to ascertain in this instance that they haven’t.
Kensington has afresh abolished the SD5700T with the SD5750T, admitting the differences are attenuate amid these two (and the Echo 11). The SD5750T is $339.99 in the USA but not yet about accessible in Europe. The aboriginal SD5700T can be begin on Amazon in the UK for £339.99.
A cheaper another is the CalDigit Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub, costing aloof £219.99 in the UK and $229.99 in the USA. The downside of the Element Hub accessory is that it alone offers 60W charging, but in added respects, its affiliation options are better, as it will assignment with USB accessories like the Apple iPad Pro.
Plugable has a actual agnate alms to CalDigit with its Plugable Thunderbolt 4 and USB4 Hub costing alone $189 (£209). But again, this hub alone offers 60W of charging power.
Directly comparing the about identical Echo 11, SD5700T and OWC Thunderbolt Dock, the $319.99 amount of the Sonnet hub is beneath than the $339.99 Kensington but added big-ticket than the $279 OWC design.
It is account acquainted that the Echo 11 and OWC docks alone appear with a 2-year warranty, admitting the Kensington SD5700T includes an added year of coverage.
The best adorable aspect of the Echo 11 is the three Thunderbolt 4 downlink ports that can again be calmly acclimatized to a advanced ambit of uses, including alien displays or 2.5GbE LAN connections, or whatever.
It’s additionally alms 90W of charging ability that’s abundant for the best ambitious laptops befitting them active and charging after issue. Back you accede all the added ports on this hardware, it would be ideal for the majority of Thunderbolt computer users
Apple Mac owners accept beneath to anguish about in this respect, although there are some well-documented issues with aboriginal M1 accouterments and how abounding alien displays this supports.
But the better problems that this accouterments are mostly the amount and availability. At $319.99 (£360), this is one of the added big-ticket Thunderbolt 4 Docks. There are decidedly cheaper options, abnormally if you don’t charge 90W charging.
Another application is its concrete affinity to the Kensington SD7500T and anatomic adequation to the OWC Thunderbolt Hub.
We’re borderline why you ability aces this one over those brands unless you begin this one abundant cheaper.
There isn’t annihilation amiss with this hardware, but it isn’t abundantly altered from added Thunderbolt 4 docks to accomplish it angle out in an more awash market.
If accustomed a choice, we’d apparently accept the OWC Thunderbolt Berth over this absolutely on price, but the continued assurance of the Kensington architecture ability amplitude some.
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