Tech Up! Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station Review

By Neil Flynn 13.08.2021 1

Tech Up! Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station Review on Nintendo gaming news, videos and discussion
Office workers have been used to terms such as "flexi-work", "agile-working" and "hot-desking". Companies that do the latter will often have a convenient docking station at each desk, magically connecting users to the internet, monitors and peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse. The rise and uptake in working from home over the past couple of years meant that home offices now need to accommodate for a professional work environment that replicates the office experience. Monitors, desks, office chairs, wireless keyboards, webcams, headsets and microphones have been in higher demand since the turn of the decade, but what about a hub that can piece together that entanglement of cables and the jungle of connections? Enter, the Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station.

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A docking station can often be overlooked, but if work offices have them then why shouldn't home offices? The Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station is a 12-in-1 hub, utilising 2 USB 3.1 ports, 2 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, 2 HDMI 2.0 ports, Thunderbolt 4 Downstream Port, SD 4.0 Card Slot (UHS-II), a 3.5mm AUX connector capable of Audio in/out, USB 3.1, Gen 2 USB-C, and finally a Thunderbolt 4 Upstream port. That is a lot to unpack, but in basic terms it is enough to help set up a working from home environment that is all in one connected hub. So why is it needed exactly? Each person will have their own reason for wanting a docking station, even if they don't know it yet. For the purposes of this review, it was clear how the Anker Apex would benefit: as interchanging numerous ports between a work laptop and personal laptop was becoming tedious. Previously on the personal laptop a USB hub was used, housing 4 ports which were being used for an External HDD, wireless keyboard, mouse and web cam, a HDMI port connecting to a 2nd monitor, a wired headset using the 3.5mm AUX port on the laptop, power cable, SD card for additional storage capabilities and an Ethernet cable for faster wired internet. Unplugging these to plug them back into the work laptop everyday was becoming somewhat tedious. However, a more pressing issue presented itself, as newer laptops are often removing ports in an effort to slim down and reduce costs. The work laptop, for example, is missing an ethernet port and only has 1 USB-A port, which is somewhat problematic. Luckily that is where the Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station solves the issue by having all of these connections plug directly into the hub, making the whole experience of reconnecting and duplicating the set up that is desired an absolute doddle.


 
The Thunderbolt 4 Upstream Port is capable of transferring data at speeds of up to 40 Gbps and most importantly has a maximum output of 90W which is enough to charge any laptop, meaning that the laptop power cable is not needed. The Thunderbolt 4 Downstream port, which supports daisy chaining, can also support speeds of up to 40 Gbps and connect to an external monitor to provide resolutions up to 8k@30Hz or 5k@60hz. However, the dock does come with two HDMI ports which means that the Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Dock can connect up to three monitors at once, the only flaw in this design is that the HDMI ports are HDMI 2.0, rather than the newer emerging industry standard of HDMI 2.1, allowing transfer speeds of up to 4k@120Hz, although that would require the user to have cables and a monitor equally capable of producing this resolution. Multiple monitors may seem entirely vain to some people, but for those who utilise the opportunity are often vastly more effective especially for those multi-tasking, such as needing to reference documents while working on another project on a different screen, complete data entry, or attending video calls while still needing to work on a project. Anyone who is on frequent video calls, or just needs standard headphones plugging in, then the 3.5 mm AUX connector is a welcome bonus and it is nice to see that even in an age of wireless headphones Anker have included an AUX port.
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There are five USB ports which is sufficient for most users needs. One of them is a USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Port, which can be connected to USB-C compatible devices such as an SSD or other USB-C compatible devices, including mobile phones. This is particularly handy when having a phone charger nearby rather than having to have an external charger elsewhere. There are 2 USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports which also offer speeds of up to 10 Gbps, the same as the aforementioned USB-C port. There are also two USB-A 2.0 ports, which are capable of 480 Mbps, which showcases how slow they are in comparison to the newer technology; however, they are sufficiently fine for items such as a mouse or keyboard that do not require lightning speeds to perform. The Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station clearly identifies all of these ports so that it is easy to know which ports are capable of what. The other side of the dock has an SD card slot, and similar to the HDMI 2.0 vs 2.1 situation, the SD card slot is of an older class being 4.0 and only capable of UHS-II. However, this is more than sufficient for moving files from a digital camera, even those shot at 4K, and the likelihood that a user actually requiring a SD 5.0 UHS-III would really only extend to those who are into top end videography and photography. It is a shame that there isn't a microSD port, considering how prevalent this format has become, although it is easy enough to find a microSD card converter which can then be used in this port with ease. Finally, the Ethernet Port could easily be one of the more essential functions of the dock, with most laptops and MacBooks getting rid of these ports altogether. Those that need rapid internet and cannot live with the slow speeds of Wi-Fi will then really appreciate the ability to connect an ethernet cable via the dock.
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The dock features a dark silver matte like finish, with a ridged top and base. It measures 186x73x33 mm and weighs in 467g but still looks incredibly stylish and feels robust. Buyers do need to be wary of compatibility, for the dock to work as advertised and described the machine needs to have a Thunderbolt 4, if not there could be some compatibility issues. For example, an older laptop that was used for testing purposes only had a USB-C port but this meant that the dock could not utilise the charging option nor the option to utilise the HDMI ports. It is a requirement to have Windows 10 laptops equipped with Thunderbolt 4 ports and MacBooks running macOS 11 (Big Sur) or later. Given that this is quite new technology it is worthwhile investigating first if it is compatible with the device before purchasing.

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
The Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking station is the piece of office tech that helps complete the home set-up. Its versatility and usefulness are complemented by a rugged premium design that Anker have become the masters of. The device supports data and video transfer at speeds of up to 40 Gbps and the sheer number of ports should be more than sufficient for any user. It is a shame that HDMI 2.1 and SD 5.0 slots weren't included, but this is a very small issue that almost no users will really notice. Besides, the Thunderbolt 4 Downstream port helps slightly remedy the HDMI situation. No home set up is complete without an Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station.

 

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What a beast! Smilie

"No home setup is complete without an Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 Docking Station"

Brilliant tagline!

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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