CalDigit Element Hub Review – Thereviewland

Recent developments in Thunderbolt expertise have introduced the flexibility to incorporate a number of downstream Thunderbolt ports on numerous docks and hubs, and CalDigit’s Thunderbolt 4 Element Hub launched earlier this 12 months does simply that within the type of a compact dock supporting Thunderbolt 4 and USB4.

Caldigit Element Hub
I’ve lengthy been a fan of CalDigit’s Thunderbolt hubs, and I’ve been utilizing the corporate’s TS3 Plus as my most important docking station for a few years now. The Element Hub would not supply as many devoted options as a few of CalDigit’s different docking stations akin to an SD card slot or Ethernet port, however in the event you’ve obtained a number of Thunderbolt/USB-C units and perhaps a number of USB-A peripherals, the brand new Element Hub may very well be a fantastic possibility.

With Thunderbolt 4 help, the Element Hub affords as much as 40 Gb/s switch speeds general, which suggests it could actually drive as much as a 6K show at 60Hz, together with twin 4K shows when used with an M1 Pro/Max or Intel Mac (M1 Mac and iPad Pro fashions are restricted to 1 exterior show). Windows customers may even drive an 8K show by way of the Element Hub, however solely at 30Hz.

Caldigit Element Hub Rear

The flexibility of Thunderbolt 4 signifies that with an applicable adapter, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of nearly sort of exterior show, together with Thunderbolt 2/3/4, USB-C, HDMI, DisplayPort, Mini DisplayPort, VGA, and DVI.

The Element Hub includes a whole of eight ports plus a DC-in port for powering the dock. There are 4 Thunderbolt 4/USB4 ports, which embrace one upstream port for connecting to the host pc and three impartial downstream ports, every of which might help a full 40 Gbps of information switch, although clearly not all concurrently. On the alternative facet of the dock are 4 USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 ports that help as much as 10 Gbps of information switch.

Caldigit Element Hub Front

While the Element Hub is definitely a compact docking resolution, it does require an exterior 150-watt energy brick that is considerably bigger than the dock itself. Fortunately, most customers ought to give you the option discover a place to cover the adapter away and depart a clear, uncluttered look on their desks, however this actually is not a docking resolution you are going to need to tackle the highway.

Even with the massive energy brick, the Element Hub is restricted to 60 watts of charging energy, so it will not be sufficient to energy an even bigger MacGuide Pro except you are utilizing it below a light-weight load. But for a smaller MacGuide Pro, a MacBook Air, or an ‌iPad Pro‌, the Element Hub will work simply advantageous, and CalDigit notes that the dock is able to delivering a full 60 watts of energy no matter different masses, so when you’ve got different Thunderbolt units drawing energy (as much as 15 watts from every Thunderbolt port and seven.5 watts from every USB-A port) from the hub, it will not scale back charging energy to your pc as another docks do.

Since it costs the host pc over USB-C, it will not supply the quick charging capabilities out there with a MagSafe connection on Apple’s newest MacGuide Pro fashions, however as a desktop hub it is extra doubtless for use for steady energy relatively than rapidly recharging a depleted pocket book anyway. And when you’ve got one of many greater ‌M1 Pro‌/Max MacGuide Pro fashions, you will most likely need to join up ‌MagSafe‌ anyway for the reason that Element Hub tops out at 60 watts.

Caldigit Element Hub Side

One neat design characteristic of the Element Hub is that it may be flipped over relying on which facet of the pc you need it to be positioned. The high and backside of the dock are basically equivalent, with the identical matte aluminum end and refined CalDigit branding. The two lengthy faces of the hub the place many of the ports are situated are matte black plastic, however they too look good and sit flush and stable with the aluminum physique.

It’s a easy design, but it surely’s a stable construct that will get the job performed. Pairs of grooves lower into the floor on all sides add somewhat little bit of design aptitude but additionally function mounting factors for the included rubber toes strips that may be simply utilized and eliminated.

With its exterior energy supply, the Element Hub helps offline charging, so all the ports on the hub can be utilized to cost linked units even when the hub is not linked to a pc. The Element Hub additionally helps Apple’s TremendousDrive, utilizing CalDigit’s customized driver to ship sufficient energy to help the slim CD/DVD drive. And lastly, CalDigit’s macOS Docking Station Utility quietly lives in your menu bar and allows you to simply eject any storage units hooked up to the hub abruptly.

I respect the pliability the Element Hub affords, with the Thunderbolt 4 ports providing plenty of choices, whether or not or not it’s direct connections of Thunderbolt or USB-C cables or with adapters for much more connectivity. And the USB-A ports supply straightforward legacy help for these older units nonetheless utilizing the fading normal.

I ran some velocity checks utilizing Blackmagic Disk Speed Test and a Sandisk G-Drive Pro SSD that makes use of Thunderbolt for max speeds. The drive is marketed to help as much as a most of two,800 MBps learn velocity, and I get pretty near that when the drive is linked on to my 2021 MacGuide Pro, with learn speeds coming in at over 2,500 MBps and write speeds approaching 2,000 MBps.

Caldigit Element Hub DirectExternal Thunderbolt SSD linked on to MacGuide Pro

Connecting the drive to the MacGuide Pro by way of the Element Hub with no different equipment hooked up to the hub, I noticed little or no in the way in which of a velocity penalty, with the learn velocity coming in at basically equivalent to the direct connection and the write velocity dropping all the way down to the 1,750 MBps vary.

Caldigit Element Hub SoloExternal Thunderbolt SSD linked to Element Hub with no different equipment

While the Element Hub options three downstream Thunderbolt 3 ports every able to supporting a theoretical most of 40 Gbps, it is essential to keep in mind that they’re all sharing a single Thunderbolt connection to the pc, so when you’ve got a number of units linked to the hub, efficiency might be impacted.

This is clear when each the SanDisk SSD and one in all my LG UltraFine 5K shows are linked to the Element Hub. The 5K show requires a big quantity of that Thunderbolt bandwidth going from the pc to the hub, so write speeds on the SSD drop to below 800 MBps in my testing. Given the primarily unidirectional facet of show connectivity, learn speeds for the SSD stay unaffected, coming in above 2,500 MBps.

Caldigit Element Hub 5KExternal Thunderbolt SSD and 5K show each linked to Element Hub

Even with that efficiency hit, the supply of three downstream Thunderbolt ports affords most flexibility when connecting a number of peripherals, and the Element Hub’s extra 4 USB-A ports means it could actually function a superb docking station for a lot of customers. It would require some dongles when you’ve got HDMI or DisplayPort exterior shows although, and in the event you require extra options like an Ethernet port, SD slot, or 3.5mm audio, you would possibly need to have a look at another choices.

Given excessive demand and chip shortages, CalDigit has had vital hassle retaining the Element Hub in inventory, and for the time being the best availability is through Amazon, the place it is priced at $249.99. A 0.8-meter Thunderbolt 4 cable is included within the field, whereas CalDigit affords several different USB-C adapters for connecting numerous shows.