Belkin Connect Pro Thunderbolt 4 Dock
It’s frustrating that modern laptops have a scarcity of ports but PAT PILCHER has found a convenient and elegant answer to a mounting problem.
As much as I love the sheer versatility of a laptop, there’s a big downside. They need more ports. When I’ve added a printer, USB mouse and keyboard and charging cable for my phone, there are no spare ports for connecting the many other gadgets I frequently use. Enter stage left, Belkin! Their Thunderbolt 4 Connect Pro dock allows me to connect my Cricut, printer, additional monitors, a full-sized keyboard, headphones, a mouse and Ethernet all from just one USB-C or Thunderbolt port.
The sheer versatility the Belkin Thunderbolt dock adds to my home computing setup makes its $349.95 sticker price a little less painful. If your PC/Mac doesn’t sport a Thunderbolt 4/USB4 port, no stress. The Connect Pro is also backwards compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C, so even if your setup isn’t Thunderbolt 4 capable, you’re still well covered – and better still, future-proofed.
In terms of OS support, Belkin’s wee wonder plays nice with Windows 10 or later, MacOS (Big Sur Version 11 or newer), and iPadOS (Type-C iPads only). The sheer amount of connections you can get from a single USB-C or Thunderbolt port is impressive. These include an upstream Thunderbolt 4 port (40Gbps, 90W), a downstream Thunderbolt 4 port (40Gbps, 15W), twin HDMI 2.0 video ports (4K at 60Hz), two USB-A ports (10Gbps, 4.5W), two USB-A ports (480MBps, 2.5W), a USB-C port (10Gbps, 18W), Gigabit Ethernet, an SD card reader (320MBps) and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Riveting writing on music, tech, hi-fi, music, film, TV and other cool stuff. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.
With two HDMI ports, I could connect twin external displays, which handily saved me from coughing up more moolah for a USB-C to HDMI adapter, allowing me to avoid additional cable clutter. In practice, I was able to run three displays. This was done via the two HDMI ports and the existing display on my laptop. The dock allows a single 8K display to run at 30Hz or two 4K monitors to run at 60Hz. While the Thunderbolt 4 standard can cater for up to four Thunderbolt 4 ports, Belkin’s dock just has two. That said, this limitation is a compromise resulting from the dock having two HDMI ports. Given the sheer utility I get out of extending my computing desktop across several displays, it’s a compromise I can live with.
The four USB-A ports offer plenty of connectivity, but two are USB 2.0, offering just 480MBps bandwidth. Given the “Pro” moniker of the dock, this seems a tad odd. The remaining two USB-A ports can, however, run at a zippy 10Gbps.
The USB-A ports also max out at just 4.5W, which makes them slow for charging devices. Thankfully, the USB-C port packs 18W and the Thunderbolt 4 port up to 90W (which worked out to be enough to power my laptop, freeing up a power socket previously occupied by the power adaptor).
Its built-in SD card reader proved pretty zippy, even if I needed to spring for an adapter to use microSD cards from my phone. This allowed me to use the SanDisk Extreme Pro 256GB SD card as an affordable way of bolstering available storage on my laptop.
Considering that it’s likely to be tucked away out of view, the dock is actually a good-looking piece of gear. It sports a metallic Space Gray chassis with glossy black front and back panels. One feature that some might find a distraction I see as a convenience: the upstream Thunderbolt 4 port is on the front. This creates cable clutter on the elegant front panel but does make connecting and disconnecting the dock considerably less fiddly. Belkin also earns brownie points for supplying the dock with a 0.8m Thunderbolt 4 cable.
Weighing in at $549.95, the Belkin Connect Pro Thunderbolt 4 dock commands a price premium, but if two HDMI ports are a must, then it is a great choice. It is gorgeous-looking, and with 12 ports plus two HDMI sockets for adding external displays, it’ll greatly extend the versatility of your home computing setup.