Plugable telegraphs Thunderbolt’s future with a crazy new 4K dock


Plugable’s new 16-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Quad Dock (TBT4-UDZ) doesn’t support the upcoming next-gen Thunderbolt 5 spec. But at CES 2023, the company is very clearly signaling that it will with its new specifications.

The features of the TBT4-UDZ include support for four 4K displays, which is both ludicrous and quite likely not even possible with the current 40Gbps Thunderbolt 4 specification. After all, just two 4K displays can consume about thirty gigabits per second, plus a little more depending on the refresh rate and complexity of the image. So it’s unlikely that this dock can power four 4K displays simultaneously, especially as it’s built upon the Intel “Goshen Ridge” chipset, which allows just 40Gbps per second.

The next-gen Thunderbolt specification, however (likely to be called Thunderbolt 5) will support up to 80Gbps. That will easily allow four 4K displays, or (gulp) a 4K display running at 240Hz, or some additional combination of high resolution and high refresh rates. It’s just not here yet, though we’ll likely see it in 2023.

Otherwise, the TBT4-UDZ (Plugable’s first official Thunderbolt 4 dock) includes some of the features we’ve come to expect in our list of the best Thunderbolt docks: a choice between HDMI and DisplayPort connections — or the ability to use both — along with 100W charging power. The TBT4-UDZ is a cousin of the TBT3-UDZ, one of our Editors’ Choice-winning docks. Plugable is among the manufacturers officially supporting 2.5Gbps Ethernet too, although the more bandwidth coming down the cable, the more congested that cable can be. You’ll find four USB-A ports (two 5Gbps, two 10Gbps) and a UHS-II microSD/SD card slot.

The TBT4-UDZ will be released on Jan. 17 on Amazon for $299.

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