Anker launches new Thunderbolt 4 dock with 12 total ports

Posted:
in General Discussion
Anker has launched a new Thunderbolt 4 dock that's equipped with 12 total ports, including a 90-watt power pass-through slot and legacy options.

Credit: Anker
Credit: Anker


The Anker Apex Thunderbolt 4 dock sports the same general design as previous products in Anker's work-from-home lineup, but sports a broader selection of ports.

Those ports include a 90W Thunderbolt 4 port that can power any M1 MacBook model, though it isn't compatible with M1 desktops. There are also a pair of 4K HDMI ports, three USB-C ports, four USB-A ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port, a 3.5mm audio interface, and an SD card slot.

The Apex is compatible with a range of specifications, including USB4, DisplayPort, and PCI Express. The dock will be able to handle a single 8K display at 30Hz, a 4K display at 120Hz, or various other display combinations at 4K 60Hz. It can power up to three external monitors simultaneously, though only for Windows or Mac devices equipped with Intel chips.

Anker's Apex Thunderbolt 4 dock is available for $299.99 at Amazon. It's slated to start shipping on July 1.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    This is NOT compatible with any M1 machine, including M1 Macbooks.  At least officially. I think you should fix that reference in this article.

    - The Amazon product page for this dock says "It doesn’t work with ... M1 MacBooks."
    - The only Q/A answer also says "please note that the 12-in-1 Thunderbolt 4 Dock is incompatible with Mac Mini M1 or MacBook M1."
    - It also highlights this incompatibility in this product info image



    I feel bad for Anker since this article might create some very upset customers that are sad/confused their new Anker dock doesn't work with their M1 Macbooks.


    edit: on my own editorial note, I don't see much reason at all to use a Thunderbolt 4 dock if it doesn't work with M1 machines.  Since all compatible Macs will be Thunderbolt 3 anyway?  Unless you need a lot of monitors, for $300 I would go with the amazing CalDigit TS3+ dock: https://www.caldigit.com/ts3-plus/
    edited June 2021 muthuk_vanalingamtenthousandthings
  • Reply 2 of 13
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,394member


    More curiously, that screen grab says it’s incompatible with “macOS 10.16 or earlier”. I assume they mean 10.15 or earlier. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Anker’s previous model in a similar form factor in the only Anker product I’ve seen getting majority bad reviews. I went for the CalDigit, even though the port alignment bugs me.
  • Reply 4 of 13
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,994member

    Because of comments about the previous Anker, I just want to leave this: I have the previous generation Anker PowerExpand Elite 13-in-1 Thunderbolt dock.  (They also make a non elite version which is not TB3 but USB-C only).   

    I needed something to drive an HDMI enabled 40" 4K TV as a monitor.  I also wanted something with an output TB3 port and several 10gbs USB-C ports.  It is hooked to a 2017 Intel powered iMac which also has an older Caldigit TB2 (using Apple TB2/TB3 adapter) dock and a Akitio Node Lite Thunderbolt PCIe expansion chassis.  I had tried various ports (DP->HDMI etc) that I already had on the existing expansion docks/chassis to drive the 4K 40" over HDMI but nothing worked well (previously I WAS driving a 32" 4K monitor with a pure DP -- DP link) but the Anker has worked fine.  I use a TB external storage and a USB-C external storage at the same time and also use the SD slot since the SD slot in the iMac has been flaky since forever.  I've been using it since last October or so.  I had another brand TB3 expansion dock that did not work well and was returned and the Anker took its place.

    The Anker runs hot to the touch, which I guess is understandable with the small and dense size and the amount of stuff running off it.  I am not using the charging 85W capacity as I have an iMac.     I had been having intermittent troubles with the 40" 4K display not coming back after the display was blacked out by macOS (energy saving setting) and disappearing from the Mac (the monitors settings panel would not show it at all).  Unplugging it and plugging it back in would sometimes work, but I often would have to turn the dock off for a while and then back on.  It started happening more often recently and I contacted Anker.  They had me make some tests (different HDMI cable, etc) and it still was a problem.  So they forwarded me a replacement.  However, on PRIME day I ordered a new HDMI cable as a backup since it was dirt cheap on lightning deal. When it came I swapped out the one I was using, and since then, I maybe had the problem once or twice, right after the swap (I may have not pushed the cable in all the way or something where the cable had an imperfect connection), and since then, about 1 week straight, it has been flawless.  So I may be sending the replacement back to them untouched since my original once seemed to have a problem with the 2 cables I had tried and not the unit itself.  I still have the replacement here while I continue the test.   I may have bought the 2 "bad" cables at the same time and gotten subpar cables -- I've had them for a while and don't remember when I got them.  But the Anker dock has actually been great since the new HDMI cable came.  I have no complaints about the Anker TB3 dock of the previous generation and their support has been very responsive and accommodating.  

    It is interesting that they say this new Apex TB4 dock is not compatible with the M1 series.  I wonder why they would make something that is not compatible.  I don't know how well or how reliably this new one runs compared to the older model.

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 5 of 13
    It might be worth noting that non of the Thunderbolt 4 docks work well with the M1 Macs, because the speed is throttled to a fraction of the expected speed unless a TB3 dock is attached.. I reported this to OWC when their TB4 docks came out months ago. They have since published an article about the problem. I'm guessing Anker doesn't want to deal with the return issues that will inevitably arise from this issue. I've tested OWC and CalDigit TB4 docks and the USB-C 3.1 GEN2 SSD speeds are throttled to a fraction of their speed.

    "We’re continuing to share all this information with our contacts at Apple. We expect that unless there is some sort of technical hardware issue at the heart of this, Apple will create a firmware fix to resolve the issue."

    MORE WAYS TO GET FASTER EXTERNAL DRIVE SPEED WITH YOUR M1 MAC
  • Reply 6 of 13
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,088member
    What's going on with TB4?  This Anker product sounds like a hot mess that I would steer away from.

    I bought two Caldigit TS+ for my 2015 & 2020 iMac and I absolutely love it.  It works flawlessly and have almost every rear port used.  Their drivers are also rock-solid.

    What's so special about the M1 Macs that makes Thunderbolt connectivity so uncertain?
  • Reply 7 of 13
    Their own materials state it is not compatible with any M1 MacBook:

    All TB4 devices, even though backwards compatible do require macOS Big Sur or higher.  The latest CalDigit dock is the same.
  • Reply 8 of 13
    sflocal said:
    What's going on with TB4?  This Anker product sounds like a hot mess that I would steer away from.

    I bought two Caldigit TS+ for my 2015 & 2020 iMac and I absolutely love it.  It works flawlessly and have almost every rear port used.  Their drivers are also rock-solid.

    What's so special about the M1 Macs that makes Thunderbolt connectivity so uncertain?
    The CalDigit is TB3 so there shouldn’t be any issues. I’m guessing the Anker doc works will an M1 just like all of the TB4 docks but there are speed issues that throttle attached SSDs. No company including OWC, CalDigit or even Anker wants to deal with a flood of returns, so they either ignore it in their advertising or do what Anker has done listing it as incompatible. 
    edited June 2021
  • Reply 9 of 13
    bsbeamer said:
    Their own materials state it is not compatible with any M1 MacBook:

    All TB4 devices, even though backwards compatible do require macOS Big Sur or higher.  The latest CalDigit dock is the same.
    Big Sur won’t fix the SSD throttling issue.
  • Reply 10 of 13
    ciacia Posts: 243member
    At $300 if it doesn't include 10Gbe networking it's a ripoff.  This should only cost $199 (or less) for what it offers.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 824member
    It might be worth noting that non of the Thunderbolt 4 docks work well with the M1 Macs, because the speed is throttled to a fraction of the expected speed unless a TB3 dock is attached.. I reported this to OWC when their TB4 docks came out months ago. They have since published an article about the problem. I'm guessing Anker doesn't want to deal with the return issues that will inevitably arise from this issue. I've tested OWC and CalDigit TB4 docks and the USB-C 3.1 GEN2 SSD speeds are throttled to a fraction of their speed.

    "We’re continuing to share all this information with our contacts at Apple. We expect that unless there is some sort of technical hardware issue at the heart of this, Apple will create a firmware fix to resolve the issue."

    MORE WAYS TO GET FASTER EXTERNAL DRIVE SPEED WITH YOUR M1 MAC
    Not quite right - here's link to OWC's original blog post, made a couple of weeks earlier (you should read both):  https://eshop.macsales.com/blog/74383-faster-drive-performance-with-m1-mac/

    There has to be a TB device connected to the other port, connected to a display, or at least has a video out.  Only then will the USB-C/TB3/TB4 storage device get full speed.  It's not about TB4.
  • Reply 12 of 13
    The biggest downside to this dock, in my view, is its lack of 3 downstream thunderbolt ports. It only has 1 downstream thunderbolt port even though thunderbolt 4 supports up to three such ports.  Personally, and I recognize there’s no one size fits all approach, I’d rather have 1 or 2 additional thunderbolt ports rather than the dual hdmi ports. 

    I own this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RYZJY8M/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_fabc_TJYYF6KQ1FKSDDF1WN9D

    And it works beautifully with my (intel) Mac, my pc, and even a Samsung phone with Dex. Of course it only has one USB port, but you can add a usb 3.1 hub for additional ports if you need them. 

    edited July 2021
  • Reply 13 of 13
    nicholfd said:
    It might be worth noting that non of the Thunderbolt 4 docks work well with the M1 Macs, because the speed is throttled to a fraction of the expected speed unless a TB3 dock is attached.. I reported this to OWC when their TB4 docks came out months ago. They have since published an article about the problem. I'm guessing Anker doesn't want to deal with the return issues that will inevitably arise from this issue. I've tested OWC and CalDigit TB4 docks and the USB-C 3.1 GEN2 SSD speeds are throttled to a fraction of their speed.

    "We’re continuing to share all this information with our contacts at Apple. We expect that unless there is some sort of technical hardware issue at the heart of this, Apple will create a firmware fix to resolve the issue."

    MORE WAYS TO GET FASTER EXTERNAL DRIVE SPEED WITH YOUR M1 MAC
    Not quite right - here's link to OWC's original blog post, made a couple of weeks earlier (you should read both):  https://eshop.macsales.com/blog/74383-faster-drive-performance-with-m1-mac/

    There has to be a TB device connected to the other port, connected to a display, or at least has a video out.  Only then will the USB-C/TB3/TB4 storage device get full speed.  It's not about TB4.
    That’s an older article. In the newer article I quoted, it clearly states that a TB3 device has to be connected to achieve the faster speed; they only tested TB3 monitors in the older article. TB3 docks alone with an external drive are faster than a lone TB4 dock. So this has everything to do with TB4 when combined with an M1 Mac.

    How do I know? Because I had both a 2020 Intel and M1 13” MBP, along with TB3 and TB4 docks from OWC and CalDigit. I reported this issue to Apple and OWC months before they discovered the issue. In fact, OWC refused  to acknowledge there was a problem at first.

    Both the OWC and CalDigit TB4 docks I tested had their USB SSD write speed gimped at about 200Mb/s, compared to my lone TB3 dock which reached 600Mb/s. With the M1 Mac even the TB3 dock speed was slower than the M1 than the Intel Mac, which hit 700-900 Mb/s over the TB3 dock.

    The issue is clearly the M1 Mac but it affects TB4 more than TB3. Either way, unless you have a TB3 monitor or TB3 Dock your willing to use with the drive, you won’t get the speed increase they mentioned.

    What a mess. I sent all my TB4 docks back because of this flaw, since I don’t have a TB3 monitor.
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