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If you’re looking for a Thunderbolt 4 hub with USB4 capabilities, look no further than Plugable’s 5-in-1 Thunderbolt Hub (USB4-HUB3A). Otherwise, this is an extremely niche product that might not be worth it to the majority of PC users.
What the Plugable 5-in-1 Thunderbolt Hub does, it does well: It’s tiny (4.9 x 2.9 x 0.5 inches) and weighs less than a pound, with a 30-inch Thunderbolt 4 cord connecting it to a PC, supplying 60W of power to a laptop. There are three additional Thunderbolt 4 ports (with 15W of power apiece) and a legacy 10Gbps USB-A port—and that’s all. The USB-A port does not supply power for charging. Inside is Intel’s older “Goshen Ridge” Thunderbolt device chipset from 2020.
Note: This review is part of our roundup of the best Thunderbolt docks. Got there for buying advice, product comparisons, and recommendations.
Don’t think of this as “portable,” however, as there’s a chunky power brick that accompanies the dock. This is a tiny little hub that otherwise slips neatly into a bag. (We consider a Thunderbolt hub as one that essentially splits the Thunderbolt connection into several additional ports. A Thunderbolt dock is usually powered, with many legacy connections. The Plugable 5-in-1 Thunderbolt Hub has elements of both.)
Plugable officially doesn’t support PCs equipped with a Thunderbolt 4 port with this device—while Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3 are very similar, Thunderbolt 4 has more stringent requirements that might cause incompatibilities in some systems.
Why buy this? Well, the Mac world tends to emphasize Thunderbolt-connected displays far more than the Windows world, so this might be a stretch for PC buyers. A handful of high-end displays for the PC market have Thunderbolt ports, as do some high-end SSDs. Don’t worry too much about the USB4 capabilities, either, as you won’t find too many USB4-specific peripherals, either. Otherwise, however, displays with either HDMI or DisplayPort are much more common, and you’ll need to invest in a USB-C dongle or a simple (included) adapter to connect to them.
Since we lack Thunderbolt-connected displays among our test bed, we couldn’t test this capability. But the box does include a USB-C to HDMI adapter, so you can certainly connect one display natively out of the box, then attach a USB-C hub to connect another. There’s a standalone 10Gbps USB-A port, as well. Sure, connecting a second device sounds like a hassle—but for Plugable’s price of $180 or so, you might end up trading saving some cash for a bit of extra clutter. These additional capabilities work well enough, though we didn’t have enough high-speed peripherals on hand to saturate all of its external Thunderbolt 4 ports.
So, to reiterate, we couldn’t test this dock to its full capabilities. But in terms of charging power and throughput, it lived up to its specifications. The hub did get a bit warm, but its metal construction dissipates heat effectively.
Plugable backs the 5-in-1 Thunderbolt Hub with a two-year warranty, and has a very good reputation for customer support. Several Plugable products are already on our list of the best Thunderbolt docks, so we’re confident that the USB4-HUB3A should deliver as well.
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