The Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Multimedia Pro Dock is made by people who know what we need: more ports for all the kit. This is a 16-in-1 offering from Mac-friendly accessories and peripherals maker Satechi, aiming to crash the Kensington/CalDigit-dominated party of the best docks for Macbook Pro owners, because as great as Apple's Macbook Pro and Air laptops are, one thing we all wish they improved is their connectivity options.
I use both Mac and Windows computers, and my job demands mean my desk setup is constantly changing and consistently packed, as I'm testing several pieces of tech at any time. And most creatives need to have accessories, keyboards, second (and third and fourth...) screens, drawing tablets, cameras, and much more besides, linked up to their computer or laptop at any given time, so having somewhere to plug them in is sort of important.
So I've had the Satechi Thunderbolt 4 dock on my desk for a few weeks now, and I'm happy to report that it has always been able to accommodate any connectivity needs I've had, even though it's only got one USB-C port aside from the laptop-uplink one...
Satechi Thunderbolt 4 dock review: Design and build
Look, it's gonna be hard to find an attractive USB dock anywhere. Most of them are variations on the same grey/black/silver brick, with a power button and an outlet to link to your laptop at the front (along with maybe one or two extra slots of the miscellaneous variety) and a main hub of ports on the back.
And while Satechi, a very design-aware brand, has provided yet another grey-ish brick-ish-like device, it's definitely more interesting to look at than its more utilitarian rivals like Kensington or CalDigit.
The front and back are rounded in a way to make it look less offensive to your sensibilities as it takes up space on your desk (especially to fit in slightly better among its primary intended clientele of Mac users), and to make things even better, it comes with a little stand too, which means I could stand it up on end to reduce its desk footprint to an absolute minimum. Yes, the rubber feet will stick ever-so-slightly out of one side this way, but when I have to swap something out on my desk every three days, it's worth it for it not constantly being in the way like so many other docks I've used.
On the front, we have six ports; the Thunderbolt 4 host port, a headphone jack, a USB-A 3.2 10G data port, a USB-A 2.0 port with a charging facility, an SD card reader and tucked right underneath that is a microSD reader as well.
Then, on the back, there are two DisplayPort outlets, two HDMI 2.1 ports, an Ethernet port, a USB-C 3.2 10G data port, two more USB 3.2 10G ports and two USB 3.2 5G ports. Aside from a comparatively low number of USB-C ports (which are very much the future now), this is a very generous allotment of connectivity options, and only outdone by the 18-in-1 CalDigit TS4 hub among the class leaders.
Demanding creatives (and I know there's lots of you out there) will notice that the only port on this Thunderbolt 4 dock that's actually a Thunderbolt 4 port is the host port, i.e. the one you connect your laptop into. That's hitting the bare minimum to qualify for its name, to be honest.
That port has a 96W charging capability, so it will be able to keep the lights on just about any laptop (although the gaming laptop I plugged in did give me a 'weak charging facility' warning as I flipped it into Performance mode) without you having to also plug in the main power cable.
But to counter against the fact that the rest are USB 2 or 3.2 only, a full four of those offer a 10GB fast data transfer facility, and while that's not exactly the same as the 40GB offered by Thunderbolt 4, it's good enough for any needs outside the most pressing high-volume, high-speed professional requirements. For a photographer or freelance graphic designer or animator, the connections on offer will more than do.
Another boon is the plentiful array of monitor ports. With 2 DisplayPort 1.4 and 2 HDMI 2.1 connections, you will likely run out of desk space for your screen real estate before you run out of hub outlets.
Performance and user experience
I found the Satechi Thunderbolt 4 dock a pleasure to use, everything I hooked up to it was plug-and-play without any issues on Satechi's side, and whenever I needed to use it for data transfer (a few microSD ones and porting things on/off portable drives) it hit close enough to the stated transfer speeds to get a thumbs-up from me on the performance front.
Here's the catch. The model I tested is the one made for the US market, and it retails at an eye-watering $349.99. For reference our top options among the best docks for Macbook Pro is the Kensington SD5700T, which only costs $224.99 and has a full four TB4 ports. However, the only one on that list that has more connections in total is the CalDigit TS4 18-in-1 hub, and that one will set you back $390, so the total allotment is something to account for here.
Should I buy the Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Multimedia Pro Dock?
Yes, the host port is the only actual Thunderbolt 4 port here, which prevents the Satechi Thunderbolt 4 Multimedia Pro Dock from getting closer to a full house in my scoring. However, the total number of ports on offer, the effortless ease of use throughout, the effort gone to in order to make it less of an eyesore than many rivals and the fact it has a stand to minimise the space it takes up on my chaotic desk, all add up to one of the better USB docks I've used in recent times.