GaN-powered Thunderbolt 4 docking station wants to rid data-hungry setups of power bricks

GaN-powered Thunderbolt 4 docking station wants to rid data-hungry setups of power bricks

For power users juggling a high-resolution monitor or two, heavy data transfers, multiple power-requiring PC accessories, and perhaps 10 Gigabit Ethernet, a Thunderbolt docking station can add some useful high-speed ports. while powering a compatible PC, such as a MacBook. . This helps streamline a desktop setup, but also usually comes with an awkward power supply to add to the mix. Hyper’s gallium nitride (GaN)-powered HyperDrive Thunderbolt 4 hub, which began crowdfunding on Monday, hopes to change that.

Hyper, a 7-year-old maker of PC hubs, docking stations, portable chargers, and more, is looking to fund a Thunderbolt 4 hub that it claims is the first “Thunderbolt 4 hub with a power source.” built-in GaN power supply”. The dock is a small square with rounded edges offering one upstream Thunderbolt 4 port and three downstream Thunderbolt4 ports with up to 40Gbps operation and comes with bulky power bricks.

However, Hyper isn’t ready to release its dock just yet; it is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign.

Kickstarter Concerns

Crowdfunding projects are risky business, as Hyper admits on the Thunderbolt 4 dock crowdfunding page. But it’s worth noting that Hyper has successfully funded similar projects, like the HyperDrive Duo USB-C hub. designed for MacBooks, which it claims is “the most crowd-funded MacBook and USB-C accessory” and the HyperJuice 100W GaN Charger, which the seller says is the “most crowd-funded USB-C charger crowd”. The Thunderbolt 4 Power Hub is Hyper’s 28th crowdfunding project.

The Thunderbolt 4 Hub’s Kickstarter page says development began in February 2021. The device is said to be Intel-certified and is expected to ship to early backers in November.

Development is at least advanced enough that Hyper was able to give samples to Cult of Mac (which reported speeds in line with rival Thunderbolt products).

For those who would prefer a product’s security to be official before putting any money on the line, Hyper expects the Thunderbolt 4 Power Hub to retail for a hefty price, even by Thunderbolt 4 standards. : $300.

GaN wins

The secret to the Thunderbolt 4 Power Hub’s portability is its use of GaN semiconductors, rather than silicon, for a smaller design. Other Thunderbolt 4 docks, like the Plugable Thunderbolt 4 Hub, may have a small center dock, but also connect to a decent sized power supply before plugging into the wall.

AC power input is 100~240V, 50/60Hz.

AC power input is 100~240V, 50/60Hz.

Hyper’s brickless hub, meanwhile, measures 4.9×4.9×1.25 inches and 1.4 lbs, according to Cult of Mac (though final specs may vary, as the hub is still a crowdfunding).

Its single upstream port supports 96W Power Delivery, which is enough to support many smaller laptops, like the MacBook Pro, but not enough for very power-hungry machines, like a gaming laptop. Notably, the included Thunderbolt 4 cable is 2.6 feet long, while the power cable is 6 feet long.

The three downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports, meanwhile, can output 15W of power, which is enough for small devices, like a smartphone.

Thunderbolt 4 boosts Thunderbolt 3’s 16Gbps PCIe throughput to 32Gbps, and Hyper’s hub claims to be able to get the most out of it, making it suitable for external storage devices and eGPUs.

Hyper notes that its Thunderbolt 4 hub cannot solve the multi-monitor limitations of the Apple M1 and M2. While the hub claims to support up to one 8K monitor at 60Hz refresh rate (or 4K at 144Hz), or two 6K monitors at 60Hz, this won’t work with an M1 or M2 based Mac. .

Running dual monitors at over 4K and 60Hz requires the displays and GPU to support Display Stream Compression 1.2 and DisplayPort 1.4 HBR3. That means you can’t use the LG UltraFine 5K in a dual-monitor setup with the hub either.

It’s also worth pointing out that this is a Thunderbolt 4 hub exclusively, meaning there’s no other connectivity available. Plugable’s aforementioned Thunderbolt hub, for comparison, has a USB-A port for improved variety.

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