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

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

For power users juggling one or two high-resolution monitors, large data transfers, multiple power-hungry PC accessories, and perhaps 10 Gigabit Ethernet, a Thunderbolt dock can add useful high-speed ports while powering a Compatible PC, such as a MacBook. . This helps streamline an office setup, but also often comes with a clunky power brick to add to the mix. Hyper’s gallium nitride (GaN)-powered Thunderbolt 4 Hub, which began crowdfunding on Monday, hopes to change that.

Hyper, a 7-year-old manufacturer of PC hubs, docks, portable chargers and the like, is looking to crowdfund a Thunderbolt 4 hub that it claims is the first “Thunderbolt 4 hub with an integrated GaN power supply.” The port is a small square with a rounded edge that offers one Thunderbolt 4 upstream port and three Thunderbolt4 downstream ports with up to 40Gbps operation and accompanied by zero clunky power blocks.

However, Hyper isn’t ready to launch his base just yet; It is currently under a Kickstarter campaign.

Kickstarter Concerns

Crowdfunding projects are a risky endeavor, as Hyper admits on the Thunderbolt 4 port crowdfunding page. But it’s worth noting that Hyper has successfully funded similar projects, such as the HyperDrive Duo USB-C hub made for MacBooks, which it claims is the “most crowdfunded MacBook and USB-C accessory” and the HyperJuice 100W GaN charger, which according to the vendor. is the “most crowdfunded USB-C charger”. Thunderbolt 4 Power Hub is Hyper’s 28th crowdfunding project.

The Thunderbolt 4 Hub Kickstarter page says that development began in February 2021. The device is said to be certified by Intel and is supposed to ship to early backers this November.

Development is far enough along that Hyper was able to sample the Cult of Mac (which reported speeds in line with rival Thunderbolt products).

For those who prefer the security of an official product over putting money on the line, Hyper expects the Thunderbolt 4 Power Hub to retail for a hefty price, even by Thunderbolt 4 standards: $300.

GaN gains

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

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

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

Meanwhile, Hyper’s brickless hub measures 4.9 × 4.9 × 1.25 inches and weighs 1.4 pounds, according to Cult of Mac (though final specs may vary, as the hub is still crowdfunded).

Its single upstream port supports 96W Power Delivery, which is enough to support many smaller laptops like the MacBook Pro, but not enough for 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.

Meanwhile, the three downstream Thunderbolt 4 ports can output 15W of power, which is plenty for smaller devices like a smartphone.

Thunderbolt 4 boosts Thunderbolt 3’s 16Gbps PCIe speed to 32Gbps, and Hyper Hub claims to be able to take full advantage of it, which would make it suitable for external storage devices and eGPUs.

Hyper points out that its Thunderbolt 4 hub can’t solve the Apple M1 and M2 multi-monitor limitations. 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 greater than 4K 60Hz requires displays and GPU to support Display Stream Compression 1.2 and DisplayPort 1.4 HBR3. That means you wouldn’t be able to use the LG UltraFine 5K in a dual-monitor setup with the hub, either.

It’s also worth noting that this is a Thunderbolt 4 hub only, meaning no other connectivity is available. Plugable’s aforementioned Thunderbolt hub, for comparison, has a USB-A port for added variety.

Ars Technica may be compensated for sales of links in this publication through affiliate programs.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.