Caldigit USB-C SOHO Dock full review
Caldigit has a USB-C dock that is super dinky and lightweight and packs the fastest-possible USB connections we’ve seen on any non-Thunderbolt hub. It also comes with both DisplayPort and HDMI ports for flexibility when adding an external display to your laptop.
The SOHO Dock is so named as it’s aimed at the Small Office Home Office world that so many of us now inhabit. You can transport it in your pocket between home and office if working between the two, which saves you buying two docking stations.
Measuring just 25x214x80mm (0.98x8.43x3.15in) and weighing 420g (14.8oz), the SOHO Dock is very portable.
It’s the performance of the ports rather than the number of them that’s of particular note with this docking station.
USB-C SOHO Dock features
- USB-C laptop compatible
- 100W PD charging
- 10Gbps USB-C to the host
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 & 1 x HDMI 2.0 (single 4K display at 60Hz; or dual 4K at 30Hz)
- 1 x USB-C (10Gbps)
- 1 x USB-A (10Gbps)
- 1 x USB-C Power Delivery
- SD Card Reader (UHS-II)
- microSD Card Reader (UHS-II)
You can buy portable USB-C docks that feature more ports, such as Twelve South’s StayGo that has seven ports including three USB-A for older devices.
The SOHO Dock also has seven ports but just the one USB-A, although its USB-A port has 10Gbps bandwidth compared to most that are half that at 5Gbps.
Traditionally USB-C hubs are 'Gen 1' with 5Gbps performance and limit resolutions to up to 4K 30Hz. The SOHO Dock is a 'Gen 2' USB-C hub with 10Gbps performance that allows the device to connect to a single 4K 60Hz display.
This dock can be used by laptops with Thunderbolt 3 connections, but bandwidth will be limited to the USB-C’s 10Gbps speed.
It is also compatible with the iPad Pro and other USB-C tablets.
Display flexibility and performance
It does have two ports for display, though: one HDMI and one DisplayPort, so you can connect either without having to buy an adapter for either.
It can support a single 4K display at up to 60Hz, which outperforms most other USB-C docks that are limited to 30Hz 4K.
For the 60Hz 4K performance, your laptop must support DisplayPort 1.4 - for example, MacBook Pros from 2018 onwards or the MacBook Air 2020, as well as the USB-C Microsoft Surface. Computers without DP 1.4 output up to 4K 30Hz.
Technically, a company can make a 5Gbps USB-C hub with 4K 60Hz, but since all the lanes are taken up by the video to drive the 4K 60Hz display, the USB performance drops. That’s why the majority of USB-C hubs stay at 4K 30Hz so that they can offer decent USB performance and strike a balance.
Caldigt’s dock is smarter because it features separate lanes for both video and USB - meaning it can provide a consistent 4K 60Hz display while offering 10Gbps USB performance.
If you connect an SSD to a typical USB-C hub you would get at best around 350-400MBps. With the SOHO Dock you are looking at 800-900MBps while still supporting a 60Hz 4K external display.
It can even support two 4K displays at 60Hz in Mirrored mode (Mac and Windows), where it shows what is on your laptop’s screen across more than one external display.
And it can give you dual 4K at 30Hz in Extended mode, where the display is across multiple displays including your laptop’s screen, although this is Windows only as the macOS does not support MST (Multi-Stream Transport).
You can attach a USB-C wall charger or your laptop’s charger to pump power into the laptop at the same time as connecting the devices, and it supports up to 100W.
It can also be used without the additional power supply if you are away from a power source, but doesn’t offer standalone charging, so won’t charge devices when not attached to the laptop.
The SD and microSD Card readers are both UHS-II, which is up to three times faster (312MBps) variant that UHS-I that you find on most other docks.
The Caldigit USB-C SOHO Dock costs £99 or US$99, which is a decent price for a high-quality portable dock offering the fastest USB connections.
The similarly priced StayGo offers a lot more USB ports but not at the performance of the SOHO Dock, either in terms of USB or 60Hz 4K video output.
The Caldigit USB-C SOHO Dock is a tiny little thing - small enough to fit in your pocket - but features the fastest ports we’ve seen on any similar USB-C dock. Even the USB-A port is rated at 10Gbps.
Its ability to support a 4K external display (and two for Windows PCs) at 60Hz is also a major advantage over other USB-C docking stations, as are its flexible DisplayPort and HDMI options.
It’s not right for you if you require multiple USB-A ports or dual screens in Extended mode on a Mac, but if one of each is enough, then this dock is an impressive, portable performer.
Check our chart of the best USB-C docks to see what else is available.
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