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Review: Dockcase's 8-in-1 USB-C Hub
DockCase just launched their latest 8-in-1 USB-C hub on Kickstarter (ends Nov 26th). I was interested in reviewing DockCase’s 8-in-1 USB-C hub as I had a good experience with their previous 7-in-1 USB-C hub review unit they sent me last time they were on Kickstarter.
Besides the USB-C main device I/O port the 8-in-1 USB-C hub features
(1) 100W USB-C PD input port (power)
(1) USB-C 3.2 port
(2) USB-A 3.2 ports
(2) USB-A 2.0 ports
HDMI 2.0 port
Gigabit Ethernet port
Overall I think this dock provides a good selection of ports as DockCase added a Gigabit Ethernet port and USB-C port this time around. I do miss the micro SD card slot from DockCase’s older 7-in-1 USB-C though. The main port I wish both had was a USB-C port that supported DisplayPort as I use DP for my external monitor since it supports a higher refresh rate than HDMI on my MacBook.
What makes the DockCase hub unique is its integrated display. My favorite feature of the display is its ability to show if a device is connected to a USB-A 2.0 or USB-A 3.2 port and which USB-C PD profile (volts, amps, & watts) it is using to charge the main attached device. This is especially helpful as different combinations of devices and chargers will result in different PD profile handshakes. One downside of using a hub with a 16 inch MacBook Pro is that the hub charges the MBP near its fastest speed which is to be expected since the hub takes a few watts to power itself and any accessories attached to it.
Another feature of the display new to the 8-in-1 hub is the ability to change how much power the hub should use and which mode it should optimize for. The hub has 4 main modes: video, data, charging, and ‘my’ mode. The video mode changes all the presets to enable the hub to convert a 4K@30Hz HDMI signal to 4K@60Hz at the cost of reducing the maximizing charging and data speeds. I believe this mode also supports using a Nintendo Switch in dock mode but I wasn’t able to test this. Similarly, the data mode enables the data ports to reach their fastest speeds and the charging mode reduces the power used by the dock to enable the fastest charging possible on the main port. And the ‘my’ mode can be used to provide a balance of the 3 other modes. I was concerned at first when I hooked up the new 8-in-1 hub and discovered that it was charging my MacBook Pro more slowly than the previous 7-in-1 hub. But when I switched the 8-in-1 hub to charging mode it started to charge my MacBook Pro faster than the 7-in-1 hub.
The hubs that DockCase makes are really interesting given the integrated display and the latest 8-in-1 hub builds on that with its ability to change modes. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on Thunderbolt port and don’t hook up an external display via Display Port then this could be a good hub for you if you understand that given the limitations of this USB3.2 Gen 2 hub means that you can’t run the data ports at full speed while driving an HDMI display at 4K@60Hz. For instance, I think the ethernet port speed drops from 1000Mbps to 100Mbps if the hub is driving a 4K@60Hz display (I wasn’t able to test this scenario since I used DisplayPort). If you don’t want the hassle of switching modes (and it is a hassle since it is a button tap on the hub to change the orientation of the integrated display but a 6 second long press if you want to enter the settings of the hub and another 6 second long press to confirm a selection) or if you need to use full speed data ports and a 4K@60Hz display at the same time then you might be better off getting a Thunderbolt hub. That is if you are willing to spend 50to50 to50to100 more than what DockCase’s 8-in-1 hub costs. I would really like to see DockCase make a Thunderbolt hub with an integrated display since I don’t think anything like that exists or even a hub with a port that supports DisplayPort.
The review unit I tested shipped with beta firmware. It will be interesting to see what features DockCase can add with new firmware though judging by the current support documentation on their site it could be a difficult process. DockCase will begin delivers of their 8-in-1 hub in January 2022.